Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    [Civil War-Navy]. Archive of Letters and Manuscript Documents of John [or James] Burke. The archive consists of 18 letters, including 11 from John Burke, with 7 to his wife Mary Burke, and 7 to Burke, dating from May 1861 to March 23, 1888. Also included in the archive are manuscripts relating to Burke's claim for an invalid pension from the U.S. Navy. 1) Letter signed "James Burk." Three pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8", Elkridge Landing, Camp Esex [Essex], [Maryland]; [circa May 1861]. In this letter to his brother, Burke informs him that he and his fellow soldiers [the Sixth or Eighth Massachusetts Regiment, or Cook's Boston Artillery Battery] are on a hill overlooking the relay house at Elkridge Landing. 2) Letter signed "John Burke alias James Burke." Four page bifolium, 4" x 6", Charlestown, [Massachusetts]; May 19, 1861. In this letter to his wife, Burke informs her that he was on board the U.S.S. Ohio. "How I come hear [sic] I got drunk and a man took me to Boston Shiped [sic] me. The first knew about it I was on bord [sic] the Ship. But we must make the best of it untill [sic] my time is out." 3) Letter signed "John Burke alias James Burke." Two pages, 8.25" x 11.25", U.S. Ship R.R. Cuyler; August 18, 1861. When he wrote this letter to his wife, Burke was stationed on the U.S.S. Cuyler, a steamer outfitted by the U.S. Navy as a gunboat assigned to the Union blockade of the Confederate States. He joined the crew of the ship after his previous ship, the cutter John Appleton, was damaged and lost. He told his wife that his captain "told us all that served 6 months in this war wold [sic] get 320 acres of land worth one dollar an acre. That would be $320 Dollars besides our wages. That will not be bad." 4) Letter signed "James Burke that used to be John Burke." Two pages on R. R. Cuyler stationery, 8.50" x 13.75", Apalachicola [Florida]; September 17, 1861. Writing on the U.S.S. Cuyler from Apalachicola Bay off the coast of Florida, Burke informs his wife that he had been sick but is now feeling better. He wrote that "we have had Some fighting...we board a ship and took her as a Prise [sic]. We had to go in seven Boats for she laid under the land so our ship could not get in to her. We killed 7 of her men and took the rest Prisinors [sic]. We lost two men. Escaped without injury the Bullets was flying all around me. We was well armed Cutlass Pistol and muskets. We boarded her in the hight [sic] of the morning." 5) Letter signed "Mary Burke." Two pages on patriotic stationery, 5.25" x 7.75", Newburyport, [Massachusetts]; Sunday [circa September 1861]. This letter to Burke from his wife appears to be in response to his previous letter. 6) Letter signed "John Burke." Three pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", Ship Island, Mobile Bay, [Alabama]; December 1, 1861. Writing from the U.S.S. Cuyler in Mobile Bay, Burke writes his wife, "we are discharging several Rebel prizes that we have taking their cargoes is valuable ones. They consist of sugar, Molasses, spirits of Turpentine rosin and large Beams for the construction of forts. The prizes we have taken this week is valued at 150=000 dollars. We have got a large number of prisoners." 7) Letter signed [signature cut off]. Three pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", U.S.S. Cuyler, Pensacola [Florida]; December 25, 1861. Content of letter is entirely devoted to events at home. 8) Letter signed "John Burke." Two pages, 5.25" x 8", U.S.S. Cuyler, Pensacola [Florida]. This letter is written by Burke to a friend by the name of Layward. Content is primarily about what Burke and his fellow crewmembers did for Christmas and recent prizes the Cuyler has captured. 9) Letter signed "John Burke." Three pages, 5" x 8", New York; February 23, 1862. In this letter to his wife, Burke provides details of a recent captured prize. "She was loaded with coffee...and other articles. We had a hard time in taking her. We had four men Shot and one I expect will die. It was a valuable prise [sic] worth fifty thousand or more." He then tells her that he along with another sailor were shipped to New York on the U.S.S. Massachusetts "as witness for the Goverment [sic] but I expect to be sent back in the next Steamer to the Cuyler." 10) Letter signed "John Burke." Two pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", U.S.S. North Carolina, Brooklyn Navy Yard, [New York]; March 13, 1862. In this letter, Burke asks his wife if she has received his half pay. 11) Letter signed "James Burke." One page, 8" x 10.5", Singapore; October 4, 1863. Now discharged from the U.S. Navy, Burke is on a ship in Singapore. In this letter to his brother, Burke informs him that he sailed to California and then to Singapore aboard the cargo Steamer Scotland. He now is aboard a ship named Archer. 12). Letter signed "Joseph Burke." Three pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 7.75" Readville, Massachusetts; April 7, 1864. Letter from Burke's brother Joseph, who was serving in the 59th Massachusetts Volunteers, who provides his brother with an update on his regiment. 13) Letter signed "Joseph Burke." Three pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", Readville, Massachusetts; April 16, 1864. Another letter to Burke from his brother about activities in camp. 14) Letter signed "John Burke." Four page bifolium, 5" x 7.75", Newburyport, Massachusetts; May 5, 1864. Writing from home in Massachusetts, Burke writes to his brother Joseph and acknowledges his recent letters. The contents are primarily about money matters. 15) Letter signed "G.W. Garlane [?]" Two pages (of a bifolium), 5" x 8", Pensacola [Florida]; May 2, 1865. In this letter to Burke, the correspondent responds to a previous letter from Burke inquiring about his [Burke's] brother. 16) Manuscript, two pages, 7.75" x 10" n.p.; nd. Manuscript in pen and ink concerning details of John Burke's service in the Navy. This document may have been prepared by Burke or someone on his behalf concerning his efforts to gain an invalid pension from the U.S. Navy. 17) Manuscript entitled "General Affidavit." Four page bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", New York, New York; November 30, 1887. This document appears to be a draft affidavit by John J. Kelly, resident of New York, who was a shipmate of Burke's on the U.S.S. R.R. Cuyler. The affidavit was given in support of Burke's claim for a pension from the Navy for contacting debilitating Rheumatism because of his duties aboard the ship in 1861. Burke "helped to fill Casks of water at the Light house and Rolled them to the Beach and had to lash them in the water and take them on board the Schooner and then to the R.R. Cuyler. This was in July and August 1861 and to the Best of my opinion I think he Contracted the Rheumatism at that time." 18) Manuscript signed "John Burke." Three pages, 7.5" x 10", Newburyport, Massachusetts; March 20, 1883. This manuscript is a claim in Massachusetts by Burke for an invalid pension. The document includes an affidavit by William K. Niles in support of Burke's claim. 19-21) Three letters to John Burke from James Campbell, a former shipmate, from Mentor Lake, Ohio, dated November 12, [1887?]; January 29, 1888; and March 23, 1888. The three letters relate to Campbell filling out a form in support of Burke's claim for a naval pension and Burke's support for a similar claim by Campbell.

    John Burke (1834-?) was a shoemaker from Newburyport, Massachusetts, who served in the Unites States Navy during the Civil War on the following ships, the U.S.S. Mississippi, the U.S.S. R.R. Cuyler, U.S.S. Massachusetts, and the U.S.S. North Carolina. He was discharged from the Navy in April 1862 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Condition: Letters have the usual folds, many have slight tears and slight separations along folds and at intersections of folds; overall condition fair to good.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 498

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item
    Coming soon:

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/19/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Nature & Science
    Opens about 10/20/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/21/2020

    Manuscripts
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 10/22/2020

    Fine & Rare Wine
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 10/26/2020

    Silver
    Opens about 10/27/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/28/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/29/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Ethnographic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Space
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Movie Posters
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 10/22/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/06/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 10/25/2020

    Currency
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/10/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/11/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/04/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Luxury Accessories
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Arms & Armor
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 11/08/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/07/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/09/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/26/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Sports Collectibles
    Opens about 11/19/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/20/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/23/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Rare Books
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 April 17 Featuring the Michael Ward Collection Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search