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Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead, 1865: Finding Aid

Published in April 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 20
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead
  • Dates: 1865
  • Size: 0.13 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 59 leaves
  • Creator: Blair, Andrew Alexander, 1848-1932
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: U.S.S. Marblehead was a United States Navy gunboat. Andrew Alexander Blair was a chemist, an officer in the United States Navy, and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1866. The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead spans the period of June 14-September 12, 1865. The logbook was kept by Midshipman Andrew Alexander Blair, during which time Blair was assigned to the Marblehead as part of a Naval Academy summer training cruise.

History of U.S.S. Marblehead (Gunboat)

The first U.S.S. Marblehead was launched by G. W. Jackman at Newburyport, Massachusetts, on October 16, 1861 and commissioned on March 8, 1862; Lieutenant Commander Somerville Nicholson in command.

First assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Marblehead took part in operations along the York and Pamunkey Rivers in Virginia. On May 1, 1862, she participated in the shelling of Confederate positions at Yorktown, and three months later, she joined the South Atlantic Blockading. Along with U.S.S. Passaic (Monitor), she made an unsuccessful attempt to locate the ironclad ram C.S.S. Atlanta in early February 1863. Later in the month, she took possession of the prize Glide, which had been captured by the Coast Survey schooners Caswell and Arago at the entrance of Tybee Creek, Georgia.

Operating periodically on the Stono River in South Carolina, in support of the Union defenders of James Island, Marblehead successfully prevented Confederate reinforcements from reaching the besieged Union location during an assault on July 16, 1863. She then joined in the bombardment of forts in Charleston harbor before heading north for repairs. Back on the Stono River with U.S.S. Pawnee (Screw sloop-of-war) by November, she provided cover for Army troops as they placed obstructions in the river above Legareville. On Christmas day, Marblehead and Pawnee came under fire from Confederate batteries, but weathered the assault and captured two of the enemy's seacoast howitzers.

On June 2, 1864, she was ordered to serve as a practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen at Newport. A month later, she resumed coastal patrol duties for five months before returning to practice ship duty at Newport. After completion of this duty, Marblehead decommissioned at the Washington Navy Yard on September 19, 1866. Recommissioned the following month and assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, she operated in the Caribbean for two years. On August 18, 1868, she returned to the New York Navy Yard, decommissioned September 4, and was sold on September 30.

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Biography of Andrew Alexander Blair

Andrew Alexander Blair was admitted to the United States Naval Academy on November 20, 1862, age 14 years 2 months, from Missouri as a member of the Class of 1866. He graduated from the Naval Academy on June 12, 1866, and in September he was attached to U.S.S. Resaca (Steamer), which later cruised in Alaskan water following an outbreak of yellow fever. He was commissioned an Ensign on March 12, 1868, but went on sick leave upon the expiration of his cruise in August of that year. Blair resigned from the United States Navy on August 31, 1869. Blair later became Chief Chemist of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey. He is also the author of The Chemical Analysis of Iron: A complete account of all the best known methods for the analysis of iron, steel, pig-iron, iron ore, limestone, slag, clay, sand, coal, coke, and furnace and producer gases.

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Description of Contents

The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead, comprising 0.13 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 59 leaves, spans the period of June 14-September 12, 1865. The logbook was kept by Midshipman Andrew Alexander Blair, during which time Blair was assigned to the Marblehead as part of a Naval Academy summer training cruise.

In addition to daily log entries, the journal includes mathematical equations and sketches by the author.

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Arrangement

The Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead 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 on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead 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. 13809.

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Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection also available on microfilm.

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Blair in this repository can be found in his Midshipman Conduct Record and in Office of the Superintendent/Administrative Records: Letters and Reports Received by the Superintendent Relating to Individual Midshipmen, RG 405.2.3 Entry 75.

Documentation from Blair's cruise aboard U.S.S. Resaca can be found in the Andrew Alexander Blair papers relating to the U.S.S. Resaca expedition to Alaska at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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 on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead, MS 20

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

Callahan, Edward William. List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps, from 1775 to 1900. New York: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1901.

United States Naval Academy. Official Register of the Officers and Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1863.

United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel. Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1868-1869.

Processing Information

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

  • Blair, Andrew Alexander, 1848-1932
  • Marblehead (Gunboat)
  • United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Journal of a Cruise on board the U.S. Practice Ship Marblehead, 1865

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