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Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers, 1847-1935 (bulk 1847-1863, 1913): Finding Aid

Published in August 2008

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 268
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers
  • Dates: 1847-1935
  • Bulk Dates: 1847-1863, 1913
  • Size: 0.42 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 manuscript box, 2 oversize folders
  • Creator: Cummings, Andrew Boyd, 1830-1863
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Andrew Boyd Cummings was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1853. The Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers span Cummings' sixteen- year naval career, from 1847 to 1863, and also include limited material dating from 1913 and 1935. The papers, consisting primarily of letters written by Cummings to his family, focus on Cummings' service aboard U.S. Navy ships Ohio, Fulton, and Dale.

Biographical Chronology of Andrew Boyd Cummings

  • Born June 22 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • On April 7, receives appointment to United States Naval School as a midshipman.
  • On August 3, is detached from the Naval School and transferred to U.S.S. Brandywine, en route for service aboard U.S.S. Ohio, which was posted to the Pacific Squadron, patrolling off California.
  • In March, U.S.S. Ohio retrieves the remains of Commodore Alexander J. Dallas, who had died four years earlier, from Lima, Peru.
  • On April 29, is detached from U.S.S. Ohio and granted three months leave.
  • On August 20, is transferred to the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Saratoga, which was serving in the East India Squadron.
  • On June 22, is detached to return to the United States Naval Academy as a midshipman.
  • Ca. June, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
  • On June 13, is transferred to U.S.S. Fulton, which operated in the Home Squadron, protecting merchantmen from the Caribbean to Canada, as well as taking part in the search for U.S.S. Albany.
  • On June 25, is warranted as Passed Midshipman from June 10.
  • In May, U.S.S. Fulton is charged with transporting General James Gadsden, United States Minister to Mexico, to Veracruz, Mexico.
  • On September 16, receives promotion to Lieutenant.
  • On November 30, is detached from U.S.S. Fulton, and granted one month leave.
  • On August 25, is re-commissioned.
  • On April 15, is transferred to the side-wheel steamer U.S.S. Dale, which operated off the west coast of Africa suppressing the slave trade.
  • On May 23, is detached from U.S.S. Dale and granted three months leave.
  • On August 27, is transferred to the steam sloop-of-war U.S.S. Richmond, which was deployed in the Mediterranean. Ultimately, Cummings would serve as Richmond’s Executive Officer.
  • On July 3, U.S.S. Richmond returns to New York following the outbreak of the American Civil War and is redeployed to hunt the Confederate raider Sumter
  • In September, U.S.S. Richmond joins the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.
  • On November 22, U.S.S. Richmond participates in the bombardment of Fort McRae, Warrington, Florida, and the Pensacola Navy Yard.
  • In February, U.S.S. Richmond rejoins the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.
  • On April 18, U.S.S. Richmond participates in the bombardment of Fort Jackson and St. Philip, Louisiana.
  • On August 5, is promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
  • On March 14, is mortally wounded as U.S.S. Richmond attempts to pass Port Hudson, Louisiana.
  • On March 18, dies while en route to New Orleans.
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Description of Contents

The Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers, comprising 0.42 linear feet of documentation, span Cummings' sixteen year naval career, from 1847 to 1863, and also includes limited material dating from 1913 and 1935. The papers, consisting primarily of letters written by Cummings to his family, focus on Cummings' service aboard U.S. Navy ships Ohio, Fulton, and Dale.

The papers consist primarily of hand-written letters with typescript copies, but also contain other documents, including photographs, official records, an invitation, and a news clipping.

The Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single records series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection consists of hand-written letters by Cummings (along with typescript copies) addressed to his father, mother, uncle, and sister, Clara. The majority of these letters are the product of Cummings' service aboard three United States Navy vessels. Letters from Cummings' service aboard ship-of-the-line U.S.S. Ohio (dated December 1, 1847 - August 23, 1849) include descriptions of various South American cities, such as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Valparaiso, Chile, and Lima, Peru, as well as discussions of the California Gold Rush and Mexican rule after the Mexican War. Letters from Cummings’ time aboard U.S.S. Fulton (dated July 13, 1853 - October 11, 1855) include descriptions of ports of call in the West Indies and details of various duties and incidents, including the transportation and negotiations of Minister to Mexico General James Gadsden. Letters from sloop-of-war U.S.S. Dale (May 2, 1857 - January 18, 1859) focus on visits to ports along the west coast of Africa and the Canary Islands, as well as the ship's duties pursuing slave traders. Interspersed throughout the letters are discussions of life and events on the home front and Cummings’ desire to return home. Also included are two letters from the United States Naval Academy (June 13, 1847 and December 4, 1852), as well as one letter from Cummings’ Civil War service aboard U.S.S. Richmond (June 28, 1862).

The remainder of the collection is composed of various documents relating to Cummings’ naval career and death, and two United States Navy vessels named for him. The documents relating directly to Cummings’ service consist of four of his warrants and commissions, his service record, a target practice report from U.S.S Richmond, and the acceptance of resignations from two sailors, at least one of whom served aboard Richmond with Cummings. There are also two photographs of Cummings. Materials relating to Cummings’ death consist of a memorial letter and news clipping, and a handwritten note from Cummings’ sister. The collection also contains several letters (and typescripts) relating to the construction and launch of two U.S.S. Cummings (DD-44 and DD-365), including a letter signed by Acting Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt (June 18, 1913).

Research interests served by the Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers, in addition to Cummings’ personal history, include the United States Navy’s anti-slavery patrols prior to the American Civil War and opinions on South American and African customs and culture.

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The Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single records series with no subdivisions.

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Access and Use


Access to the Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers is restricted to photocopies and typescripts, where available.

Copyright and Permission

The Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers 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

Gift of William Wirt Mills in July 1988 and November 1991. Accession No. 88-19 and 91-57.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

There are no other known collections of papers of Andrew Boyd Cummings.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Andrew Boyd Cummings Papers, MS 268

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. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1959-1981.

Wilson, James Grant, ed. Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in August 2008. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in August 2008. Original guide by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1991.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Africa -- Social life and customs
  • Cummings (Destroyer : DD-365)
  • Cummings (Destroyer : DD-44)
  • Cummings, Andrew Boyd, 1830-1863
  • Dale (Sloop-of-war)
  • Fulton (Side-wheel steamer)
  • Gadsden, James, 1788-1858
  • Ohio (Ship-of-the-line)
  • Slave trade -- Africa
  • South America -- Social life and customs
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students -- Correspondence

Genre Terms

  • Certificates
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Invitation - Bachelor's Ball, 1856

Box 1 Folder 2

Letters Received, 1859 April 20

Account of U.S.S. Portsmouth firing upon the home of the U.S. Consul during the bombardment of Guaymas.

Box 1 Folder 3

Letters Received (Typescript), 1859 April 20

Box 1 Folder 4

Letters Sent, 1847 June 13-1848 February 25

From U.S. Naval School, U.S. ships Pennsylvania, Brandywine, Ohio. Descriptions of arrival at U.S. Naval School (USNA), flogging as form of punishment (August 23, 1847), seasickness and disappointment in Rio De Janeiro (December 1, 1847), the Andes Mountains, Valparaiso and Callao, Chile and Lima, Peru (February 25, 1848).

Box 1 Folder 5

Letters Sent, 1848 March 11-1849 April 30

From U.S. ships Ohio and Dale. Descriptions of Carnival in Lima and Callao, and distrust of Courts Martial (March 11, 1848), transporting the remains of Commodore Dallas (March 12, 1848), hoisting of the Mexican flag at Mazatlan and Guaymas (July 11, 1848), Cornelius Stribling assumes command of Ohio and the California Gold Rush (August 18, 1848), and residents of California the "scum of creation" (April 30, 1849).

Box 1 Folder 6

Letters Sent, 1849 August 23-1852 December 4

From U.S.S. Ohio, Williamsport, Norfolk, U.S.S. Saratoga and U.S. Naval Academy. Descriptions of Sandwich Islands and Commodore's gold speculation (August 23, 1849), attempts to transfer to East or West Indies (August 2, 1850), English/Brazilian slavery issues and Brazilian government and monarchy (November 20, 1850), and reception in Hong Kong (June 18, 1851).

Box 1 Folder 7

Letters Sent, 1853 July 13-1854 March 14

From U.S.S. Fulton. Descriptions of the decrepit state of U.S.S. Princeton (July 13, 1853), transporting the son of English novelist George Payne Rainsford James (July 19, 1853), false reports of outrages against American fishermen (August 21, 1853), natives and culture of St. Thomas (December 27, 1853), bull fights in Havana (February 25, 1854), and seizure of Black Warrior (March 14, 1854).

Box 1 Folder 8

Letters Sent, 1854 March 24-1855 June 26

From U.S.S. Fulton. Descriptions of murder of English survey team and seizure of Black Warrior (March 24, 1854), transportation and entourage of General Gadsden, Minister to Mexico (May 17-June 6, 1854), various ports of call in the West Indies, marriage of Simon Bolivar's daughter and lynching expedition in Aspinwall (February 28, 1855), and execution of a naturalized American named Estrampos (April 5, 1855).

Box 1 Folder 9

Letters Sent, 1855 July 8-1857 October 4

From U.S. ships Fulton and Dale. Descriptions of effect of alcoholism on a former shipmate (July 8, 1855), sights, people and religion of Madeira (June 11, 1857), the French slave trade and naval impressment, pursuit of slave ships and critiques of native Africans (October 4, 1857).

Box 1 Folder 10

Letters Sent, 1857 October 7-1858 February 1

From U.S.S. Dale. Descriptions of the African slave trade (October 7, 1857), African natives as "squalid savages" and seizure of slave ship William G. Lewis (November 11, 1857), local reaction to capture of William G. Lewis (November 25, 1857), visits to St. Helena and capture of Windward by British (December 26, 1857), and preparation for trip up the Congo River (February 1, 1858).

Box 1 Folder 11

Letters Sent, 1858 March 4-1862 June 28

From U.S.S. Dale. Descriptions of desire to never leave home again (March 4, 1858), landscape and peasants of Tenerife (June 8, 1858), court martial of the ship's surgeon (August 16, 1858), mining on the Gold Coast, visits to Accra, Prince’s Island, and the grave of English poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon (November 29, 1858), and weathering Confederate batteries at Vicksburg (June 28, 1862).

Box 1 Folder 12

Letters Sent (Typescript), 1847 June 13-1849 April 30

Box 1 Folder 13

Letters Sent (Typescript), 1848 August 23-1854 March 14

Box 1 Folder 14

Letters Sent (Typescript), 1854 March 23-1855 June 26

Box 1 Folder 15

Letters Sent (Typescript), 1855 July 8-1858 February 1

Box 1 Folder 16

Letters Sent (Typescript), 1858 March 4-1862 June 28

Box 1 Folder 17

Miscellaneous - Death of Andrew Boyd Cummings, 1863, undated

Box 1 Folder 18

Miscellaneous - Launch of U.S.S. Cummings, 1913

Includes letter of June 18, 1913 signed by Acting Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Box 1 Folder 19

Miscellaneous - Launch of U.S.S. Cummings (Typescript), 1913, 1935

Box 1 Folder 20

Photographs, undated

Drawer MSOS Folder 2

Photograph, undated

Box 1 Folder 21

Report - U.S.S Richmond Target Practice, 1861 November 4

Box 1 Folder 22

Resignation Acceptance Letters, 1861 July 8

Acceptance of the resignations of Virginius Freeman and F.E. Shepperd.

Box 1 Folder 23

Service Record, 1913

Box 1 Folder 24

Warrant - Midshipman, 1849 December 12

Drawer MSOS Folder 1

Warrants and Commissions, 1853-1856

Includes Cummings' commissions as a Lieutenant (effective September 16, 1855), July 24, 1856; and Master (effective September 15, 1855), October 29, 1855; as well as his warrant as a Passed Midshipman (effective June 10, 1853), June 22, 1853.

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