[Various American ports. ca. 1861]. pp. of lined paper. 12mo. Original limp calf. Minor edge wear, front cover bowed. Pencil notes and drawing of a woman in profile on front endpapers. Minor dust soiling in text, last two leaves removed. Very good. Item #WRCAM49608
An engaging manuscript journal kept by "Joseph Furlong, Acting Gunner, U.S.N.," per his ownership inscription on the first leaf. According to David Dixon's NAVAL HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR, Furlong served as the acting gunner on the U.S.S. Quaker City, a heavy sidewheel steamship built in 1854 and leased by the Union Navy at the start of the Civil War. Chartered in 1861 and subsequently purchased by the Navy, the ship was outfitted with a powerful twenty-pound long rifle and assigned to help enforce the Union blockade of the ports of the Confederate States of America. The journal opens with fifteen manuscript pages in pencil listing the "Table of Allowances of Ordnance Stores for 2nd Class Sidewheel Steamer" and other "Miscellaneous" supplies. This is followed by ninety-one manuscript pages in ink titled "Questions and Answers in Naval Gunnery" and consisting of 396 numbered questions and answers ranging from "Q. What is a Gun made of? A. Of Cast Iron Metal" to "Q. What is the charge for a 24 Pdr Howitzer of 1310 lbs? A. 2 lbs." One of the last entries addresses the recipe for gunpowder, here given as fifteen parts nitre, ten parts sulphur, and fifteen parts charcoal. There are no notations or references for the source of these entries, but they read as class notes copied from a standard reference work. It would be another fifty years before the publication of the first BLUEJACKET'S MANUAL, the standard handbook for personnel of the United States Navy. Many sailors at this time were practically illiterate, so the oral traditions and procedures of petty officers were the basis of enlisted sailors' education. Furlong could have gleaned the material from James Harmon Ward's AN ELEMENTARY COURSE OF INSTRUCTION ON ORDNANCE AND GUNNERY: PREPARED FOR THE USE OF THE MIDSHIPMEN AT THE NAVAL SCHOOL (1846). Placed in service only six days after President Lincoln declared a blockade of the Confederate coast, the Quaker City was one of the most active and effective blockaders in the Union Navy, capturing at least ten ships flying the Confederate flag. At various times the ship patrolled the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads, New York, the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, the Bahamas, Key West, Charleston, and more, capturing Confederate ships in every port of call, including Confederate commerce raiders such as the Model, the Lilla, and the Adela. After taking a pounding during its service in the war, the ship was decommissioned in 1865 and sold back to commercial interests. Interestingly, during a trip to Europe in 1867, Mark Twain chose the ship as a setting for his INNOCENTS ABROAD. The Quaker City was later renamed several times and served in the Haitian Navy before sinking off Bermuda in 1871. This manuscript journal is an enthralling read for naval historians, especially of the Civil War era. Naval operations during the war are often overlooked in favor of the famous land battles, but they were no less important in winning the war for the Union. This journal is a firsthand memento of the sailor's life from one of the defining eras in American history.