50TH CONGRESS, 2d Session
Report No. 2469


January 23, 1889 – Ordered to be printed and referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

Mr. CHANDLER, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, submitted the following


(To accompany amendments to H.R. 11795.)

The Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred the resolution of the Headquarters Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, of Des Moines, Iowa, in favor of the publication of the naval records of the war of the rebellion, having had the same under consideration, beg leave to submit the following report.

The resolutions are as follows:
[Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Headquarters Commandery of the State of Iowa. Office of the recorder, Maj. Hoyt Sherman.]

DES MOINED, January 8, 1889.
Whereas the history of the sacrifices and efforts of the Army and Navy of the United States during the war of the rebellion is a source of just pride to all those who participated in the struggle, and should be perpetuated to their children:
Resolved, That we regard the publication of the naval records of the war, which has been undertaken by the Navy Department, under the authority of Congress, in a manner similar to the publication of the Army war records by the War Department, as a work of great importance to the county at large, and especially to the veterans of the war.
Resolved, That we deem the services rendered by the Navy on the western rivers as well as on the sea to be deserving of this recognition, and we therefore earnestly hope that Congress will make suitable provision to push to completion the publication of the naval records.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the Senators and Representatives of the State of Iowa in Congress, with a request that they will use their best efforts to secure the desired result.

The committee transmitted the resolutions to the Secretary of the Navy with a request that he would state his opinion upon the subject, and what action, if any, he would recommend that Congress take in the matter, and received the following reply:

Washington, D.C., January 21, 1889.

Chairman Committee on Naval Affair, U.S. Senate:
DEAR SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 16th instant, inclosing resolutions of headquarters Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, of Des Moines, Iowa, in favor of the publication of the naval records of the war of the rebellion, and desiring to be informed of my opinion on the subject, and what specific action, if any, ought to be taken by Congress in the matter.
     S. Rep. 1-12


The preparation of the naval war records for publication, directed by Congress in the act of July 7, 1884, has made but little progress owing to the smallness of the clerical force authorized for the work (once clerk and two copyists).
Since that date application has been made to Congress by the Navy Department, both under the last and the present administration, to provide a sufficient force to really accomplish something. A slight increase was made last year, by which the force was placed on its present footing, namely, two clerks of class one, on clerk at $1,000, and four copyists at $720.
This force is insufficient to do the work, and the Department has therefore submitted addition estimates, based on a careful calculation of what is actually needed. These estimates will be found in the book of estimates, page 50.
The importance and value of this work are, in my opinion, not open to question. The detailed history of the war is a matter of professional neccessity to the Navy. It is the only war in modern times in which naval operations, on a great scale, have been carried on. It is the only war in which rams, torpedoes, iron-clads, and steam blockades have been employed. All that is known of naval war to-day dates from the war of 1861. We need the information for building our ships, for training our officers, and for administering the Navy Department; in short we need it for every branch of naval administration if we want to have an efficient Navy.
The work should be done at once and prosecuted to speedy completion. The papers to be published are many of them in private hands, and every day of delay adds to the probability of their loss or destruction. It is for this reason that I strongly urge immediate action.
The Army war records, now being published by the War Department, will make, when completed, a most valuable history of military operations during the war. In the various appropriation acts since 1874 Congress has provided liberally for this publication, to the amount of $40,000 or more per annum. A large force of clerks, etc., numbering for several years fory persons, has been assigned for this purpose. In view of these facts, it is evident that the publication of the naval records can not be completed in any resonable time with the present force of seven clerks and copyists and an appropriation of $6,000. The amount asked for by the Navy Department falls far short of that which has been devoted to the Army records, but the Department believes that it will be sufficient to prosecute the work.
It is hardly necessary for me to dwell upon the services rendered by the Navy during the warm, which are referred to in the resolutions you have transmitted. The work done by Farragut, Porter, Worden, Cushing, and the other officers of the Navy deserves equal recognition with that of their companions on land. These resolutions show how the people regard the subject. The whole country has demanded the preservation of Farragut's old vessel, at an expense of $200,000; yet the record of Farragut's achievements, without which the Hartford is only a meaningless relic, is suffered to remain in obscurity for the want of a sufficient appropritation to provide for its publication. The compilation of the record is desired equally by the participants on both sides of the war, Union and Confederate, and by people in all sections of the county, while its importance to the Navy and the executive can not be questioned, and for these reason I earnestly commend the subject to the favorable attention of Congress. I return herewith the resolutions of the Loyal Legion.
     Very respectfully,
     Secretary of the Navy.

In addition to the arguments thus forcibly presented by the Navy Department, the committee have carefully considered the subject and have reached the conclusion that the naval records should be published as speedily as possible; that there is the same reason for publishing them that exists in the case of the Army records; that the present force of the Naval War Records Office is inadequate to do the work; and that sufficient provision should be made at once, before the documents remaining in private hands are lost or destroyed. In accordance with the view the committee submit amendments to the legislative, executive, and judicial appropriation bill, now before the Sendate, based on the estimates furnished by the Secretary of the Navy, and which can be found on page 50 of the Book of Estimates for the next fiscal year, and recommend their adoption.
The committee append to this report recommendations and other documents on the same subject from former Secretaries and bureau chiefs.



[From Report of Secretary Chandler, for 1883, volume 1, page 25.]


The naval records of the war, although not so voluminous as those of the Army, are equally important and valuable. It is desirable that provision should be made for continuing the work which has been already begun, of preparing these records for publication, and upon which, in the absence of such provision, no substantial progress can be made. It is especially important that steps should be taken, without delay, to collect Confederate documents which have passed into private hands, and which are likely, in a short time, to be lost or destroyed. * * * It is therefore recommended that an appropriation be made at the coming session for the employment of a sufficient clerical force in connection with this work. * * *


In view of the importance of completing this work before the documents in private hands are lost or destroyed, it is recommended that the appropriation for clerks and copyists be increased.

[From Report of Secretary Whitney for 1885, page VII.]


* * * An additional force, for which estimates have been submitted, is needed to carry on the work. It is desirable that no time should be lost in securing the valuable papers, now in private hands, relating to naval affairs during the war.

[From Report of Secretary Whitney for 1886, page 24.]

The recommendation that provision be made for an additional clerical force to carry on the work of publication of the naval war records is renewed. The importance of this work has been fully pointed out in my previous report, and its needs are again commended to the attention of Congress.

[From Report of Secretary Whitney for 1887m p. XLI.]


Attention has been called in previous reports to the necessity of increasing the clerical force engaged in the compilation and arrangement of the war records for publication. The recommendations for the vigorous prosecution of this work are renewed.

[From report of the Chief of Bureau of Navigation for 1885, page 85.]


The work of classifying and copying the naval records of the war for publication has been continued as rapidly as the small force at the disposal of the Bureau will allow. It is important that provision should be made at once for an adequate clerical force to carry on this work, and estimates have been submitted therefor. Every year's delay in procuring and copying the papers now in private hands adds to the probability of their loss or destruction. The measures adopted by Congress to provide for the compilation of the Army records have produced a work which is indispensable to the study of the war and a source of satisfaction to the participants on both sides. No book ever published by the Government has met with so great a popular demand. The naval records, although not so voluminous as those of the Army, are quite as important, and the same reason exists for their publication. Without them the narrative is incomplete. They have, besides, an importance of thier own, distinct from that of the Army records, in that they contain nearly all that is known in actual practice of modern naval warfare; and their consequent value to the legislative and executive branches of the Government, to the naval service, and to the community at large as an aid in forming opinions on naval matters can not be overestimated.


[From the report of the Chief of Bureau of Navigation for 1886, p. 153.]


The progress made in the collection, arrangement, and copying of the naval war records for publication has been as rapid as the limited force of clerks and copyists provided for by Congress would allow, and in this connection I would renew the suggestion made last year, for a sufficient appropriation to push this important work to completion.

[Extract from the report of the Chief of Bureau of Navigation for 1887, p. 148].


The limited force of clerks and copyists now provided by Congress for collecting, arranging, and copying of the naval war records prevents this important work from being pushed to completion as rapidly as the circumstances demand. Reference to this feat has already been made in previous annual reports.

[From the report of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation for 1888, page 6.]


By the act of July 11, 1888, the force was for the first time placed on such a footing as to enable the office to make a substantial beginning. In order to carry it on to completion within a reasonable time it is absolutely essential that the number of clerks and copyists should be now increased, and estimes have bee submitted with this object.
The imprtance and value of these records have been frequently alluded to in my reports, but I now call attention to the subject, as Congress, by its action last year, has shown its intention that the work should be seriusly prosecuted. There is no doubt whatever that the Army war records, for the compilation of which a liberal provision has been made, form to-day one of the most valuable and most sought-after of all the Government publications. The naval records are of equal importance, and demand equal attention. Without them the record is incomplete. In some respects they are even more important than those of the Army. The civil war is not only the first war in which naval operations on a great scale have been conducted since the introduction of steam, but it is the only war in which those modern appliances have been used which have revolutionized the art of naval warfare. The only operations of any magnitude with rams, with torpedoes, with iron-clads, with rifled ornance, and it might be added with steam-vessels, that can be studied by the professional man are those of the war of 1861-'65. The maintenance of a steam blockade and the employment of commerce-destrying steam-cruisers, two of the most important operations of modern war, occurred only in this conflict. To place this record in a permanent and accessible form, where it can be referred to by the naval service, by the executive and legislative departments of the Government in their effort to insure the highest efficiency in the Navy, and by the public generally, is the object of this publication, which clearly ought to appear side by side with that of the War Department.
The estimates submitted for an increase include three clerks of class 4, one of them to be employed in indexing the work and another in the preparation of statistical tables. The third will be employed in the general work of verification and classification. The absolute accuracy required in these matters, without which the publicaiton will be valueless, calls for a high standard of ability, which experience has shown can not be obtained in the lower grades of the clerical force. The remaining clerks asked for are required for the examination of bureau and fleet records, of navy-yard records, and of official papers obtained from officers and their representatives. Four additional copyists are asked for at $900 each. These are urgently needed for the actual work of copying records, it being found that the best qualified copyists presented by the civil service will not, as a rule, accept the lower rate, since other branches of the service offer them better compensation, although there is no brance where greater accuracy is required. An assistant messenger is also urgently needed, and an estimate has been submitted therefor.
For the stationery and other contingent expenses of the Office of Naval War Records a moderate estimate of $500 has been submitted. This is obiously necessary, as there is no provision at present made by law for this purpose.
It is earnestly hoped that Congress, having made a good beginning of this very important work, may now be induced to push it to speedy completion.


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