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    [USS New Ironsides]. Arnold S. Sprague Naval Diary spanning the years 1863 through 1873. Arnold S. Sprague, a resident of Providence, Rhode Island, began his journal on January 1, 1863. Through the first six months he talks about planting and financial matters, and makes little mention of the war, until the war came to him. On July 9, 1863, Sprague makes mention that he "...was drafted for the U.S.A." The following day, he heads to town and promptly enlisted as a seaman in the United States Navy. In his entry of July 10, 1863, Sprague writes: "Not wishing to serve in the Army on account of the asthma I shiped [sic] this day in the U.S. Navy for one year." Thus begins his yearlong career in the Union navy. Several days later he notes that, as he was originally drafted for the army, he has "Procured a substitute to go in my place." On July 23 he received his orders and, three days later, boarded a gunboat bound for Port Royal, South Carolina.

    He arrived on August 2: "Made Port Royal...hauled alongside of the line of battle ship Vermont and discharged ammunition. saw a monitor today for the first time..." The following day he sailed for Charleston, where a siege of that city had been underway since July 19. He arrived and could "...see Sumter very plainly from here." From aboard ship he could hear "...considerable fire..." On August 10 he was posted for blockade duty onboard the USS New Ironsides. For days he notes "...considerable firing between the rebel bateries [sic] and the union bateries [sic]."

    During his time aboard the Ironsides, he participates in constant attacks on the Confederate defenses around Charleston Harbor. On September 7, the Ironsides participated in a planned assault on Morris Island, Sprague noting that "...all hands were called at four Oclock to prepare for the attack and when it became light saw our troops in possesion [sic] of the whole point, the rebs having evacuated [Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg] during the night." The following day, the Ironsides was called upon to attack Fort Moultrie and provide cover for the monitor Weehawken. Of the attack , Sprague notes: "Engaged Moultrie again this morning, untill [sic] our shell was expended, received very heavy fire, was struck ninty [sic] times in this engagement...the Weehawkin [sic] got afloat, and , and came safely out, after being aground under the enimies [sic] fire for twenty four hours..." The same day, the fleet attacked Fort Sumter, but it "...proved a failure, our loss four killed eighteen wounded, one hundred and twenty prisoners total..."

    On October 5, the rebels used a semi-submersible, the CSS David, armed with a spar torpedo, to attack the Ironsides. Sprague notes the result in an entry on the 6th: "The rebels attempted to blow us up with a torpedo at 9 and ½ oclock last night but failed they mortally wounded Mr. Howard the officer of the deck with a musket shot..." On the 18th he got shore leave, but "...came near to getting hit with a shell, from James Island..."

    He remained in the service until early July when he sailed for New York and boarded a train for Philadelphia to receive his discharge. On July 9, 1864, he notes: "Received my discharge and started for home at one P.M. arrived in New York at 7 and took the 8 P.M. train for Providence." He continues his journal for the remainder of the war, mostly regarding financial matters, but on April 15, he notes that "Abraham Lincoln was shot last night and today." On the 19th he mentions that he "Went to Abraham Lincolns funeral." The journal continues in much the same manner, the final entry being January 1873. The text is faded in some parts with scattered toning and ink smudges. Spine covering is absent, but binding remains tight.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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