[At sea, and in Tarma, Peru. 1848-1851]. pp. Small folio. Contemporary marbled boards, neatly rebacked in gilt ruled calf. Boards rubbed, with a few small patches torn away from front board, corners and edges worn. Contemporary bookplate on front pastedown. Text clean and legible. About very good. In a cloth clamshell box, gilt leather label. Item #WRCAM52954
The entries commence with two lists of items belonging to the engineering department on the U.S.S. Iris, followed by Herndon's outgoing correspondence during his command of that vessel, and a final two-page letter to Passed Midshipman Lardner Gibbon written at Tarma, Peru on June 30, 1851. The correspondence dwells primarily on various engineering problems and administrative issues. Included, however, is an unusual five-page letter dated aboard the Iris at Laguna in March of 1848 to an unidentified recipient, but probably Matthew C. Perry, commanding the Home Squadron off Mexico during the Mexican-American War. The letter reports the results of Herndon's meetings at Sisal with Military Commandant Don Alonzo Azuar regarding Indian involvement in the conflict, and with the senior Spanish Naval Officer present, Don Francisco Garcia di Salas, commander of the brig Nervian, regarding the landing of guns and munitions. The final letter in the volume is of great significance. It is Herndon's instructions to Passed Midshipman Lardner Gibbon regarding his further exploration of the Amazon following their separation at Tarma, Peru on July 1, 1851. Herndon assigned Gibbon a different route of discovery so that "while I gave my own personal attention to the countries drained by the upper Marañon, Mr. Gibbon might explore some, and gather all the information he could respecting others, of the Bolivian tributaries of the Amazon." This letter provides Gibbon with guidance as to the route he is to follow and the importance of minimizing risk to himself to ensure that the results of their exploration might be preserved. The letter is printed verbatim in the first volume of Herndon and Gibbon's EXPLORATION OF THE VALLEY OF THE AMAZON (Washington, 1854, pp.33-34). Herndon's report of his exploration of the main trunk of the Amazon is the subject of the first volume of that work; Gibbon's report of his journey is the subject of the second volume. Six years later, then a navy captain in command of the ill-fated U.S. Mail Steamer Central America, Herndon perished with 426 passengers and crew when the ship foundered on September 12th. Before the ship sank Herndon organized and directed the evacuation of many passengers, including all the women and children. Herndon's heroism prompted the construction of the Herndon Monument at the U. S. Naval Academy in 1860.