USS Powhatan Letter

Scope and Content

Letter to Mary E. Morgan in Alabama, USA, from JCD [? probably an American naval officer] on board USS Powhatan in Cape Town describing his recent visit to St. Helena and then to Cape Town.

Dated: 25 April 1853. Postmark: Boston, Massachusetts.

Administrative / Biographical History

The USS Powhatan was a side-wheel steamer, built at the Norfolk Navy Yard (Norfolk Naval Shipyard), Portsmouth, Virginia, USA, and commissioned on the 2 September 1852. It served in the Home Squadron until dispatched to the East India Squadron in 1853 where it served as Commodore Matthew C. Perry's flagship, both on his visit to Whampoa and for the negotiations in Tokyo Bay in 1854. The Powhatan, under David Dixon Porter, saw active service throughout the Civil War, including being involved in the assault on Fort Fisher (December 1864-January 1865). After serving as the flagship of the South Pacific Squadron (1866-1869) the steamer was assigned to the Home Squadron until 1886. In that year the Powhatan was decommissioned and it was scrapped the next year.

Access Information

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Marion Lowman, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Administrative/Biographical History compiled with reference to Historical Dictionary of the United States Navyby James M. Morris and Patricia M. Kearns (1998).

Other Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.