Ontario (Sloop of war) journal ( 1829-1831)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, August 2019
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Ontario (Sloop of war) journal
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: 1829-1831
Extent: 1 volume
This deck log for the sloop of war Ontario (1,004 pages), commander Thomas Holdup Stevens, contains daily information on the weather, ship location, movement and response to the weather, crew activities, sicknesses, and out-of-the-ordinary events, while serving in the Mediterranean Squadron. Also recorded in the volume are 28 port stops, the most frequent at Mahon and Gibraltar, for ship repairs, delivery of specie and other items, transport of diplomats, demonstrations of amity, and other purposes.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

2014. M-7136.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation

Ontario (Sloop of War) Journal, David P. Harris Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Ontario (Sloop of War) Collection is housed in a flat archival box, accompanied by a binder containing David P. Harris' transcriptions, notations, and essays.


The 509 ton, 22-gun U.S. Navy vessel Ontario was constructed shortly after the onset of the War of 1812 and it launched in 1813--although the British blockade of the Chesapeake forced the ship to remain idle throughout the war. The Ontario was one of 10 ships selected to travel to the Mediterranean in 1815, to address ongoing conflicts with the Barbary States. Following participation in the Second Barbary War of July 1815, the Ontario remained with the squadron in the Mediterranean until early 1817. Subsequent cruises included a pioneer mission to the Pacific (1817-1819) and service in the Mediterranean (1821-1824, 1825-1828).

The ship remained in the United States for a short period, rejoining the Mediterranean Squadron in August 1829. "The squadron . . . comprised the frigates Java (flagship) and Constellation , and the four sloops of war Ontario , Fairfield , Lexington , and Warren . The Ontario served . . . for three years, these including the period 1829-1831 covered by our Journal. This was a generally quiet time for the squadron, the Commodore making diplomatic visits to many ports, dealing with minor problems in the Barbary states, and serving as one of the commissioners appointed by President Jackson to negotiate a much-needed treaty with Turkey. Unfortunately, the old problems of discipline, particularly among the young midshipmen and seamen, periodically diverted [Capt. James] Biddle's attention from his diplomacy. The Ontario remained under Biddle's command until May 1832, when [the ship] was ordered home. In November of the following year [the Ontario ] returned to the Mediterranean for the last time; the squadron now being under Biddle's successor, Capt. Daniel T. Patterson on the frigate United States . The sloop returned home two and a half years later, in June 1836 (David P. Harris, "Journal of the U. S. Sloop of War Ontario , August 14, 1829 to June 15, 1831," history of the Ontario , accompanying the Ontario [Sloop of War] Journal).

The Ontario 's final significant voyages were to the West Indies (1837-1840) and the Gulf of Mexico (1842-1843). The ship then served as a navy yard receiving vessel until the U.S. Navy sold it on July 15, 1856.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This oversize deck log for the sloop of war Ontario (1,004 pages) bears a protective canvas cover, on which is written the title "Journal of the U. S. S. Ontario Thos Holdup Stevens Esqre Commander." It contains daily entries for almost two years of a voyage with the Mediterranean Squadron, with notes on 28 port stops--most frequently Mahon and Gibraltar, but also including Algiers, Tunis, Barcelona, Smyrna, and others. The stops were typically for ship repairs, delivery of specie and other items, transportation of diplomats, demonstrations of amity, and other purposes.

The regular entries were kept by officers of the watch, who maintained detailed reports of the day's weather and sail changes; shipboard routines, such as renewing the water supply, sighting passing ships, and muster and exercising the crew; and shipboard conditions, such as the number of men sick, water remaining on board, and the kind of meat on the day's menu. Considerable attention was given to activities involving the repair and upkeep of the ship, and the restocking of supplies.

Subject Terms

  • Logbooks.
  • Mediterranean Region--Description and travel.
  • Ontario (Sloop of war)
  • United States. Navy--Foreign service--Mediterranean Region.
  • United States. Navy. Mediterranean Squadron.
Genre Terms:
  • Logs (records)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Volume   13, David P. Harris Collection  
Ontario (Sloop of War) Journal,   August 14, 1829-June 15, 1831 [series]

Additional Descriptive Data


This finding aid draws heavily on original research done by the collection's donor, David P. Harris.