Log Book of USS Essex, October 11, 1899-April 21-1900 (#44)
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- sloop-of-war USS Essex, Algiers, Algeria, Funchal, Madeira, Gibraltar, Port Mahon, Villefranche, Genoa, Italy, USS New York, steamer City of Washington, Cuban steamer Morterra, USS Scorpion, American steamer Cienfuegos, Cuban steamer Georges Croise, British barkentine Rita, USS Detroit, Spanish Mail Steamer Alphonso XIII, USS Dolphin, Mount Vesuvius, SS Mascotte, USAT McPherson, Plat Line Steamer Olivette, Ward Line Steamer Havanna, USAT Sedgwick, USS Kearsarge, USAT Kilpatrick, USRC Onondaga, USS Kearsage, Torpedo Boat USS Porter, Naples, USRS Franklin, USRS Wabash, USRS Richmond, Patrol Yacht USS Frolic, Gunboat USS Newport, Navy Tug USS Standish, Torpedo Boat USS Stringham, Torpedo Boat USS Talbot, apprentice training, ship drills, Leghorn, ship maintenance, steam, sail, Donald McKay, Italian Crown Prince, Queen of Italy, Apprentice Training, Cuba, Guantanamo Bay, Havana, Santa Cruz, Saint Croix, Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Sardinia, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Norfolk Navy Yard, Frederiksted, St. Kitts, French Gunboat Gabes, Italian warship Confianza, Italian Battleship Re Umberto, Italian Royal Yacht Savoia, Guard Ship Confidencia, Italian ship Marco Polo, Italian Gunboat Tevere, P & O steamer Omrah, Japanese Torpedo Boat Akibono, Italian Battleship Sicilia, German Lloyd steamer Bremen, Prince Line Steamer Tartar Prince, Italian Torpedo Boat No. 89, Italian Transport Europa, Italian Torpedo Boat No. 132, North German Lloyd Steamer Priz Heinrick, Italian Transport Europa, German Lloyd Steamer Sachsea, Italian Torpedo Boat No. 95, English steamer Austria, Italian Cruiser Amerigo Vespucci, Italian Torpedo Boat No. 114, Italian Flagship Flavia di Gioia, Turkish Flagship Asson Terifik, Argentinian warship Garabaldi, German Lloyd steamer Frederick der Grosse, German ship SS Augusta Victoria, French Torpedo Boat Sarranizia, French Torpedo Boat Coureur, American yacht Calanthe, French Torpedo Boat Cyclone, French Torpedo Boat Furban, French Torpedo Boat Filibusteur, Italian brigantine, Italian steamer Sorio, HMS Juno, HMS Europa, HMS St. George, HMS Minerva, HMS Anson, North German Lloyd steamer Werra, USS Marietta, HMS Scout, Brazilian Battleship Marshall Deodoro, HMS Canopus, English steamer Greenwich, English steamer Dunvegan Castle, English steamer Wasan, and the Union Line steamer Moor, German steamer Osiris, steamer Duart Castle, Royal Mail Steamer Solent, Quebec Line steamer Ghazee, Quebec Line steamer Fontabelle, brigantine Telos of Bangor, Maine, English steamer Tiber of Montreal, British steamer Pretoria, schooner T Towner of New York, armed Tug USS Uncas, French Mail Steamer Olinde Rodrigues, US Porto Rico Line steamer Ponce, Army Transport Tug Slocum, USAT McClellan, Collier USS Caesar, USC&GS George S. Blake, steamer of the Porto Rico Line, HMS Comet, US Mail Steamer San Juan, steamer Caracas
USS Essex Log Book 44
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 44 of the USS Essex: October 11, 1899-April 21, 1900
The National Archives houses USS Essex Log Book 44. Throughout Log Book 44, 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 44, on October 11, 1899, the USS Essex is in Algiers, Algeria, under the command of Commander Frank Courtis. The crew and apprentices are conducting routine drills, and in a list of punishments handed out to the apprentices, one man was given 4 hours extra duty for 'stupidity'. The movements of 2 French Torpedo Boats, the French Gunboat Gabes, and an English merchant steamer were noted, and Essex left Algiers on October 15. For 5 days, Essex headed toward Naples, sighting Sardinia, Mount Vesuvius, and anchored in the harbor; she fired a salute flying the Italian flag. The Italian warship Confianza returned the salute and requested another salute for the HRH Prince of Naples; Essex complied. For the rest of October, the ship remained at Naples and the apprentices and crew conducted exercises, gun drills, and rigging drills. The log also details the activities of the Italian Battleships Re Umberto and Sicilia, Italian Royal Yacht Savoia, Guard Ship Confidencia, Italian ship Marco Polo, Italian Gunboat Tevere, P & O steamer Omrah, Japanese Torpedo Boat Akibono, German Lloyd steamer Bremen, Prince Line Steamer Tartar Prince, Italian Torpedo Boats No. 89 and No. 132, and Italian Transport Europa.
From November 1-6, Essex remained at Naples, noting the movements of the North German Lloyd Steamer Priz Heinrick, Italian Transport Europa, German Lloyd Steamer Sachsea, Italian Torpedo Boat No. 95, and the English steamer Austria. She left Naples on November 6 and passed Anzio Light, and she anchored in the Port of Leghorn the following day; on the way, the ship was stopped to repair the oil cup for the HP crank shaft. On November 11, Essex was dressed and the Italian Flagship Flavia di Gioia fired a 21-gun salute for the Crown Prince's birthday celebration. Crews stationed and practiced Arm and Away Boats exercises, and Essex fired a salute at noon. Two days later, a seaman was presented with a Continuous Service Certificate (No. 14003), and on November 14, an apprentice lost the Object Glass of Medium Power Telescope No. 96 overboard while standing a quartermaster watch. The movements of the Italian Cruiser Amerigo Vespucci and the Italian Torpedo Boat No. 114 were mentioned in the log. USS Essex left Leghorn on November 16, with the ship rolling heavily between 18 to 12 degrees, and anchored in Genoa the next day. For the next week, the crew and apprentices conducted drills; on November 20, they dressed the ship in rainbow fashion and flew the Italian flag at the main in honor of the Queen of Italy's birthday. The log mentioned the Turkish Flagship Asson Terifik, Argentinian warship Garabaldi, German Lloyd steamer Frederick der Grosse, the and German ship SS Augusta Victoria. Essex left Genoa on November 23 and picked up a mooring buoy in the harbor of Villefranche the next day. Until the end of the month, the apprentices and crew sanded the masts and light yards, cleaned the hammocks, scrubbed the port boot topping, held timed Arm and Away Boat drills, and they conducted boat races. On November 25, the ship half-masted her colors in memory of Commodore G. H. Perkins, USN, who passed away on October 28.
For the first 12 days of December, while still at Villefranche, USS Essex conducted maintenance, including scraping, sanding, and painting, and an overhaul of the main battery guns. The log chronicled the movements of French Torpedo Boats Sarranizia, Coureur, Cyclone, Furban, and Filibusteur, American yacht Calanthe, and an Italian brigantine. Leaving Villefranche on December 12, 2 days later she entered Port Mahon and stayed there for 2 days. On December 16, Essex left Port Mahon, rolling deeply from 35 to 31 degrees; an eclipse of the moon occurred after midnight but before 3 am on the 17th. The next day, the Italian steamer Sorio passed and exchanged colors; Essex entered Gibraltar on December 19. Log entries for the days before Christmas Eve provide interesting insight into shipboard life; an apprentice was punished for 'continual stupidity and neglect', another apprentice was quarantined for 2 months for 'contracting a loathsome disease', and a crewman was demoted for spitting from aloft. Also, Essex took on board a crewman from the USS Marietta; he was left at Gibraltar due to illness. The activities of HMS Juno, HMS Europa, HMS St. George, HMS Minerva, HMS Anson, North German Lloyd steamer Werra, HMS Scout, and the Brazilian Battleship Marshall Deodoro were noted. On December 24, Essex up anchored and left Gibraltar, passing HMS Canopus while leaving the harbor and sighted the English steamer Greenwich. While traveling to Funchal, Madeira, Essex experienced two days of heavy rolls - some up to 36 degrees; she anchored on December 30. On the last day of 1899, Essex fired a national salute with the Portuguese flag at her main, and exchanged visits with the US Consul.
For the first 4 days of January, 1900, Essex remained at Funchal, and participated in division and battalion drills, and a dress parade. The log noted the movements of the English steamer Dunvegan Castle and Wasan, and the Union Line steamer Moor. The ship left Funchal on January 4, heading for St. Kitts; she passed the German steamer Osiris the next day. Throughout the month, the crew and apprentices conducted drills, including Abandon Ship, All Boats Arm and Away, and Great Gun Moving Practice. Essex experienced heavy seas, sometimes rolling up to 35 degrees. The ship anchored in Basse Terre, St. Kitts on January 29, while the English steamer Duart Castle left the port. During the last 2 days of the month, Essex held a dress parade, the crew and apprentices painted the ship, the main battery guns were overhauled, a bag and hammock inspection was held to trace a bag lost by an apprentice, and Royal Mail Steamer Solent left St. Kitts.
At the beginning of February, Essex remained in St. Kitts until February 10, with the apprentices and crews holding drills and ship cleaning and maintenance. On February 5, one seaman was placed in irons on the berth deck to sober up after coming back on board drunk from Liberty. The movements of the Quebec Line steamers Ghazee and Fontabelle, were noted, and the ship left the port on February 11, arriving at Frederiksted, Santa Cruz (Saint Croix) the next day. Until February 25, the Essex crew and apprentices conducted drills on board and ashore, fired salutes, and AWOL crewmen were returned to the ship for a reward. The log chronicled the movements of ships in the busy port including brigantine Telos of Bangor, Maine, English steamer Tiber of Montreal, British steamer Pretoria, schooner T Towner of New York, armed Tug USS Uncas, French Mail Steamer Olinde Rodrigues, US Porto Rico Line steamer Ponce, Army Transport Tug Slocum, USAT McClellan, Collier USS Caesar, USC&GS George S. Blake, steamer of the Porto Rico Line, HMS Comet, US Mail Steamer San Juan, and steamer Caracas. After leaving Santa Cruz, Essex sighted USS New York, and until the end of the month, headed toward Cuba.
On March 1, 1900, USS Essex anchored in Guantanamo Bay, and for the next 9 days, the crew and apprentices conducted routine drills, shore target practice, Abandon Ship drills, Arm and Equip Boats for Distant Service drill, and cleaned the ship. The log mentioned the movements of several ships including the USS New York, steamer City of Washington, Cuban steamer Morterra, USS Scorpion, American steamer Cienfuegos, Cuban steamer Georges Croise, and the British barkentine Rita. Upon leaving Guantanamo Bay on March 10, Essex headed toward Havana Harbor; on March 12 and 13, hammocks were lost overboard and one of them was retrieved using the ship's whale boat. In Havana on March 17, Essex moored to a buoy and exchanged numbers with USS Detroit. The next day, USS Dolphin entered the harbor and asked permission of the CO of Essex if she could come to anchor since Commander Courtis was the senior American afloat in Havanna at the time. The Essex log mentions the actions of USS Detroit, Spanish Mail Steamer Alphonso XIII, USS Dolphin, SS Mascotte, USAT McPherson, Plat Line Steamer Olivette, Ward Line Steamer Havanna, and USAT Sedgwick. Senator Henry Teller - known for the Teller Amendment that spelled out Cuban independence rather than annexation after the Spanish-American War - visited Essex on March 22 just before she went to sea. The ship stood into Hampton Roads on March 28, hoisting her colors, and exchanged numbers with USS Kearsarge; Essex's CO headed for Washington, DC, to report on the arrival of the vessel. Essex remains at Hampton Road through the end of March, and the log noted the movements of USS Kearsarge, USAT Kilpatrick, and USRC Onondaga.
USS Essex remained at Hampton Roads for the first 3 days of April, and moved to the Norfolk Navy Yard on April 3. Until April 21, yard workmen performed maintenance on the ship, including dismounting gun #146 that was sent to the Bureau of Ordinance, removal of the jib stay for replacement, fitting new standing and running rigging, supplies were received on board for the Construction, Equipment, and Ordinance Departments. Some apprentices were discharged for ineptitude and others were sent on leave or transferred to the Receiving Ships; many crewmen received ordinary discharges, some bad conduct discharges, and some were transferred or put on leave. On April 14, during a search of the ship, 1 crewman was found to be AWOL and on April 18, the personal effects of 2 crewmen declared as deserters was sold at auction; 75 cents was collected. On April 19, Commander Courtis read orders from the Navy Department at muster; he was detached from the command of the Essex and Commander Richard G. Davenport took over command of the ship. The next day, Ensign Baldwin and a hospital steward went to Berkeley to identify the body of a drowned man, F. L. Robbins, an Essex crewman. Robbins had been AWOL since April 10, and his body was sent to the Naval Hospital for internment preparations; the cause of death was unknown. Throughout the first 3 weeks of April, the Essex log described the movements of many ships, including Battleship USS Kearsage, Torpedo Boats USS Porter, USS Stringham, and USS Talbot, Receiving Ships USRS Franklin, USRS Wabash, and USRS Richmond, Patrol Yacht USS Frolic, Gunboat USS Newport, and Navy Tug USS Standish.
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