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Guide to the Naval History Society Collection
1721-1995 (bulk 1781-1936)
  MS 439

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Celia Hartmann.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 29, 2018
Description is in English.

Container List

Series 48. Henry A. Wise (pre-1855-1868)

Scope and Content

The series consists of private and unofficial correspondence received by Henry Augustus Wise during his tenure as head of the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography, manuscripts of books he wrote under the pseudonym Harry Gringo, and correspondence related to the publication of his "Captain Brand" by Harper's Weekly. The letters provide details of the ordering, manufacturing and testing of ordnance, as well as everyday personal introductions and invitations. His correspondents include Percival Drayton, commander of the ironclad  Passaic and Superintendent of Ordnance at the New York Navy Yard; R. Aulick, Assistant Chief, Bureau of Ordnance; Commander R.B. Hitchcock; Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Vasa Fox (see Series 17);  Monitor designer John Ericsson (see Series 16); Admiral David Porter, whose 1862 correspondence includes humorous sketches of anthropomorphic armaments; public official Hamilton Fish; and Theodore P. Greene (see Series 24).

Comments penciled on letters in letter book 10 imply that their publication was planned: "Drayton letters, almost without exception, are well worth printing"; and "Those relating to Navy agents and [. . .] (for example) are very pertinent. They should appear". There is no indication within the series that they were published.

Biographical Note

Henry Augustus Wise (1819-1869) entered the Navy as a midshipman in 1834. During the Mexican War (1846-1848) he saw action in the Gulf of California, and then became an expert on gunnery. When the Civil War began, Wise had to decide between staying in the US Navy and serving his home state of Virginia for the Confederacy. He retained his commission, and among his first duties was the burning of Gosport Navy Yard (Norfolk, VA). After a few months on blockade duty he was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography, the agency responsible for the Navy's armaments and the shore stations where they were produced and tested. He became acting chief in 1863 and was appointed chief in 1864, which position he held until illness necessitated his resignation in 1868. He died in Naples, Italy, the next year.

Arrangement

The letters were previously disbound from letter books and numbered for indexing in approximate chronological order. However, there are often numbers missing within a documented range. The folders are arranged in letter book order and the letters within them in order as numbered, which is not always strictly chronological.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Manuscript: "Tales for the Marines"
Before 1855
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Letters from Robert Bonner and John Bonner, Harper's Weekly, New York
1869 August 20 - 1860 June 20
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Copies of letters to Mr. Bonner
1860 January 13, January 27
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Manuscript: "Captain Brand of the Schooner 'Centipede'"
Undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Wrapper: "Tales for the Marines"
Undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Naval History Society descriptions of Wise manuscripts materials
Undated
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Letter book 1: Index, 2-52
1862 March 31 - August 8
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Letter book 1: 53-100
1862 August 10 - December 29
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Letter book 2: 47-100
1862 May 13 - December 30
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Letter book 2: 101-150
1862 February 5 - May 28
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Letter book 2: 151-202
1862 May 4 - December 15
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Letter book 2: 203-261
1862 June 2 - September 2
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Letter book 3: Index, 1-50
1863 March 3 - April 14
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Letter book 3: 51-100
1863 February 20 - July 13
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Letter book 3: 102-160
1863 February 4 - May 7
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Letter book 3: 161-234
1863 May 2 - June 30
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Letter book 4: Index, 1-51
1863 July 2 - September 7
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Letter book 4: 52-102
1863 September 10 - September 29
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Letter book 4: 103-161
1863 September 29 - October 31
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Letter book 5: Index, 6½ - 54
1863 August 7 - December 21
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Letter book 5: 55-110
1863 November 2 - December 29
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Letter book 6: Index, 3-48
1864 January 1 - January 25
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Letter book 6: 51-100
1864 January 26 - February 19
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Letter book 6: 101-176
1864 February 20 - March 31
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Letter book 7: Index, 1-53
1864 April 1 - May 9
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Letter book 7: 53-101
1864 May 10 - July 18
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Letter book 7: 102-148
1864 July 18 - September 17
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Letter book 8: Index, 3-51
1864 August 1 - September 3
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Letter book 8: 52-89
1864 September 5 - September 29
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Letter book 9: Index, 1-50
1864 October 3 - November 9
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Letter book 9: 51-107
1864 November 10 - December 31
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Letter book 10: 4-69
1865 January 1 - February 17
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Letter book 10: 71- 129½
1865 February 18 - April 3
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Letter book 11: Index, 1-51
1865 March 23 - September 15
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Letter book 11: 52-101
1865 October 5 - December 11
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Letter book 11: 102-126
1865 December 11 - December 30
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Letter book 12: Index, 1-35
1866 January 1 - 24
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Letter book 12: 36-87
1866 January 25 - March 9
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Letter book 12: 88-125
1866 March 9 - April 25
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Letter book 12: 127 - 175
1866 April 11 - June 24
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Letter book 13: Index, 1-36
1866 May 30 - August 28
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Letter book 13: 37-103
1866 September 1 - 1867 January 27
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Letter book 13: 104-150
1867 January 30 - April 13
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Letter book 13: 151 - 186
1867 April 15 - May 31
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Letter book 14: Index, 1-32
1867 June 1 - July 30
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Letter book 14: 33-71
1867 July 1 - August 31
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Letter book 14: 72-119
1867 June 1 - November 27
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Letter book 14: 120-147
1867 November 26 - December 31
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Letter book 15: Index, 1-54
1865 June 19 - 1866 July 21
Box: 4 Folder : 17 Letter book 15: 55-97
1866 July 23 - 1868 February 25
Box: 4 Folder : 18 Letter book 15: 98-132
1867 October 8, 1868 January 1 - May 17

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