Society for the History of Navy Medicine member Lorraine McConaghy will discuss her new book at the Navy Memorial in Washington DC on June 15 at noon. Admission is free. Lorraine says that while she will not discuss maritime medicine in her talk, there is quite a bit of medical history associated with Decatur, and she’d be happy to talk about this with Society members at lunch after her talk. Congratulations to Dr McConaghy upon this publication. (*to purchase this book, follow the link below. The Society will receive a commission for your purchase. Thank you!)
Author Lorraine McConaghy will present her new book Warship Under Sail: The USS Decatur in the Pacific West, followed by Q&A and a book signing
Ordered to join the Pacific Squadron in 1854, the U.S. Navy warship Decatur sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, through the Strait of Magellan to Valparaiso, Honolulu, and Puget Sound, then on to San Francisco, Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, while serving in the Pacific until 1859, the eve of the Civil War. Historian Lorraine McConaghy presents the ship, its officers, and its crew in a vigorous, keenly rendered case study that illuminates the forces that shaped the antebellum navy and American foreign policy at sea.
One of only five ships in the squadron, the Decatur participated in numerous imperial adventures in the Far West, enforcing treaties, fighting Indians, suppressing vigilantes, and protecting commerce. With its graceful contours and towering white canvas sails, the ship patrolled the sandy border between ocean and land.
Warship under Sail focuses on four episodes in the Decatur’s maneuvers: the harrowing journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Magellan; a Seattle war story that contested American treaties and settlements; participation with other squadron ships on a U.S. State Department mission to Nicaragua; and more than a year spent anchored off Panama as a hospital ship. In a period of five years, more than 300 men lived aboard ship, leaving a rich record of logbooks, medical and punishment records, correspondence, personal journals, and drawings. Lorraine McConaghy has mined these records to offer a compelling social history of a warship. Her research adds immeasurably to the history of the Pacific West and America’s expansionist momentum in the second half of the nineteenth century.