Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs, 1896-1910: Finding Aid
Published in February 2022
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 33
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs
- Dates: 1896-1910
- Size: 0.13 linear feet
- Container Summary: 7 folders, 1 oversize folder
- Creator: Crowninshield, A. S. (Arent Schuyler), 1843-1908
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: Arent S. Crowninshield was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1864. The Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs, comprising 0.13 linear feet of documentation, were written between 1896 and 1903, with additional notations and documents dated as late as 1910, and covers Crowninshield's life and U.S. Navy career from 1843 to 1892. In varying levels of detail, the memoirs recount Crowninshield's time as a Naval Academy midshipman, his service during the American Civil War, his tours in Asia aboard U.S.S. Hartford and U.S.S. Lackawanna, his European cruises aboard U.S.S. Richmond, and his commands of the training ships U.S.S. Portsmouth and U.S.S. St. Mary's.
Biographical Chronology of Arent Schuyler Crowninshield
- Born on March 14 in Seneca Falls, New York to Jacob and Mary Miller Crowninshield.
- On September 21, appointed to the United States Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1864.
- In May, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
- On May 28, commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy.
- On June 15, attached to U.S.S. Juniata (Screw sloop-of-war) of the West India Squadron.
- On December 21, detached and waiting orders.
- On February 10, attached to U.S.S. Ticonderoga (Screw sloop-of-war) of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
- On May 2, assigned to the New York Navy Yard.
- On June 22, detached and waiting orders.
- On July 10, attached to U.S.S. Hartford (Screw sloop-of-war) of the East India Squadron.
- On November 10, promoted to Master.
- On November 12, promoted to Lieutenant.
- On March 10, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
- On August 7, detached from U.S.S. Hartford and waiting orders.
- In October, attached to the United States Naval Academy as an Assistant to the Commandant of Midshipmen.
- On December 8, detached from the Naval Academy for duty aboard U.S.S. Richmond (Screw sloop-of-war) of the European Squadron.
- On July 27, marries Mary Bradford.
- On November 3, detached and waiting orders.
- On November 21, granted leave of absence.
- On March 6, assigned to ordnance duty at the Boston Navy Yard.
- On July 5, detached and granted leave of absence.
- On April 22, ordered to duty aboard U.S.S. Lackawanna (Screw sloop-of-war) on the Asiatic Station.
- In May, reports for duty as Executive Officer aboard U.S.S. Lackawanna.
- On April 20, detached from U.S.S. Lackawanna.
- On May 18, granted leave of absence.
- On October 14, assigned to ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard.
- On June 24, assigned additional duty as Inspector of Ordnance.
- On July 31, detached from the Washington Navy Yard.
- On August 7, assumes command of the training ship U.S.S. Portsmouth (Sloop-of-war).
- On March 25, promoted to Commander.
- On June 29, appointed member of a Naval Advisory Board.
- On November 10, Naval Advisory Board dissolved.
- On January 10, attached to the Signal Office in Washington, DC.
- On May 4, granted leave of absence.
- On September 27, appointed Inspector for the 1st Lighthouse District in Portland, Maine.
- On November 4, appointed member of the Naval Advisory Board responsible for creating the Squadron of Evolution at Washington, DC.
- On December 24, detached from the Naval Advisory Board.
- On January 3, assumes command of the training ship U.S.S. St. Mary's (Sloop-of-war).
- On January 3, detached and waiting orders.
- On April 29, reports as member of a General Court-Martial.
- On October 6, assigned to ordnance duty at the New York Navy Yard.
- On March 27, assumes command of U.S.S. Kearsarge (Screw sloop-of-war) on the North Atlantic Station.
- On November 23, reports as Senior Member of the Board of Inspection at the New York Navy Yard.
- In July, granted leave of absence.
- On July 21, promoted to Captain.
- On December 11, assumes command of the receiving ship U.S.S. Richmond (Screw sloop-of-war) at Philadelphia.
- In March , appointed member of a Naval Examining Board at Philadelphia.
- On September 17, assumes command of U.S.S. Maine (Battleship) on the North Atlantic Station.
- On April 8, commissioned as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.
- On March 3, temporarily promoted to Rear Admiral.
- On March 16, permanently promoted to Rear Admiral.
- On April 30, assumes command of the European Station aboard U.S.S. Illinois (Battleship: BB-7) and later, U.S.S. Chicago (Protected cruiser).
- On March 20, transferred to the Retired List.
- On May 27, dies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is subsequently interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Description of Contents
The Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs, comprising 0.13 linear feet of documentation, were written between 1896 and 1903, with additional notations and documents dated as late as 1910, and covers Crowninshield's life and U.S. Navy career from 1843 to 1892. In varying levels of detail, the memoirs recount Crowninshield's time as a Naval Academy midshipman, his service during the American Civil War, his tours in Asia aboard U.S.S. Hartford and U.S.S. Lackawanna, his European cruises aboard U.S.S. Richmond, and his commands of the training ships U.S.S. Portsmouth and U.S.S. St. Mary's.
Included with the memoirs are notes, a newspaper clipping, and a flag.
The Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs were written primarily in two segments, the first commencing in 1896 and spanning pages 1 through 48, and the second commencing in 1903 and spanning from page 49 until the end of the volume. Pages 1-11, aside from a brief discussion of family history (pages 1-3), detail Crowninshield's time as a midshipman at the Naval Academy before and during the Civil War (pages 3- 11). During this period, Crowninshield discusses life aboard U.S.S. Constitution, fears over Confederate sympathizers in Annapolis, Benjamin Butler's arrival with the Massachusetts 8th Regiment, difficulties in towing the Constitution out of Annapolis, the evacuation of the Academy to Newport, the 1862 practice cruise aboard U.S.S. John Adams, and touring the military hospitals at Yorktown.
Pages 11-41 continue recounting Crowninshield's duties during the Civil War following graduation from the Naval Academy, beginning with his transport to St. Thomas aboard the brig Lucy Darling and a description of Cap-Haïtien (pages 11-14). Aboard U.S.S. Juniata (pages 15-16), Crowninshield recounts duties convoying steamers in the West Indies and the ship's mechanical troubles. Following assignment to U.S.S. Ticonderoga, he discusses being caught in a gale off Cape Henry (pages 17-19), cruises to hunt for C.S.S. Florida (pages 19-27), running hard aground on a shoal (pages 21-25), the outfall of the Amazon River (pages 27-28), and preparations for, participation in, and aftermath of the First and Second Battle of Fort Fisher (pages 29-37). Also discussed is the effect of the bombardment of Charleston (page 39).
Pages 41-65 primarily detail Crowninshield's tour aboard U.S.S. Hartford in Asian waters, but touch first upon his assignment to the New York Navy Yard (pages 41-42). Once aboard the Hartford, the memoirs discuss the transit to join the East India Squadron, including descriptions of Rio de Janeiro (pages 43-44), Cape Town (pages 44-45), the passage to Batavia (pages 45-47), and Amboyna [Ambon] Island (page 47), before arriving at Macao in February 1866 (page 48). Once on station, the memoirs offer descriptions of Macao (page 49), Nagasaki (and the politics and customs of Japan) (pages 51-52), sailing the Inland Sea of Japan (pages 52-53), Yokohama (pages 53-55), the Formosa Expedition of 1867 in retaliation for the Rover Incident (pages 56-59), the 1867 typhoons in Hong Kong (pages 59-60), the opening of Osaka (page 60), the drowning death of Admiral Henry H. Bell following trade negotiations with the Japanese (pages 61-63), and stopping at St. Helena on the return to the United States (pages 64-65).
Pages 66-89 pertain to Crowninshield's tour aboard U.S.S. Richmond with the European Squadron, but also include a brief section on his time in charge of the Fourth Class of midshipmen at the Naval Academy in the fall of 1868 (page 66). Following a list of the Richmond's officers (pages 66-69), the memoirs discuss the difficult passage to Lisbon (pages 67-69), eruptions at Mount Vesuvius (pages 69-70), an excursion from Malaga to Granada (pages 71-72), an excursion from Barcelona to Paris in the winter of 1869 (pages 72-74), wine making in Cadiz (page 75), and travels through Italy and Germany while on leave in 1870 (pages 76-77). On pages 78 and 79, Crowninshield briefly retells his marriage to Mary Bradford in Dresden and the impact of the Franco-Prussian War on their marriage. After returning to the Richmond, Crowninshield writes of the capture of Rome by Victor Emmanuel (pages 79-80), leave of absence in London and Venice with his wife (pages 80-86), the siege of Paris (page 86), and the birth of Caspar Crowninshield (page 88).
Pages 90-94 pertain to Crowninshield's time as Executive Officer of U.S.S. Lackawanna on the Asiatic Station, including a description of the vessel (page 91), as well as mentions of surveying Vladivostok Harbor for use during the upcoming Transit of Venus (page 92), the ship's mechanical problems, Crowninshield's battle with typhoid fever (page 93), and the return voyage to the United States (pages 93-94). Following his detachment, he recounts travels though Switzerland, including Zurich and the Berner Oberland, with his wife (pages 94-98).
After discussing his time living at the Washington Navy Yard as Inspector of Ordnance, pages 99-104 of the memoirs recount Crowninshield's command of the training ship U.S.S. Portsmouth. His command opens with the Portsmouth at Havre for the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris (pages 99-100), after which Crowninshield writes of the return voyage to New York (pages 100-101), and cruises along the East Coast and to the Azores (pages 102-103).
The remaining pages of the volume, from 105 to 114, cover the period from 1881 to 1892. Pages 105-107 pertain to Crowninshield's potential purchase of mining property New Mexico, including his description of Engle, New Mexico and his travels from Engle to Chloride, New Mexico. Crowninshield next discusses his tours as Lighthouse Inspector for the 1st District and with the Naval Advisory Board (pages 107-108), followed by his command of U.S.S. St. Mary's, which was operating at a training ship for the New York Nautical School (pages 108-113). Page 114 notes Crowninshield's 1891 orders to ordnance duty and 1892 orders to assume command of U.S.S. Kearsarge. The narrative closes with a June 17, 1909 note by Mary Crowninshield concluding the memoirs one year after her husband's death.
Documentation pertaining to Crowninshield's career after 1892, including his tour as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation and activities with regards to Spanish prisoners of war from the Spanish-American War, is available in the memoirs' enclosures. Also included among the collection are notes on an eruption of Mount Vesuvius and a partial muslin flag bearing a Spanish coat of arms.
The Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs are arranged by document type.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Purchased from Michael Brown Rare Books, LLC in December 2021. Accession No. 21-13.
Related Archival Material
Additional material pertaining to Arent S. Crowninshield in this repository includes his Alumni Jacket and Midshipman Conduct Records, as well as portraits in Photo Album 4 and Photo Album 22.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
The various notes and enclosures were originally housed within the volume, primarily inside the front and back covers, and were removed and housed separately during processing.
Arent S. Crowninshield Memoirs, MS 33
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
Cogar, William B. Dictionary of Admirals of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1989.
Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel RG 24, National Archives and Records Administration.
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in February 2022. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in February 2022.
Name and Subject Terms
- Constitution (Frigate)
- Crowninshield, A. S. (Arent Schuyler), 1843-1908
- Hartford (Screw sloop-of-war)
- Japan -- Description and travel
- Lackawanna (Screw sloop-of-war)
- Mediterranean Sea -- Description and travel
- Portsmouth (Sloop-of-war)
- Richmond (Steam sloop of war)
- Spanish-American War, 1898 -- Prisoners and prisons
- St. Mary's (Sloop-of-war)
- Training-ships -- United States
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations
- United States Naval Academy -- Midshipmen -- Cruises
- United States Naval Academy -- History -- 19th century
- Notes (documents)