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    Description

    Whaling Log for the Ship Napoleon and Bark Cossack. Spanning the years April 7, 1859, through April 30, 1861, this log is comprised of 186 pages of entries, beginning with page 23. It contains two distinct voyages, one by the Napoleon and another by the Cossack. The log was kept by James H. Orr, who at the tender age of sixteen served as the chief harpooner for the Napoleon, before he was transferred to the Cossack for the return voyage home. Each entry contains information on the day's weather and ship's geographical location. Whale sightings (killers, porpoises, finbacks [fin whales], sperm whales, humpbacks, and right whales), chases, and kills are also recorded as is the processing of the whales and life aboard the ship. Beginning with page 144 through the completion of the book, small drawings of animals and ships are interspersed with the entries.

    The Napoleon left New Bedford and began its journey bound for the Galapagos Islands. On April 10, 1859, the crew make their first kill of "fore Blackfish [Orca are variously called blackfish or "killers"]." On May 2, they sighted their first sperm whale, "about ½ past 4 AM raised sperm Whales A Breacher . . . More of the Whales to day." Two days later, May 4, he begins a typical description of the chase, kill, and processing of the whales over a course of two days: "Comenced to cut in the whale this morning Parted one cutting fall & lost one Block & blubber hook, Straped another and got the whale cut in by 6 AM, Middle part [of the day] clearing up the Boddy & head . . . 3 boats in chase and laboard boat got one & watch Boat got another . . . [May 5] commenced to try [to boil] the first whale we got and latter part [of the day] cutting in Whales and trying out . . . [May 6] buisily cutting & trying Whales . . . Latter part Boiling blubber." Following its stop at the Galapagos, the ship continued its voyage with layovers at various islands, such as the Cook Islands, and finally to New Zealand. At New Zealand, Orr and the barrels of whale oil from the approximately ninety whales slaughtered are loaded onto the Cossack for the return home.

    Orr makes it home on April 30, 1861, his final entry. He returns two weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter and finds his home in the throes of civil war, which he records in part: "This Day The 30th of April /61 . . . the war is all the talk here now, and the rage Also, So, Good by for my sea fareing life, and three cheers, for the wars n and Unncle Abed Lincoln." The final fourteen leaves are filled with expenses for his home. Following its return, the Cossack was taken into Federal service as part of the Union's Stone Fleet where it was sailed south and beached on Typee Island, Georgia.

    The covers of this book are missing. Pages 95-96 are torn out. Binding is exposed along the spine. Pages are chipped in places. Some foxing and toning are seen throughout, though the text remains clean and bright. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.


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    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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