Isaac Oliver Best manuscripts  ca. 1880s
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume is a 137-page typed history of the USS Mount Vernon 's service as a troop transport ship during World War I, written by United States Navy Lieutenant Charles K. Cummings, the ship's communications officer. Cummings presented this copy, entitled Voyages in the USS Mount Vernon, 1917-1919, to James Madison Doyle, the ship's gunnery officer, in December 1921. The title page has an intricate drawing of the ship by Harleston Parker.

The narrative is structured as a diary and opens with 4 pages of introductory material with information on the Mount Vernon 's history prior to its first voyage as a United States Navy transport vessel. The daily entries cover the period between October 11, 1917, and April 24, 1919, during which time the ship made 12 round-trip voyages between New York City and Brest, France, carrying members of the American Expeditionary Forces. Many of the entries record the day's weather, compiled from the author's personal diaries and the ship's official logs; lists of military units being ferried across the Atlantic Ocean; and notable incidents or the names of distinguished passengers. The Mount Vernon traveled as part of a heavily guarded convoy and Cummings routinely noted the camouflage and deceptive sailing patterns employed to guard against German submarine and torpedo attacks, as well as news of other ships throughout the convoys. On February 11, 1918, he provided a list of distress calls the ship received on its most recent voyage (pp. 51-52). In addition to military officials and diplomats, the ship also carried a 13-year-old stowaway mascot of the 132nd Infantry Regiment (p. 89), a group of African American soldiers (pp. 101-102), and several wounded soldiers, including two Red Cross nurses suffering from shell shock (p. 117). On September 5, 1918, the Mount Vernon was struck by a torpedo, which killed 35 members of the ship's crew (pp. 126-129). Cummings frequently mentioned his activities while in port at Brest, Southampton, and Boston, which included social calls and spending leave time with his family.

The book includes several partially colored diagrams and illustrations pertaining to events mentioned within the text:

  • USS Mount Vernon (title page)
  • "Collision Between Agamemnon and Von Steuben " (pp. 26-27)
  • "Torpedoing of Finland " (pp. 26-27)
  • "Torpedoing of Antilles " (pp. 26-27)
  • "Intensive Lookout Station on Mount Vernon " (pp. 40-41)
  • "Types of Camouflage on U.S. Destroyers" (pp. 60-61)
  • "Manoeuvre for Practice with Submarine Target" (pp. 96-97)
  • "Sinking of British S.S. Instructor , July 15, 1918 (pp. 96-97)
  • "Torpedoing of U.S.S. Mount Vernon , September 5, 1918 (pp. 126-127)
  • " Mount Vernon Showing Camouflage on Port Side" (pp. 128-129)
  • "Diagrams of Mount Vernon Showing Effect of Torpedo Explosion (pp. 128-129)

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