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Charles H. Ball Diaries, 1861-1865 : Finding Aid

Published in January 2009

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 147
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Charles H. Ball Diaries
  • Dates: 1861-1865
  • Size: 2.5 linear inches (2 volumes)
  • Creator: Ball, Charles H.
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: The Charles H. Ball Diaries span Ball's Civil War service in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron of the Union Navy. The diaries are composed of first-hand accounts of various battles and blockading duties in the Gulf of Mexico, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Galveston, Texas, as well as personal duties, such as keeping watch and participation in foraging parties.

Biography of Charles H. Ball

Charles H. Ball was an engineer in the Union Navy during the Civil War. Born in and appointed from New York, Ball joined the Navy, and was warranted as a Second Assistant Engineer, on July 19, 1861.

Ball, who served his entire naval career with the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, was first assigned to U.S.S. Pensacola (screw steamer), which took part in the Battle of Forts St. Phillip and Jackson in April 1862. On December 26, 1862, Ball was transferred to U.S.S. Albatross (screw steamer). During Ball's time aboard, Albatross successfully charged passed the batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana on March 13, 1863, and launched attacks on Fort DeRussy on May 4, 1863, and again on Port Hudson later that same month. In June of 1863, Ball was detached from Albatross, and was ultimately transferred to U.S.S. Kineo (ironclad gunboat). Ball's time aboard Kineo consisted primarily of blockade duty off the coast of Texas, including Kineo's failed attack and seizure of the British schooner Sting Ray on May 22, 1864. On December 19, 1864, Ball transferred to U.S.S. Metacomet (side-wheel steamer), which served blockade and patrol duty in the wake of the fall of New Orleans.

Charles Ball presumably served out the remainder of the Civil War aboard Metacomet. On August 31, 1865, Ball resigned from the Union Navy.

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Description of Contents

The Charles H. Ball Diaries, comprising 2.5 linear inches of documentation in two volumes, span Ball's Civil War service in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron of the Union Navy. The diaries are composed of first-hand accounts of various battles and blockading duties in the Gulf of Mexico, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Galveston, Texas, as well as personal duties, such as keeping watch and participation in foraging parties.

The first journal is the product of Ball's service aboard the U.S. ships Pensacola and Albatross, spanning the dates July 19, 1861 to May 27, 1863. The journal includes accounts of the capture of New Orleans, including the Battle of Forts St. Phillip and Jackson (April 24, 1862), and the raising and defense of the American flag over the mint in New Orleans (April 26, 1862). Additional entries discuss Ball's transfer to U.S.S. Albatross (December 26, 1862), the capture of Galveston by Confederate forces (January 3, 1863), the capture and subsequent escape of a Union spy (January 10, 1863), running the batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana (March 14, 1863), and attacks on Fort DeRussy, Louisiana (May 4, 1863) and Port Hudson (May 24, 1863). In addition to recounting battles, Ball discusses other incidents, such as being tricked into stealing slaves (February 11, 1863).

The second journal is from Ball's service aboard the U.S. ships Kineo and Metacomet, spanning the dates January 31, 1864 to April 28, 1865. The journal includes accounts of blockading action off Galveston aboard the Kineo (April-May 1864), including an account of the failed attempt to seize the British schooner Sting Ray on May 22, 1864. Similar actions aboard Metacomet include the capture of the schooner Sea Witch (December 31, 1864), and the sloop Lillie (January 6, 1865), as well as numerous events while patrolling Mobile Bay in the wake of the eponymous battle, including the quartering of six escaped slaves, formerly impressed by the Confederates (February 22, 1865).

Research interests served by the Charles H. Ball Diaries include the history of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, the Battle of Forts St. Phillip and Jackson, the Siege of Port Hudson, the Battle of Fort DeRussy, and the general nature of Civil War blockade duty.

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Arrangement

Two volumes arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access

Access to the first volume of the Charles H. Ball Diaries is restricted to microfilm. Access to the second volume is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Charles H. Ball Diaries 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

Provenance and Acquisition

The Charles H. Ball Diaries were transferred to the Special Collections & Archives Department from the United States Naval Academy Museum by Professor William W. Jeffries on 1975 February 7.

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Related Archival Material

Additional first-hand accounts of the Civil War engagements of U.S.S. Albatross during Charles Ball's time aboard can be found in the John E. Hart Letters, MS 392.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Charles H. Ball Diaries, MS 147

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval History Division.Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.Government Printing Office, 1959-1981.

United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel.Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.Washington: Government Printing Office, 1814-

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in January 2009. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in January 2009.

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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

  • Ball, Charles H.
  • United States. Navy. Gulf Squadron
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Blockades
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval Operations

Genre Terms

  • Diaries.
  • Manuscripts.
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Charles H. Ball - Daily Diary of Events, 1861 July 19-1863 May 27

Product of Ball's service aboard the U.S. ships Pensacola and Albatross.

Box 1 Folder 2

Incidents and Events of the Cruise of the U.S.S. Kineo and U.S.S. Metacomet, 1864 January 31-1865 April 28

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