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Vandalia I (Sloop of War) Records

Vandalia I (Sloop of War) Records

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Vandalia (Sloop of War)
Title:Vandalia I (Sloop of War) Records
Quantity:4.25 linear feet (6 boxes, 1 flat file)
Abstract:The Vandalia I records are from her time as a receiving ship at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, specifically the years 1864 to 1865.
Collection Number:MH 222

Series List

SERIES I. Personnel
SERIES II. Provisions
SERIES III. Financial
SERIES IV. Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

The Vandalia I records are from her time as a receiving ship at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, specifically the years 1864 to 1865. During this time, William H. Gilman was the Active Assistant Paymaster onboard the ship, and it appears that most of the material in this collection came from his office, as the original boxes were labeled as "Correspondence of Paymaster William H. Gilman." This collection has been divided into five series.

Series I. Personnel contains papers relating to the personnel on board the Vandalia I. This series includes transfers, resignations, discharges, descriptions of deserters, lists of men drafted, certificates, certifications, rating orders, and lists of personnel. The discharges are not only for Vandalia I sailors, but are also for prisoners of war. Also included is a pamphlet published by the Navy on court martial procedures and muster books.

Series II. Provisions contains material relating to the procurement of the ships' provisions. This includes requests, return of items quarterly, allotments, memo book, and an account book of items furnished to the men.

Series III. Financial contains financial related materials from the ship. This series includes security notes, which were guarantees signed by fellow seamen that if an individual did not return to the ship from leave on time, the others would pay a fine. The notes often said if they were forfeited due to desertion, or if they were returned to the individuals. There are a number of empty envelopes in this series, which contain information on them about the security notes or private funds that they once held. This series also contains invoices, receipts, bills, requests for payment, donations to fellow personnel, discontinued allotments, a promissory note, transfer accounts, reconciling statements, and payroll. This series also includes bounties, which were sign on bonuses or recruitment bonuses given out by the federal government, lists of prizes, papers concerning money forfeited due to desertion, and some papers having to do with individuals' accounts.

Series IV. Correspondence contains circulars and correspondence. A majority of the correspondence is to Active Assistant Paymaster William H. Gilman. The correspondence has been arranged by date.

Series V. Other contains miscellaneous items, such as signed powers of attorney, an order of dances, and a blank form.

Historical Sketch

Vandalia I was an 18-gun sloop of war, which was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1825. She was launched in 1828, with Commander John Gallagher in command, and bound for duty with the Brazil Squadron off the eastern coast of South America. There she remained off the coasts of Brazil and Argentina for three years helping to protect American citizens and mercantile interests. In 1832, the Vandalia I joined the West Indies Squadron, protecting American citizens and property in the West Indies, where she remained, in between periods of repairs, until 1838. During this time, the Squadron cooperated with land forces in Florida during the second Seminole Indian War, and helped to suppress the slave trade.

From November 1838, to November 1839, the Vandalia I was on duty in the Caribbean, until returning at the end of November 1839 to Norfolk, Virginia. There she spent the next two years "on the stocks" (Naval History and Heritage Command), until being commissioned on February 3, 1842, to join the Home Squadron to perform routine patrol and reconnaissance duties at scattered points between Newfoundland and the Amazon River. She returned to Norfolk to be decommissioned on April 30, 1848, following a yellow fever epidemic onboard; during this time, the ship was lengthened 13 feet. She was recommissioned on August 9, 1849 for service with the Pacific Squadron, as it expanded its' service to the newly acquired Hawaiian Islands. The Vandalia I was decommissioned again at the end of 1852.

In February 1853, the Vandalia I was recommissioned and joined Commodore Matthew C. Perry's East Indies Squadron, witnessing Perry's historic entrance into Tokyo Bay in 1854. She was then decommissioned and recommissioned once more, this time for duty with the Pacific Squadron again for a few years before returning to the East Indies Squadron. Once the American Civil War began, she was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, participating in blockades, captures, amphibious assaults, and acting as a guard ship. The Vandalia I was decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on February 4, 1863. She then sailed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she was used as a receiving and guard ship, until she was broken up sometime between 1870 and 1872.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Gilman, William H.
United States. Navy--Provisioning
Vandalia (Sloop of War)
Bounties, Military--United States
Military discharge
Portsmouth (N.H.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Vandalia I (Sloop of War) Records, MH 222, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was found in the collection.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, January 2017.

Related Material

Naval History and Heritage Command. "Vandalia I (Sloop-of-War)." Accessed January 19, 2017.

Preble, George Henry. History of the United State Navy-Yard, Portsmouth, N. H. Government Printing Office: Washington D. C., 1892.

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