Nautical Routine and Stowage; with Short Rules in Navigation [Owned by a Future United States Navy Commodore].
The personal copy of John P. Gillis, U.S.N. while in Philadelphia
First Edition and a notable copy of Jeffer’s and McCleod’s Nautical Routine and Stowage; with Short Rules in Navigation, an 1849 maritime reference owned by American naval officer John P. Gillis (1803–1873) who achieved Commodore rank, a naval career that spanned from the mid-1820s and ended in the 1860s.
John P. Gillis was a native of Wilmington Delaware. He fought in the Mexican-American War where he was captured at Tuxpan. Subsequently, between 1853 and 1854, he sailed with Matthew C. Perry’s famous expedition to endeavor to open Japan to the West. Gilles served in the Civil War by providing support to the Union blockade effort, commanding the, Seminole, Monticello, and Ossipee.
William Nicholson Jeffers (1824–1883), a co-author of this book owned by Gillis was a native of Swedesboro, New Jersey. Jeffers came from a family of naval officers. Jeffers fought in the Mexican-American war and returned to America to instruct at the Naval Academy between 1848-1849. During this period he co-authored this book, Nautical Routine and Stowage; with Short Rules in Navigation (Spear, 1849) with John McLeod Murphy. [DAB]
The book can be really considered two titles in one. In fact, there is an illustrated and engraved general title-page and the two works each receive their own title-page. The first title focuses on spars and rigging; evolutions, and stowage. This first work can be largely attributed to Murphy. For the second title, Jeffers is listed as the sole author of Short Rules in Navigation: A Concise Practical Treatise on Navigation… Using the sextant, taking observations, finding the latitude, longitude and time are all explained. This is followed by 90 pages of tables.
The text is modestly illustrated. The most appealing figure shows a group of sailors demonstrating the Jury Life-Preserver for shipwrecked (always a pleasant 19th-century pastime) for sailors and passengers. This emergency raft was comprised of spars or planks, ballast and two empty casks.
This is a standard 19th-century work for aspiring naval officers; this particular example being kept by a reasonably notable figure in American naval history with an impressive career spanning significant two significant events for the United States Navy, the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War.
As a bit of speculative trivia, we imagine John P. Gillis was the only, or one of a very few Delaware Quakers to achieve rank of commodore in 19th-century America. The USS Gillis, a naval destroyer, is named for Commodore John P. Gillis and Rear Admiral James Henry Gillis.
Description: Nautical Routine and Stowage; with Short Rules in Navigation [Owned by a Future United States Navy Commodore].
New York, H. Spear, 1849. First Edition. 8vo. Engraved and illustrated general title-page, [i]–xvi, , –92, , –46, , –54; [i]-x, , –62, 90 (tables), [2, (blank)]pp. Publisher’s gilt and ornamental cloth. Ex-libris (spine label, bookplate, rear pocket holder); corner-tips rubbed open; a very clean and tight copy. Autographed and dated: “John P. Gillis, U.S.N. Philadelphia” and dated in the Quaker manner, July 19th, 1849; the year of publication.