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Franklin Buchanan Naval Papers, 1796-1847 (bulk 1817-1847): Finding Aid

Published in July 2014

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 1
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Franklin Buchanan Naval Papers
  • Dates: 1796-1847
  • Bulk Dates: 1817-1847
  • Size: 1.8 linear feet (12 volumes)
  • Creator: Buchanan, Franklin, 1800-1874
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Franklin Buchanan was an officer in the United States Navy, first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, and an admiral in the Confederate Navy. The Buchanan Papers cover the first half of his naval career, from his time as a U.S. Navy midshipman through his superintendency of the United States Naval Academy.

Biography of Franklin Buchanan

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Franklin Buchanan was born on September 17, 1800. Warranted as a midshipman in the United States Navy in January 1815, Buchanan sailed initially in the Mediterranean aboard U.S.S. Java and U.S.S. Franklin. Punctuated by several furloughs and other assignments, Buchanan served on and off in the Mediterranean Squadron until 1834. In 1839, Buchanan was assigned to the South Pacific Squadron as flag lieutenant to Commodore Alexander Claxton. Following promotion to Commander in September 1841, Buchanan served two years of anti-slave and anti-pirating duty in the Caribbean.

Buchanan was next tasked by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft to draft a plan for the Naval School (United States Naval Academy) at Annapolis, after completion of which he was named the school's first Superintendent. Following two years at the Academy, Buchanan returned to the fleet as commander of U.S.S. Germantown, which served as one of Commodore Matthew Perry's flagships during the Mexican War. Several years later, in 1853, Buchanan again found himself in command of one of Perry's flagships, the Susquehanna, during the Commodore's expedition to Japan.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Franklin Buchanan resigned his commission from the U.S. Navy and was commissioned as a Captain in the Confederate Navy, despite the failure of Buchanan's home state of Maryland to secede from the Union. Following a brief tour as Chief of the Bureau of Orders and Detail, Buchanan assumed command of the ironclad C.S.S. Virginia (ex-Merrimack), and was in command of said vessel until he was injured one day shy of her engagement with the U.S.S. Monitor at Hampton Roads. In August 1862, Buchanan was promoted to Admiral, and in 1863, assumed command of the Confederate naval defenses of Mobile, Alabama. Injured again during the Battle of Mobile Bay, Buchanan surrendered to Admiral David Farragut and was held as a Prisoner of War until February 1865. Franklin Buchanan subsequently retired from all naval service, and died in Maryland on May 11, 1874.

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Description of Contents

The Franklin Buchanan Naval Papers, comprising 1.8 linear feet of documentation, span primarily from 1817 to 1847, with one document dating as early as 1796. The materials, which were produced or maintained by Buchanan, or by those under his command, cover the first half of his naval career, from his time as a U.S. Navy midshipman through his superintendency of the United States Naval Academy.

Included in the collection are cruise journals, letterbooks, tables, instructional works, and memoirs.

The Buchanan Papers are organized into three series by document type. Series 1 comprises Buchanan's journals, serving a function similar to logbooks, which span from his service as a U.S. Navy midshipman through his command of U.S.S. Vincennes, covering cruises in the waters of England, Asia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the East Coast of the United States. Several of the journals share the same volume and may represent copies, as opposed to originals. Buchanan's letterbooks as commanding officer of U.S.S. Vincennes and as Superintendent of the Naval School at Annapolis make up Series 2. The Vincennes letterbooks, which focus primarily on shipboard matters such as crew conduct, supplies, and repairs, also offer a view of American-Mexican relations and the role of the U.S. Navy in diplomacy in the Gulf of Mexico. The Naval School letterbook focuses wholly on the establishment and early operations of the U.S. Naval Academy. The final series consists of instructional and reference works on topics such as seamanship, naval etiquette, and the coastal geography of southern China and Vietnam.

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Arrangement

The Franklin Buchanan Naval Papers are organized into the following three series:

  • Series 1: Journals, 1817-1844
  • Series 2: Letterbooks, 1838-1847
  • Series 3: Instructional and Reference Works, 1796-1838
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Access and Use

Access

Access is restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The Franklin Buchanan Naval 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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Custodial History

Journal of the U.S.S. Prometheus and the U.S.S. Franklin, 1817-1818 was formerly cataloged as MS 1.

Journal kept on board the U.S.S. Franklin, 1818-1820 was formerly cataloged as MS 2.

Journal of the Dorothea and the U.S.S. Java, 1817, 1821-1822 was formerly cataloged as MS 5.

Journal of the Baltimore, the Ruth, and the U.S.S. Natchez, 1826-1828 was formerly cataloged as MS 6.

Journal of a cruise in the U.S.S. Mississippi, U.S.S. Vincennes, U.S.S. Weasel, U.S.S. Hornet, and U.S.S. Natchez, 1823-1844 was formerly cataloged as MS 31.

Letter Book U.S. Ship Vincennes, 1942-1844 was formerly cataloged as MS 30.

Letters U.S.S. Vincennes, 1838-1844 was formerly cataloged as MS 61.

Naval School letter book, 1845-1847 was formerly cataloged as MS 36.

Rigging tables, 1834 was formerly cataloged as MS 47.

The Cochinchinese Pilot, 1796-1835 was formerly cataloged as MS 57.

Instructions regarding Salutes Established by Her Majesty's Order in Council of 1st February 1838 was formerly cataloged as MS 71.

Lessons for younger Officers before examination was formerly cataloged as MS 46.

Provenance and Acquisition

Accession Nos. 33619, 33620, 33621, 33622, 33623, 33624, gift of Miss Letitia Buchanan in October 1893. Accession Nos. 49330, 49332, 49333, 49334, 49335, 49336, gift of Miss Letitia Buchanan [?] in November 1908.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Franklin Buchanan's tour as Superintendent of the Naval Academy is located in Records of the United States Naval Academy, RG 405.2 Entry 1 and Entry 25.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Franklin Buchanan Naval Papers, MS 1

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in August 2014. Four item level scope notes written by Jennifer A. Bryan in 2004. Remainder of finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in August 2014.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Baltimore (Frigate)
  • Buchanan, Franklin, 1800-1874
  • China -- Description and travel
  • Dayot, Jean Marie
  • Dorothea (Ship)
  • Franklin (Ship-of-the-Line)
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • Hornet (Brig)
  • Java (Frigate)
  • Masts and rigging
  • Military ceremonies, honors, and salutes
  • Mississippi (Side-wheel steamer)
  • Natchez (Sloop-of-War)
  • Prometheus (Brig)
  • Ruth (Brig)
  • Seamanship
  • Texan Mier Expedition (1842-1844)
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Mexico
  • United States Naval Academy -- Curricula -- History
  • United States Naval Academy -- Faculty
  • United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • United States Naval Academy -- Officials and employees
  • United States Naval Academy -- Regulations
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students
  • United States Naval Academy. Superintendent
  • United States. Navy -- Handbooks, manuals, etc
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • United States. Navy. Home Squadron
  • United States. Navy. Mediterranean Squadron
  • United States. Navy. South Atlantic Squadron
  • United States. Navy. West India Squadron
  • Vietnam, Southern -- Description and travel
  • Vincennes (Sloop-of-War)
  • Voyages and travels
  • Weasel (Schooner)
  • Whittaker, Robert

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Handbooks
  • Journals (accounts)
  • Letter books
  • Manuscripts
  • Orders (military records)
  • Ships' logs
  • Tables (documents)
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Contents List

Series 1: Journals, 1817-1844 Boxes1-5

Series Description

Journals maintained by, or under the direction of, Franklin Buchanan. The journals, which function in a similar manner to a ship's official logbook, are the product of cruises aboard the U.S.S. Prometheus, U.S.S. Franklin, U.S.S. Java, U.S.S. Mississippi, U.S.S. Vincennes, U.S.S. Weasel, U.S.S. Hornet, U.S.S. Natchez, the Dorothea, the Baltimore, and the Ruth.

The journals typically include notations on the ships' course, speed, location at time of entry, and a selection of remarks. The remarks often pertain to weather conditions, current state of the sails, operations with other U.S. Navy vessels, sightings of non-Navy vessels, and personnel matters.

Series Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Journal of the U.S.S. Prometheus and the U.S.S. Franklin, 1817-1818 1 volume (71 leaves)

Midshipman Franklin Buchanan (1800-1874) kept this journal as part of his naval training.

Box 1
Journal kept on board the U.S. Brig Prometheus, 1817 July 13-16 leaves 2-4

The first few pages of the volume cover the cruise of the Prometheus (brig) from Newport, Rhode Island to Portland, Maine between 13 July and 16 July 1817. In 1817, the Prometheus was employed in surveying the U.S. coast north of Newport.

Box 1
Journal kept on board the U.S. Ship Franklin, 1817 November 21-1818 August 25 leaves 5-71

The bulk of the journal is devoted to the first cruise of the Franklin (ship-of-the-line) and spans the dates 23 November 1817 to 25 August 1818. The Franklin carried Richard Rush, the U.S. minister to Great Britain, to his post. Also on board was Commodore Charles Stewart, who was to take command of the Mediterranean Squadron. The Franklin reached England in December and joined the Mediterranean Squadron at Syracuse in Sicily on 29 January 1818. On 1 February, Commodore Stewart took command, making the Franklin the flagship of the squadron.

Among the daily activities and events Buchanan recorded are the departure from the ship of Rush and his party for London, the Russian fleet anchored off Spithead, and three Portuguese frigates and a brig blockading a Tunisian sloop of war and schooner in Gibraltar Bay.

Box 2

Journal kept on board the U.S.S. Franklin, 1818 August 23-1820 April 21 1 volume (162 leaves)

As part of his naval training, Midshipman Franklin Buchanan kept this journal from 23 August 1818 to 21 April 1820. The Franklin (ship-of-the-line) was the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron and cruised on station there until March 1820, returning to New York on 24 April 1820. Among the ports of call were Syracuse, Palermo, Naples, Cadiz, Port Mahon, and Leghorn [Livorno].

The volume includes two pencil sketches, one a profile bust of Benjamin Franklin outlined in pen with the Latin motto "Eripuit fulmen coelo, Sceptrumque tyranis" written above, and the other a half-length bust of George Washington. The ship's captain, Master Commandant Henry E. Ballard, left the Franklin on 15 November 1818 to take command of the U.S.S. Erie (sloop-of-war) and Lieutenant John Gallagher took command of the Franklin. Commanding officers were supposed to examine the midshipmen's record keeping and the frequency of Gallagher's signature in the journal indicates that he reviewed Buchanan's work regularly, whereas the only time "Examined H.E. Ballard" appears is on the date of his departure for the Erie.

Among items of note is Commodore Charles Stewart's general order of 8 July 1819 suspending from their duties Ballard, Gallagher, Captain Thomas McDonough, commander of the U.S.S. Guerriere (frigate), Master Commandant Joseph J. Nicholson, commander of the U.S.S. Spark (brig), and Lieutenant Benjamin Page, Jr. of the Franklin. From July until the end of the cruise, Lieutenant Joseph Wragg examined Buchanan's journal. At the end of the volume are a few pages with penciled lists of clothing and on the last page a diagram of "Franklin's Spirit-room."

Box 3

Journal of the Dorothea and the U.S.S. Java, 1817, 1821-1822 1 volume (149 leaves)

The bulk of this journal covers the voyage of the Dorothea (ship) from Philadelphia to Canton [Guangzhou] and back between 7 April 1821 and 11 June 1822. About thirty pages relate to the cruise of the U. S. S. Java (frigate) from Gibraltar to Boston between 25 January 1817 and 2 March 1817. Franklin Buchanan, the journal's author, served as a midshipman aboard the Java and as second officer aboard the Dorothea. Since the Java entries fall between the record of the Dorothea and a "List of American Ships at Whampoa, on, & after the arrival of the Dorothea," it is probable that Buchanan copied at least the portion of the journal related to the Java from another volume.

Journal of the Baltimore, the Ruth, and the U.S.S. Natchez, 1826-1828 1 volume (72 leaves)

On the last few pages of the volume, Buchanan has written the dimensions of the hull and spars of the Java (frigate) and Constellation (frigate). The closing pages of the volume also include pencil drawings of two dwellings.

Box 4
Journal kept on board the Frigate Baltimore, 1826 October 30-1827 January 5 leaves 1-30

The first portion of this journal relates to the voyage of the Baltimore (frigate) from Baltimore to Rio de Janeiro between 30 October 1826 and 5 January 1827. Lieutenant Franklin Buchanan, on a leave of absence from the Navy, commanded the vessel, which had been built for the Brazilian Navy. On the first few pages of the volume, he has recorded the ship's dimensions and the dimensions of the masts and spars. The Baltimore arrived in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro on 25 December 1826. On 4 January 1827, Buchanan discharged the crew and the next day delivered the frigate to "Captn Thompson" of the Brazilian Navy.

Box 4
Journal kept on board the Brig Ruth, 1827 February 9-April 2 leaves 31-56

The Ruth (brig) was the ship Buchanan took on his return trip to the United States. The vessel left Rio de Janeiro on 9 February 1827 and arrived in Philadelphia on 2 April 1827. Buchanan recorded the longitude by chronometer and dead reckoning throughout the voyage.

Box 4
Journal kept on board the U.S. Ship Natchez, 1827 July 2-1828 November 24 leaves 57-66

A lieutenant aboard the Natchez (sloop-of-war), Buchanan recorded that vessel's first cruise (2 July 1827-24 November 1828). The Natchez patrolled Caribbean waters as part of the West India Squadron. Ports of call included Santiago, Havana, Campeche, Vera Cruz, Tampico, and Pensacola. The Natchez was forced to return to New York because of an outbreak of yellow fever among the crew.

Journal of a cruise in the U.S.S. Mississippi, U.S.S. Vincennes, U.S.S. Weasel, U.S.S. Hornet, and U.S.S. Natchez, 1823-1844 1 volume (112 leaves)

At the front of the volume are a table of the number of miles logged by U.S.S. Vincennes and an 1838 list of U.S. Navy vessels. Starting from the back of the volume is a section of notes on the composition of various shipboard paints and materials.

Box 5
Journal of a Cruise In the U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi, 1842 April 1-November 19 leaves 4-7

As a commander aboard the Mississippi, Buchanan recorded the vessel's cruises between New York Harbor, the Potomac River, and Boston Harbor while under the command of William D. Salter. While in the Potomac, the Mississippi operated alongside U.S.S. Missouri during both ships' trial runs. On 6 April, Alexander Slidell Mackenzie reported that the Missouri had run aground and 16 of her men had drowned attempting to free her. The journal includes a list of officers of the Mississippi.

Box 5
Journal of a Cruise In the U. States Ship Vincennes, 1842 December 17-1844 August 15 leaves 8-69

The journal is the product of a cruise and Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico waters while Vincennes was under Buchanan's command. The journal begins with Buchanan's assumption of command in New York, and includes port calls and anchorages at Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Blanco, Island of Sacrificios, Pensacola, Campeche, Havana, and Galveston. The journal includes a list of officers of the Vincennes.

Box 5
Journal of a Cruise in the United States Schooner Weasel, 1823 February 15-28 leaves 70-78

As an acting master, Buchanan kept this journal of a cruise of the Weasel while under the command of Lieutenant Commander Beverly Kennon. The Weasel was serving at the time as part of Commodore Porter's West India Squadron. The journal includes a list of the Weasel's officers and of the ships of Porter's squadron.

Box 5
Journal Kept on board of the U.S. Ship Hornet, 1824 July 30-1825 February 22 leaves 79-91

The journal was kept by Buchanan while serving on board the 18 gun brig Hornet, under the command of Edmund P. Kennedy. The journal commences with the Hornet putting to sea from Hampton Roads for a cruise in the Caribbean with anchorages and port calls at Montserrat, Havana, Key West, and Santiago de Cuba. The journal includes a list of officers of the Hornet.

Box 5
Journal of a Cruise in the United States Ship Natchez, 1827 July 2-1828 November 24 leaves 92-103

Lieutenant Buchanan kept this log of a cruise of the Natchez, under the command of George Budd, while she was attached to Charles Ridgely's West India Squadron. The log commences at Norfolk, and includes anchorages and port calls at Havana, Pensacola, and Key West. The log includes a list of officers of the Natchez, as well as instructions for entering and anchoring at Pensacola, Matanzas, Campeche, Tampico, and Port Francis.

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Series 2: Letterbooks, 1838-1847 Boxes 6-8

Series Description

Letterbooks of official correspondence sent and received by Franklin Buchanan. The letterbooks are the product of Buchanan's service as commanding officer of U.S.S. Vincennes and his tour as the first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Correspondence from Buchanan's tour aboard Vincennes tends to focus on the ship's physical condition, missions in the Gulf of Mexico, diplomatic relations with Mexico, and crew conduct, while the Naval School correspondence pertains primarily to the establishment, organization, and early operations of the Naval Academy.

The letterbooks consist of copies of letters sent and originals of letters received. Typical correspondents include squadron commanders, Navy Department officials, the Secretary of the Navy, and officers and crew serving under Buchanan's command.

Series Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Box 6

Letter Book U.S. Ship Vincennes, 1842 December 12-1844 August 14 1 volume (103 leaves)

The letterbook consists of copies of outgoing correspondence sent by Franklin Buchanan, commanding officer of the Vincennes. The correspondence, created during a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies protecting American commerce, pertains to issues such as crew conduct, pay, ship's equipment, supplies, and action reports. An index to correspondents appears at the front of the volume.

Box 7

Letters U.S.S. Vincennes, 1838 October 4-1844 August 13 1 volume (194 leaves)

The letterbook consists of incoming correspondence received by Franklin Buchanan, commanding officer of the Vincennes. The correspondence, which spans primarily from 16 November 1842 to 13 August 1844 during a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies protecting American commerce, pertains to such subjects as ship's equipment, supplies, personnel matters, repairs, and orders. Specific entries include letters on corporal punishment (29 May 1840), Buchanan's assumption of command (16 November 1842), anti-piracy operations (19 January 1843), efforts to free George B. Crittenden of the Mier Expedition (March-April, September 1843), denial of entry into Campeche (12 April 1843), suppression of the slave trade (March-April 1843), ceremonies surrounding the death of David Porter (3 May 1843), the Navy's diplomatic role in the Gulf of Mexico (April-July 1843), the dismissal of Midshipman Charles R. Smith, Santa Anna's treatment of foreigners (6 October 1843), charges of improper relations with ships' boys aboard Vincennes (2 February 1844), disturbances at Santa Domingo (15 April 1844), and operations regarding the Republic of Texas (April-May 1844).

Box 9

Naval School letter book, 1845 August 14-1847 March 9 1 volume (104 leaves)

The letterbook of the U.S. Naval School consists of copies of outgoing correspondence sent by Franklin Buchanan, first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, known at the time as the United States Naval School. The correspondence, addressed to officials such as Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, pertains to such subjects as the general organization of the Naval School, staff appointments, school regulations, course of study, facilities, and the appointment and conduct of midshipmen. The volume includes a copy of the Naval School's first regulations, as well as a list of text books used at the school, the latter of which is located towards the end of the volume.

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Series 3: Instructional and Reference Works, 1796-1838 Boxes 9-12

Series Description

Tables, instructions, and other reference works kept by Buchanan pertaining to topics such as ships' rigging, seamanship, the rendering of salutes, and the coastal geography of Cochinchina (South Vietnam) and southern China.

Included in the series is a copy of Jean-Marie Dayot's 1796 "Memoir on the Coast and Harbours of Cochinchina." Another of the items in the series, "Lessons for younger Officers before examination," was dedicated to Buchanan by Boatswain Robert Whittaker, who served under Buchanan's command.

Series Arrangement

Arranged chronologically.

Box 9

Rigging tables, 1834 1 volume (76 leaves)

The volume, compiled by Franklin Buchanan wile a lieutenant, consists primarily of tables of information on rigging and rigging blocks for various classes of U.S. Navy vessels.

The Cochinchinese Pilot, 1796-1835 1 volume (73 leaves)

Pencilled on front flyleaf "Lt. F. Buchanan, U.S.N. - in charge of W.S.W. Ruschenberger - for the use of the officers of the U.S.S. Peacock, March 26, 1835." Tipped in to the front of the volume are notes regarding Arrowsmith's mapping of Cochinchina.

Box 10
Memoir on the Coast and Harbours of Cochinchina, 1796, 1807 pages 1-97

Full title reads "Memoir on the Coast and Harbours of Cochinchina, intended as a direction for the Charts and Plans of this part of the China-Seas, by J.M. Dayot, Mandarin of the Court of Cochinchina, 1796." The memoir, which includes section entitled "Of the Winds and Currents," "Description of the Coast of Cochinchina," includes descriptions of the various harbors, rivers, bays, and islands of the Cochinchina (South Vietnam) coast, as well as notes on salutes, gift giving, and other matters of etiquette. The memoir includes an introduction by Dayot, dated 1807.

Box 10
Directions to accompany the Charts of the South Coast of China, undated Pages 98-130

Compiled by Daniel Ross, Lieutenant in the Bombay Marine. The charts that the directions were meant to accompany were the product of an 1806-1807 survey.

Box 10
Memoranda of Shoals and Islands composing the Group commonly called Paracels, etc. etc., undated Pages 131-140

Full title reads "Memoranda of Shoals and Islands composing the Group commonly called Paracels, etc. etc. their situation being determined by the Honorable Company's Cruisers, Discovery and Antelope..." The memoranda appears in the same handwriting as that of the "Directions to accompany the Charts of the South Coast of China."

Box 11

Instructions regarding Salutes Established by Her Majesty's Order in Council of 1st February 1838, 1839 1 volume (20 leaves)

The volume includes sections entitled "Royal Salutes," "Salutes to Diplomatic Authorities," "Salutes to Authorities placed in charge and command of the Army or of the Navy of the United Kingdom," "Salutes to Officers of the Army and Navy," "Salutes to Governors, etc. of Her Majesty's Possessions and Fortresses," "Salutes to Foreigners of Distinction," and "Miscellaneous."

Box 12

Lessons for younger Officers before examination, undated 1 volume (15 leaves)

The volume, compiled by U.S. Navy Boatswain Robert Whittaker, includes lessons on topics such as masting a ship, securing stays, freeing a grounded ship, carrying out anchors, forming a raft, making a temporary rudder, rigging a jury bowsprit, cleaning the a ship's bottom, heaving out, and transporting a sheet anchor. The volume includes hand-drawn diagrams of riggings, anchors, and hulls. The volume is dedicated to Franklin Buchanan and makes reference to actions taken by Buchanan while in command of U.S.S. Vincennes.

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