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Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi, 1843-1846: Finding Aid

Published in December 2013

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 272
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi
  • Dates: 1843-1846
  • Size: 0.04 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume
  • Creator: Brown, George H.
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: George H. Brown was a yeoman in the United States Navy. Brown's Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi pertains to the Columbia's cruise from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro, the Mississippi's service during the Mexican War, and navigational instruction.

Biography of George H. Brown

George H. Brown was a yeoman in the United States Navy during the Mexican War. Brown was appointed as yeoman of the U.S.S. Mississippi on June 10, 1845, and presumably served previously aboard U.S.S. Columbia.

U.S.S. Columbia (Frigate) was launched March 9, 1836. Initially assigned to the East Indies, she became the flagship of Commodore George Read, and, upon her return to the United States, one of the first U.S. Navy vessels to circumnavigate the globe. In January 1842, Columbia became flagship of the Home Squadron, before being transferred to the Brazil Station in July 1842 and, later, the Mediterranean in May 1844. In November 1845, she returned to the Brazil Station as flagship for two years before being placed in ordinary in 1847. Largely unused until the Civil War, Columbia was scuttled by Union forces upon the surrender of the Norfolk Navy Yard on April 21, 1861. After the war, U.S.S. Columbia was raised and sold on October 10, 1867.

Built under the personal supervision of Matthew Perry, U.S.S. Mississippi (Side-wheel steamer) was laid down in Philadelphia in 1839. Following several years of use as an experiment platform for the development of steam power for the Navy, Mississippi became Matthew Perry's flagship of the West Indian Squadron in 1845. Early in the Mexican War, she took part in actions at Alvarado, Tabasco, Tampico, Panuco, and Laguna do los Terminos. Following repairs at Norfolk in early 1847, Mississippi returned to Veracruz where she took part in amphibious operations for the capture of that city. After the cessation of hostilities, Mississippi was prepared for service in the Far East, sailing again with Matthew Perry on his expedition to Japan, which reached Tokyo Bay in July 1853. During the Civil War, Mississippi served as part of Admiral Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron, taking part in the attacks on Forts Jackson and St. Philip. During the battle of Port Hudson, Mississippi grounded on March 14, 1863, and, when all attempts at refloating her failed, was set ablaze by her crew to prevent capture by the Confederates.

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Description of Contents

The Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi comprises a single volume spanning from 1843 to 1846. The journal consists of three sections: one section dedicated to a cruise of the U.S.S. Columbia, one to navigation instruction, and the final to the actions of the U.S.S. Mississippi during the Mexican War. The final section is attributed to Yeoman George H. Brown, who presumably is responsible for the first two sections as well.

The first section of the journal (15 pages), Journal of a Cruise from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro, U.S.S. Columbia, spans from April 7 through April 21, 1843. Functioning as a ship's log, the journal records the ship's course, winds, weather, and remarks. In addition to notations on the setting of the sails, remarks in this section include mentions of gunnery drills and the death of Seaman John Scott.

The second section (52 pages) consists of navigation exercises in the form of questions (problems) and answers. Subheadings for the section include Plane Sailing, Traverse Sailing, Parallel Sailing, Middle Latitude Sailing, Mercator's Sailing, To Find the Sun's Declination, Variations of the Compass, To Find the Latitude by Observation, To Find the Latitude by the Moon, To Find the Latitude by a Planet, and To Find the Latitude by Double Altitudes.

The final section of the journal (12 pages), Journal of a Cruise in the U.S. Steamer Mississippi by Yeoman George H. Brown, spans from June 10, 1845 to December 8, 1846. Early entries in the journal (1845 July 31-August 5) pertain to the ship's commissioning, repairs, and tests of her engines. Brown goes on to discuss events during the ship's cruises between Pensacola, Veracruz, Anton Lizardo, Tabasco, and Tampico during the Mexican War. Specific events noted by Brown include the rescue of an overboard seaman (1845 August 6); embarking Minister John Slidell at Veracruz for the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi (1846 March 31); towing U.S.S. Cumberland off a reef (1846 July 28); attacking the fort at Alvarado (1846 August 7); the replacement of Captain Fitzhugh by Commodore Matthew Perry (1846 October 8); another attack on the fort at Alvarado by the Mississippi, McLane, Bonita, Forward, Reefer, and the Vixen (1846 October 15); seizing vessels for smuggling arms to Mexico inside bales of cotton (1846 October 16); the bombardment of Tabasco by Commodore Perry's flotilla and the refusal of Mexican forces to allow civilians to flee (1846 October 25); the capturing of prize ships off Tabasco; Commodore Connor's expedition against and capture of Tampico (1846 November 10-15); the reinforcement of Tampico with arms and men taken on board at the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi (1846 November 19-29); and the capsizing of the brig Somers (1846 December 8).

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The Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi comprises a single volume and is divided into the following three sections:

  • Section 1: Journal of a Cruise from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro, 1843 April 7-21
  • Section 2: Navigation Problems, undated
  • Section 3: Journal of a Cruise in the U.S. Steamer Mississippi, 1845 June 10-1846 December 8
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi 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

Purchased from Carmen D. Valentino Rare Books and Manuscripts in October 1991. Accession No. 91-52.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to the U.S.S. Columbia can be found in the Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Columbia, 1844, MS 77. Additional material pertaining to the service of the U.S.S. Mississippi can be found in the Journal of the U.S.S. Mississippi, U.S.S. Vincennes, U.S.S. Weasel, U.S.S. Hornet, and U.S.S. Natchez, 1823-1828; 1842-1844, MS 31 and the Log Book of the U.S.S. Mississippi, 1861, MS 91. All three documents are available in Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi, MS 272

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

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

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in December 2013. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in December 2013. Adapted in part from a guide by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1992.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Brown, George H.
  • Columbia (Frigate)
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Naval operations
  • Mississippi (Side-wheel steamer)
  • Navigation
  • Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858
  • United States. Navy. South Atlantic Squadron

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Ships' logs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Journal of the U.S.S. Columbia and U.S.S. Mississippi, 1843-1846

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