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

Silas Wright Terry Letterbook, 1893-1895: Finding Aid

Published in 1995

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 308
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Silas Wright Terry Letterbook
  • Dates: 1893-1895
  • Size: 0.17 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 1 volume
  • Creator: Terry, Silas Wright, 1842-1911
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Silas Wright Terry was an Admiral in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1863. The correspondence contained within the letterbook was sent and received by Terry during his command of U.S.S. Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1) while she was attached to the Naval Review Fleet, and later the South Atlantic Squadron.

Biographical Chronology of Silas Wright Terry

  • On December 28, born in Wallonia, Kentucky to Abner R. and Elanor (Dyer) Terry.
  • On September 28, appointed to the United States Naval Academy as Midshipman.
  • In May, ordered into active service with the rest of the Class of 1863.
  • In May, attached to New York Navy Yard.
  • In June, attached to U.S.S. Dale (Sloop-of-war) of the Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
  • In September, attached to U.S.S. Wabash (Screw frigate), flagship of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
  • On September 16, commissioned Ensign.
  • In October, attached to U.S.S. Alabama (Side-wheel steamer) of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
  • In October, granted a leave of absence followed by a period of waiting orders.
  • In December, appointed aide in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron aboard U.S.S. Minnesota (Steam frigate).
  • In March, assigned to U.S.S. Dacotah (Steam sloop) of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
  • In September, attached to U.S.S. Black Hawk (Tinclad gunboat) and appointed Commanding Officer of U.S.S. Benefit (Tugboat) of the Mississippi Squadron.
  • On February 22, promoted to Lieutenant.
  • In May, appointed Detail Officer, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, aboard U.S.S. Malvern (Side-wheel steamer).
  • As of May, waiting orders.
  • In July, attached to U.S.S. Agawam (Side-wheel gunboat) of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
  • In August, attached to U.S.S. Ticonderoga (Screw sloop-of-war) of the European Station.
  • On July 25, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
  • In November, waiting orders.
  • In December, attached to the receiving ship U.S.S. Vermont.
  • In April, assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • In March, attached to U.S.S. Severn (Sloop-of-war), flagship of the North Atlantic Station, as Executive Officer.
  • In December, attached to U.S.S. Worcester (Steam sloop-of-war), flagship of the North Atlantic Station, as Executive Officer.
  • As of May, waiting orders.
  • In July, assigned to the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC.
  • In October, granted a leave of absence.
  • On October 14, marries Louisa G. Mason.
  • In July, assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • On July 11, promoted to Commander.
  • In August, appointed inspector for the 5th Lighthouse District, Baltimore.
  • As of June, waiting orders.
  • In July, receives command of U.S.S. Marion (Sloop-of-war) of the South Atlantic Station.
  • As of December, waiting orders.
  • In April, assigned to the League Island Navy Yard.
  • In October, assumes command of the Training Squadron, aboard U.S.S. Portsmouth (Sloop-of-war).
  • In April, assumes command of the training ship U.S.S. Jamestown (Sloop).
  • As of May, waiting orders.
  • In October, assigned to the Washington Navy Yard as Navigation Officer.
  • In July, assigned to board duties.
  • On January 9, promoted to Captain.
  • In May, assumes command of U.S.S. Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1) of the Naval Review Fleet and South Atlantic Squadron.
  • In May, granted a leave of absence.
  • In July, assumes command of receiving ship U.S.S. Franklin (Screw frigate) at Norfolk, Virginia.
  • In September, assumes command of U.S.S. Iowa (Battleship : BB-4) of the Pacific Station.
  • In September, ordered home and waiting orders.
  • In December, assigned as member of the Naval Examining Board.
  • In March, appointed Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard.
  • On March 29, promoted to Rear Admiral.
  • As of May, waiting orders, followed by board duties.
  • In August, appointed Commandant of the Honolulu Naval Station.
  • On December 28, transferred to the Retired List.
  • On February 9, dies in Washington, DC and is interred at the Naval Academy Cemetery.
Back to Top

Description of Contents

The Silas Wright Terry Letterbook, comprising a single, 2-inch volume, spans the time period of May 1893 through April 1895. The correspondence contained therein was sent and received by U.S. Navy Captain Silas Wright Terry during his command of U.S.S. Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1) while she was attached to the Naval Review Fleet, and later the South Atlantic Squadron.

Terry's letterbook chronicles the duties, assignments, and movements of U.S.S. Newark, as well as those of Terry himself while serving as her captain and Commander of the Naval Force on the South Atlantic Station. Notable among these are the Newark's escorting of the Columbian celebration caravels Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria from New York to Quebec (May 1893); overseeing the overhaul and repair of U.S.S. Yantic, including the letting of repair contracts with F.L. Humphreys & Company; a trip to Walfish Bay and Cape Town in South Africa, which included great gun practice and the rendering of medical assistance (August-October 1894); reports on the movements of Admiral Saldana de Gama and the Brazilian insurgents in Montevideo, Uruguay (April 24, 1894); and the handling of yellow fever, including quarantine at Flores Island and other sanitary measures taken while in Rio de Janeiro to prevent further spread of yellow fever aboard ship (February-March and August 15, 1894).

Many of the letters deal with personnel matters, such as re-enlistments, ratings, desertions, illnesses, accidents, deaths, courts-martial, conduct, and transfers. Actions and issues pertaining to specific crew members include the enlistment of Gunner's Mate Daniel Kennedy; the desertion of caterer William Kalson (January 1894); the probable shanghaiing of D.L. Philips and other U.S. Navy seamen at Montevideo (July 23, 1894); British soldier stowaways (October 20, December 31, 1894); sodomy charges against two seamen (October 24, 1894); the discharge of crewman Hamilton who assigned his difficulties to be a "colored man" (December 10, 1894); difficulty in transporting U.S. Navy men due to lack of steam passenger service (January 14, 1895); and Terry's disapproval of a petition by U.S.S. Yantic officers regarding retirement law (February 25 and April 14, 1895).

Other topics covered by the correspondence include Terry's thoughts on the value of shipboard Marines (March 24, 1894); the ship's band; disputes over boarding protocol and the proper manning of the ship's steam launch; disputes over the accurate use of ship's signals; movements of foreign vessels, particularly in Montevideo (April 28, 1894 and January 10, 1895); procedures for clearing Newark for action, including Terry's opinions on the useless nature of the ship's sails and rigging (January 25, 1895); coal supply problems; and communication problems.

Back to Top


The Silas Wright Terry Letterbook comprises a single volume. Letters within the volume are arranged chronologically.

Back to Top

Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Silas Wright Terry Letterbook 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.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Purchased in September 1995. Accession No. 95-57.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional documentation on Silas Wright Terry at Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library is available in his Midshipman Conduct Records and Alumni Jacket. A photograph of Terry is available in the United States Naval Academy Class of 1863 Photograph Album, Photo Album 4.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Silas Wright Terry Letterbook, MS 308

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

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

Cogar, William. Dictionary of Admirals of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1989-.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1995. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1995 and revised by David D'Onofrio in May 2014.

Back to Top

Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Brazil -- History -- 19th century
  • Newark (Protected cruiser : C-1)
  • Terry, Silas Wright, 1842-1911
  • United States. Navy. South Atlantic Squadron
  • Yantic (Screw gunboat)
  • Yellow fever

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Letter books
  • Manuscripts
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Silas Wright Terry Letterbook, 1893-1895

Back to Top