Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts, 1864: Finding Aid
Published in November 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 542
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts
- Dates: 1864
- Size: 0.04 linear feet
- Container Summary: 1 folder containing 1 volume
- Creator: Massachusetts (Screw steamer)
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: U.S.S. Massachusetts was a screw steamer acquired for use by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War. The Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts were issued in 1864 by the ship's commanding officer, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant William H. West. The Rules and Regulations consist of 53 numbered regulations governing shipboard conduct and discipline aboard the Massachusetts during her final year of service during the Civil War.
History of U.S.S. Massachusetts
The second Massachusetts, an iron screw steamer built at Boston in 1860, was purchased by the Navy May 3, 1861 from the Boston & Southern Steamship Company, and commissioned May 24, 1861 at Boston, Commander Melancton Smith in command.
Assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron, Massachusetts steamed south to anchor off Key West, departing there June 8 for Pensacola. The next day she took her first prize, British ship Perthshire, near Pensacola. She captured Achilles on June 17 and two days later took Naham Stetson off Pass a L'Outre, Louisiana, and on June 23 captured Mexican schooner Brilliant and the Confederate blockade‑running schooners Trois Freres, Olive Branch, Fanny, and Basile in the Gulf of Mexico. While Massachusetts was absent, the South had fortified Ship Island, and the batteries fired on her when she returned from Pensacola. She engaged the Confederate guns until she ran out of ammunition. On July 13 she seized the schooner Hiland near Ship Island, and next day engaged steamers Arrow and Oregon off Chandeleur Island, forcing them to withdraw. Massachusetts captured the blockade-running sloop Charles Henry near Ship Island August 7 and gained information on Fort Pike, which guarded the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain for the South.
After repairs in early September 1861, Massachusetts fortified Chandeleur Island and set up a light there on September 13. A landing party from the ship took possession of Ship Island September 17, thereby providing the Union Navy with a valuable shelter during storms and the base from which Farragut would launch his attack on New Orleans. Returning to Ship Island September 20, Massachusetts attacked, causing the South to burn the barracks and desert Ship Island passage.
Massachusetts operated near strategically important Ship Island through the remainder of 1861. She thwarted Confederate efforts to transport freight through the passage on December 2, captured a small fishing boat on December 12, and turned back Oregon, Pamlico, Gray Cloud, and Florida at Mississippi Sound on December 19.
Early in 1862, Massachusetts steamed northward to decommission at New York on February 28. Fitted out as a transport and supply ship, she recommissioned on April 16 and operated along the Atlantic coast until decommissioning at New York on December 3.
Massachusetts recommissioned March 10, 1863 and but for a brief period in ordinary late that summer, served the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron through the end of the war. She captured sloop Parsis in Wassaw Sound on March 12 and with Commodore Perry captured blockade runner Caledonia May 30, 1864 south of Cape Fear after a two‑hour chase. In August, she aided steamers Gettysburg and Keystone State in the capture of Confederate steamer Lilian.
On March 19, 1865 Massachusetts struck a torpedo (mine), which failed to explode, in Charleston Harbor. She decommissioned September 22, 1865 at New York and was sold there at public auction on October 1, 1867. Documented February 11, 1868 as Crescent City, she served American commerce until 1872.
Description of Contents
The Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts, comprising 0.04 linear feet of documentation in a single volume, were issued in 1864 by the ship's commanding officer, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant William H. West. The Rules and Regulations consist of 53 numbered regulations governing shipboard conduct and discipline aboard the Massachusetts during her final year of service during the Civil War.
The Rules and Regulations govern most aspects of shipboard life, including adherence to orders, shipboard cleanliness, the governance of leave, the use of the ship's boats, uniforms, the maintaining of silence while on duty, and the prohibition of foul language, spitting, and Lucifer matches. Regulations 3 through 6 pertain specifically to the rendering of salutes and the respect due an officer. Regulations 20 through 25 detail the duties of the First Lieutenant and Executive Officer, including his role in requisitions, the processing of applications for leave, and the application of ordnance instructions. Regulations 26 through 42 specify the role and duties of the Officer of the Deck, especially with regards the ship's sails, watch keeping, the movement of personnel, the operation of the ship's boats, the maintenance of lights, and the maintenance of shipboard silence. Regulations 43 through 53 pertain directly to the crew with regards to drunkenness, personal hygiene, health, personal property, the observing of silence, the settling of grievances, and general happiness and comfort.
The Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts comprises a single volume.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts 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.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of Charles Q. Norton in July 1985. Accession No. 85-27.
Related Archival Material
Logbooks of U.S.S. Massachusetts may be available in Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, 1801-1940, part of Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007 at the National Archives and Records Administration.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
Internal Rules and Regulations of the U.S.S. Massachusetts, MS 542
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
"Massachusetts II (ScStr)." Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington: Naval History and Heritage Command, 2015, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/m/massachusetts-ii.html.
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in November 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in November 2019.
Name and Subject Terms
- Massachusetts (Screw steamer)
- United States. Navy -- Regulations
- Regulations (executive records)
- West, William H.