Sale 2473 - Printed & Manuscript Americana, April 12, 2018

71 c   (CIVIL WAR—NAVY.) Belknap, Thomas. Group of letters and drawings done aboard the USS Octorara in Mobile Bay. 5 Autograph Letters Signed to his father, sister, and friend Mark, various sizes and conditions * 2 pencil drawings * and 2 manuscript maps of Mobile Bay, 8 x 9 inches and 3 x 5 inches; condition generally strong, minor foxing and wear, with the 2 January 1865 letter defective and lacking some text. With transcripts of all letters. Off Mobile, AL, September 1864 to May 1865 [6,000/9,000] These letters by Thomas Belknap (1835-1872) of the steamer USS Octorara were written in the months following the Union victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile had not surrendered, but the Union Navy maintained a tight blockade. In the first letter on 24 September 1864, Belknap describes the surviving Confederate defenses. In addition to forts and batteries and a fleet of three ironclads, “the obstructions consist of sunken vessels and piles driven down so their tops are below the surface of the water some three or four feet, and having in their tops bars of iron sharpenel so as to penetrate any wooden ship that should attempt the passage. . . . The place is well-defended.” The Confederates are also “strewing the channels with that most cowardly weapon of war, torpedos, in which they seem to have a great deal of faith since the sinking of the monitor Tecumseh.” The Octorara is regularly taking in “deserters & refugees . . . black & white, male & female, kind of an assortment of colors & sexes.”