A Guide to the USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger, 1862 USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger Ms2009-026

A Guide to the USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger, 1862

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2009-026


Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2009 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.

Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger 1862
Physical Characteristics
1 container; 0.3 cu. ft.
U.S. Navy paymaster's ledger, believed to be from the USS Pittsburg, a Union Navy gunboat during the Civil War. Also includes a single sheet officers' pay roll, dated 1866, believed to be from the USS Shawmut.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger, Ms2009-026 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger was purchased by Special Collections in 2008.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the USS Pittsburg Paymaster's Ledger commenced and was completed in February 2009.

Biographical/Historical Information

The USS Pittsburg (sometimes spelled the "Pittsburgh"), an ironclad gunboat, was built at St. Louis Missouri and commissioned for service in January 1862, with Lieutenant Egbert Thompson commanding. Joining the U. S. Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla, the Pittsburg sustained damage during the bombardment of Fort Donelson, Tennessee. Following repairs, the gunboat participated in the sieges of Mississippi River Island 10 and Fort Pillow later that spring. The Pittsburg was transferred to U. S. Navy service on October 1, 1862 and joined in operations on the Yazoo River and Steele's Bayou, Mississippi. In April 1863, the gunboat successfully passed Confederate emplacements at Vicksburg and led the attack at Grand Gulf. In 1864, the Pittsburg joined the Red River Expedition. The gunboat was decommissioned after the war and sold in November 1865.

The USS Shawmut was a steamship commissioned for service in the U.S. Navy in 1864. With Lt. Commander George U. Morris commanding, the Shawmut served primarily as a gunboat within the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In 1865, it was refitted for foreign service and soon afterward sailed to Brazil Station, where it served a year before being decommissioned in December 1866. Recommissioned in August 1867, the gunboat served in the North Atlantic Squadron until July 1868, and again from March 1871 until January 1877. The USS Shawmut was decommissioned and sold to E. Stannard & Co. in September 1877.

George Upham Morris was born in Massachusetts in 1830 and commissioned a U. S. Navy midshipman in 1846. By March 1862, Morris was a lieutenant in temporary command of the USS Cumberland when that vessel was sunk by the CSS Virginia. Promoted to lieutenant-commander in July 1862, Morris was placed in command of the gunboat Port Royal, serving in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and later the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. He took command of the USS Shawmut in 1864, serving in that position until 1866, when given command of the Brooklyn. Morris retired from the navy in 1874 and died the following year.

Scope and Content

This collection contains a paymaster's ledger from an unidentified Union Navy ship during the Civil War. Research on the crewmembers named within the ledger suggests that the item originated from the USS Pittsburg. The ledger contains the names of 169 sailors and records the pay issued to each in the form of clothing, personal goods from small stores, and money. Listed among the crew are two "contrabands," African Americans who had escaped slavery and joined Union military forces.

The collection also contains a single payroll sheet listing officers of an unidentified ship. Again based on research on individual names--including those of George U. Morris, commander; and B. J. Cromwell, lieutenant-commander--the item seems likely to have been from the USS Shawmut. The sheet contains names of officers, their rank, and pay.

Index Terms


  • Civil War
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Box 1
Paymaster's Ledger 1862
[accompanied by payroll sheet, 1866]