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Guide to the U.S.S. Bonita Mexican War Journal

MSN/EA 8006


Collection Summary

Title: U.S.S. Bonita Mexican War journal
Dates: 1846-1847
Collection No.: MSN/MN 8006
Creator: Unidentified
Extent: 1 volume and 1 folder; 3 linear ft.
Language: Collection material in English.
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A personal journal kept by the purser of the schooner-gunboat U.S.S. Bonita during the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1847.

Selected Search Terms

United States. Navy -- History -- Mexican War, 1846-1848.
United States. Navy -- Sea life.
Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Naval operations, American.
Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Personal narratives.
Mexican War, 1846-1848 -- Sources.

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: U.S.S. Bonita Mexican War Journal, MSN/EA 8006-1-B, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The journal was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003, from an ebay vendor. Arranged and described 2005, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2017, by George Rugg.

Scope and Content Note

A personal journal of 147 handwritten pages kept by the (unidentified) purser of U.S.S. Bonita during the U.S.-Mexican War. The volume is 32 cm. in height. Bonita, built in 1846, was a 59-foot schooner-gunboat with one 32-pound carronade and a crew of forty; she saw very active service along the Gulf coast of Mexico in 1846-47, as a member of the light-draft "mosquito fleet" attached to the Navy's Home Squadron. The journal contains daily entries running from 25 June 1846 (when the author came on board Bonita at New York) to 25 July 1847 (when he returned home). The author was a young Brooklynite, educated and with literary tastes; as purser, he was responsible for maintaining the ship's stores, and for keeping her books. The journal is first and foremost a narrative of personal experience; the length of its entries varies substantially, with the perceived eventfulness of the day (the average length is perhaps 100 words, but there are entries of 500 words and more). The military content of the journal is significant. Most of the actions in which Bonita participated were attacks on the cities of the Mexican Gulf coast. Among those described are: the second attack on Alvarado (15 October 1846); the first Tabasco expedition (16-27 October 1846); the capture of Tampico (14 November 1846); the capture of Laguna del Carmen (20 December 1846); the landings at Veracruz (9 March 1847); the bombardment of Veracruz (22-23 March 1847); the capture of Alvarado and the Alvarado River expedition (1-2 April 1847); the capture of Tuxpan (18 April 1847); and the second Tabasco expedition (14-22 June 1847). In May 1847 the author transferred to the frigate U.S.S. Raritan for the voyage home; before leaving, he served during the second Tabasco expedition as "acting volunteer Lieutenant" in the army. In addition to the journal entries, the volume contains two pages of poetry and a three-page "List and description of places visited." There are also two untitled (and unattributed) manuscript maps, which were loosely inserted in the volume when it was received. The larger of these was probably copied by the author on 27 January 1847, and shows the Mexican coast around Tabasco. The second appears to be the plan of the Castle of San Juan de Ulúa at Veracruz.

Arrangement Note

The two maps are held separately from the journal, in an oversize (F3) folder.

Related Material

The Bonita journal is featured in the digital exhibit "The Power of my Pen to Describe: Ten American Diaries, 1750-1900". Included are images of the entire journal.

Container List

  • Unidentified author. Journal, 1846 June-1847 July. Item 1 (MSN/MN 8006-1-B).
    1 volume, 32 cm., 84 leaves, with 147 pages of entries in one hand.
    • Maps, 1847? Item 2 (MSN/MN 8006-2-F3).
      2 manuscript sheet maps, ink, 42 x 67 cm. and 27 x 41 cm.
      The larger sheet is a map of the Mexican coast around Tabasco; the smaller appears to be a plan of he Castle of San Juan de Ulúa at Veracruz.