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Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack, 1856-1858: Finding Aid

Published in May 2020

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 15
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack
  • Dates: 1856-1858
  • Size: 0.17 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 100 leaves
  • Creator: Merrimack (Frigate)
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: U.S.S. Merrimack was a United States Navy screw frigate that was converted to the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Virginia. The Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack spans the period of August 4, 1856-November 25, 1858. The logbook was kept while Merrimack was under the command of Garrett J. Pendergrast, followed by Robert B. Hitchcock.

History of U.S.S. Merrimack (Frigate)

The second U.S.S. Merrimack, a screw frigate, was launched by the Boston Navy Yard on June 15, 1855, and commissioned on February 20, 1856, Captain Garrett J. Pendergrast in command. Her shakedown took her to Caribbean and European waters, with visits to Southampton, Brest, Lisbon, and Toulon before returning to Boston and decommissioning on April 22, 1857 for repairs. Recommissioning on September 1, 1857, Merrimack got underway from Boston Harbor on October 17 as flagship for the Pacific Squadron. She cruised the Pacific coast of South and Central America until heading for home on November 14, 1859. Upon returning to Norfolk, she decommissioned on February 16, 1860.

Soon after taking office in March 1861, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles took action to prepare Merrimack for sea to move her to Philadelphia. On the afternoon of April 17, the day Virginia seceded, Engineer in Chief Benjamin F. Isherwood managed to start the frigate's engines, but secessionists had obstructed the channel between Craney Island and Sewell's Point the previous night, blocking Merrimack. On the 20th, before evacuating the Navy Yard, the U.S. Navy burned and scuttled Merrimack to prevent her capture.

In need of ships, the Confederates raised Merrimack and rebuilt her as the ironclad C.S.S. Virginia, according to a design by Lieutenant John Mercer Brooke. Commissioned on February 17, 1862, Virginia would achieve fame as the Confederate combatant in the Battle of Hampton Roads against U.S.S. Monitor in March 1862. The ship was burned and scuttled for a second and final time on May 11, 1862.

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Description of Contents

The Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack, comprising 0.17 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 100 leaves, spans the period of August 4, 1856-November 25, 1858. The logbook was kept while Merrimack was under the command of Garrett J. Pendergrast, followed by Robert B. Hitchcock.

The volume begins with the events and conditions during the Merrimack's shakedown cruise in the Caribbean and cruises to Southampton, Brest, Lisbon, and Cadiz under Pendergrast. The volume also records her cruise as flagship of the Pacific Squadron to South America, Central America, and Honolulu under Hitchcock.

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Arrangement

The Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack comprises a single volume.

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Access and Use

Access

Patron use restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack is 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

Provenance and Acquisition

Accessioned on February 3, 1872. Accession No. 13838.

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Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection also available on microfilm.

Related Archival Material

Additional documentation pertaining to U.S.S. Merrimack in this repository can be found in the William Henry Shock Papers, 1844-1902, MS 321; and the Joseph Foster Green Papers, 1844-1873, MS 369.

Official logbooks of U.S.S. Merrimack may be available in Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, ca. 1801 - 1940, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007 at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack, MS 15

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

"Merrimack II (ScFr)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2015, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/m/merrimack-ii.html.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in May 2020.

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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

  • Hitchcock, Robert B.
  • Merrimack (Frigate)
  • Pendergrast, Garrett J.
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • United States. Navy. Pacific Squadron

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Journal of a Cruise onboard U.S. Steam Frigate Merrimack, 1856-1858

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