Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress, 1842-1873 (bulk 1842-1845): Finding Aid
Published in April 2020
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 86
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress
- Dates: 1842-1873
- Bulk Dates: 1842-1845
- Size: 0.23 linear feet
- Container Summary: 1 volume of 115 leaves
- Creator: Congress (Frigate : 1841-1862)
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: The Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress, comprising 0.23 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 115 leave, spans from 1842 to 1873, with a majority of entries ceasing by 1845. The volume begins with the watch, quarter, and station bills of U.S.S. Congress (Frigate: 1841-1862), compiled circa 1842. Following the bills of U.S.S. Congress is a log of the ship Paul Jones' roundtrip cruise between New York and Canton. The volume closes with the station bills of the U.S.S. Saratoga (Sloop-of-war).
History of U.S.S. Congress (Frigate: 1841-1862)
The fourth U.S.S. Congress was launched at the Navy Yard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on August 16, 1841, and commissioned on May 7, 1842, under the command of Captain Philip Voorhees. Her first cruise, starting in July, was with the Mediterranean Squadron of Commodores Charles W. Morgan and Charles Morris. In December 1843, she proceeded to the east coast of South America, seizing the Buenos Aires naval squadron blockading Montevideo on September 29, 1844, where she was active until January 1845 in safeguarding U.S. trade. She was placed in ordinary at Norfolk in March.
She was recommissioned on September 15, 1845 as flagship of Commodore Robert F. Stockton and sailed for the Pacific in late October. After landing the United States Commissioner to the Sandwich Islands at Honolulu on June 10, 1846, she proceeded to Monterey Bay where she joined the Pacific Squadron. Under the command of Captain Elie Lavalette as of July 20, she was engaged along the west coast during war with Mexico, with detachments of her crew participating in battles on Rio San Gabriel and the plains of La Mesa, as well as the occupation of Los Angeles. She assisted in the bombardment and capture of Guaymas, Mexico in October 1847, and in November furnished a detachment which aided in the occupation of Mazatlan. On August 23, 1848 she departed La Paz for Norfolk arriving the following January to be placed in ordinary.
On September 1, 1850 she took up station at Rio de Janeiro as Commodore Isaac McKeever's flagship for the Brazil Squadron. Once there, she protected U.S. interests between the mouth of the Amazon and Cape Horn, prevented the use of the American flag in the African slave trade, and maintained neutral rights during hostilities among the South American countries. She was detached in June 1853 and returned to New York on July 20 for decommissioning.
On June 19, 1855 Congress sailed for the Mediterranean to serve for two years as flagship of Commodore Samuel Livingston Breese. Sailing from Spezia, Italy, on November 26, 1857 she arrived at Philadelphia on January 13, 1858 and was placed out of commission. In 1859 Congress was reassigned as flagship of Commodore Joshua R. Sands' Brazil Squadron, remaining in that area until the Civil War.
On September 9, 1861, she was ordered to duty under command of Captain Louis M. Goldsborough in the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, later to serve under Commander W. Smith, and Lieutenant J. Smith. On March 8, 1862, Congress fell under attack by the Confederate ironclad, C.S.S. Virginia and five other small ships while anchored off Newport News. After exchanging broadsides, Congress slipped her moorings and ran aground. The Confederate ships attacked from a distance and inflicted great damage on the Congress, killing 120, including the commanding officer. Ablaze in several places and unable to bring guns to bear on the enemy, Congress was forced to strike her colors. While shore batteries prevented Congress' seizure, continued Confederate fire caused he to burn to the waterline and her magazine to explode. In September 1865, Congress was raised and taken to the Norfolk Navy Yard where she was later sold.
Description of Contents
The Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress, comprising 0.23 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 115 leaves, spans from 1842 to 1873, with a majority of entries ceasing by 1845. The volume begins with the watch, quarter, and station bills of U.S.S. Congress (Frigate: 1841-1862), compiled circa 1842. Following the bills of U.S.S. Congress is a log of the ship Paul Jones' roundtrip cruise between New York and Canton. The volume closes with the station bills of the U.S.S. Saratoga (Sloop-of-war).
The volume begins with the bills of U.S.S. Congress, compiled circa 1842. The bills are subdivided into sections for the watch bill; quarter bill; loosing and furling; mooring and unmooring; making sail in getting underway; tacking and wearing; reefing topsails; clewing up and down with square yards; and furling from a bowline. Included with the bills is a list of Congress' officers.
Following the bills of U.S.S. Congress is a log of the ship Paul Jones, under the command of J. T. Watkins. Spanning from December 10, 1843 to January 19, 1845, the log records the Paul Jones' roundtrip cruise between New York and Canton. The log primarily notes the ship's location, course, and sailing conditions.
The volume closes with the station bills of the U.S.S. Saratoga, under the command of Edward G. Tilton. Included are subsections for the watch bill; quarter bill; loosing and furling; mooring and unmooring; reefing and hoisting; tacking and wearing; coming to anchor; furl sails from a bowline; getting underway; crossing royal and top gallant yards; officers stations; and the fire bill.
Interspersed throughout the bills are copies of excerpts of letters dating from 1872 and 1873, as well as various drawings and handwriting samples.
The Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress comprises a single volume.
Access and Use
Patron use restricted to microfilm.
Copyright and Permission
The Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Accessioned on August 8, 1935. Accession No. 81166.
Location of Copies or Alternate Formats
This collection also available on microfilm.
Related Archival Material
Additional material pertaining to U.S.S. Congress (Frigate: 1841-1862) in this repository can be found in the Samuel Francis Du Pont Naval Papers, 1817-1859, MS 2.
Official logbooks of U.S.S. Congress (Frigate: 1841-1862) 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.
Processing and Other Information
Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Congress, MS 86
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
"Congress IV (Frigate)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2015, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/c/congress-iv.html.
This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in April 2020.
Name and Subject Terms
- Congress (Frigate : 1841-1862)
- Paul Jones (Ship)
- Saratoga (Sloop-of-war)
- United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
- Ships' logs