Civil War Philadelphia and Its Countryside
J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
of Independence Seaport Museum

Penn’s Landing   211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 191061  

Museum:      Library:

Hours/Access Policy  
Museum: Open every day (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Library: Office hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Reading room hours, appt. preferred: Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Contact Information   215-413-8655
Library: Megan Good, Director of Archives and Library;, 215-413-8640
Curatorial: Craig Bruns, Chief Curator;, 215-413-8619

PDF version of this page.

Independence Seaport Museum’s J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library is one of the nation’s finest regional maritime research facilities, offering an impressive range of materials widely used by historians, authors, sailors, filmmakers, boat and model builders, students, and the merely curious from all over the world. The museum was founded in 1960 through the generosity of J. Welles Henderson, who was inspired throughout his life by maritime history and the importance of maritime industry to the Philadelphia region.

Civil War Collection
Independence Seaport Museum holds records relating to maritime history during the Civil War that comprise a unique, interesting look into a part of the Civil War that is infrequently discussed. Materials include books, manuscripts, logbooks, journals, drawings, prints, sketches, ship models, photographs and artifacts. A significant portion of the collection deals with the various ships and ironclads that either fought during the war or were used by the U.S. Navy for military purposes. The collections are cared for by the J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library and Independence Seaport Museum’s Curatorial Department.

Collection Highlights


Manuscript records

  1. Letter to Anna McGlure from Sophy (1861)
    1. Autograph letter signed by "Sophy," 1 November 1861, New Castle to Anna McGlure, Philadelphia. Sophy writes to her cousin, Anna McGlure, about her nephew's recent commission in the Navy and her concerns for his safety. Includes transmittal envelope.
  2. Letter to Samuel P. Bates from unknown (1867)
    1. This letter, addressed to Samuel P. Bates, discusses the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon and its work in providing food and lodging to sick and wounded soldiers, freedmen, refugees, and deserters during the Civil War.
  1. Letters to Elvira from George Wingate (1861-1862)
    1. Two letters from the Civil War period: Emily [?] writes to her friend Elvira about mutual friends and arranging a visit, and mentions that the family expect that her brother Edwin will be drafted soon. The letter from George Wingate, sent from Camp Brigham in Readville, Massachusetts, expresses a hope that Elivira will either visit or write to him.


  1. Union volunteer refreshment saloon [ISM 1968.13]

Drawings, sketches and portraits

  1. Magazine correspondent sketches
    1. Drawing, “Mail Boat Dock, Harrison’s Landing,” circa 1862 by F.H. Schell [ISM 1989.35.104]
    2. Drawing, “Rebel guerilla riflemen on the banks of the James River preparing to fire into the U.S. Mail Boat,” circa 1862 by F.H. Schell [ISM 1989.35.141]
    3. Drawing, “Bank’s Expedition,” circa 1862 by F.H. Schell [ISM 1989.35.142]
  2. Volunteer Refreshment Saloon at Federal Street Navy Yard, Philadelphia
    1. Painting, 1866 by Edward Moran [ISM 1967.291.1]
    2. Commemorative decorative tray, circa 1861 [ISM 1986.74.1]
    3. Various period prints
  3. Portraits
    1. Admiral John Ancrum Winslow, circa 1865 by M.P. Eberhardt [L1994.10]
    2. Rear-Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont, 1918 by Clawson Hammitt after Daniel Huntington [ISM 1982.62]
    3. Various period prints depicting naval personalities


  1. Stille, Charles J. How a Free People Conduct a Long War: A Chapter from English History. Philadelphia: Martien, 1863.
  2. Headley, Joel T. The Great Rebellion: A History of the Civil War in the United States. Hartford, Connecticut: Hurlbut and Williams, 1863.

Militaria and Diaries

Manuscript records

  1. Henry A. Adams papers (1849-1877)
    1. Orders and appointments issued by the Navy Department to Henry A. Adams, Jr. and several letters of recommendation for his good conduct in service aboard ships such as Jamestown and Brooklyn.
  2. Albert Family Papers (1859-1956)
    1. Materials include correspondence, journals, scrapbooks of John Seaman Albert and his brother Sidney Albert during their naval careers. These papers give insight into life aboard a U.S. naval vessel during the period just prior to the Civil War, political comments on world events and particularly events in the Orient, and events leading up to and during the Civil War.
  3. George Assum prize money letter (1865)
    1. Letter from the Treasury Department awarding prize money to Marine Private George Assum for the capture of several ships by USS Keystone State.
  4. John Bendernagle journal (1862-1863)
    1. Journal kept while serving aboard U.S. Steamer Mohican, beginning with the transfer of the ship to Captain Oliver G. Glisson, Oct. 17, 1862. The Mohican was charged with searching for Confederate privateers, especially the Florida and the Alabama, in the waters off South America. The entries record incidents aboard ship, including the rescue of a sailor who fell overboard, punishments of the crew, a court martial, and engagements with other vessels.
  5. Gridley family collection (1860-1960s)
    1. Correspondence, photographs, newspapers, and newspaper clippings owned by the Gridley family, relating to Charles Gridley’s life, death, funeral, and memorialization. A letterbook contains commissions, orders, and appointments received by Gridley from his entrance into the Naval Academy in 1860 to his assignment as captain of the cruiser Olympia in 1897. Photographs show Gridley as a midshipman in the early 1860s, at Pompeii, Italy, in 1881, and at Fuzhou, China, in the early 1890s.
  6. Andrew J. Hough papers (1859-1864)
    1. This collection consists of travel orders and assignments for Andrew J. Hough, acting carpenter, and later carpenter, of the U.S. Steamship Lancaster; most papers are signed by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and retained copies of Hough's replies.
  7. Letter to John Dahlgren from David Farragut (1862)
    1. Letter from David Gleason Farragut, dated 1862 January 12, Willard's Hotel, to John A. Dahlgren, Navy Yard, Washington. Reads in part: "Will you please to let me know the result of your experiments with the musket or rifle against the Boiler Iron at the different distances ...."
  8. John Lenthall Collection of The Franklin Institute at Independence Seaport Museum
    1. The second and third group in this collection contains plans, drawings and diagrams relating to ships active in the Civil War. Almost all of the plans are the only known copies of the ships’ designs.
  9. John Lenthall Papers (1794-1865)
    1. The collection consists of papers created by or retained by the shipbuilding firm of John Lenthall and Company of Philadelphia. Approximately two-thirds of the collection consists of lists of materials and bills of costs for the construction of specific ships. The remainder of the collection consists of lists of materials and bills of costs, and in some cases specifications, for many different types of vessels. Other types of material found in the collection are correspondence, usually letters of transmittal of technical documents, drawings of specific subassemblies of vessels, and written descriptions of vessels or subassemblies. A number of the ships served in the Civil War.
  10. Letter to Mrs. Phoebe Le Count from Charles Le Count (1863)
    1. Letter, dated 1863 July 23, Ft. McHenry, to Phoebe Le Count, New Rochelle, New York.  In the letter, LeCount relates news of his health and activities to his mother, and reads in part: "I have been to Fort Delaware as one of a guard over some Rebel Prisoners ..."
  11. James P. Lindsay papers (1861-1945)
    1. This is a collection of orders, certificates, correspondence, and ship papers covering the period 1861 to 1908; the material documents his service as a ship's captain during the Civil War and his appointment as Harbor Master of the Port of Philadelphia. Correspondence discusses the seizure of the barque Fanny Laurie in 1862 and his orders to Lindsay as captain of the Welles, 1865.
  12. R.F. Loper account book and receipt book (1847-1863)
    1. Loper patented a design for a rotary inclined propeller, used on ships in the Civil War.
  13. William McKean papers (1831-1870)
    1. Correspondence from the Navy department to McKean and a memorandum by McKean describing his service with the U.S. Navy.
  14. Midnight (USS) orders (1862-1864)
    1. Records of orders given when stationed in Gulf Blockade and the South Atlantic Blockade.
  15. Francis H. Munroe purser’s logbook (1863)
    1. Munroe was purser on the steamship Thomas A. Scott and the barque Floresta. Thomas A. Scott was a 19th century blockade runner.
  16. Saranac and Lancaster logbooks (1862-1863)
    1. Logbook of sloop of war Saranac (1862) and sloop of war Lancaster (1863). Volume comprises the ship's log for the U.S. steamer Saranac in the first 60 pages, and the ship's log for the U.S. flagship Lancaster in the last 132 pages. Entries range in content; all include daily weather conditions, others report latitude & longitude, distance traveled, crew activities, provisions received, or misconduct among the crew and subsequent punishments.
  17. Henry S. Stellwagen papers (1820-1921)
    1. Collection of papers documenting Stellwagen's service in the United States Navy. Materials include orders and appointments for Stellwagen; copies of general Navy orders related to uniforms; letter from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles informing Stellwagen of his placement on the list of retired officers; letters related to Stellwagen's naval service; an 1848 report from the Franklin Institute of Science on a patent for a sounding apparatus invented by Lt. Stellwagen; and a patent certificate, 1842, including an illustration of the device. Cartes de visite of naval officers, including: Captain Percival Drayton (flagship Hartford), Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, Colonel William L. Long, Commander George Henry Preble, Rear Admiral S.P. Lee, Commodore A.S. Glisson, and others. The collection also includes a photograph of the steam and sail powered ships California and Unadilla, and photographs of a trophy and a plaque awarded in 1912 to the Colorado.
  18. Tipton family papers (1862-1868)
    1. The papers consist principally of the letters William Tipton sent home to his wife and sister in Philadelphia during his service as an engineer in the United States Navy aboard the ships Circassian and Sacramento during the Civil War. Twelve cartes de visite of William Tipton, his wife, his son, his second wife and his sister are also included in the collection.
  19. James Whitaker papers (1862-1875)
    1. Materials include: papers related to the invention of an underwater gun-port, including descriptions, correspondence, clippings, and a photograph of a prototype; a copy of Naval Engineers Regulations for USS Pembina; letters and other papers related to Whitaker's naval service; and cartes de visite of naval officers, many labeled on the reverse with names, vessels, and location; and a group photograph taken at Valparaiso, Chile, 1869.
  20. Wyoming logbook and journal (1861-1864)
    1. Logbook of the U.S. steam sloop Wyoming, 1861-1864, and journal of William W. Dwier, acting carpenter aboard Wyoming, 1862-1863.


  1. Fort Sumter [69.58.10-12]
  2. Various Civil War ships and gunboats


  1. USS New Ironsides, ironclad
    1. Builder’s half model, designed by William Cramp [ISM 1979.16]
    2. Ship model, USS New Ironsides with sail rigging [ISM 1998.4]
    3. Selection of period prints featuring the ironclad
  2. Ironclads
    1. Painting, “Battle of Monitor and Merrimac,” by Xanthus Smith [L1994.4]
    2. Selection of period prints
  3. Salvage submarine, seized on the Delaware River in May 1861, thought then to be a Confederate vessel. This vessel then led the U.S. Navy to commission the construction of the USS Alligator, the navy’s first submarine.
    1. Ship model, Brutus de Villeroi’s 1859 Salvage Submarine, by Timothy M. Smalley [ISM 2004.29]
    2. “The Hunt for Alligator Junior and Her Crew, Supporting Documentation.” Alice M. Smith, Archivist, Riverside Historical Society, 2005.
  4. USS Hartford
    1. Ship model [ISM 1982.31]
    2. Various relics, fragment of ship fabric
  5. USS Wyoming
    1. Gangway board with commemorative additions
  6. USS KeystoneState
    1. Sofa from the parlor of the 1853 side wheel steamer.


  1. Farragut, David G. Reports of the Naval Engagements on the Mississippi River. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1862.
  2. Grimes, James W. Achievements of the Western Naval Flotilla: Remarks of Hon. James W. Grimes of Iowa, delivered in the Senate of the United States, March 13, 1862. Washington, D.C.: L. Towers & Co., 1862.
  3. U.S. Navy Department. Reports of the Naval Engagements on the Mississippi, resulting in the capture of Forts Jackson and St. Philip and the city of New Orleans, and the destruction of the rebel naval flotilla. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1862.
  4. Warburton, Adolphus F. Trial of the officers and crew of the privateer Savannah, on the charge of piracy, in the United States Circuit Court for the southern district of New York, Hon. Judges Nelson and Shipman presiding. New York: Baker & Godwin, 1862.
  5. Loper, R. F. R.F. Loper to Hon. E.N. Stanton, Secretary of War: In self-defence [sic] against the aspersions of the Senate Committee. Philadelphia: [s.n.], 1863.
  6. Osbon, Bradley S. Handbook of the United States Navy: Being a Compilation of all the principal events in the history of every vessel of the United States Navy, from April, 1861 to May, 1864. New York: Van Nostrand, 1864.
  7. McClellan, George B. Letter of the Secretary of War, transmitting report on the organization of the Army of the Potomac, and of its campaigns in Virginia and Maryland, under the command of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, from July 26, 1861 to November 7, 1862. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1864.
  8. U.S. Navy Department. Report of the Secretary of the Navy in relation to armored vessels. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1864.

Reference Resources

Our holdings are cataloged on the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) which is widely available in public libraries across the United States. More records for archival collections, such as manuscripts and photographs, are being added to OCLC all the time, but finding aids for some of these materials are only available on-site. To search OCLC, please visit

In addition to on-site finding aids, there are a number of finding aids that are available online:

Gridley Collection:

Lenthall Collection:

Lenthall Papers:

There are also a number of books, published after the Civil War, that may be of interest to researchers. The J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library holds approximately 130 books, ranging from items printed during the war to post-war and more modern resources. For the purpose of this guide, the books are divided into groupings based on date. The list below is divided into three sections: Reconstruction Era, Pre-20th Century and Selected Books from 1900-Present. Again, these items can also be found in OCLC along with many other books that relate to the Civil War.

  1. Reconstruction Era
    1. U.S. Navy Department. Prize Vessels: Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, in answer to a resolution of the House of April 30, relative to prize vessels. [s.i.]: [s.n.], 1868.
    2. Barnes, John S. Submarine warfare, offensive and defensive, including a discussion of the offensive torpedo system, its effects upon iron-clad ship systems and influence upon future naval wars… New York: Van Nostrand, 1869.
    3. Walker, Jeanie M. Life of Capt. Joseph Fry, the Cuban martyr; Being a faithful records of his remarkable career from childhood to the time of his heroic death at the hands of Spanish executioners; Recounting his experience as an officer in the U.S. and Confederate navies and revealing much of the inner history and secret marine service of the late civil war in America. Hartford, Connecticut: J.B. Burr Publishing, 1875.
  1. Pre-20th century
    1. Soley, James R. The blockade and the cruisers. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1883.
    2. Ammen, Daniel. The Atlantic coast. New York: Scribner, 1883.
    3. Abbot, Willis J. Blue jackets of ’61: A history of the Navy in the War of Secession. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1886
    4. Porter, David D. The naval history of the Civil War. New York: Sherman Publishing, 1886.
    5. Scharf, J. Thomas. History of the Confederate States Navy from its organization to the surrender of its last vessel. New York: Rogers & Sherwood, 1887.
    6. Maclay, Edgar S. Reminiscences of the old navy, from the journals and private papers of Captain Edward Trenchard and Rear-Admiral Stephan Decatur Trenchard. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898.
    7. Our national hero: his life and achievements and battles in the Philippines: Containing a complete and glowing account of the grand achievements of the hero of Manila, his ancestry and early life, his brilliant career in the great Civil War, his famous victory in the harbor of Manila, etc… Chicago: National Publishing, 1899.
    8. Forbes, John M. Letters and recollections of John Murray Forbes. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899.
  2. Selected books from 1900-present
    1. McKay, Nathaniel. Nathaniel McKay. Washington: [s.n.], 1901.
    2. Evans, Robley D. A sailor’s log: Recollections of forty years of naval life. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1901.
    3. Spears, John R. A history of the United States Navy. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1908.
    4. Worden, John L. The Monitor and the Merrimac: Both sides of the story. New York: Harper, 1912.
    5. Taylor, Frank H. Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1861-1865. Philadelphia: [s.n.], 1913.
    6. Selfridge, T. O. Memoirs of Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr., Rear Admiral, United States Navy. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1924.
    7. Krafft, Herman F. Catalogue of historic objects at the United StatesNavalAcademy. Baltimore: Industrial Print Company, 1925.
    8. National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. American war songs… Philadelphia: [s.n.], 1925.

This project has been generously supported by the Honorable Larry Farnese, PA Senator, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.


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