William Howard Hooker Collection: H.M.S. Desperate Logbook

Manuscript Collection #472-002
Little, Marshall
Physical description
0.046 Cubic Feet, 1 item, logbook.
Preferred Citation
William Howard Hooker Collection: H.M.S. Desperate Logbook (#472-002), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Logbook, (1862 -1863) of H.M.S. Desperate headquartered in Bermuda.

Biographical/historical information

The H.M.S. Desperate was the second of three British men-of-war to bare the same name, launched on 23 May 1849 in Pembroke Dock. She was a Conflict-class screw sloop, measuring 192 feet in length and 34 feet in beam. The ship was fitted with a 4-cylinder horizontal single-expansion steam engine with a single screw and carried an armament of eight guns.

Under the command of Captain Stephens (1852) and later Captain William Wylly Chambers (1852-1854) the H.M.S. Desperate accompanied Edward Belcher's expedition (1852-1854) in search of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated 1845 North-West Passage expedition. She sailed with the British Mediterranean fleet, under the command of Captain Edwin Claton Tennyson D'Eyncourt (1854-1855), and later under Commander Richard Dunning White (1855-1856), in the Baltic during the Crimean War (1853-1856). She continued sailing in the Mediterranean fleet under the commands of Commander George Melville Jackson (1856-1857) and later Commander Robert George Craigie (1857-1859).

The H.M.S. Desperate finally served off the Atlantic coast of the America's and the West Indies under the commands of Commander John Francis Ross (1860-1862) and later Arthur Thomas Thrupp (1862-1863). The ship was broken up at Devonport in August of 1865.

Scope and arrangement

The logbook of the British warship H.M.S. Desperate kept by Lt. Marshall Little contains wind and weather information and descriptions of daily life aboard ship in port and at sea. Little was Master's Assistant of the Desperate under two commanders, J. F. Ross (July 5-July 30, 1862) and A. T. Thorp (July 31, 1862-Nov. 7, 1863). The ship, headquartered in Bermuda during the Civil War, traveled to Halifax and Pictou, Nova Scotia; Newfoundland; Jamaica; and Honduras. While at anchor outside Charleston, South Carolina (Feb. 25-Feb. 27, 1863), the vessel exchanged colors with American federal ships, contacted a federal commander, and sighted several federal gunboats. She was anchored off Fortress Monroe (Mar. 2-6), Hampton Roads, and Norfolk, Virginia (ca. Mar.-June, 1863), and went to Chesapeake, Virginia, before departing for Bermuda (June 21, 1863). Crew members' time in port was spent in housekeeping chores, regular military drill, and keeping careful records of arrivals and departures of all ships and their countries of origin.

Of interest are names of ships encountered at sea and in port; mention of floggings, deaths and burials; sightings of icebergs; religious services; and cleaning and repair of the ship.

The first page of the book is decorated with watercolor flags and emblems. A watercolor map of Nova Scotia; eight watercolor "track" maps of voyages; and pencil drawings of Cape Henry lighthouse, harbor at Omoa, Honduras, and Bermuda are included.

Inserted in the back of the book are two period photographs of crew and visitors aboard the ship. One photograph contains the identification of several people.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 5, 1984, logbook (1862-1863) of H.M.S. Desperate headquartered in Bermuda. Gift of Mr. William Howard Hooker, Marietta, Georgia.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. William Howard Hooker

Processing information

Processed by B. Howlett, June 1985

Additional Processing by Mateusz Polakowski, April 2016

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
Little, Marshall--Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc
Corporate Names
Desperate (Ship)
Great Britain. Royal Navy--Sea life
Nova Scotia--Maps
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations

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