Guide to the Moses A. Lane Papers, 1852-1888
A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029
Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
Moses A. Lane, birth date unknown, was a career serviceman in the United States Navy, serving most of his career as a gunner. Lane joined the Navy on January 28, 1852, with his first duty station aboard the U.S.S. Levant, before being detached and transferred to the U.S.S. St. Louis, which was charged with suppressing the slave trade along the western coast of Africa. Following a three month leave in 1858, and a brief assignment at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Lane was attached to the U.S.S. John Adams in 1859, which served in the Pacific until the outbreak of the Civil War, when it was transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy, temporarily relocated to Newport, Rhode Island, as a training vessel. It is around this time that Lane was ordered to the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, in May 1862, for ordnance duty. One year later, Lane transferred to the gunboat U.S.S Cimarron.
The Cimarron, a double-ended steam gunboat, was primarily assigned to blockade duty with the Atlantic Blockading Squadron during Lane's time onboard. While the Cimarron's primary duty was blockading off South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the ship also took part in the attack on Fort Wagner in Charleston Harbor in late August 1863.
Beginning in 1877, Lane's next major recorded duty came aboard the screw sloop of war, U.S.S. Plymouth, which operated off the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean. Lane was placed on the retired list on January 11, 1885, and died on October 31, 1888.
Little is known about the personal life of Moses A. Lane, other than that he was married (possibly to a woman named Annie, referred to by first name throughout the collection), and had a sister, whose name is unknown, and possibly a brother named Joe (also referenced throughout the collection).
Scope and Content Note
The Moses A. Lane Papers, spanning from 1852 to 1888 [bulk 1862-1878], consist of fourteen handwritten letters (with typed transcriptions) and five photocopies of service records. The papers offer a glimpse into the career and Civil War service of gunner Moses A. Lane.
Organized into a single series, the collection is arranged into two folders by document type, and thereunder chronologically. All of the letters are from Moses A. Lane to his sister (addressed simply “My Dear Sister”) and date primarily from his time at the New York Navy Yard in 1862, aboard the U.S.S. Cimarron in 1863 and 1864, and aboard the U.S.S. Plymouth in 1878. The letters refer primarily to life on the home front, and the U.S. Army service of a man, possibly Lane’s brother, named Joe. Regarding Lane’s service in the Navy, little is said aside from complaints about ordnance duty and reductions in pay and benefits. The service records, all photocopies, span Lane’s entire career.
The Moses A. Lane Papers reflect the tedium of blockade duty. As a result, very little about Lane’s responsibilities or experiences aboard U.S. ships Cimarron and Plymouth, or at the New York Navy Yard, can be gleaned from the papers.