Eph Hanks on the USS Columbus
04 May 2004 02:00
After some more scouring, I came across the Watch, quarter & station bill of the U.S. ship of the line Columbus, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Chars. W. Morgan in the Navy Department Library, which book is the source of the illustrations in the link of the previous post (search for "watch quarter station bill" in the library catalog). I contacted a librarian there and asked her about the book. She said she would scan the pages for Ephraim Hanks. Here's what she writes back:
I looked . . . and found his name on the "Fore Top" page which is page 9 of the book. His name had been spelled "Epharim Hanks".
In this list, there are three columns before each name: Ship no., Ham. no., and Watch no. For Hanks, his ship no. was 142, his hammock no. was 209, and his watch number was 41. After each name there is a column indicating each sailor's rate. His rate is listed as "1.c.b." We thought maybe the rating was 1st class boatswain, but we're not sure they actually had classes for rates back then, so we can't say for certain what his job was.
I asked the librarian what was meant by a 'rate', and she replies:
A "rating" is basically a job description. Read our FAQ http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq78-1.htm for more information about ratings and their evolution in the Navy. Occasionally, you'll hear a person refer to someone's "rate" when they are asking what rank an enlisted person is, either 1st class, 2nd class and so forth. But generally you'll just hear the word "rating" and it always refers to a sailor's job in the Navy.
So this places Ephraim on the boat at the right time. From what I understand, the "fore top" was the platform near the top of the forward mast, so it makes logical sense that he would be up the mast during a storm when two of his crewmates perished from falls, as the story goes (see King of Western Scouts).
I really would like to copy the whole book and put it up on the site for anyone to enjoy. If you live near the D.C. area and have a decent digital camera, and are willing to spend a fair amount of time at the library taking pictures of the book, please contact me.
I would also still like to look into the possibility of deck logs for the boat, in which I'm sure mention would be made of his two crewmates who perished in that storm. It would be fun to trace the route of the boat on a map.
© 2008, Daniel C. Hanks