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    Daily records of a Civil War transport steamer

    U.S. Steamer Cecil Journal Written during the Final Two Years of the Civil War. This, written on lined paper and in different hands, journal (4" x 12.5") contains the daily activities of the Cecil, a privately owned steamboat hired by the U.S. Government to transport military recruits and ordnance. The journal begins on February 19, 1864, and ends December 1, 1865. According to the entries, most of the transporting was between Baltimore and Boston ("Boston wharf"), with frequent stops in Annapolis and Fort McHenry.

    Handwritten on a front free endpaper: "Journal of United States Transport Steamer Cecil commensing this 19th day of february 1864 D. H. Leary master." Captain Darius H. Leary commanded the 500 ton side-wheel steamboat, which had a contract, signed in August 1863, to transport for the U.S. Government. The names of the various journal keepers are not known, but their daily reports make for engaging and enlightening reading. The journal begins with this entry on February 19, "Weather clear fine Wind N.W. Strong 8 A.M. got underway found river clear. 8:40 A.M. arrived discharged cargo laying quiet at wharf & so ends this day makeing but little water." Weather conditions were important to any vessel and were recorded daily in this journal. Repairs to the ship were also recorded, such as "painting boat", "blew a hole in boiler, blew out boiler, commenced repairing boiler", and "put down new Fire room floor". The numerous entries also give an account of daily tasks, cargo, and passengers, which sometimes included "officers" and "ladies" ("Taken General Walace and 15 or 20 ladies & gentlemen [June 23, 1864]"). Most of the passengers, though, were Union recruits ("Got underway for Benedict [Maryland] for the purpose of collecting drafted Men at that and the ajoining counties"). Sometimes the sick and wounded were also transported: "Received 175 sick & wounded & some freight [June 22, 1864]". Regiments were also moved, including the 19th Regiment Colored Troops which were transported to Annapolis on April 18, 1864: "Taken three companys of the 19th regiment coulard troops on board, three horses, & several officers . . . for Annapolis." At the top of each page, the recorders have written the names of the various commanding officers, such as "under Major Cumings", "under General Kenely", "under Capt. Lee orders".

    On April 8, the Cecil was visited by the "inspector of steam Boats", who "pronounced everything in good order and in accordance with the law." Other entries report the promotion of dock hands to mates and the difficulties caused by sand and mud bars: "tide verry low. 5 P.M. stuck fast on Muds. The tide too low to get over." Frequent reports also occur involving other boats and steamers, such as the Hiland Light, the James Genny, the Charles Thomas, and "General Grants boat": "hauled out in stream to anchor to give General Grants boat . . . the wharf [August 14]."

    The final entry on December 1, 1865, reads, "1 p.m. received an order to Lay the Boat up. 2:30 . . . Blew out Boiler. Discharged crew, so ends the day." The journal is fragile; some pages have become unbound. Boards and spine have separated; yet, it remains a rare account of the final days of the Civil War aboard a Union transport steamer.


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    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
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