William P. Brooks scrapbook
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William P. Brooks scrapbook

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Brooks, William P., 1832-1889.
Title: William P. Brooks scrapbook
Dates: 1861-1869
Extent: 0.25 cubic feet (1 volume)
Identification: MS 0969

Biographical/Historical Note

William Param Brooks was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on March 27, 1832. Upon the death of his mother in 1845, Brooks' father, Jordan Param Brooks, moved the family to Savannah, Georgia. Brooks worked for his father as a seaman's apprentice, and soon began his engineering apprenticeship. He served as engineer aboard the S.S. Habana, a steamer that became the C.S.S. Sumter at the commencement of the Civil War. Brooks remained an engineering officer on the Sumter until 1862.

In 1862, shortly after marrying Emily Ann Bence of London that same year, Brooks was assigned to the C.S.S. Alabama. On June 19, 1864, the Alabama fought the U.S.S. Kearsarge off the coast of Cherbourg, France, and lost. Brooks survived and remained in France for months, his wife, Emily, joined him soon after his rescue.

As a result of various vessel assignments, Brooks arrived in Havana, Cuba, where he remained with Emily after the end of the war. He served in the Spanish Navy for eleven years and was instrumental in the salvation of two steamers caught in a hurricane and tidal wave. For this act, Queen Isabel II of Spain bestowed to Brooks the Naval Cross of the Order of Merit, First Class.

William Brooks returned to Savannah, where he became the chief engineer on the Tallahassee, a position he held until his death on April 19, 1889. He and his wife are buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Scope and Content Note

The first thirteen pages contain a narrative account of his service on the CSS Sumter (formerly Habana) with Captain Raphael Semmes. The remainder of the volume is a scrapbook of papers relating to his service: Commission as Acting Second Assistant Engineer CSA, May 11, 1861, signed by S.R. Mallery; Raphael Semmes to Brooks, Bay of Gibraltar, April 9, 1862, detaching Brooks from Sumter as ship will be laid up; Raphael Semmes to Brooks, CSS Alabama, off Tercaira, August 24, 1862, assigning him to duty on Alabama; receipt by M. Mauger, acknowledging 500f from Messrs. Armstrong and Brooks of the late Alabama, for picking them up after the fight with Kearsage June 19th, Cherbourg, July 15, 1864, with newspaper clipping of incident; Raphael Semmes to Brooks, Liverpool, July 26, 1864, stating that he will be supplied with funds by Captain Bulloch for return to Confederate States; S. Banon (?), Flag Officer to Brooks, Paris, August 7, 1864, saying he has not yet decided to send him home, will let him know; C. Warren Adams to Brooks, London, July 28, 1864; thanking him for whale's tooth and asking him to accept copy of Cruise of the Alabama; S. Banon to Brooks, Paris, August 15, 1864, ordering him to report to Lt. Comdg. Fauntleroy at Calais for duty on Rappahannock; countersigned by Chs. M. Fauntleroy; S. Banon to Brooks, Paris, December 22, 1864, ordering him to be in readiness for active service; Thomas J. Page, Captain, CSS Stonewall, at sea, March 25, 1865, announcing painful duty of resigning the Stonewall into custody of Spanish authorities and detaching the crew; 3 documents in Spanish certifying his service as Chief Engineer 1st Class on Frigate Neustra Senora del Carmen, July 7, 1865-June 24, 1866, and as Chief Engineer of the fleet, on board the Vasco Nunez del Balboa, March 1867-January 16, 1869; and a proclamation by Isabel II, Queen of Spain, naming Brooks Knight 1st Class, Order of Naval Merit, for his services, February 17, 1868, signed "Yo la Regna JS." There is a translation of another document, no longer in book re Brooks' separation from the service, August 21, 1869. Laid in loose is Brooks' certificate of membership, Confederate Veterans Association of Savannah, Georgia, signed by Lafayette McLaws, and typed copy of inscription on a silver trumpet presented to Captain Jordan P. Brooks, father of William, by the officers of the U.S. Army serving with him on the Steamer Santee at Fort Mellon in 1837.

Index Terms

Alabama (Screw sloop)
Brooks, William P., 1832-1889.
Cherbourg (France)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Confederate States of America. Navy.
Confederate Veterans Association of Savannah.
Fauntleroy, Charles M., 1822-1889.
Isabella, II, Queen of Spain, 1830-1904.
Kearsarge (Sloop)
Rappahannock (Sloop of war)
Santee (Frigate)
Semmes, Raphael, 1809-1877.
Sumter (Confederate cruiser)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, Foreign.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The volume was on deposit with the Georgia Historical Society, 1975 April 3 – 1980 August 31.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], William P. Brooks paper, MS 969, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of William P. Brooks (grandson of collection creator), 1980.


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List

Item 1: The Naval Journal of W.P. Brooks, 1861-1869
Important papers have been laid in.