A Rare & Desirable Piece of Civil War Dramatic Theater & Excellent Example of War Period Calligraphy: A Hand Done Broadside Announcing The “Union Aquatic Theater, Onboard U. S. Steam Gunboat PORT ROYAL, Harbor of Apalachicola (FL) April 17th, 1863” + 2 Letters from John A. Stammers who sent it to his friend
This hand drawn 8 x 12 inch “playbill” has been meticulously done. John A. Stammers left the Washington Naval Yard in October of 1862 on the U.S. Steam Gunboat Port Royal. The first letter is dated October 4th, 1862 and includes a fine description of the gunboat.
The second letter is written from where the “Aquatic Theater” took place, Apalachicola Bay. It is dated July 24th, 1863. Again, the content is excellent. Read both these letters. Along with the playbill, they make a truly museum quality display.
Transcription of Letter #1
U. S. Steamer Port Royal
U. S. States Steamer
Washington Navy Yard
Oct. 4, 1862
I wish to inform you that all of our crew have been drafted and have been sent here. She is a splendid boat. She carries 8 guns and she was built in Maine. She is commanded by Captain Morris who fought the Cumberland against the Merrimack, and we are going down the Gulf on the Mediterranean they say. You will excuse me for not writing before for I had no time and did not get a chance to go out because we are to sail today. I am sorry that I can’t get my likeness taken. Don’t blame me Harry for it. I received your last letter you sent me hoping that I will have a good voyage of it. They say we are going to attack Mobile and Savannah. Don’t write to me until you hear from me again. Give my love to all the boys. I will write as soon as we go in to port. Tell Pat Power that I am on this boat. No more until next time.
John A. Stammers
U. S. Gun Boat Port Royal
1- 11 inch shell gun
2- 9 inch shell gun
1- 100 pd parrot rifle gun
2- 50 pd rifle guns
2- 24 pd Howitzers
The Monitor has just come up. We sail today and good bye for a while.
Transcription of Letter #2
U. S. Gunboat, Port Royal
Apalachicola Bay, July 24th 1863
I write these few lines to you hoping to find you in good health as this leaves me in at present. I have written some few letters to you but have not received any answer yet. And thinking that you have not received them, I thought to try once more to let you know that I am not forgetting to write to you, and I wish to hear from you as often as you can write. The last letter that I received from you was dated Feb. 16th and none since. We are here still and not doing much. We captured a sloop loaded with 650 bales of cotton, and sent it to Key West and brought some thousands of dollars. There is some talk of us going North for repairs in a few months, but I cannot tell how it is. Our boilers are leaking badly and we have to keep patching them up. I hope we will be sent North. We ought to have a life as well as the rest of them. We will be down here 11 months next month and can’t get no liberty. Once in while we go ashore on an island of a Sunday and have a run in the wild woods. It is very hard to be away like me going on 3 years and without liberty. I am praying day and night that we will be sent North so I can get a chance to call and see you, but I can stand it 1 year longer as it is my last year. Then I will be free once more. The weather is getting awful hot. We have a theatrical performance once in a while. I send one of the bills and an Epilogue that I recited before 2 ships company in honor of our first Lieutenant that was leaving us to go to Key West to take command of a gunboat. He is very fond of such sport and subscribed the sum of 50 dollars from the officers towards it. There is another gun boat here and have another there theatre company on board. They give a performance every time we do, but they cannot beat us any way. They are called the Somerset Dramatic Association. I have not much to say this time but I hope I will have good news in my next. Harry please to send me some Boston papers as I have not seen a Boston paper for over 4 months. Give my love to all the shop mates. Also to Fred Mills and Patsy Powers. Let me know how is times in Boston. Excuse my short letter until next time as the Mail Steamer is going to Key West tomorrow. Write as soon as you receive this and let me know if you received the play bills.
No More at Present
from your friend John A. Stammers
Direct U. S. Gunboat, Port Royal
Apalachicola Bay or Key West
P. S. I cannot send the Epilogue until next time as it can’t get in the envelope with playbill. J. A. S.
#L10-4-62 & 7-24-64 – Price $1,295