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Walter McLean Letter, 1884: Finding Aid

Published in March 2019

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 484
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Walter McLean Letter
  • Dates: 1884
  • Size: .02 linear feet (1 folder)
  • Creator: McLean, Walter, 1855-1930
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Walter McLean was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1876. The Walter McLean Letter, comprising a single 49 page typescript, was written in 1884. The letter, from McLean to an unknown recipient, describes the maiden voyage of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship Carlile P. Patterson from the time of her departure from Hampton Roads in July 1884, covering her cruise down the east coast of South American until her emergence from the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean.

Biographical Chronology of Walter McLean

1855
  • Born on July 30 in Elizabeth, New Jersey to George Washington and Rebecca J. McLean.
1872
  • On June 8, receives appointment at large to the United States Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1876.
1876
  • In June, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
1877
  • In February, attached to the U.S.S. Trenton (Screw steamer), flagship of the European Station.
1878
  • In May, detached from U.S.S. Trenton and granted leave of absence until August
  • In August, attached to U.S.S. Powhatan (Steam frigate), flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron.
  • On October 23, commissioned an Ensign.
  • In October, detached from U.S.S. Powhatan and waiting orders.
1879
  • In March, attached to the United States Naval Academy.
  • In April, detached from the Naval Academy and waiting orders.
  • In May, attached to the receiving ship U.S.S. Colorado at New York.
  • In August, attached to the Asia Squadron, first aboard U.S.S. Alert (Gunboat) and later aboard U.S.S. Monocacy (Gunboat).
1882
  • In June, ordered home and waiting orders.
1883
  • In March, ordered to the Navy Yard in Washington for ordnance instruction.
  • In April, attached to the Experimental Battery in Annapolis.
1884
  • In July, attached to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey aboard the U.S.C.&.G.S. Carlile P. Patterson.
1885
  • In October, detached from the Coast and Geodetic Survey and order home waiting orders.
  • In November, attached to the receiving ship U.S.S. Vermont at New York.
  • On December 1, promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade).
1886
  • In April, briefly attached to U.S.S. Alliance (Screw gunboat) on the North Atlantic Station before returning to U.S.S. Vermont.
1887
  • In January, attached to U.S.S. Despatch (Steamer).
  • On December 8, marries Emma Bowne Jarvis.
1889
  • In May, detached from U.S.S. Despatch and granted a leave of absence.
1890
  • In May, attached to the Naval Ordnance Proving Ground at Annapolis.
  • In July, attached to U.S.S. Enterprise (Screw sloop) in Caribbean waters.
1891
  • On May 20, promoted to Lieutenant.
  • In September, attached to U.S.S. Yantic (Screw gunboat) on the South Atlantic Station.
1893
  • In March, ordered home and waiting orders.
  • In May, granted leave of absence until August.
  • In August, reports to the Coast Survey Officer in Washington, DC.
1895
  • In November, attached to U.S.S. Boston (Protected cruiser) on the Asiatic Station.
1897
  • In September, transfers to U.S.S. Monocacy (Gunboat).
1898
  • In April, detached from U.S.S. Monocacy.
  • In May, reports as Senior Aide to Admiral George Dewey aboard U.S.S. Olympia (Protected cruiser: C-6).
  • In September, attached to U.S.S. Charleston on the Asiatic Station.
  • In November, ordered home and waiting orders.
1899
  • In February, granted leave of absence until March.
  • In March, attached to the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, DC.
  • On July 1, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
1900
  • In April, attached to U.S.S. Prairie Auxiliary cruiser: AD-5) serving with the Naval Militia off the Atlantic Coast.
  • In June, attached to U.S.S. Mayflower (Steam yacht: PY-1) as Executive Officer, in support of the new government in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1901
  • In August, transfers to U.S.S. Machias (Gunboat: PG-5) as Executive Officer, serving in Caribbean waters during the Panamanian Revolution.
1902
  • In October, assumes command of U.S.S. Vixen (Yacht: PY-4).
1903
  • In September, detached from U.S.S. Vixen.
  • In October, attached to the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, DC.
1905
  • On March 31, promoted to Commander.
1906
  • In June, assigned to special duty at the Naval War College.
  • In August, assigned to temporary duty at the Bureau of Ordnance through November.
1907
  • In February, reports to Cavite Naval Station as Commandant.
1908
  • In February, assumes command of U.S.S. Cleveland (Protected cruiser: C-19) on the Asiatic Station.
  • In December, assigned to temporary duty at Olongapo Naval Station.
  • On December 15, promoted to Captain.
  • In December, ordered home and waiting orders.
1909
  • In February, attached to the Washington Navy Yard.
1910
  • In March, assumes command of U.S.S. Vermont (Battleship: BB-20) of the North Atlantic Fleet.
1911
  • In November, assigned to the Army War College in Washington, DC.
1912
  • In May, appointed to the Naval Examining and Retention Boards.
1914
  • On March 10, promoted to Rear Admiral.
  • In September, assumes command of the Atlantic Fleet's 4th Division aboard U.S.S. Minnesota (Battleship: BB-22) and U.S.S. Louisiana (Battleship: BB-19) during the Mexican Revolution.
1915
  • In November, attached to the Norfolk Navy Yard and Naval Station as Commandant, with additional duty as Commandant of the 5th Naval District.
1918
  • In January, detached from the Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • In August, detached from the 5th Naval District and waiting orders.
1919
  • On March 15, transferred to the Retired List and retires to Lutherville, Maryland.
1930
  • On March 20, dies at the Annapolis Naval Hospital.
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Description of Contents

The Walter McLean Letter, comprising a single 49 page typescript, was written in 1884. The letter, from McLean to an unknown recipient, describes the maiden voyage of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship Carlile P. Patterson from the time of her departure from Hampton Roads in July 1884, covering her cruise down the east coast of South American until her emergence from the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean.

The first page of McLean's letter is missing. From page 2 of the letter until page 7, McLean offers background information, including a description of the duties of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, with a comparison to the Navy's Hydrographic Office; description of the U.S.C.&.G.S. Carlile P. Patterson and her surveying equipment, such as the Sigsbee Sounding Machine and densometer; and McLean's duties as 1st Lieutenant and Navigator. Other general observations include thoughts on the nature of a compass (page 7); and the peace found aboard ship (page 12).

Beginning on page 7, McLean begins to describe the journey of the Patterson, starting with her departure from the Navy Yard for Hampton Roads on July 26, 1884. Events and ports described by McLean include entering into and description of the Gulf Stream (pages 8-9); encounters with petrels, seaweed, sharks, and pilot fish (pages 10-11); August 23 arrival at and description of Madeira and the city and people of Funchal (pages 13-17); encountering schools of flying fish (pages 19-20); and the Patterson's September 2 arrival at and subsequent description of the city and people of Rio de Janeiro, as well as observations on Brazilian politics and reception of the Emperor of Brazil (pages 21-27).

McLean continues his letter on December 8, 1884 in Valparaiso, Chile with descriptions of Montevideo (pages 28-31); encounters at sea with moths, butterflies, albatross, and cape pigeons (pates 31-32); description of Sandy Point, modern day Punta Arenas, as well as the native population, culture, and history (pages 36-38); transiting the Strait of Magellan, including the rounding Cape Froward, thoughts on the natives of Tierra del Fuego, the anchorage at Playa Parda Cove, Smyth Channel, descriptions of glaciers, Colombine Cove, and Sarmiento Cove and Channel, (pages 39-49); and watching and catching albatross (page 49).

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Arrangement

The contents of the Walter McLean Letter are arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Walter McLean Letter 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 Donald Patterson in June 1989. Accession No. 89-23.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material pertaining to Walter McLean in this repository includes McLean's midshipman conduct record and a portrait available in Photo Album 92.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Walter McLean Letter, MS 484

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 March 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in March 2019.

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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

  • Carlile P. Patterson (Survey ship)
  • Hydrographic surveying
  • Madeira Islands -- Description and travel
  • McLean, Walter, 1855-1930
  • Montevideo (Uruguay) -- Description and travel
  • Punta Arenas (Chile) -- Description and travel
  • Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) -- Description and travel
  • South America -- Description and travel
  • U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
  • Voyages and travels

Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Walter McLean Letter, 1884

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