Journal of the U.S.S. Enterprise

Biographical and Historical Notes

George Sparhawk, the author of the deck log of the USS Enterprise, served as a Cadet Midshipman during the assignment of the ship to the European Station from November 1, 1878, through May 10, 1880. He was appointed to this rank on September 24, 1874, attended the Naval Academy and graduated with the rank of Midshipman on June 4, 1880.

Sparhawk was assigned to the USS Portsmouth in Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 17, 1880. This was a training ship for boys, and Sparhawk served there with distinction.

The commander of the USS Enterprise during the years the log was written was Thomas O. Selfridge, who entered the naval service in 1851 as a Midshipman and retired in 1898. He was also one of the experts consulted by Ferdinand de Lesseps about the route through the Isthmus of Panama to create the Panama Canal. During his command on this vessel, Commander Selfridge spoke at the commission convened at Paris by de Lesseps for this purpose.

The USS Enterprise was a "bark-rigged screw sloop-of-war" and had a distinguished history of its own. In its life, the ship took its crew on a surveying trip up the Amazon and Madeira Rivers, cruised Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Bahamas with the Navy, traveled around the world in a hydrographic survey which expanded the knowledge of the oceans substantially, and finally served as a training ship for boys in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Sources

McCullough, David. The Path Between the Seas : the Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914.New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977.

"Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775-1900." Naval Historical Center. http://www.history.navy.mil/books/callahan/reg-usn-s.htm (accessed February 28, 2007).

"Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships." Naval Historical Center. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/e4/enterprise-v.htm (accessed February 28, 2007).

Additional information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

George Sparhawk, Cadet Midshipman, wrote this deck log of the commissioned United States Naval vessel Enterprise, attached to the U.S. Navy at the European Station from November 1, 1878, through May 10, 1880. The log records navigational and weather data as well as crew lists and recording of official naval actions. The author also wrote short informative essays on each port visited, listing and describing prominent tourist sites and the author's general impressions of the port.

Some ports include St. Petersburg, Russia; the Navy Yard at Wilhelmshaven; Le Havre, France; Naples, Italy; and Alexandria, Egypt. Maps of some of the ports and places visited are pasted inside the book, corresponding to the entries that mention them. The ship received visits from the Emperor and Grand Dukes of Russia, the King of Greece, and the United States Secretary of the Navy, as well as some members of the Committee on Naval Affairs and Commerce during its routine maneuvers. United States Navy Commander Thomas O. Selfridge inspected the deck log periodically and signed his approval.

This log consists of three log books and a folder. The first log book is a bound volume with 64 pages filled with ink entries, of which the first six pages are missing. This log covers the period from November 1, 1878, to October 2, 1879. The second log book, a 132-page bound volume, covers the period from October 7, 1879, through May 10, 1880. The first 55 out of the total 132 pages are filled with daily entries written in ink, but the rest of the book is empty except for two sections. Pages 74-80 is a written standard operating procedure entitled, "General Fire Bill U.S.S. Portsmouth" and pages 118 and 119 contain a list of the ports and dates of the USS Enterprise from November 13, 1878, through September 29, 1879. On pages 122-123, Sparhawk appears to begin a "Journal of the U.S. Training Ship Bearing the flag of Comdr(?) S.B.," but only includes entries for April 17-18, 1882.

The third volume is a personal log book and account book for Sparhawk. The ink entries in the first half of the book mirror the first few entries of the first log book, however as the dates continue a more personal note is introduced and the book becomes a personal diary. Pages 92-93 include a poem titled, "Summer of '81." The latter half of the book contains lists of accounts of ship supplies dated November 1879 through April 1880. A list of the members of the Powder Division of the Enterprise is also in this volume. The accompanying folder contains the official naval papers of George Sparhawk, including his commission to the U.S. Navy, his orders to report to the Enterprise letters of commendation, a chart drawn on linen tracing the path of the ship through the Atlantic Ocean as well as a list of his final effects.