Log Book of the USS Essex, February 1, 1897 - July 31, 1897 (#39)
Log Book of the USS Essex, February 1, 1897 - July 31, 1897 (#39)
- Publication date
- sloop-of-war USS Essex, HMS Talbot, American Line steamer Ohio, American barque St. Lucie, Royal Mail steamer Orinoco, Royal Mail steamer Solent, school ship USS Saratoga, steamer Carribbee, British steamer SS Duart Castle, Quebec Steamship Company steamer Madiana, Holland gunboat Alkmar, German steamer Virginia, French Flagship Dubourdieu, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamer SS Alexandre Bixio, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamer SS Alexandre Bixio, Red D Line steamer Philadelphia, Venezuelan gunboat Vencedor, Venezuelan gunboat Crespo, HBM guardship Urgent, British steamer City of Kingston, USS Marblehead, Mallory Line steamer Nueces, steamer Mascotte, steamer Concho, Lighthouse Tender Laurel, Merchant Marine Line steamer Gate City, USS Detroit, USS Iowa, USRS Vermont, US Coast Survey steamer Bache, USS Indiana, Torpedo Boat USS Porter, Navy Tug USS Nina, Navy Tug USS Narkeeta, USS Fern, Gunboat USS Helena, tug C.E. Evarts/C.H. Evarts, USS New York, USS Texas, USS Standish, USS Cushing, USS Annapolis, USS Detroit, tug Lewis Pulver, tug Amerika, USS Ericsson, USS Puritan, USS Cincinnati, USS Maine, New York Navy Yard, apprentice training, ship drills, ship maintenance, steam, sail, Donald McKay
USS Essex Log Book 39
Adams class ship USS Essex (IX-10) was designed and constructed by premier North American shipwright Donald McKay. Her keel was laid down in 1874 and she was launched in 1876. She was a three-decked wooden screw steamer sloop-of-war with auxiliary sail (bark-rigged). She was 185 feet long, 35 feet in the beam, had a 14.25-foot draft, and was 1,375 tons. When commissioned, she carried six big guns, all muzzle loaders: one XI-inch and four IX-inch Dahlgren Naval Artillery guns, and one 60-pound Parrott Rifle The ship’s armory carried dozens of small arms including rifles, pistols, revolvers, and cutlasses. Further, she carried a six auxiliary boats including a launch, two cutters, a whale boat, one gig, and a dinghy. The combinations of guns and watercraft carried on board USS Essex could change from log book to log book. She served with the US Navy in active duty and as a training ship with the Ohio Naval Militia, the Illinois Naval Militia, and the Minnesota Naval Militia. She was intentionally burned on Minnesota Point in Lake Superior at Duluth in 1931. Her Minnesota Archaeological Site Number is 21-SL-1030 and she is a National Register of Historic Places Property.
Maritime Heritage Minnesota digitized the 62 known USS Essex log books held at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis in 2010. The log books consist of the daily activities on board the Essex as recorded by deck officers on duty. Those deck notes were then transcribed to be the official log of the Essex that were sent to the Navy Department in Washington, DC, where they were bound into their current book form. At the beginning of most log books, there are: a title page, two list of officers pages, a crew complement page (listing the crew by rank and job), an armaments page (list of the different large guns, boats, and small arms), and two pages of compass observations. Not all log books contain these pages and some include additional information, including a plan and section of the Essex in Log Books 8 and 9 and four pages of directions on how to fill out log pages in Log Book 21. Sometimes two transcribed versions of log pages were sent to the Navy Department and duplicate books were produced. However, sometimes the duplicate books were not bound with exactly the same pages, so some books overlap each other in date. Also, some log book pages have writing too close to its spine edge and after binding, some words and numbers were ‘lost’ in the spine if the binding remained tight over the decades. Further, it must be kept in mind that the names of ships, both American and foreign, as well as geographical locations usually expressed in different languages will have variations in spelling. With this in mind, the deck officers of the Essex, when writing the log pages, may misunderstand what the actual name of a ship or geographical marker actually is and their handwriting may present challenges or be nearly illegible. The editing of this log book and the creation of the finding aid was made possible by a generous donation from MHM friend and supporter Dr. Natalie Rosen.
Log Book 39 of the USS Essex: February 1, 1897-August 31, 1897
The National Archives houses USS Essex Log Book 39. Throughout Log Book 39, comments were made on:
- sail adjustments with sail type and action specified
- banking of boiler fires in order to put the ship on stand-by for immediate use
- coupling and uncoupling the propellor when the ship was shifting from steam to sail and vice-versa
- when under steam the different watches record the average steam boiler pressure and engine revolutions; sometimes specific boiler are mentioned by their letter designation
- lowering of smokestack and proceeded under sail and vice-versa when the Essex was underway
- when anchored nearly every watch described the state of the anchor cables: crossed (‘cross in hawse, stbd chain on top’ or ‘Elbow in hawse’) and often will mention ‘clearing the hawse’ (the crossed anchor cables were uncrossed)
- casting deep sea lead for soundings
- swinging the ship to test for compass deviation
- patent log readings
- water distillation using the ship’s boilers to produce freshwater and refilling the freshwater tanks
- coaling of the ship
- discharging ashes onto a lighter
- weather recording: temperature, wind speed and direction, barometer readings, state of the sea
- recording the ship’s behavior (heavy rolling or pitching)
- testing flood cocks in magazine and gun rooms
- testing of all electrical apparatus
- crew conducting ship maintenance: engine maintenance/repair, boiler maintenance/repair, coal bunker maintenance/repair, general ship cleaning, bilge cleaning and checking pumps, scraping and painting - and sometimes tarring and caulking - the ship’s hull and infrastructure, caulking the decks, iron work maintenance/repair, rigging repair/replacement, tarring down rigging, airing of rigging, repairing stays, repairing yards and booms, loosed sails to dry, repairing sails, replacing sails, scraping and slushing spars, scrubbing masts and yards, repairing masts, hawser (mooring lines) maintenance/repair/replacement, condenser bed timber repair/replacement, engine bed timber repair/replacement, steam cutter maintenance/repair, steam/sail launch maintenance/repair, gig maintenance/repair, dinghy maintenance/repair, whale boat maintenance/repair, turned and cleaned hammocks and bedding, painting hammock netting panels, scraping and blacking boat davits, repaired ground tackle, repaired sounding apparatus, scraping out smokepipe, inspected cotton primers, repairing binnacles, repairing waste pipes of magazine and shell room, repairing rail, repaired skylights, repaired awning stanchions, awning repair/replacement, repairing air ports, repairing gun ports, repairing water closets, gun carriage/battery maintenance/repair
- crew conducting drills: furling and unfurling sails, target practice with the main battery (great guns), target practice with the air gun, floating target practice, boat drills - all hands called to arms and away all boats for naval tactics under sail and oars, on shore target practice, general quarters drills, small arms drills, fire drills, single stick drills, revolver drills, torpedo drills, passing powder drills, fuze drills, abandon ship drills, man overboard drills, Gatling gun drills, howitzer drills, skirmishing, battalion drills, machine gun drills, pistol drills, rifle drills, bayonet drills, target practice with targeting hanging from a yardarm, Morse signal drills, landing party drills, navigation drills, man overboard drills, signaling with the flagship, Army and Navy signaling drills, watch signal drills, international signal drills, basic medical training (tourniquets, resuscitation), Marine Guard drill
- Marine Guard drills in the cutter
- cadet/apprentice drills: signaling drills, wig-wag signaling drills
- receiving fresh water from shore through pumps or lighter
- receiving provisions and stores: food, medical supplies, clothing, engineering gear, construction
- Quarterly Board of Survey’s findings of condemned articles on board (food, equipment) and their fate (food was usually tossed overboard) from the inventories of the different ship’s departments (Ordnance, Engineering, Navigation, Equipment, Medical, Pay)
- crew promotions
- crew quarters inspection
- liberty parties sent ashore
- crew members are discharged at their own request (DOR)
- lists of new crew members - recruits or transfers from other ships- taken on board during a cruise
- crew transfers to other ships
- crew reporting the expiration of their contracted naval service
- crew members in solitary confinement or other punishments for various infractions, AWOL crew, general and summary court martial proceedings, AWOL crew put in irons
- rewards offered for the return of AWOL crewmen
- weekly Sunday services; after the services, once a month, the Articles for Better Government of the Navy were read to the crew
NOTE: The Essex deck officers who recorded the daily happenings on the ship often translated the names of non-American ships incorrectly. MHM determined the correct spellings of the ships and those corrections are reflected in the Finding Aid, not the poorly transliterated ship names.
At the beginning of Log Book 39, on February 1, 1897, the USS Essex was at sea, with her apprentices practicing knot splicing, lead casting, log taking, compass reading, single sticks, gunnery, signals, and seamanship. Exercises included divisions at stations, casting loose, stations for boats and setting up, gunnery, signals, arming and away boats, taking in, furling, loosing and setting topgallant sails. On February 8, an auction for the effects of a deserter sold for $1.70. On February 12, Essex stood in to Bridgetown, Barbados, got up steam and anchored at Bridgetown Roads; she fired a national salute with an English flag at her main that was answered by a shore battery. Essex stayed in port for 11 days, giving and receiving official calls that included the Aid de Camp of the CO of the English land forces in Barbados, the US Consul, Aide to the Governor, and other ships. Essex dressed in rainbow fashion for Washington's birthday - as did HMS Talbot - and fired a 21-gun salute. The log detailed the activities of the busy port including the movements of Talbot, American Line steamer Ohio, American barque St. Lucie, Royal Mail steamers Orinoco and Solent, and other unnamed ships: an American schooner and barque, English barques, barkentines, barks, brigantines, and schooners, Norwegian brigantines and barques, Royal Mail steamers, a Quebec Line steamer, a French bark, and a Dutch ship. A crewman was demoted for 'attempting to evade debts contracted on shore' and Essex left Bridgetown on February 23. Two days later, Essex spotted Montserrat Island and later anchored off Plymouth -an officer called on the American Vice Consul; the whale boat that took the officer ashore broke an oar lock due to a heavy swell. On February 26, the ship up anchored and went to St. Kitts, fired a 21-gun national salute while flying an English flag, and exchanged visits with the American Vice Consul; the ship gave him a 5-gun salute upon departure. The next day, the Consul visited and also received a salute. The last day of February saw CO inspections of the ship and crew, and he visited the school ship USS Saratoga; the steamer Carribbee left harbor.
On March 1, the Governor of St. Kitts visited USS Essex and received a 17-gun salute upon his departure; a few days later, the Administrator of St. Kitts also visited and received a 13-gun salute. During the first 9 days of March, the Essex crew and apprentices practiced with boats, seamanship, gunnery, single sticks, and signals, and took liberty. Apprentices visited school ship USS Saratoga and the following morning, the log noted the ship's catamaran had been taken during the night by 2 apprentices without permission or leave; the boat was retried by 2 men on the beach and the apprentices were subjected to summary courts martial. Port activities included the movements of the British steamer SS Duart Castle and the Quebec Steamship Company steamer Madiana. Essex left St. Kitts on March 11; 2 days later she anchored in Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas and fired a 21-gun salute while flying the Danish flag on her main. On March 18 and 19, a work boat with a diver and 'diving apparatus from the St. Thomas Floating Dock Company, were employed to examine and repair the port side after sea suction valve. Port business was logged including visits with the Governor of Danish West Indies, the Holland gunboat Alkmar, and other entities, with many large gun salutes occurring. Other ships in the port include the German steamer Virginia, French Flagship Dubourdieu - flying the flag of the Admiral of the Atlantic Division of the French Fleet. USS Essex up anchored on March 23; the crew and apprentices conducted drills for several days. On March 30, the crew spotted Centinela Rock and arrived at La Guaira/Guayra, Venezuela. On the last day of March, Essex fired a 21-gun salute while flying the Venezuelan ensign on her main; she steamed into the Inner Harbor of La Guaira and visits were exchanged with the US Consul.
The first week of April saw crew and apprentice drills in infantry, great guns, rifles, signals, and boats under oars. During this time, the movements of ships in the busy port were noted including the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamer SS Alexandre Bixio, Red D Line steamer Philadelphia, the Venezuelan gunboats Vencedor and Crespo, and French and Dutch steamers. USS Essex got underway under steam on April 7; the crew uncoupled the propellor once clear of the harbor and proceeded under sail. On April 12, the ship arrived in Port Royal, Jamaica, with the English flag at the main and fired a salute. Visits were exchanged with port authorities, including officers of the HBM Guardship Urgent, the Commandant of the British Naval Station, the US Consul, and the ship anchored in Kingston Harbor. The crew painted Essex and scrubbed their blankets, and the log mentions the movements of the British steamer City of Kingston, an American 3-masted schooner, a Norwegian steamer, and an Atlas Line steamer. On April 21, Essex steamed out of Kingston Harbor, uncoupled the propellor and went under sail. For the remainder of April, the crew and apprentices worked on sail handling and other drills; the ship anchored at Key West on April 30.
The first 12 days of May, USS Essex officers exchanged official visits from shore personnel and USS Marblehead. The apprentices practiced at boats, revolvers, gunnery, single sticks, and signals. They also worked at sending up and down the light yards and reading night signals sent from Marblehead. Port traffic was identified including Mallory Line steamer Nueces, steamer Mascotte, steamer Concho, Lighthouse Tender Laurel, and a US Revenue Cutter. Essex up anchored and left Kew West on May 12 under steam, but shortly uncoupled the propellor and proceeded under sail. During the middle of May, the crew and apprentices spent their days on drills, and the log mentions sighting several ships. By May 28, the ship was approaching New York. An apprentice fell and broke his leg while on deck and the steamer Gate City of the Merchant Marine Line passed close by; the ships exchanged colors. The nest day, Essex anchored in Gardiners Bay, Long Island, and 2 days later, the crew laid out targets and marking buoys for weapons practice, but the exercise was canceled due to fog.
For the first 18 days of June, Essex, her crew, and apprentices spent most of their time on target practice and anchoring in different bays around Long Island including Noyack Bay, Gardiners Bay, Long Island Sound, and Start Island Roads. More specifically, on June 2 Essex's Chief Engineer transferred to USS Detroit, moored at the New York Navy Yard, and a crewman transferred to USS Iowa on June 14. Essex passed Blackwells Island and headed up the East and North Rivers, exchanged signals with USRS Vermont, saluted the Commodore's flag with 11 guns, and moored at the Navy Yard on June 18. The next day, an apprentice was transferred to Vermont in single irons to await a General Court Martial for theft. Along the ship's port side, the 2nd cutter was fouled by a large tow of canal boats and barges heading downriver. Until the end of June, Essex and her crew went through inspections by Commander F.W. Dickins and practiced drills. The ship moved around the North and East Rivers, mooring to the Cob Dock at the Navy Yard on June 24 and saluted Vermont. Over the next 2 days, several men were sent to the US Naval Hospital in Brooklyn and a list of apprentices transferred to Vermont was included in the log, with additional transfers occurring on June 28. Over the last 2 days of June, Yard workmen were on board in the Engineering Department and ordinance was transferred to the General Storekeeper of the Navy Yard.
At the beginning of July, the Essex crew sent down the topgallant masts and yards to the New York Navy Yard to be replaced. US Coast Survey steamer Bache stood down the East River and Essex half-masted her colors for a funeral service on USS Indiana and Torpedo Boat USS Porter entered the yard. On July 6 Essex was towed by Navy Tugs USS Nina and USS Narkeeta from the Cob Dock to drydock #2; all hands were sent over the side to scrub the ship's bottom. Essex also received some copper on her hull and her hand pumps were repaired; she left drydock on July 8 and Gunboat USS Helena went into commission for the first time. On July 10, an apprentice was discharged from service due to 'ineptitude'. Throughout July, Yard workmen conducted repairs and maintenance and the log chronicled the movements of vessels around the Yard and the rivers. On July 27th, Rear Admiral Montgomery Sicard, Commander of the North Atlantic Squadron, was welcomed on board Essex. Two days later, the ship finished coaling and taking on ammunition and on July 31, the Secretary of the Navy arrived on the tug C.E. Evarts/C.H. Evarts; he was met with a 17-gun salute from the Cob Dock Battery. Activities involving the USRS Vermont, USS Fern, USS New York, USS Porter, USS Texas, USS Standish, USS Cushing, USS Annapolis, USS Detroit, Tugs Lewis Pulver and Amerika, Torpedo Boat USS Ericsson, USS Puritan, USS Cincinnati, and USS Maine.
sloop-of-war USS Essex, HMS Talbot, American Line steamer Ohio, American barque St. Lucie, Royal Mail steamer Orinoco, Royal Mail steamer Solent, school ship USS Saratoga, steamer Carribbee, British steamer SS Duart Castle, Quebec Steamship Company steamer Madiana, Holland gunboat Alkmar, German steamer Virginia, French Flagship Dubourdieu, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamer SS Alexandre Bixio, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamer SS Alexandre Bixio, Red D Line steamer Philadelphia, Venezuelan gunboat Vencedor, Venezuelan gunboat Crespo, HBM guardship Urgent, British steamer City of Kingston, USS Marblehead, Mallory Line steamer Nueces, steamer Mascotte, steamer Concho, Lighthouse Tender Laurel, Merchant Marine Line steamer Gate City, USS Detroit, USS Iowa, USRS Vermont, US Coast Survey steamer Bache, USS Indiana, Torpedo Boat USS Porter, Navy Tug USS Nina, Navy Tug USS Narkeeta, USS Fern, Gunboat USS Helena, tug C.E. Evarts/C.H. Evarts, USS New York, USS Texas, USS Standish, USS Cushing, USS Annapolis, USS Detroit, tug Lewis Pulver, tug Amerika, USS Ericsson, USS Puritan, USS Cincinnati, USS Maine, New York Navy Yard, apprentice training, ship drills, ship maintenance, steam, sail, Donald McKay
In Copyright. This work is copyrighted to Ann Merriman, Christopher Olson, and Maritime Heritage Minnesota. It cannot be duplicated, altered, or hosted online by an unauthorized third party. It cannot be sold for a profit or used to make a profit by any unauthorized third party and no commercial use is allowed. It can be used as a scholarly resource with proper citation to Ann Merriman, Christopher Olson, and Maritime Heritage Minnesota.
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