REAR ADMIRAL CHRISTOPHER RODGERS - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 12/12/1857 - HFSID 283789
Sale Price $1,190.00
CHRISTOPHER R. P. RODGERS
Important 1857 ALS from Rodgers, just returned from an important voyage of discovery, to Commodore John Dahlgren, congratulating him on successful tests of Dahlgren's new cannons, and supporting Dahlgren's controversial methods. Rodgers heaps scorn on tradition-minded naval officers who resist these innovations. The Dahlgren Gun was to become an vital Union weapon in the Civil War.
Autograph Letter signed: "C.R.P.R. Rodgers", 2 pages (front and verso), 7¾x9¾. Morristown (New Jersey), 1857 December 12. To Commodore Dahlgren, US Navy. In full: "I have just read your most interesting report of the Plymouth's cruise, and I cannot deny myself the pleasure of congratulating you upon the triumphant vindication of the heavy guns, after a thorough trial afloat. I sincerely hope that you may now be enabled to carry out your whole plan for arming the new steamers, and that those noble ships may no longer sail without a full development of their capacity. The enormous batteries proposed for the heavy ships you saw in England, should teach us the necessity of abandoning ideas which have only the merit of antiquity, a test which if consistently adopted should lead us to arm our ships with cannon after the plan of the ships we saw in the armory at Malta, a gun made of ropes, and said to have been used at the siege of Rhodes. It is to be regretted that we still have officers who seem as of old to swear 'by the notion of a long eighteen'. I trust most sincerely that all our ships may soon be provided with gunner's crews trained under your direction, and that at a more distant day there may be a still larger infusion of trained men brought into our service afloat. I am about to become an applicant for foreign service, and anything I can do in my humble sphere to carry out your views shall be done zealously and with all my heart. I remain dear Dahlgren very affectionately yours". Embossed seal at top left. Rear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers (1819-1892) who had served in the Mexican War. When he wrote this letter, he had just returned from explorations of the Northern Pacific and the coast of Alaska as commander of the war sloop USS Vincennes. During the Civil War, he participated in the blockade and capture of Florida and Gulf Coast towns, accepting the surrender of St. Augustine and commanding units in the attack on Charleston harbor. From October 1863, he commanded the USS Iroquois, engaged in a worldwide hunt for Confederate raiders. He was chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks (1871-1874), Superintendent of the Naval Academy (1874-1878) and commander of the Pacific Squadron (1878-1880). The letter's recipient, John A. Dahlgren (1809-1870), established the US Navy's Ordnance Department (1847) and opened the first foundry owned by the Navy. The foundry was soon producing guns designed by Dahlgren, including a Boat Howitzer and then the famed Dahlgren Gun, a cannon which exceeded earlier models in range, accuracy and penetration. The cruise of the USS Plymouth, mentioned in the letter, was designed to test the new weapons, which became standard armament of US vessels during the Civil War. Support of fellow naval officers like Rodgers was important to Dahlgren, since many tradition-minded officers resisted the innovations. "The long eighteen", cited scornfully by Rodgers, was a nickname for an 18-pound cannon employed in the War of 1812. Pencil notation (unknown hand) over date, presumably to verify date. Stains at top margin. Mild see-through from writing on verso. Mild toning at edges. Otherwise, fine condition.
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