U.S.S. Colorado, from the Navy League Journal, August 1904.
U.S.S. Colorado, from the Navy League Journal, August 1904.

Guide to the Marcus M. Whipple Papers, 1862-1864

MS 217

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: David D'Onofrio

April 2009

Descriptive Summary

Purchase. Accession No. 04-02.
1.5 linear inches.
Access to the Marcus M. Whipple Papers is unrestricted.
The Marcus M. Whipple 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:
Marcus M. Whipple Papers, MS 217
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Marcus M. Whipple was born on August 27, 1840 to Mr. and Mrs. James Whipple. Whipple, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, enlisted in the Union Navy on September 30, 1862 for one year. After training aboard U.S.S. Santee (frigate) and a nearly month-long stay aboard the receiving ship U.S.S. Ohio (ship-of-the-line), Whipple was transferred to U.S.S. Colorado (screw frigate) of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, where he served for the remainder of his enlistment. Aboard Colorado, Whipple served as a fireman, before ultimately being promoted to oiler, a position he held until Colorado's decommissioning in February 1864.

Scope and Content Note

The Marcus Whipple Papers span two years, from 1862 to 1864, including fifteen months of Whipple's service in the Union Navy, from September 1862 to January 1864. The papers (two diaries and four letters) focus on Whipple's time aboard U.S.S. Colorado as a fireman and oiler.

The Whipple Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The two diaries, spanning from January 1862 to January 1864, consist of brief, daily, handwritten entries. Prior to his enlistment in the Navy, Whipple's diaries allude primarily to hours of work performed, recreational activities, and personal finances. The remainder of the diary entries are the product of Whipple's Navy service, and include brief mentions of weather, ports of call, purchases, ships encountered, visits by flag officers, and shipboard duties and events, such as watch keeping, cleaning, coaling, and engine repair. The letters, three of which were written by Whipple (two addressed to his mother, one to his brother Fred), make mention of his training as an oiler, conditions at home, other correspondents, the monotony of blockade duty, and his desire for the war to come to an end. The fourth letter, a letter of transmittal from Fred Whipple, conveys one of Marcus' letters to their mother.

The Marcus M. Whipple Papers, while offering few specifics pertaining to Whipple's duties and opinions, reflect the general nature, and often tedium, of blockade duty during the Civil War.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Correspondence, November 16, 1862

To Mrs. James Whipple, from U.S.S. Colorado, Portsmouth Navy Yard. Includes descriptions of training, conditions in the engine room, and requests for supplies from home.

2 Correspondence, February 1, 1863

To Mrs. James Whipple, from U.S.S. Colorado, Brooklyn Navy Yard. Includes discussions of engine repairs, the "dull" nature of naval duty, and Whipple's hope that peace be declared quickly.

3 Correspondence, August 28, 1863

To Fred Whipple, from U.S.S. Colorado, off Mobile Bay. Includes discussion of Whipple's planned return home in October, loss of weight due to heat, poor food quality aboard, the military draft, and predictions of an easy Union victory at Fort Morgan, Alabama. Also includes a letter of transmittal from Fred Whipple to Mrs. James Whipple, dated October 5, 1863.

4 Diary, 1862

Includes mentions of enlisting in the Union Navy (September 30), a man cutting his throat with a jackknife (October 29), and transfer to U.S.S. Colorado (November 5).

5 Diary, January 1863 - January 1864

Includes mentions of the dull nature of blockade duty (March 18), visits from Admiral Farragut (April 15 and July 27), and engagements with blockade runners (March 25, April 4, May 10).