The logbook for the U.S. Army transport ship U.S. Brig
Dragoon consists of a single cardboard-bound volume in which Commander Isaac Liscomb kept record of daily occurrences aboard ship from December 15, 1861 until docking in New York at the close of the war on April 15, 1865. Accounts in the rear of the journal record the crew having been paid on April 18, 1865.
Liscomb details the transport’s several voyages up and down the East Coast, presumably delivering troops, though specific regiments are rarely listed. As part of the Burnside Expedition, he remarks on carrying five companies of the 9th New Jersey Regiment [2nd Brigade of Burnside’s Coastal Division under Brig. Gen. Jesse L. Reno] shortly after the Battle of Roanoke Island, but does not comment on further regiments carried. Liscomb is more detailed early in the logbook, but his entries become briefer later on.
Liscomb includes the names of significant ships, especially those which tow
Dragoon through difficult areas. These ships include
Cossack, Massasoit, Videt, General Miggs, Only Son, Charles Howton, Arago, and Groton. Hattie Morrison [spelled
Haty Morison] of Maine [ShipIndex.org] is mentioned as traveling in company. Liscomb comments upon seeing both the
Mary J. Kimball and the steamer
Mary J. Kimball [spelled Cimbl/Cimbal in the journal], was a former slave ship condemned by the U.S. Admiralty Courts at Key West [
New York Herald, January 29, 1861] and later purchased by the government [
Herald, November 16, 1861]. Liscomb spots the steamer
Cosmopolitan off the coast of South Carolina while bound for Port Royal. As cited in several New England newspapers,
Cosmopolitan, a Union hospital ship, made several voyages transporting sick and wounded soldiers between Port Royal and New York in 1863 and 1864.
Names of people listed refer most frequently to crew and officers, as well as two contrabands, Warren Williams and Reuben Hardy, who assisted on board. Liscomb tersely notes ongoing difficulty with the cook, William Edwards, who is subsequently dismissed after personal abuses towards Liscomb. Crew member Samuel Fitch extends his liberty before returning to the ship, and then deserts shortly after. Several other captains are mentioned, though it is likely they were sea captains for the U.S. Army transport service and therefore not captains of the army infantry units. Due to the tendency of Civil War army records to focus on the soldiers and land combat rather than the transport systems, these names are nearly impossible to find in regular army records.
The greatest part of the journal focuses on the sailing voyages themselves. Large periods between voyages are not noted. Daily notations include weather patterns including precipitation and wind directions and descriptions are divided into early, middle, and latter parts of the day. Liscomb perfunctorily notes days of ship maintenance, though at one time, a significant leak in the water tanks is found and repaired. Throughout the course of the journal, Liscomb becomes more and more dutiful in noting latitude and longitude at the end of every voyage day. In the rear of the journal, Liscomb kept personal account tables for each of the crew members, though several of the less detailed accounts are not named. Entries trace occasions where crew members borrowed against their pay or were paid off at the end of a voyage or while in port. Frequently, the small loans are noted to have been for the purchasing a pound or half pound of tobacco.