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Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook, 1848-1904 (bulk 1864-1877): Finding Aid

Published in June 1986

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 223
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook
  • Dates: 1848-1904
  • Bulk Dates: 1864-1877
  • Size: 0.13 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume
  • Creator: Smith, Joseph Adams, 1837-1907
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Joseph Adams Smith was a paymaster in the United States Navy during the Civil War. Smith's scrapbook focuses on the Civil War battle between the U.S.S. Kearsarge and C.S.S. Alabama, and matters of rank in the U.S. Navy.

Biography of Joseph Adams Smith

Joseph Adams Smith was born in Maine in 1837. He was appointed an assistant paymaster in the United States Navy on October 8, 1861 and served aboard U.S.S. Kearsarge (Sloop-of-war) during her engagement with the Confederate cruiser Alabama. Smith was promoted to paymaster in 1862, pay inspector in 1879, and pay director in 1891. Smith was also a member of the Union League Club, an officer of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a founder of the Metropolitan Club of Washington, and a member of Washington's Cosmos Club. Joseph A. Smith retired from the U.S. Navy in 1891 and died in Philadelphia on August 18, 1907.

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Description of Contents

The Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook, comprising a single, 1.5 inch volume, spans from 1848 through 1904. The scrapbook focuses on the Civil War battle between the U.S.S. Kearsarge and C.S.S. Alabama, and matters of rank in the U.S. Navy.

Joseph Adams Smith's scrapbook is composed primarily of newspaper clippings from both American and British newspapers, as well as several pamphlet style publications. The scrapbook has two primary focuses, the first of which is the 1864 Battle of Cherbourg between the Sloop-of-War U.S.S. Kearsarge and the commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama, the latter of which was sunk in the engagement. In addition to dealing with the battle itself, the scrapbook also pertains to the Kearsarge's attempts to enlist British sailors in violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and damage claims made by the United States against Great Britain for the construction of C.S.S. Alabama and other Confederate raiders in British shipyards, known collectively as the "Alabama Claims."

The scrapbook's other main focus is the issue of rank in the United States Navy and the creation of the rank of Admiral. Related topics include the Naval Rank Board, the feud between Admiral David Dixon Porter and Secretary of the Navy George Robeson, and Porter's eventual promotion to full Admiral. The scrapbook also touches upon the court-martial of Navy surgeon Charles L. Green for his disobeying Thomas O. Selfridge's orders to declare a sick sailor well.

The scrapbook also includes a broadside regarding a boat race between the gigs of U.S.S. Tennessee and U.S.S. Alert on September 27, 1877.

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The Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook comprises a single volume.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook 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


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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

An address delivered before the Union League of Philadelphia on Saturday evening, January 20, 1906, by Rear Admiral Joseph Adams Smith ... at the presentation by the Art Association of the painting representing the battle between the Kearsarge and Alabama was published by J. B. Lippincott Company in 1906.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook, MS 223

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

"Recent Deaths." Army and Navy Journal XLIV, no. 52 (August 24, 1907): 1398. -->

Processing Information

This collection was processed in June 1986. Biographical sketch written in 1986. Scope and Content Note written by David D'Onofrio in May 2014

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Alabama (Screw sloop)
  • Alabama claims
  • Courts-martial and courts of inquiry -- United States
  • Great Britain -- Relations -- United States
  • Green, Charles L.
  • Kearsarge (Screw Sloop-of-war)
  • Porter, David D. (David Dixon), 1813-1891
  • Smith, Joseph Adams, 1837-1907
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations
  • United States -- Relations -- Great Britain
  • United States. Navy -- Officers
  • United States. Navy -- Pay, allowances, etc

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Manuscripts
  • Scrapbooks
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Joseph Adams Smith Civil War and Naval Scrapbook, 1848-1904

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