Charles W. Read Papers

1863-1936, undated
Manuscript Collection #424
Read, Charles William, 1840-1890
Physical description
0.073 Cubic Feet, 37 items , copies of typewritten transcripts, correspondence, newspaper and periodical articles, and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
Charles W. Read Papers (#424), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1863-1936, undated) including typewritten transcripts, correspondence, newspaper and periodical articles and miscellany.

Biographical/historical information

Charles William Read (1840-1890) was born either in Hinds County or Yazoo County, Mississippi. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1856 and was graduated in 1860. Upon hearing that Mississippi had seceded from the Union, Read resigned his commission and returned to the South to join the Confederate Navy. Lieutenant Read's distinguished accomplishments included the capture of twenty-two vessels during the period between June 6 and June 27, 1863. He was captured in Portland, Maine, in June, 1863, following an attempt to take the revenue cutter CALEB CUSHING. He was exchanged in 1864 and subsequently participated in naval operations on the James River.

Scope and arrangement

For further information, see Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 8, pp. 420.

The collection contains typewritten transcripts of Read's notes that discuss the ships on which he served, as well as the ships, cargoes, and captains he captured. The notes describe also the methods he used to capture them. The notes that deal with Portland Harbor constitute an excellent first-person account of his capture and subsequent imprisonment at Fort Warren, Massachusetts. Also of interest are copies of official U.S. government correspondence and correspondence Read sent to the Confederate Secretary of the Navy concerning Read's activities at Portland and the events leading to them. Other primary material pertaining to Read's naval career include his notes describing his duty in the James River Squadron in 1864 and papers relating to his pardon (1865).

Correspondence (1878-1936) includes letters primarily from Read's old shipmates and members of his family. Of particular interest is a letter (1894) describing Confederate sailors' imprisonment at Portland, Maine; Read's attempted escape from Fort Warren; and actions of Read on the James River in 1864. A letter from W. S. Schley ([1904?])summarizes Read's career in laudatory language. A letter of Roby Read in Yokohama, Japan, describes the perceptions and practices of the Japanese in regard to the use of stevedores (Nov., 1910).

Also included are copies of articles dealing with Read's naval career. Among these are Read's account in the Southern Historical Society Papers (May, 1876) concerning his service aboard the MCRAE and the ARKANSAS and "The Capture of Caleb Cushing," by Clarence Hale (1901).

Administrative information
Custodial History

March 24, 1981, 34 items; Papers (1863-1910, 1936, undated), including correspondence, personal notes, newspaper and magazine articles, and historical essays. Copies of originals in possession of Mr. Mallory J. Read, Arlington, Va. Copies received from Miss Lorna M. Durham, Selma, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Mallory J. Read, Miss Lorna M. Durham

Processing information

Processed by L. Durham; M. York, June 1981

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Read, Charles William, 1840-1890
Schley, Winfield Scott, 1839-1911--Correspondence
Corporate Names
Confederate States of America. Navy--Officers
Fort Warren (Mass.)--History, Military--19th century
James River (Va.)--History, Military--19th century
Maine--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Massachusetts--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Portland (Me.)--History, Military--19th century
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865