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Harry Wiegel Diary, 1869: Finding Aid

Published in 1992

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 269
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Harry Wiegel Diary
  • Dates: 1869
  • Size: 0.21 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 half-manuscript box
  • Creator: Wiegel, Harry
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Harry Wiegel was Civilian Clerk to Commander Walter W. Queen, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Screw Sloop-of-War Tuscarora. The Wiegel Diary was kept by Wiegel while serving as a clerk aboard U.S.S. Tuscarora, during which time she was assigned to Latin American Waters.

Biography of Harry Wiegel

Harry Wiegel was born on February 9, 1847. In 1869, Wiegel was serving as the Civilian Clerk to Commander Walter W. Queen, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Screw Sloop-of-War Tuscarora.

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Description of Contents

The Harry Wiegel Diary, comprising 0.21 linear feet of documentation, spans from January 1 through June 22, 1869. The diary was kept by Wiegel while serving as a clerk aboard U.S.S. Tuscarora, during which time she was assigned to Latin American Waters. Wiegel's diary covers the Tuscarora's journeys between Callao, Peru and Panama (January-February); Callao, Peru and Buenaventura, Columbia (February-March), Callao, Peru and Valparaiso, Chile (March-April), and Valparaiso, Chile and Cuba (May-June), as well as time spent in the ports of those cities.

The diary provides a detailed account of Wiegel's daily life and routine, including his clerical duties, which included diplomatic correspondence and the task of keeping a private log for Captain Queen. The diary also notes the Tuscarora's activities and movements, Wiegel's shipboard associates, means of acquiring provisions, and mentions of other U.S. and foreign vessels.

Much of the diary is an accounting of Wiegel's and his companions' recreation and idle hour amusements ashore and afloat, including: visiting native acquaintances and resident aliens; observing foreign life and customs; traveling to and visiting sites of interest; reading literature, including Shakespeare, Dickens, and Wilkie Collins; playing musical instruments, including combs and the Jew's harp (jaw harp); singing and dancing; board games; observing nature; hunting seabirds and other marine life; correspondence; conversation; smoking; studying German and Spanish; and attending church service. By his own account, Wiegel's work left him with much free time, resulting in "ennui" and "the blues."

Among the places Wiegel describes and comments on are: Chorillos, Callao, Lima, and Pachacamac in Peru; Panama; Isla de la Plata, Ecuador; Gorgona Island, Buenaventura, and the Village of Manta in Columbia; Valparaiso and Punta Arenas in Chile; and the Straits of Magellan. Other entries of particular note include discussion of yellow fever; the diplomatic crisis surrounding U.S. Consul James M. Eder at Buenaventura, Columbia; and the dangerous voyage from Valparaiso to Cuba.

Also written in the diary are: a list of maxims and aphorisms; an argument supporting the independence and legitimacy of the Church of England; and personal financial accounts. Included with the diary are several photographs, including one of the Tuscarora under sail (glued into diary), one of Tuscarora with its sails furled, and a portrait of Harry Wiegel in his later years. Several news clippings accompany the diary, both glued in among the diary's entries, and separate from the diary. A pressed flower was also found within the diary's pages.

The diary entries for June 11-12 and June 15-20 are missing from the diary.

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The Harry Wiegel Diary is arranged into the following four files:

  • File 1: Diary, 1869 January 1-June 22
  • File 2: News Clippings, [1869]
  • File 3: Photographs, undated
  • File 4: Pressed Flower, undated
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Harry Wiegel Diary 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

Gift of William Wirt Mills in July 1988. Accession No. 88-19.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Logbooks for the U.S.S. Tuscarora may be available in Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, ca. 1801 - 1940, National Archives and Records Administration.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Harry Wiegel Diary, MS 269

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1992. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1992 and revised by David D'Onofrio in June 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Eder, James M.
  • Latin America -- Description and travel
  • Queen, Walter W.
  • Tuscarora (Screw Sloop-of-War)
  • United States. Navy -- Medical care
  • Wiegel, Harry
  • Yellow fever

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Diary, 1869 January 1-June 22

  • January 21: Ship arrives at Panama.
  • February 6: Medical treatment by ship's doctors.
  • February 7-8: Callao carnival.
  • February 9-10, 12, 20, March 11-24: Yellow fever and ship quarantine. Wiegel circumvents quarantine to go ashore to celebrate 22nd birthday. Death and burial of Paymaster Cushing. Ship fumigation.
  • February 9: $1,200 misappropriated by Commander Spicer's Clerk Vogel.
  • February 15: Shipboard amusements of song, music, and dancing.
  • February 19: Man overboard.
  • February 21: Death throes of dolphin.
  • February 22: Island of Gorgona.
  • February 23-24: Arrival at Buenaventura.
  • March 1-4, 10: At Buenaventura, Columbia. Ship to redress insult to Mr. Eder, U.S. Consul, and insult to American flag. Wiegel's clerical work regarding the diplomatic crisis. See also news clippings glued to entry of February 10.
  • March 2: Musical entertainment.
  • March 5: Shortage of food supplies. Champagne birthday for shipmate.
  • March 20-22: Departure of Captain Queen's wife after one year aboard ship.
  • March 23: Peruvian ships search for ship Huasco, seized by revolutionary Monterro.
  • March 28: Ship's mascot.
  • April 2: Arrival at Valparaiso.
  • April 9: Sentencing of John Porter for disobedience of orders.
  • April 15-16, 20: McCook Scandal. Executive Officer of U.S.S. Kearsarge misconduct regarding H.M.S. Topaze.
  • April 21: Reaction to March 20 news that Tuscarora is to proceed to Cuba.
  • May 12: Ship ordered to Havana, departs Valparaiso.
  • May 13, 15: Storms at sea.
  • May 30-31: Straits of Magellan.
  • June 1-5: Ship almost breaks up on rocks. Punta Arenas and Chilean penal colony. Native Patagonians. Stormy passage.
  • June 6: Ship enters Atlantic Ocean.
  • June 9: "Warlike evolutions" in preparation for Cuba.
Box 1 Folder 2

News Clippings, [1869]

Clippings on the construction of the Panama Canal and American property development in Cuba. The clippings were originally found with the January 21, 1869 diary entry.

Box 1 Folder 3

Photographs, undated

Portrait of Wiegel and a photograph of the U.S.S. Tuscarora.

Box 1 Folder 4

Pressed Flower, undated

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