DU PONT, Samuel Francis.

Extracts from Private Journal-Letters... while in command of the Cyane, during the War with Mexico, 1846-1848.

Printed for his Family.

Wilmington, DE: Ferris Bros., Printers and Binders, 1885 Stock Code: 131483
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Privately printed edition of this memoir of the Mexican-American War

First and sole edition, "privately printed for his family by his wife after his death" (Streeter) in a putative print run of around fifty copies that were not offered for sale; with a familial presentation inscription at head of title: "Louise Evelina Du Pont from her Father, 5th May 1900". Louise Evelina (1877-1958), heiress and preservationist, was the daughter of Henry Algernon Du Pont (1838-1926), soldier, industrialist and politician. Having graduated first in his class at West Point in 1861 he joined the Union army at the outbreak of war and saw action in a number of engagements. As chief of artillery of the Army of West Virginia - Du Pont's father ran the mills that supplied a significant portion of the Union armies' gunpowder - he distinguished himself at the Battle of Cedar Creek (19 October 1864), when his skilful handling of his guns enabled him to assist in the Union army's fighting withdrawal before Phil Sheridan's breathless arrival - known as "Sheridan's Ride" - rallied the Union battle line and swept the Confederates from the field. Du Pont was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for "most distinguished gallantry". He is memorably described by historian Thomas A. Lewis as "an aristocratic Easterner and a scholarly soldier" (The Guns of Cedar Creek, 1991, p. 129).

Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-1865) was a career naval officer who went on to serve in the Civil War on the Southern blockade, ultimately holding the rank of rear admiral. He was relieved of his command after a failed attack on Charleston, South Carolina, although "among naval officers Du Pont remained highly respected" (American National Biography). Fellow sailor Rear Admiral John D. Hayes remarked: "It was perhaps in the field of naval tactics that Du Pont made his most significant contribution. At the battle of Port Royal, Du Pont set the pattern for the tactical use of steam mobility and the increased fire power that improved ordnance gave to naval vessels The success of his technique inaugurated a revolution in naval tactics: navies no longer would have to depend upon tide and wind for their mobility and, thanks to rifled cannons, vessels henceforth could contend against forts" (cited in ANB).

"These extracts from Du Pont's journal and letters... are a valuable and almost unknown account of the United States Naval operations in the Pacific and Gulf of California in the Mexican War. After conveying Fremont and his battalion from Monterey to San Diego and participating in the taking of San Blas, Du Pont entered the Gulf of California, seized La Paz, and at Guaymas burned the Mexican fleet. Within a few months, he had cleared the Gulf, and in 1847 aided Commodore Shubrick in the occupation of Mazatlan, and later led his 'troops' to the rescue of the American forces at Mission San Jose. DuPont's official dispatches and letters had been printed at Wilmington in 1883, but these private journals and letters are of even greater interest" (Streeter).

This is one of the most important accounts of the naval war in California, presenting, by its very nature, a far more relaxed and intimate narrative than Du Pont's official dispatches. We have traced only six copies on auction records, WorldCat cites 18 among international holdings (all in North America), Library Hub locates none in British and Irish institutional libraries. Copies with a familial presentation, as here, are particularly rare.

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Octavo (224 x 140 mm). Original dark brown half morocco, spine gilt banded and lettered direct, saw-tooth roll tool in tail compartment, sides edged with blind roll-tool decoration, marbled sides, edges and endpapers.


Without the errata leaf, which Streeter notes was tipped-in. Spine sunned, binding a little rubbed, a few old pale stains to sides. A very good copy.


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