Fold3 HQ

New Naval Records on Fold3!

We have added a new collection of naval records to our archives! The Navy Officers’ Letters 1802-1884 is a collection of letters to the Secretary of the Navy from officers assigned to naval ships, stations, and Navy bureaus.

The letters contain routine personnel matters such as duty assignments, leave or furloughs, desertions, resignations, court-martials, and other administrative issues. The collection is organized by year and then alphabetically by sender. The letters offer a glimpse into military history and provide valuable genealogical records for ancestors that served in the Navy.

The USS Chesapeake is captured by the HMS Shannon

During the War of 1812, the USS Chesapeake was captured by British forces in a battle with hundreds of casualties including the death of Captain James Lawrence. Surviving soldiers were taken prisoner and sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia. George Budd penned this letter while imprisoned in Halifax, “The unfortunate death of Captain James Lawrence and Lieutenant Augustus C. Ludlow has rendered it my duty to inform you of the capture of the late United States Frigate Chesapeake.” Budd detailed the battle in his correspondence.

In this letter dated just two weeks after the Civil War began, US Navy Gunner James D. Borton from Gallipolis, Ohio, writes, “The excited state of the country, and my desire to be actively employed prompt me to write to you respectfully requesting that I may be ordered to some vessel as soon as possible.”

In 1862 during the Civil War, the USS Westfield participated in a blockade and assault on the city of Galveston. In early January 1863, a Confederate attack caused her to run aground on a sandbar. Rather than be captured, her crew destroyed the ship. In this letter, the Westfield’s paymaster struggled to organize payroll for the sailors who’d served on the ship because so many records were destroyed. “All their accounts can be made up, but all other matters are in a confused state, and it will take some time for me to ascertain whether I can do anything with them.”

Also contained in this collection are letters that document historical accomplishments of the era. This letter dated January 23, 1847, to President James K. Polk, announced the inaugural launch of the steamer mail ship Washington. It reads, “I have the honor to inform your Excellency that the Washington, the first mail steamer, will be launched on Saturday, the 30th of January at 9:00 A.M. It would afford the undersigned as well the builder of this noble ship much satisfaction if your Excellency will honor the occasion of putting afloat the first sea steamer with your presence.”  The Washington carried letters across the Atlantic to Europe.

Letter to President James K. Polk

Get started searching this new collection of naval records today!


  1. I would like any letters or biography written by Col. Wm. Piper from Pa. or written by or about Brig. Gen. Adamson Tannehill.

  2. I would like to see anything you have on ATOMIC Veterans Starting in 1957 to 1962 on U.S . Navy Ships

  3. Searching for any mention of a sailor, John Winter, originally from Sweden,,sailed on Britain’s first fleet of convicts to Australia, then joined a whaling fleet.

  4. I’m not very good at the art of history searching. My father was in Pearl Harbor attack and my brother was on a Air Craft Carrier and now my granddaughter is currently on the USS NIMITZ. If I purchase your information I can get their history about where they were sent, ports they visited ECT?. I also just found out about other family members whom served as far back as the Civil war. Is there a limit on how many I can research in 1mo? I thank you for helping me decide if what you offer is the right thing for me. [email protected]
    Sincerely, TAVA BUBIER

  5. So all about the American Navy, no mention in your script.

  6. Does this include the lost records, Vietnam war, 1966-1970???

  7. I would like any info and pictures of George Mumford Doughty and/or his father James Doughty that served in the Civil War. The only place I know they were stationed is Fort Fisher in North Carolina

  8. I would like to read any correspondence by Preble in the Barbary Coast Wars between 1803 and 1805.

  9. How do o attain a copy. Would love to have it

  10. Looking for any WWII NAVY records or pictures mentioning Herbert Lee Bandy, a Machinist’s Mate aboard USS Augusta, or pictures of that ship.
    Thank you!

  11. Looking for information about Joseph Brunner, Sandusky, Fremont Ohio Battle of Wilmington Civil War. Navy

  12. England had a long Naval history before America was ‘on the map’ and they and their allies were in both world wars for 2 years with thousands dead before America gave their lives and ‘saved us.’
    My father a naval officer & 675 of his shipmates lost their lives WW2 , one year before the US entered the war – brought about by the betrayal by the US Govt resulting in loss of so many young lives at Pearl Harbour. Read ‘The Day of Deceit.’ Its an eye opener.
    How about some British we are not all American!

  13. Looking for list of prisoners at Andersonville Prison (civil War)

  14. Looking for any information and photos of Joseph A Sardzinski or possibly Sieradzinski, Korean war. Army

  15. looking for information on naval personell who were on HMAS Sydney,which was destroyed in WW2 ,

  16. Looking for the record or any information of my Paternal side grandfathers both were in the U.S. Marine Navy Concordio Tercano (Toscano; or Torcano) and Jose Vicente yMedina Tercano (Toscano; or Torcano) it was lost information from them, when my father and siblings were both very young that their father Concordio Tercano passed away and he’s buried in the Philippines. and I also content this of one of his relative both been deployed in the Philippines.

  17. My Grandparent has Mexican-American heritage and his career was in the Cargos or an Merchant Navy’s.

    Big thanks from your help and support on this great organization there are so many people who wants to know all the answers from you you’re one of the experts all the history records all over the world like I am truly searching for my long, long distance family and relatives sadly they; we, never meet and communicate from my father side.

  18. Any mention from the captain, or whatever rank, of the tugboat Lioness having to do with matters at or near Norfolk, Virginia, May 1862.

    Also, any mention of Benjamin Homer (Hagar) Fairchild aboard the U.S.S. Prairie Bird during the Civil War on the Mississippi. And, or the actions of the Prairie Bird during the Civil War.

  19. Looking for any information on Ralph Guenther (Ernest Ralph Guenther) on Navy list for assignment had “Ralphi” on the form…. He was assigned on the USS Tennessee in about 194?. It was struck by kami-kasi planes in 1946 and he saw his best friend killed on the deck. He got out in 1947? as a Lt. Unfortunately he passed away in the Bronx, NY – with no one knowing he was a vet..(I had searched for him for years – even had his previous address) but he was in a retirement home of some sort, and apparently no one knew of his service in WWII, so he was buried on Hart’s Island. I am his closest living relative, but since I am only his niece, I can get to real information on him from the Navy……