The Joseph Titcomb papers contain the business correspondence of a Maine shipping merchant during the first years of the Civil War. Most of the letters in the collection relate to business matters, including ship charters, insurance policies, and trade. Though many of the letters come from New York, Boston, and other northern ports, much of Titcomb's trade was also carried out internationally; the collection includes notes on trade from various ports throughout Europe, including Le Havre, France, and Swansea, Wales. Several items in the collection are written by George Nowell, who was in charge of the Tropic and who provided periodic updates on the ship's progress and business affairs. Others concern the sale of the Nathaniel Thompson in July 1862, and various business concerns of Titcomb's other ships, including the Golden Eagle , Atlas , and Greenwood .
A series of three letters from C. Lee Moses, a sailing master aboard the Mahaska , concern different engagements of the Union Navy during the Civil War. Moses was often outspoken; for example, "The Galena built at Mystic Conn. is a perfect failure, her sides fall in to such an extent that the batteries have thrown their balls completely through her" (May 23, 1862). He discussed fighting on the James River near Fort Powhatan (May 29, 1862), and his resignation at the prospect of facing a court martial "for striking [a] negro" (September 20, 1862).