Allan D. Brown (1843-1904) was born in Batavia, NY. Educated at a military school in Hamden, CT, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1860 and graduated in 1863. His first assignment was as Ensign aboard the U.S.S. Iroquois during the Civil War. He was promoted to Commander in 1880. Brown served with the Navy until his retirement in 1891. Following his retirement, he was ordained priest of the Episcopal Church in Vermont in 1895. Brown was elected to the presidency of NU in 1896 and served until 1904. Additional information about Brown’s life and career can be found in the family history, The Tyler-Browns of Brattleboro by Dorothy Sutherland Melville (New York: Exposition Press, 1973), available in Special Collections. Mrs. Melville was Brown’s granddaughter and also transcribed and annotated the letters between Brown and his wife, Gertrude (d. 1877), which can be found in the collection.
What You'll Find in the Collection:
Brown’s military experience, from the Civil War to his retirement in 1891, may be traced in excerpts of his correspondence with his wife, Gertrude, between 1863 and 1876 and also from his official U.S. Navy papers, orders, commissions and correspondence, 1860-1891. Other materials in the collection pertain to Brown’s later life, in particular, his time as Norwich University President, and do not speak to his Civil War experience.
At the urging of his family, in 1871, Brown began to transcribe excerpts of the letters he originally wrote to Gertrude from 1863 to 1876. The transcribed excerpts begin in June 1863, during Brown’s time as Ensign aboard the U.S.S. Iroquois and shortly before he married Gertrude on December 29, 1863. In an opening statement addressed to his children, Brown mentions the circumstances of his marriage and his entrance into active service in 1863.
The collection also includes a scrapbook containing Brown’s Naval papers, including orders, commissions and correspondence from 1860-1891.
* Possible Research Topic: Compare and contrast Brown's experience in the Civil War with his later service in the Navy. How did the military evolve during this time period?
Brown’s transcribed letters to Gertrude date from 1863, when Brown first entered into Civil War service, to 1876. The Naval orders document his entire career from 1860-1891. Together, these documents might be useful to determine whether Brown’s Civil War service influenced his later naval career.
As mentioned above, the collection includes Brown’s granddaughter’s typed transcriptions of entries in his letter book, including a couple of interesting episodes in his post-Civil War career.
For example, in the summer of 1868 while serving as Executive Officer on the U.S.S. Unadilla, Brown visited the Court of King Mongkut (Rama IV of Siam) just months before the King’s death in October 1868. The official purpose of the visit was to present firearms sent by the U.S. government. King Mongkut became well-known to many as Anna Leonowens’ King of Siam. Brown’s letters refer to Crown Prince Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Anna’s prize pupil and later one of Thailand’s national heroes. At this time, the U.S.S. Unadilla was attached to a squadron of warships headquartered in Hong Kong.
Also interesting are letters written by Brown from Pensacola Barracks in Panama City, Panama, while serving aboard the U.S.S. Pensacola during the autumn of 1873. The then 30-year-old naval officer suddenly found himself ashore in charge of a detachment of troops charged with keeping a watchful eye on American property (the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and the Panama Railroad Company), which had been fired upon. The collection includes a complete copy of correspondence between the commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Detachment and the authorities of the ships in Panama Bay.
About James Evans
James Evans (1833-1904) was born in South Wales and came to the United States in 1860. During the Civil War, he served with the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Evans was captured by Confederate forces at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 and held as a prisoner of war until his release in 1864. He reenlisted with the 5th U.S. Infantry, in a company commanded by Charles Curtis (Norwich University class of 1861), later commandant of cadets and president of Norwich University. Captain Curtis persuaded Evans to take a position as armorer and janitor at Norwich in 1869. James Evans served at Norwich from 1869 to 1901. Known affectionately as “Jimmie” or “Uncle Jim,” Evans became a much-loved confidant of both cadets and faculty.
What You'll Find in the Collection
The principle item in this collection is a manuscript memoir that James Evans wrote about his experience as a prisoner of war in Confederate custody.
* Possible Research Topics: POWs in the Civil War; the role and experiences of immigrant soldiers
Albert Gallatin was a graduate of New York University and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York City. He joined the NU faculty in August of 1863 as Professor of Chemistry, Geology and Mineralogy. He resigned in August of 1864.
What You'll Find in the Collection:
The collection consists of six letters written by Gallatin to his family while employed as a member of the NU faculty in Norwich, VT, February-March 1864.
* Possible Research Topic: The operation of the University during this three-month period during the Civil War (patience required!)
This collection consists of photocopied letters from the collection of the New York Historical Society and is not the property of Norwich University. The collection is made available for private study, scholarship and research only. Permission for other usage must be solicited from the New York Historical Society.