This collection is made up of 2 letter books, which contain over 270 secretarial copies of Captain Anthony H. Hoskins's official outgoing correspondence. His letters pertain to service aboard the H.M.S. Hecate (May 22, 1860-January 1, 1861), H.M.S. Plumper (January 1-July 2, 1861), and the H.M.S. Eclipse (July 20, 1869-September 27, 1871, and September 25, 1871-October 20, 1872) in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Hoskins corresponded with superior officers and fellow captains about his ships' movements, personnel, upkeep, and orders. P.H.W. Mayow and Henry F. Nicholson, acting captains on the Eclipse , wrote the letters dated between July 20, 1869, and September 20, 1869.
Hoskins wrote his first letters from the Hecate while stationed at Woolwich and other English ports between May and July 1860. The ship then traveled to Madeira and, after rounding Cape Horn, to the Pacific Ocean, where it spent time at Valparaíso, Chile, and the Hawaiian Islands. In his letters to Commodore James R. Drummond and other officers, he reported on aspects of the ship's daily operation, including its arrival at different ports and travels around the Pacific. He frequently informed his superiors about disciplinary measures for the sailors onboard, and often mentioned financial reports, which are not copied into the volume. On January 1, 1861, Hoskins transferred to the Plumper , which traveled from near Esquimalt, British Columbia, back to Valparaíso, around Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro, and finally to Portsmouth, England, where he arrived in June. In addition to reports on disciplinary measures, changes in rank, and ship movements, the commander's letters include content respecting the search for information about the missing gunboat Forward and the lost crew of the Charles Tupper . A 4-page report respecting
the Forward documents interactions with the crew of the trading yacht Templar and with Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) natives in November and December 1860. A 2-page letter provides a summary of the Plumper 's search for information about the Charles Tupper near the Straits of Magellan (April 22, 1861). Although they discovered the shipwreck, the fate of the crew remained ambiguous. The commander wrote that they probably did not take refuge with Indians and that they likely perished while attempting to reach a settlement.
The remainder of Volume 1 (roughly 3/4 of the volume) and the entirety of Volume 2 were composed while the Eclipse served in the Caribbean and along the eastern Canadian coast between September 1869 and October 1872. The first letters in Volume 2 are attributed to P. H. W. Mayow and Henry F. Nicholson, and relate to the recent sudden death of the ship's commander, Captain Harvey. Hoskins assumed command in late September 1869. The Eclipse spent much of its time at Barbados, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Halifax, St. John's, and other ports. In letters addressed to superior officers and colonial governors, Hoskins reported on the ship's sailors, courts martial and other disciplinary actions (for desertion, theft, drunkenness, etc.), ship movements, repairs, and daily operations. Hoskins served as a regional commander in the Caribbean, and some of his letters are sailing orders for subordinate captains. One such order is a response to a request from Belize, British Honduras, for assistance against an attack by natives (May 3, 1870). Others report interactions with French, Spanish, American, and other ships (including prizes). Though the volumes overlap slightly, only one letter is common between them.
A copy of a recommendation letter Hoskins wrote for David O'Sullivan is laid into the first volume (October 11, 1872).