Reports regarding the survival of the collection of the Navy Department Library and other materials in the Secretary of the Navy's office following the burning of Washington by the British in 1814.
|13th Congress.]||No. 115.||[3d Session.|
COMMUNICATED TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, OCTOBER 29, 1814.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, October 27, 1814.
In obedience to the resolution of the honorable House of Representatives, passed on the 24th instant, I have the honor to report:
That the whole of the official books, papers, trophies, and effects, in the office of the Secretary of the Navy, except the furniture of the office, were preserved from loss or injury by the late incursion of the enemy, and are now entire; and that all the official books and papers in the office of the Accountant of the Navy have been preserved, except those official papers relative to accounts settled and transmitted to the Treasury Department, referred to in the letter of which the enclosed is a copy.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,
[Secretary of the Navy]
The Hon. the SPEAKER of the House of Representatives.
Source: American State Papers: Naval Affairs. Vol. 1 (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1834): 320.
In obedience to the instructions from the Secretary of the Navy, to prepare for the removal and safety of the public documents and archives of the Navy Department, on Saturday the 20th day of August, 1814, and anticipating a difficulty in procuring wagons, he sanctioned the transportation by water, in boats up the Potomac river.
On Sunday three of the clerks were employed packing up in boxes and trunks, all the books of record, papers, library, maps, charts, plans, stationary, trophies, various valuable instruments, paintings, prints, &c., ready for removal on the next day; and in the evening of Sunday, the 21st of August, two river boats, with their crews, were engaged for the purpose at the ordinary pay and wages.
On Monday, the 22d August, two of the city carts were engaged, and all the boxes and articles in the Navy Department (heavy desks and furniture excepted,) were put on board a boat at the nearest wharf to the offices, and at 4 P.M. proceeded up the river, as far as Georgetown.
In the forenoon of Monday, the 22d, two large wagons with drivers presented themselves at the Department for employ, and on account of the previous arrangement, to transport by water, they were transferred to the Accountant of the Navy Department, who loaded them with the effects of his office.
On Tuesday, the 23d August, the chief clerk, with one of the clerks of the Department, proceeded up the river Potomac, and passed through the locks and canal to a place of safety.
There was no difficulty in procuring more boats and men enough to navigate them up the river above the falls.
BENJAMIN HOMANS, Clerk.
Source: American State Papers: Miscellaneous. Vol. 2 (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1834): 255.
Note: The Navy Department Library was part of the office of the Secretary of the Navy in 1814.