Item #7189 The St. Lawrence, Amateur Company. Under the patronage of Commodore French Forrest, Captain J. B. Hull & P. U. Murphey Exec. Officer.
The St. Lawrence, Amateur Company. Under the patronage of Commodore French Forrest, Captain J. B. Hull & P. U. Murphey Exec. Officer.

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The St. Lawrence, Amateur Company. Under the patronage of Commodore French Forrest, Captain J. B. Hull & P. U. Murphey Exec. Officer.

[Rio de Janeiro, Brazil]: Empreza Nacional do Diario—Rua do Rosario n. 84, 1857. Broadside on pink wove paper, completed in manuscript, 11” x 7.25”, plus margins. Letter in pencil on verso. CONDITION: Good, two small punctures, .5” tear at bottom, and .5” tear at top along old center vertical fold, a few chips at margins.

A rare broadside for a theater performance on a U.S. Navy vessel in Brazil, featuring a letter by one of the crew on the verso.

Under the “patronage” of the USS St. Lawrence’s Commodore, Captain, and executive officer, the present “amateur company” was managed by one H. Bruce; its stage manager was William J. Jeffries; its scene painter was William Nelson, and its music leader was J. Laughlin. The company here “beg leave to inform their friends that they will give an entertainment on Friday evening Oct. 23rd 1857.” The programme opened with a short “original” Prologue followed by “The Hypochondriac. A Comedy in Two Acts” (written expressly for this company by Chas. H. Phillips). Characters for this piece included Mr. Wiggins, Capt. Bombshell, Mr. Quirk, Dr. Pills, Landlord, Tom, Sam, Servant, and Mrs. Wiggins. Next was “Sailors Hornpipe,” written by a Volunteer and including the songs Irish Jig, Rattle Snake Jig, Ballad, and Comic Song. This was followed by Womans Wrongs or the Experience of an Old Maid (related by C. H. Phillips) and then a “farce” entitled The Original by Morton, including the characters Col. Detonater, Sir Jacob Lukewarm, Chas Mowbray, Miss Emily Lukewarm, Jack Nonpareil, Solomon, and John. The performance was to conclude with a Grand National Tableaux, in which the whole company was to appear and sing the Star Spangled Banner. The curtain was to rise at half past six o’clock. The letter written on the verso by one Jonathan W. Preston reads in full: “Dear Couson [sic], Enclosed you will find one of our theatre bills—I wish I could have your company—however in a years time I expect to take you by the hand—I am well and in fine spirits. Give my love to Aunt Margaret and all inquiring friends. All the names on this bill are attached to the ships. Yours affectionately, Jno. W. Preston.”

Launched in 1848, the USS St. Lawrence was a frigate in the U.S. Navy. In 1856, she sailed for South America’s Atlantic coast to relieve Savannah and become the flagship of the Brazil Squadron early in 1857. The Brazil Station was established by the U.S. in 1826 to protect American commerce in the South Atlantic during the Cisplatine War between Brazil and Argentina. When the war ended in 1828, the station remained and continued to protect American interests during several other conflicts; the squadron ceased to exist in 1905. The St. Lawrence’s service on the Brazil Station shifted late in 1858 due to the Paraguay Expedition (1858–59), although the St. Lawrence did not go to Paraguay. The conclusion of the Paraguay Expedition freed the St. Lawrence to return home; she was decommissioned at Philadelphia in May of 1859.

Born in Maryland, French Forrest (1796–1866) was a naval officer who served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, during which he commanded the landing of U.S. naval forces at Veracruz in 1847. When Virginia seceded from the U.S. in 1861, Forrest was appointed commander-in-chief of the Virginia Navy. When Virginia joined the Confederacy, he joined the Confederate States Navy as a Captain and kept his command, which he held until 1862. In this capacity he raised and rebuilt the USS Merrimack into the Confederacy’s first ironclad, the CSS Virginia. Forrest then became head of the Bureau of Orders and Details until March 1863, when he became Flag Officer of the James River Squadron. In 1864 he became the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Confederate Navy. Forrest returned to Washington to find that his property there had been seized. He died in 1866 of typhoid fever.

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REFERENCES: French Forrest at

Item #7189


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