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Simpson, Edward (1824-1888) Letterbook of U.S.S. Isonomia East Gulf squadron from Oct 12th 1864 to Dec. 24th 1864 and U.S.S. Mohican N. Pacific squadron from Augt 14th 1866 to June 1st 1867

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05911.07 Author/Creator: Simpson, Edward (1824-1888) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph manuscript signed Date: 12 October 1864-1 June 1867 Pagination: 1 v. : 211 p. ; 32.5 x 20 cm.

Majority of letters written and signed by Simpson, though several are clerically written and signed. Attacks on Fort Sumter, engagements with blockade runners and attacks on various gun batteries. Includes two letters regarding deserters of the U.S.S Mohican (stored in separate folder). Quarter morocco, marbled boards.

Commissioned in 1859, the steam sloop USS Mohican served in the African Squadron in 1860-1861, before joining the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In October of 1862, the Mohican was sent on a fruitless search for Confederate raiders, the Florida and the Alabama; she operated off the coasts of Africa and South America until 1864. In October of that year, she joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, participating in the two attacks on Fort Fisher in December and the ensuing January. Carrying dispatches from General William T. Sherman, the Mohican was sent to rejoin the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron on January 17, 1865. From 1866-1872 she served in the Pacific Squadron, visiting South America, California, Siberia, Hawaii and Mexico.

[11 October 1864] "…a woman came in and reported that some of Halls men had been into her house, and taken things. She asked me to intercede for the protection of her property. I went and found Capt Hall, stated the matter lightly, and replied "They have probably called my men Black Son of Bitches …word was brought me that the town had been fired…"

[11 October 1864] "A short distance from the house some of the citizens of the town asked me to remonstrate with Lieut Stodder and Capt Hall not to despoil the Churches as they had broken into one or two…"

[11 October 1864] "...one thing of unpleasant nature occurred I believe on this day viz an onslaught of some of the Colored troops on a house. On hearing of this Lieut Stodder, repaired to the spot and stopped the destructive work[.] The next time (I believe was July 12th) the party consisted of about the same as before but I understood the Naval forces were called upon for aid by said Capt Hall. During this occupation Capt Hall arrived his determination to burn the house of the Rebel Captain Thigpen. Ten aged Negroes - being in charge of it their furniture was removed …a few words passed between him & Capt Hall and the house was not burned…"

[12 October 1864] "The acts committed, if unjustifiable, reflect discredit on the whole service, and as the explanations offered are not satisfactory to me, I respectfully refer the subject to the Commander in Chief for his judgment and action."

[12 October 1864; Simpson to W.P. Rogers, Actg. Master Comdg.] "…You will be pleased to send your contrabands (of whom I believe you have 10) to assist in discharging the Coal Brig now at the wharf. Divide them into two parts and let them relieve each other."

[12 October 1864] "…I forward herewith a report of survey on the Boiler of the U.S.S. Somerset …I believe that it has been very seldom in the history of steam that it has been found necessary to use a Boiler so utterly worn out as this …The materials for the repair required by the survey are not at hand; but I shall endeavor by temporary repairs to enable the vessel to move in the course of a week; this, however, will strip the other vessels of the squadron of all material for repairing their own damages."

[19 October 1864; Edward Simpson] "…If the weather is favorable, a force will be landed tomorrow for the temporary occupation of Apalachicola…"

[28 October 1864] "…I walked through the town which resembled a thoroughly deserted village, hardly meeting a single person so closely were the inhabitants shut up in their houses. This is to be charged much to the secession feeling of the women, whose husbands & brothers are in the army, but I believe that it is also to be charged to the fact that, during late occupations of the city by our forces from Army & Navy, there have been gross outrages perpetrated on the property of the inhabitants, which were in direct violation of the order to use all mean to produce & preserve a good feeling on the part of the people …The population consists of a few old men mostly foreigners, and women with some three or four hundred children. The able boded men are all conscripted but I am satisfied that many of them have deserted and are now in the city hoping to escape detection...The population is but poorly supplied with food... Corn Meal is their main dependence and their supply of this was nearly exhausted when I was on shore...There are a few pigs and chickens in the city, but these are not owned by the poorest, many of whom I understand die for want of nutritious food while sick or convalescing... While on shore I came to the conclusion, from all the information that I could gather, that the Ram, building at Columbus, had been launched some months ago but was found unable to support the weight of her armor; that she had been partially stripped of her armor and was on the ways again with view to being lengthened, that work was progressing so slowly as to be almost at a stand still, and that nobody expected she ever would be finished, or, if she were, that she could get down the river."

[11 November 1864] "From the statement of this man I find that foreigners are being forced into the conscription for the Southern army … Columbus had a population of about eleven or twelve thousand inhabitants which is now much increased by the influx of refugees from Atlanta and that region of the country. These refugees are mostly women & children the men having been conscripted... Their condition is described as perfectly destitute, they are supplied by the state with enough corn meal to prevent them from starving. Columbus has several factories in operations, 1st Naval Iron works employing 400 white men 2d Hayman's factories, one of which is devoted to the manufacture of pistols, and the other to that of swords, bayonets &c ... The Dept. of Major Humphrey employs about 150 white men, and 150 women … There are no regular troops stationed at Columbus, but for the defence of the town all the workmen in the different factories & workshops are organized into companies and battalions, supposed to make up a force of about two thousand men …"

[7 November 1864] "…The town of Apalachicola occupies a most undesirable position. The rebels have no force with which to hold it, and it is of no value to us as we cannot operate in the river above it. There are no able bodied men in the place except foreigners, and deserters, the latter hiding from the rebel picket that occasionally visits town…In this state of affairs I consider that we should avoid causing suffering, but on the contrary should afford protection and endeavor to cultivate friendly feeling; and this can be done without in any way relaxing our primary duty the enforcement of the blockade. Although affording protection to the inhabitants from outrage, I must still consider their property as subject to my pleasure if, in good faith, I require any portion of it for the service of the government, but only to be appropriated under such circumstances, and then a receipt to be given which should protect from loss if the holder can prove he has not assisted the rebellion …"

[3 December 1864] "…On the morning of the 29th at daylight, I was off Hole in the Wall, where we sighted a 2 smoke stack blockade runner bound in. I gave chase, but the runner, turning quickly, placed himself within' three miles of shore...I tried some shots at her at long range she passed hoisting Confederate colors but they all fell short."

[27 September 1866] "…I will be ready for sea by this evening will proceed to Santa Cruz tomorrow morning for the purpose of procuring a clean bill of health, which cannot be procured here [St. Thomas] in consequence of the prevalence of small pox. After obtaining a bill of health, I will proceed to Barbadoes."

[28 October 1866] "…I have the honor to report that during the forenoon of this day a boat was sent on shore from this vessel from which a man deserted. Midshipman Geo. Talcolt being in charge of the boat pursued the deserter and fired at him several shots from a revolver for which he was arrested by the authorities of Marunham [Brazil]. He was subsequently released through the influence of the U.S. Consul …"

[7 November 1866] "…I have the honor to make the following special report of an occurrence which, I believe, is the first of its kind on record... the back of a large fish was seen, about a cables length from the ship, right abeam, and inclined diagonally towards her; a few moments afterwards the Engines, making at the time about fifty revolutions, suddenly stopped …At this time several pools of blood were seen to rise to the surface of the water under the stern; it was apparent that the source of this blood was from some fish caught by the propeller and held there between it and the propeller frame … evidently a Black fish or small whale...had been killed by the propeller..."

[28 February 1867] "I find it my unpleasant duty to forward to the Dept. the Enclosed original papers referring to an attempt on the part of Acting Master E.S. Godwin, attached to this vessel, to commit an unnatural crime on the person of Eugene F. Viles (drummer boy) of this vessel...I forward also his resignation to which I have appended an opinion, as required by the regulations together with a recommendation which I respectfully submit as a desirable substitute for Court Martial in order to save, as much as possible, the stigma that may be thrown up the service by giving notoriety to this flagrant case of an act tending to the destruction of good morals."

[5 March 1867] "…When I had the honor to pay my respects to you I neglected to inform you that, on entering the port, I was prevented from saluting the flag of Chile by a regulation of the service of the United States which forbids a vessel of less than ten guns to salute …"

[8 March 1867] "…It is my duty to report to you the disgraceful conduct of Acting Master Jno Ross, attached to this vessel …He was found in a state of intoxication and while in that condition went off in a shore boat in company with a washerwoman to H.B.M.S. "Topaz" laying in this Bay and flying the pennant of a British Commodore."

[15 March 1867] "…I have the honor to report to the Bureau that there were shipped in Boston for this vessel two colored boys as servants who are utterly incompetent to perform the duty, and who for numerous offences have been constantly punished and have been finally sent on deck for duty."

[26 April 1867] "…[debt] tends to dishearten the men and make them look upon their ship as a prison, where they have to serve a certain term, as the regulations forbid their having liberty on shore while in debt. I consider liberty on shore as a great aid to discipline on board ship, and I always endeavor to give my men leave whenever it does not interfere with duty…"

[Additional excerpts available.]

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