Civil War Navies Bookworm

Digital Humanities, Naval History
If you read my last post, you know that this semester I engaged in building a Bookworm using a government document collection. My professor challenged me to try my system for parsing the documents on a different, larger collection of government documents. The collection I chose to work with is the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies. My Barbary Bookworm took me all semester to build; this Civil War navies Bookworm took me less than a day. I learned things from making the first one! This collection is significantly larger than the Barbary Wars collection---26 volumes, as opposed to 6. It encompasses roughly the same time span, but 13 times as many words. Though it is still technically feasible to read through all 26 volumes, this collection is…
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Database of Officers of the Line

Digital Humanities, Naval History
Becoming an officer of the line in the navy is a bit like getting on the tenure track in academia. Not all officers are created equal--officers such as pursers, sailing masters, and chaplains were classified as officers and received the preferential treatment given to officers. But they could never be captains--they were not in line for those sorts of promotions. Data The Naval Historical Center has made lists available of the officers of the navy and Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900. This list is very useful, but it's not in a format that makes it easy to see the data in the aggregate. It includes both warrant officers (non-tenure-track) and line officers (tenure-track). I wanted to look at the promotion trends of line officers from the early republic. There…
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Poetry and War: Constitution v. Guerriere

Naval History
[caption id="attachment_149" align="alignnone" width="300"] USS Constitution v. HMS Guerriere. Public domain image from Naval Historical Center.[/caption] In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of War of 1812, here's an excerpt from Columbia's Naval Victories, a poem about the naval victories of the Americans, written in 1813 by Benjamin Allen. -- In war a lion, though a lamb in peace, Hull [1. A brief biography of Isaac Hull can be found here.] bears the flag of freedom o'er the seas;[2. A motto often flown on ship's flags was "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights."] Ready to vindicate his country's fame, And add new honours to her injur'd name. Soon Albion's banner rises on his view [3. A few weeks previous to this battle, the Constitution had successfully evaded the Guerriere, which had then been sailing…
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