Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance, 1841-1872: 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
  • Call number: MS 167
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance
  • Dates: 1841-1872
  • Size: 0.15 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume of 86 leaves
  • Creator: Jeffers, William N. (William Nicholson), 1824-1883
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: William Nicholson Jeffers was an officer in the United States Navy and Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance span from 1841 to 1872. The volume of ordnance notes and memoranda, kept by Jeffers, is stamped U.S. Naval Torpedo Station Library.

Biography of William Nicholson Jeffers

William Nicholson Jeffers, born in Swedesboro, New Jersey, on October on 1824. Appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy on September 23, 1840, he was promoted to Passed Midshipman on July 11, 1846; Master on June 12, 1854; Lieutenant on January 30, 1855; Lieutenant Commander on July 16, 1862; Commander on March 3, 1865; Captain on July 13, 1870; and Commodore on February 26, 1878.

Following service aboard the frigates U.S.S. Congress and U.S.S. United States early in his career, Jeffers participated in several engagements during the Mexican War, including the attack on Alvarado, the capture of Tabasco, and the bombardment of Veracruz. Expeditions to Central America followed in the 1850's, including the preliminary survey of the isthmus of Honduras.

Early in the Civil War, Jeffers commanded U.S.S. Philadelphia on patrol duty in the Potomac River, then transferred to duty off Charleston and Hatteras Inlet aboard U.S.S. Roanoke (Screw frigate) on the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In December 1861, he assumed command of U.S.S. Underwriter (Steamer), taking part in the capture of Roanoke Island and Elizabeth City, North Carolina in February 1862. On May 15, 1862, Jeffers assumed command of U.S.S. Monitor from Thomas O. Selfridge, who had relieved Samuel Greene on March 10, who had himself only relieved Captain John L. Worden on March 9, when Worden was injured during the Battle of Hampton Roads. Under Jeffers' command, Monitor largely engaged in shore bombardment in the James River, including the bombardment of the Confederate batteries at Drewry's Bluff. For the remainder of the war, Jeffers was assigned ordnance duty in Philadelphia and Washington.

After the Civil War, Jeffers assumed command of U.S.S. Swatara (Screw sloop-of-war) upon her commissioning on November 15, 1865, and operated in Caribbean, Mediterranean, and African waters. In 1873, Jeffers was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, a position he held until 1881, when he was relieved by Commodore Montgomery Sicard. In June of that year, he was assigned to special duty in Europe. William Nicholson Jeffers died in Washington, DC on July 23, 1883.

Published works by Jeffers include his A Concise Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Naval Gunnery (1850), Nautical Surveying (1871), and "The Armament of Our Ships of War" (1874).

Back to Top

Description of Contents

William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance, comprising 0.15 linear feet of documentation in a single volume of 86 leaves, span from 1841 to 1872. The volume of ordnance notes and memoranda, kept by Jeffers, is stamped U.S. Naval Torpedo Station Library.

The notes and memoranda, compiled by Jeffers, include sections on the velocities of various types of shells; diagrams of cannons and their firing positions; converging fire; 1841 and 1842 naval exercises; guns and gun carriages for U.S.S. Susquehanna; fuses; rules for the inspection of timber; shrapnel sizes; Buckner's tables; effects of casting methods on the strength of guns; 4.2 inch siege guns; and target results for Parrott, Hotchkiss, Absterdam, and grooved projectiles. Tipped into the volume are several diagrams, as well as a Senate report concerning a bill for the relief of George R. Wilson.

Back to Top


The William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance comprise a single volume.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Patron use restricted to microfilm.

Copyright and Permission

The William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance 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.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Accession No. 121014.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Location of Copies or Alternate Formats

This collection also available on microfilm.

Related Archival Material

Additional documentation pertaining to Jeffers in this repository can be found in the Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Constellation, 1871-1878 (bulk 1871-1872), MS 338.

Other documentation pertaining to Jeffers' career can be found in the Log : of the Monitor, 1862 February 25 - June 19 at the Mariners' Museum Library; and in the Louis M. Goldsborough papers, 1821-1873 at the New York Public Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance, MS 167

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

"Jeffers (DD-621)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2016,

Processing Information

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

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Gunnery
  • Jeffers, William N. (William Nicholson), 1824-1883
  • Ordnance, Naval
  • United States. Navy -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
  • United States. Navy -- Ordnance and ordnance stores

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

William N. Jeffers Rough Notes & Memoranda[:] Ordnance, 1841-1872

Back to Top