Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 222

Price Realized: $ 1,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(NAVY.) Maxwell Woodhull. Diary of a midshipman in the Mediterranean Squadron, with a tintype portrait. [149] manuscript diary pages. 4to, original ½ calf over marbled boards, worn, front board detached; lacking numerous diary leaves in at least 5 sections spanning about 6 months, 4 early leaves covered in later newspaper clippings, several leaves detached; tintype photograph of a naval officer and unrelated partial letter in Swedish laid in. Various places, 1 January 1834 to 25 October 1836

Additional Details

This diary was kept by Midshipman Maxwell Woodhull (1813-1863) while serving on the USS Delaware in the United States Navy's Mediterranean Squadron from 1834 to 1836. The front free endpaper bears his inked stamp. Woodhull notes visits to many of the ports in the Mediterranean, including Mahon on Minorca; Tulon, France; Marseilles; Legorno; Jaffa; Beirut; Gibraltar; Naples; Malta; and Tripoli. He notes a few dramatic occurrences among the crew: "The painter, while boiling oil in the galley, let it take to fire" (23 May 1834). In Mahon, "This day Mr. Marris, the boatswain of the Shark, departed this life" (13 November 1834). In Giganti, "Lieuts David R. Stewart and Thomas Turner went on shore and fought a duel and both were wounded" (5 August 1835). The next day, Stewart "departed this life. . . . At 6, took the corps on shore for internment." "Thomas Ring, boatswain, departed this life" (26 September 1835). Woodhull also notes visiting dignitaries. In Jaffa, "Saluted the Turkish admiral with 19 guns. . . . The party left the ship for Jerusalem" (15 August). Later, "the King of Naples and his suit visited the ship" (20 September 1835). In the rear of the volume are two inventories of gunpowder aboard the Delaware. The ship arrived back at Hampton Roads, VA, 17 February 1836; the remaining entries are personal, in Philadelphia.

Woodhull later died in the Civil War while commanding the USS Cimarron; his son Maxwell Van Zandt Woodhull was a brevet Brigadier General in the Civil War.

Perhaps of most interest is a half-plate tintype photograph of a portrait which was found laid into the diary, 5½ x 4¼ inches. The sitter does not resemble other known portraits of Maxwell Woodhull. However, we see a similarity to a portrait of Woodhull's commanding officer Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson (1786-1839), particularly the portrait held by the Naval History & Heritage Command which appears on his Wikipedia page. Patterson was a hero of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, briefly commanded the USS Constitution in 1825, and during the period of this diary was commander of the navy's Mediterranean Squadron. Woodhull's diary entries from March to June 1836 note that Patterson used the USS Delaware as his flagship.