USS Roanoke Regulation Book

1858. 1 item.MSS. COLL. #3


This item is a listing of internal rules and regulations to be observed upon the USS Roanoke, a steam frigate in the United States Navy. What was probably the original cover of sailcloth is still intact and the item is in good to excellent condition.

Provenance: This item was purchased by the museum in 1983 and assigned accession number 1983.112.1.

Processing: This item was processed by Karen C. Carroll with the finding aid completed in August 1983.


The USS Roanoke was a steam frigate launched by the United States in 1855. At the outbreak of the Civil War, it was one of the country‚Äôs five frigates and was considered the “pride of the fleet.” However, at that time, it was in a northern naval yard and did not go into immediate action. By August 1861, it was serving as a blockader off Charleston, South Carolina. On October 15, with the USS Flag, Monticello, and Vandalia, it captured and burned the Confederate States’ blockade runner Thomas Watson.

The Roanoke was in Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 1862. Although her shaft had been broken in November of the preceding year, she was in the area with several other ships. She saw her sister ship, the Merrimack, now an ironclad rechristened Virginia, sail into the Roads and engaged the Federal ships in the area. Although the Roanoke‘s guns were operational, without steering capacity she was useless against the Virginia. With the help of several tug boats and after running aground, she removed herself to the protection of the guns of Fort Monroe. She suffered no damage in the fight, although when the Virginia appeared, Captain John Marston, of the Roanoke, was the senior U.S. officer present in Hampton Roads. The Roanoke was herself refitted in 1862-1863 as a three-turreted ironclad. She was re-commissioned June 29, 1863, and returned to the Newport News area. On November 23, Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, wrote her captain that “since the discovery of the torpedo on James River… the Department has felt some uneasiness with regard to the position of your vessel, as it is evidently the design of the Rebels to drift such machines of destruction upon her…. Vigilance is demanded.” Captain Gansevoort, of the Roanoke, replied that he had been stationing a picket boat up river as well as a gun boat to keep watch.

The Roanoke went out of commission at the New York Naval Yards, June 20, 1865.

Ship specifications:

Acquisition – Hull built by government at Norfolk Navy Yard; machinery at Richmond, Virginia, by Anderson Delaney and Company. Launched December 13, 1855 at the former.
Cost – $820,316.65
Description – Class: Screw steamer; frigate; wood.
Rate, rig, etc.: first; ship.
Tonnage – 3,435
Draft – When completed, forward, twenty-two feet six inches; aft, twenty-three feet six inches.
Engines – Two; horizontal direct action, trunk.
Boilers – Five; four main; one auxiliary, with tubes.
Battery – May 6, 1861, two X-inch Dahlgren S.B., 28 IX-inch Dahlgren S.B., 14 VIII-inch 63 CWT.; June 1861, add 2 heavy 12-pounders to the preceding; March 21, 1862, similar to that of May 6, 1861; August 31, 1863, forward turret, one XV-inch Dahlgren S.B., one 150-pounder Parrott rifle; middle turret, one XV-inch Dahlgren S.B., one XI-inch Dahlgren S.B.; after turret, one XI-inch Dahlgren S.B., one 50-pounder Parrott rifle.
Disposition – Sold at Chester, Pennsylvania, September 27, 1883, to E. Stannard and Company, West Brook, Connecticut, for $45,070.60.
Remarks – Altered 1862-1863 to 3 turreted ironclad by Novelty Ironworks, New York. Commissioned June 20, 1861, at New York Navy Yard; June 29, 1863, at New York Navy Yard. Went out of commission at New York Navy Yard March 25, 1862, and June 20, 1965.


This book is dated from the USS frigate Roanoke, August 1858. It begins with a signed letter from the captain, William H. Gardner, to the executive officer stating that these “revised orders” should be put into effect. It then lists sixteen specific internal orders: the bimonthly routine (4 items); the monthly routine (3 items); the “Bimensal routine” (every two months); quarterly routine; and the routines between decks in the ward room, magazine steerages, forward officers apartments and berth deck. Also listed are routines for the dispensary, galley, store room, shell room, “spirit” room and hold. The book also includes fourteen specific fire precautions to be taken. There are specifications for handling the boats, including salutes. A list of official honors and ceremonies to be rendered is included as well. A full account of the duties of the officer of the deck is given as well as those of the Master surgeon, assistant surgeons, purser, marine officer, midshipman and forward officers. The last fifteen pages of the book are blank.


1. Regulation book (manuscript). 1 item.

1858 regulation book of the USS Roanoke, a Union blockader during the Civil War. Heavy sailcloth cover. Excellent condition.


11Regulation book