Ten letters signed to the Providence Tool Company during the war years, 5 August 1861 through 14 January 1862. These letters provide important technical information on specifications that might not be available elsewhere. They also convey the urgency of wartime manufacturing and the improvisation necessary as parts are being manufactured while equipment, including ships of war, are in the process of construction, with minor modifications to original designs.
[GUN BARRELS]. ADAMS, Thomas J. Autograph letter signed ("Thomas J. Adams") to Providence Tool Co. Portsmouth, Scioto Co., Ohio, 5 August 1861. 1 page, 4to, old creases. From Hall & Adams, Rifle Barrel Manufacturers in Portsmouth, OH. Adams hears that Providence has gotten a contract for U. S. Rifles. Adams “has recently started a manufactory for gun barrels. Can make them any size or shape you may require and warrant them to bear Government Inspection.” He then provides some technical detail, and states “we can supply you with them very fast and cheap.”
[GUN SIGHTS FROM A. R. DAVIS & CO.]. DAVIS, A. R. Autograph letter signed (A.R. Davis) to Providence Tool Company. Freetown, MA, 6 September 1862. Davis asks to postpone shipment of 1,000 gun sights until the 10th of next month so that they can exhaust their inventory of old sights.
BORDEN, William. Letter signed ("W.B.") to John B. Anthony of Providence Tool. New York, 7 September 1861. 2 pages, 4to, light discoloration at creases. Almost surely dictated to an amanuensis ordering a total of 24 “pairs Butts...They must be made of tin and copper..." With constant mention of quick turn-around, deadlines, etc. Signed “W.B” who is identified as “W. Borden” in the hand of a clerk at Providence Tool.
ROWLAND, T. F. Autograph letter signed ("T.F. Rowland") to Providence Tool. Green Point, 30 September 1861. 3 pages, 8vo, occasional brown spotting. Accompanying “tracing of Cap Squares[‘] train loops etc. for 32 – 57 Cwt. I send this new tracing as the Navy Dept. have ordered us to make some slight alterations in future work, i.e., all cap squares are to be so made that the Radius Joint from which the circle is struck, is to be seven thirty-seconds (7/32) of an inch below the face of the square, or rather the Cap Squares instead of being exactly a half circle as heretofore, are to be 7/32” in less than a half circle.” More technical specifications follow, including “. . .the wooden wheels of oak, which we intend substituting in place of lignum vitae.” Ends with orders for Cap Squares, train loops, and wheel rings, and “The balance of iron work for twenty carriages 32/57 Cwt. Col. Borden will probably order via mail tomorrow.”
[CONSTRUCTION OF THE USS NEW IRONSIDES]. BORDEN, William. Autograph letter signed ("Wm. Borden") to John B. Anthony. New York, 31 October 1861. 1 page, 4to. “I took an order yesterday for two more Pivot or slide carriages for 39 pounder Parrot rifled guns which I will thank you to prepare the ironwork for and forward to me...I will be glad to have the work got ready and sent as soon as you can forward the whole in one lot. It will suit me as well to have you wait until all is ready so that I will make but one cartage to Green Point.”
[CONSTRUCTION OF GUN CARRIAGES]. BORDEN, William. Autogrpah letter signed ("Wm. Borden") to John B. Anthony. New York, 15 November 1861. 1 page, 4to. Borden expresses frustration about numerous errors made by Providence in shipping hardware for gun carriages.
[ARMAMENT COMPANIES’ FINANCIAL HEALTH]. SLOCUM, John L. Autograph letter signed ("Jno. L. Slocum")to Providence Tool Co. Wilmington, OH, 19 November 1861. 2 pages, 4to, small brown spot. Reporting on the financial status of debtors to Providence Tool. For example: “Richard Morris & Son could not pay their a/c but will remit before the close of the year. Before the breaking out of the Rebellion they had been doing a large business in the Southern states and in consequence are short of money. W. G. Lewis & Son have made no progress in the settlement of their affairs and are not prepared to make a proposition to their creditors—Half of the entire amount due them is in Tennessee and Kentucky...” Also a detailed account of a visit to the [Washington] Navy Yard to market shackles to the Navy. The Inspector of Hardware said the Providence shackles were superior to the other domestic and English shackles and referred Slocum to the “Navy Agt.” Slocum will follow up when the specific person with whom he must negotiate returns from sick leave.
BORDEN, William. Letter signed ("Wm. Borden) to John B. Anthony. New York, 9 January 1862. 3 pages, 4to, old creases. Confirming telegraphed instructions: “Plan again changes so don’t cut ring bolts nor make any nuts—Don’t cut the sixteen inch lengths given you until you hear from me—If already done however, you can go ahead and finish the washers must be one quarter inch iron six inches in diameter and with an inch and one eighth hole. Have nine hundred compantion [sic] screws made at the earliest possible moment to be four inches long with turned and handsomely finished heads. Send one to me as soon as possible by Express as a pattern by which to countersink for them.” Borden then gives modifications to original packing instructions designed to speed receipt of the order. “This contemplates you going on with the eye bolts and finishing them up first (as we must use them first) in the hope that I may be able to give you the exact lengths for the triangular ring bolts so that I can have you slot them and fit keys...” And much more of the same. “I am in a big haste this time.”
BORDEN, William. Letter signed ("Wm. Borden") to John B. Anthony. New York, 14 January 1862. 2 pages, 4to, light toning at creases. Stating specifications for 300 triangle screws. He’s upset that Providence didn’t telegraph him when the machine broke down: “Commodore Porter cornered me yesterday AM and I was forced by circumstances to pledge myself unreservedly that he should have the schr ‘T A Ward’ (which he was especially hurrying) ready this PM without fail...” The U.S.S. T. A. Ward was being fitted out as a blockader when Porter decided he wanted it to be part of Porter’s mortar flotilla to support Farragut’s pending attack on New Orleans. It was commissioned three days after this letter, on 17 January 1862 and placed under the command of Lt. Walter W. Queen. It saw much action during Farragut’s campaign.
[GUN STOCKS]. REDFIELD, J. H. Autograph letter signed ("J.W. Redfield") to John B. Anthony. Providence, n.d. 2 pages, 8vo, on Providence Tool Co. Armory letterhead. Redfield understands that Providence wants 25,000 gun stocks, and he would like to provide them. “I simply propose to take your order for the entire amt upon sending you a sample stock from our works, which I shall be prepared to do probably within 10 days or a fortnight from this date, and to accept your refusal of the order until that time.”
The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection Lots 79-98; 116; 138-153; and 266
Cowan's is pleased to offer the third installment of Richard B. Cohen's collection of Civil War Brown Water Navy photography. Richard was known to many in the field as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." From cartes de visite to large format photographs, this portion of the collection features a noteworthy selection of images of Brown Water Navy warships, among them, the USS Benton, Choctaw, Lafayette, and Louisville. Many important identified naval officers are also represented, including an exquisite CDV of the promising young officer, Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, who died of wounds aboard the USS Benton following an artillery duel with Confederate forces at Snyder's Bluff, and an exceptionally large war-date photograph of the controversial commander of the USS Pittsburgh, Egbert Thompson.
This auction also features a premiere selection of autographs and manuscripts from Richard's carefully curated collection. Highlights include a letter from Jefferson Davis to his distant cousin, John J. Pettus, Governor of Mississippi, dated a year before secession, conveying intricate plans for securing armaments in preparation for the war; an Abraham Lincoln signed endorsement; a letter from Admiral D.G. Farragut from New Orleans, offering excellent insight into his "political" thinking as well as his dedication to his work; correspondence from Gideon Welles, David Dixon Porter, U.S. Grant, and W.T. Sherman; and a pair of superb letters with highly descriptive accounts of the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.
Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection
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