USS Wabash 1861 ammo, battle prep, commands, mess info, etc.

rimna

Cadet
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Hello Everyone,

I am writing a middle grade novel that takes place on the USS Wabash during the Battle of Hatteras Inlets and the Battle of Port Royal, 1861. My main character is a 13-year-old powder monkey on the Wabash.

The manuscript is written but I am concerned that I do not use the correct language. I want the book to be historically factual even though it’s a work of fiction so I am in the process of layering in the correct details/wording. I’m looking for actual dialog/terms/language of situations.

I’m less interested in the strategies of the battles but I am confused with ranks that seem to change depending on what resource I use. It seems that captain, flag officer, and commodore are interchangeable which I don’t think is true but I don’t know.

I know how many men were on a gun crew and what they did but I don’t know the commands that were given. The only one I found is – tackle-men, position the gun – which the men would then move the cannon forward to the bulwark.

I also cannot find specifics as to how many charges a powder monkey ran from the magazine to his cannon. Some references say there was a charge box on the wall near the cannon that they filled with a dozen charges. Another reference said that the charges were kept on the caisson, which I’m not sure a cannon on a ship sat on. I can’t imagine a large number of charges were piled anywhere. One hit would be disastrous.

And mess assignments. I know what they ate and that there were several men to a mess and a powder monkey would be the orderly. He would get the food from the paymaster, set up using items from his mess chest, and cook the food. I don’t know where the chests were stored. I made a guess that, like the sailor’s hammocks, they’d be on the top deck behind netting so they didn’t roll around. I don’t know where the food was prepared or where the sailors ate – at tables or sitting on the deck.

When the Wabash encounters the storm on the way to Port Royal, I don’t know what commands would have been given. The sails had to come down but I’m not sure what else needed to be done or any of the language of the situation.

These are some of the problems I’m running into. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

p.s. top deck – I’m talking about the deck like you’d see in pirate movies. Where the pirate captain is looking through his scope at another ship. I don’t know if that is the correct term/deck. I know the cannons are on the gundeck and that the men slept on the berth(ing) deck but I need to learn my decks so please excuse my deck ignorance – I’m working on it.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
You may want to check out these books:

Canney, Donald L. Lincoln's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998. 220 pp.

Marvel, William. Alabama and the Kearsarge, The: The Sailor's Civil War. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1996. 348 pp.

Ringle, Dennis J. Life in Mr. Lincoln's Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998. 202 pp.


There's more than that, but it should be a good orientation. Lots of shipboard detail.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2015
The book entitled Lamson of the Gettysburg: The Civil War Letters of Lieutenant Roswell H. Lamson, US Navy edited by James and Patricia McPherson has much of the information you seek, specific even to the Wabash at Hatteras and Port Royal. Lawson was a freshly minted midshipman serving his first assignment on the Wabash in 1861. The book includes many detailed letters he wrote to his cousin Flora and speaks specifically to many of your questions about commands, messes and the participation of the Wabash in the bombardments of Hatteras and Port Royal.

OBW
 

USS Cumberland

Private
Joined
Dec 23, 2014
The Wabash:

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Here's her sister, the Merrimack:

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Another sister, the USS Colorado:

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Life aboard sister Minnisota:

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Here's a powder monkey on board the USS New Hampshire, 1864.

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rimna

Cadet
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
You may want to check out these books:

Canney, Donald L. Lincoln's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998. 220 pp.

Marvel, William. Alabama and the Kearsarge, The: The Sailor's Civil War. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1996. 348 pp.

Ringle, Dennis J. Life in Mr. Lincoln's Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1998. 202 pp.


There's more than that, but it should be a good orientation. Lots of shipboard detail.
 

rimna

Cadet
Joined
Jun 14, 2020

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