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Samuel Livingston Breese Papers, 1855-1870: Finding Aid

Published in November 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
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 318
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Samuel Livingston Breese Papers
  • Dates: 1855-1870
  • Size: 1.5 linear inches (4 folders)
  • Creator: Breese, Samuel L. (Samuel Livingston), 1794-1870
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Samuel Livingston Breese was an officer in the United States Navy from 1810 through the Civil War. The papers focus on the later years of Breese's career as an officer in the United States Navy, most notably his time as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard during the early days of the Civil War.

Biographical Chronology of Samuel Livingston Breese

1794
  • Is born in Utica, New York.
1810
  • On December 17, is appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy.
1811
  • Appointed to special service aboard the U.S.S. Congress (Frigate).
1814
  • In February, is furloughed.
  • In May, is assigned to duty at Lake Champlain, New York.
1815
  • On March 21, is promoted to Acting Lieutenant.
  • In March, is assigned to duty with the Flying Squadron.
1816
  • On April 27, is promoted to Lieutenant.
1817
  • In August, is assigned to duty at Sacket's Harbor, New York.
1819
  • In January, is transferred to U.S.S. Hornet (Brig), serving in the Mediterranean and West Indies Squadron.
1821
  • In March, is transferred to U.S.S. Constitution (Frigate), flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron.
1824
  • In August, is granted a leave of absence.
1827
  • In May, is assigned to the U.S.S. Lexington (Sloop-of-war) of the Mediterranean Squadron.
1830
  • In May, is granted a leave of absence.
1832
  • In April, is assigned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
1835
  • In April, is detached from the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
  • On December 22, is promoted to Master Commandant.
1837
  • In April, is granted a leave of absence.
  • In June, is assigned to U.S.S. Ontario (Sloop-of-war) of the West Indies Squadron.
1838
  • In September, is granted a leave of absence.
1839
  • In April, receives command of the Naval Rendezvous, Baltimore.
1840
  • In March, is assigned to special service as commander of U.S.S. Preble (Sloop-of-war).
  • In November, is granted a leave of absence.
1841
  • On September 8, is promoted to Captain.
1843
  • In August, receives command of U.S.S. Cumberland (Frigate) of the Mediterranean Squadron.
1845
  • In November, is granted a leave of absence.
1846
  • In July, is assigned to the Navy Department in Washington, DC.
  • In October, receives command of U.S.S. Albany (Sloop-of-war) of the Home Squadron.
1847
  • Is assigned to temporary special duty at Great Lakes.
1850
  • In October, is appointed a member of the Board on Rank, Washington, DC.
1851
  • In October, is appointed a member of the Board of Examiners.
  • In November, is assigned to temporary duty at the Navy Department in Washington, DC.
1852
  • In April, receives command of the Norfolk Navy Yard and Station.
1855
  • In June, receives command of the Mediterranean Squadron, flagship U.S.S. Congress (Frigate).
1858
  • In January, is granted a leave of absence.
  • In October, receives command of the New York Navy Yard.
1861
  • In October, is relieved of command of the New York Navy Yard.
1862
  • On July 16, is transferred to the Retired List as Rear Admiral.
  • In July, is appointed inspector for the Second Lighthouse District, Boston.
  • In October, is relieved of duty as inspector for the Second Lighthouse District.
1864
  • In April, is appointed President, Court-martial Board.
1865
  • In July is relieved of duty as President, Court-martial Board.
1869
  • In April, is appointed port administrator for Philadelphia.
1870
  • In September, Is relieved as port administrator for Philadelphia.
  • On December 17, dies at Mount Airy, Pennsylvania.
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Description of Contents

The Samuel Livingston Breese Papers, comprising 1.75 linear inches of documents, span from 1855 to 1870. The papers focus on the later years of Breese's career as an officer in the United States Navy, most notably his time as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard.

The papers include an account book, a letter book, copies of individual letters, newspaper clippings, and forms.

The Samuel Livingston Breese Papers are arranged in a single series with no subdivisions. The bulk of the collection consists of two volumes; an account book and a letter book. The account book hails from Breese's command of the Mediterranean Squadron during the mid to late 1850s and details transactions made on the part of the squadron. The Letterbook, although spanning from 1860 to 1866, consists primarily of correspondence between Breese, while serving as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard, and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Commodore Hiram Paulding during the first six months of the Civil War. The letters pertain to such topics as the procurement , chartering, and manning of steamers capable of mounting nine-inch pivot guns to blockade Southern ports; the ordering of armed Naval forces to Annapolis; manpower shortages and temporary use of retired Navy and Merchant Marine officers; suspension and transfer of the Coast Survey for the defense of New York; standing order to seize privateers; the detailing of steamers to convoy duty; privateers fitting out in Savannah; the assignment of vessels to Charleston Harbor; selection of Naval engineers; Breese's bad penmanship; provisioning of ships off Florida; readministration of oaths to all officers; purchase of sailing vessels for use as coal ships; suspension of enlisting foreigners as landsmen; coaling of vessels; provisioning and fitting out of various vessels; transportation of iron castings for 80-pound rifled cannon; the role of G. D. Morgan and W. H. Aspinwall was purchasing agents for Breese; employment of refugees from Norfolk; overstaffing and waste at the Brooklyn Navy Yard; requests for "strict regard to economy" at the New York Navy Yard; plans for the Navy Yard's ice house and cooler; and blockading the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. One early letter offers thanks for the repair of the Brazilian Imperial corvette. Later letters pertain to topics such as Breese's defense of certain purchases before Congress and the court-martial of Acting Master Everson.

The remainder of the collection consists of newspaper clippings and loose correspondence, and deals with such issues as procurement in the Navy during the Civil War and the deaths of Breese and Commodore Thomas H. Conover.

Research interests served by the Samuel Livingston Breese Papers include the buildup of the Union fleet during the Civil War, the operations of the New York Navy Yard, and the nature of Navy procurement and outfitting during the Civil War.

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Arrangement

The Samuel Livingston Breese Papers are organized into the following four files:

  • File 1: Account Book - Mediterranean Squadron, 1855-1857
  • File 2: Letterbook, 1860-1866
  • File 3: Correspondence, 1864-1868
  • File 4: Newspapers Clippings, 1862-1870
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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Samuel Livingston Breese 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

Purchased in May 1996. Accession No. 96-41.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Breese's service in the Mediterranean and during the Mexican War can be found in the Samuel Livingston Breese Papers, 1823-1878 at Duke University's David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Samuel Livingston Breese Papers, MS 318

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 B. Dictionary of Admirals of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1989.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in November 2013. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in November 2013. Original guide by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1996.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Breese, Samuel L. (Samuel Livingston), 1794-1870
  • New York Naval Shipyard -- History -- 19th century
  • Paulding, Hiram, 1797-1878
  • Shipbuilding -- United States -- History -- 19th century
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations
  • United States. Navy. Mediterranean Squadron
  • Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878

Genre Terms

  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Ledgers (account books)
  • Letter books
  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Account Book - Mediterranean Squadron, 1855-1857

Financial transactions for U.S.S. Saranac, Congress, and Constellation during Breese's tour as commanding officer of the Mediterranean Squadron.

Box 1 Folder 2

Letterbook, 1860-1866

Primarily correspondence between Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, Commodore Hiram Paulding and Breese, while serving as Commandant of the New York Navy Yard in 1861.

Box 1 Folder 3

Correspondence, 1864-1868

Includes a resume of Breese's service in the U.S. Navy and an obituary of Commodore Thomas H. Conover written by Breese.

Box 1 Folder 4

Newspapers Clippings, 1862-1870

Includes an article on Navy procurement practices and Breese's obituary.

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