Diary of the sick on board of the Mammoth. J[onathan]. Rowland Esq. Commander in Portland Harbor.
Diary of the sick on board of the Mammoth. J[onathan]. Rowland Esq. Commander in Portland Harbor.
Diary of the sick on board of the Mammoth. J[onathan]. Rowland Esq. Commander in Portland Harbor.

Diary of the sick on board of the Mammoth. J[onathan]. Rowland Esq. Commander in Portland Harbor.

Various locales, 30 December 1814 to 6 May 1816. 12mo (7” x 5.75”), no covers or wrappers. 38 pp. of manuscript, 3 blank pp.

An interesting medical manuscript compiled by an anonymous doctor aboard the Baltimore-built privateer Mammoth during the War of 1812, recording illnesses suffered by the crew, the treatments administered, progress of the patients, etc.

The schooner Mammoth, commanded by Capt. Jonathan Rowland, served in the War of 1812 from 1814 to 1815 and saw considerable action against the British. At the time the vessel was completed in 1813 it was the largest privateer schooner ever built in Baltimore, costing some $40,000, mounting ten guns, and accommodating over 100 men. The Mammoth’s owners were John Gooding, Samuel Smith, James Williams and James A. Buchanan. She first sailed out of Baltimore in March of 1814 for Havana. After selling her cargo there, she cruised the Caribbean and joined forces with two other privateers—burning and chasing many English traders. She subsequently captured the 160-ton English brig Camelion near Bermuda, which she brought to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in May 1814, remaining there until June.

This diary was kept during the Mammoth’s second cruise, during which she burned British fishing vessels off the Grand Banks and also attempted to take a hostile brig—likely the Sinclair—but was warded off. In Oct. 1814, she captured the British transport Champion and by Nov. 1814 had arrived in Portland, Maine. The Mammoth’s last cruise began in Jan. 1815 during which she cruised off the Madeira Islands and was chased a number of times by British warships. Capt. Rowland learned of peace in April of 1815, then sailed for home, arriving in New York on April 13th—as noted in the final entry. Upon returning to U.S., the ship was sold at auction.

Some of the ailments recorded here include “nausea from cold,” “pain in bowels and frequent motions,” “pain in head,” “severe cold,” “colic,” “short breathing,” “fracture in skull,” “gonorrhea,” and so forth. The remedies administered include pills, the “application of boiled potatoes,” “rice & sugar,” “cathartic,” opiates, laudanum, etc. These illnesses last from several days to several months, and the names of various individuals recur frequently. Appetites and types of discharge are recorded as well as the condition of boils and whether or not patients are making progress. One entry reads: “excessive discharges from abscess of not so good a color as yesterday.” Some men are listed as released from care (“discharged”) and others, as “nearly able to attend to duty.” Also noted is whether the medication prescribed has “operated”—i.e., taken effect. Notes on location and weather occasionally appear in a column on the far right. The last page lists twenty “exempts” and records their various ailments.

Some representative entries:

Dec. 31, 1814: “Whitty Boatswain says has been for some months affected with dizziness in his head &c &c said to proceed from a violent strain on board privateer dash[?] gave opiate at night with calomel.”

Jan. 1, 1815: “John Miller Eruptions on all parts of his body resembles chicken pox past its height—ordered to regard his diet.”

Jan. 10, 1815: “Royal Talbot affected with severe pain in side—short breathing—made application of boiled potatoes.”

Jan. 20, 1815: “Mr Elliott prize master affected with headache &c arising from a severe cold.”

Jan. 25, 1815: “Jordan Dyer—abscess maturated great discharge of matter Mr Elliott blister discharges continues about the same.”

Feb. 3, 1815: “Jordan Dyer discharge continues to look well appears to derive benefit from the Bark that he takes daily.”

Feb. 10, 1815: “Cooper not perfectly regular yet—mind somewhat affected from a fracture in his skull which he has had for some time.”

April 13, 1815: “Mr. Dennison Wood Stahl Merril & Gifford & all hands able to appear on deck & to go on shore in good spirits animated with the pleasure of again setting foot on solid American ground.”

REFERENCES: Finding aid to The Schooner Mammoth Logs, 1814 and The Schooner Independencia del Sud, November, 1817–January, 1822 MS 3082 at underbelly.mdhs.org

CONDITION: Good, no losses to the text.

Item #5528