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Charles S. Cotton Family Papers 


Dates: 1862-1964

Collection Number: AR/389

Finding aid (Word)

Scope and Content Note: Transferd to Archives Branch 23 January 2024

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence written by Charles S. Cotton to his son, Charles S. Cotton, Jr., from 1892 to 1905 and to his wife, Cecilia Robertson Cotton, in 1898. During this time, Cotton was commanding officer of Mohican (1891-1892), the flagship Philadelphia on Pacific Station (1894-1897), and the auxiliary cruiser Harvard with the North Atlantic Squadron (1898). His letters are filled with details of his cruises and the people he met. There is also a book of calling cards that Cotton received on his travels from 1877 to 1898.

In 1891, Charles Cotton Jr. was the guest of his father on board USS Mohican on a cruise to Alaska. Mohican was to assist the Bering Sea fishing fleet protecting the sealing plants and fisheries. He kept a diary during the cruise, which is included in the collection.

Other materials include extracts from Minnesota's log for 7-14 March 1862, a pencil sketch done by Charles Cotton, Sr., and miscellaneous family memorabilia relating to the senior Cotton

The collection is arranged in four series. Series I consists of Charles Cotton Sr.'s outgoing correspondence. Series II contains his incoming correspondence. In Series III is Charles Cotton Jr.'s diary. Finally, Series IV holds miscellaneous documents, drawings, and Charles Sr.'s scrapbook of calling cards.

The collection also includes a significant letter from Charles Sr. to his parents. Written on 10 March 1862, it describes the battle between the Union and Confederate naval forces on 8-9 March. Cotton was on the Union steam frigate Minnesota, which was grounded during the first day of battle and attacked by the Confederate ironclad Merrimac after she had sunk USS Congress and Cumberland. The second day of battle saw the arrival of Monitor and her subsequent engagement with Merrimac. Cotton provided an excellent narration of the action and the casualties received.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Papers of the Charles S. Cotton Family, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

Subject Headings (LCSH)

United States. Navy--History--Sources.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Mohican (Steamer)
Philadelphia (Cruiser : C-4)
Monitor (Ironclad)
Virginia (Ironclad)
Minnesota (Frigate)

Published: Fri Feb 23 07:07:45 EST 2024