John H. Knowles, 1830-1895.
John H. Knowles, 1830-1895.

Guide to the John H. Knowles Papers, 1864-1914

MS 382

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: Jennifer A. Bryan


Descriptive Summary

The John H. Knowles Papers were donated to the Special Collections and Archives Department by Mr. and Mrs. Morris Snyder. Accession No. 84-24.
28 items.
Access to the John H. Knowles Papers is unrestricted.
The John H. Knowles Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
John H. Knowles Papers, MS 382
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

John H. Knowles was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island on August 30, 1830. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1855. During the Civil War, he served as a quartermaster aboard the U.S.S. Hartford (screw sloop-of-war), the flagship of David G. Farragut, commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. At the Battle of Mobile Bay, when Farragut climbed the Hartford's rigging to obtain a better view, Captain Percival Drayton became concerned that his commanding officer might be wounded or lose his balance and fall. Knowles is the man Drayton reputedly sent aloft to lash Farragut to the rigging. Knowles spent his latter years at the U.S. Naval Academy, serving aboard the academy's training vessels. He died in Annapolis on April 9, 1895.

Scope and Content Note

The collection spans the dates 1864 to 1914, and consists mostly of Knowles' discharge papers and documents relating to a widow's pension for Mary A.E. Knowles. With the exception of the U.S.S. Hartford, all the ships mentioned were training ships at the U.S. Naval Academy. Four items relate to Knowles' attempt to claim bounty money for vessels destroyed at New Orleans during the Civil War.

Knowles' discharge from the U.S.S. Phlox (side wheel steamer) on March 17, 1874 describes his numerous tattoos. In a letter dated November 1, 1895 to Mary A.E. Knowles concerning her widow's pension, Captain John Crittenden Watson writes, "Your husband was an honored shipmate of mine and one of the heroes of the Civil War." Watson served aboard the Hartford at the Battle of Mobile Bay and retired with the rank of rear admiral.

Included among the documents is a cabinet card of Knowles preparing to repel boarders and the decorative metal clasp for a ribbon or medal.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Papers, 1864-1914
2 Continuous Service Certificate, 1874-1886
Decorative metal clasp