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Horatio G. Robinson Letters

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 3 Aug 2010

Biographical History

Little is known of Horatio G. Robinson beyond what is given in the collection. Robinson was posted to the USS Powhatan, a sidewheel steam frigate in the United States Navy. From 1866-1869 the Powhatan was the flagship of the South Pacific Squadron, commanded for most of that time by Admiral John A. Dahlgren; in March 1866, during the period of these letters, she was sent to Callao (Peru) and Valparaíso (Chile) to protect U.S. interests during the Spanish-Peruvian War. A collection of letters at Duke University also from Horatio G. Robinson to "Dear Mother," may be the same person; those letters indicate that Robinson was from Boston, and that he served on the USS Osceola during the Civil War.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Horatio G. Robinson Letters consist of 19 letters from U.S. Navy sailor Horatio Robinson to "Dear Mother." The letters, none shorter than four pages, often begin with Robinson's disappointment at not receiving a letter in the last mail boat (apparently his mother did not write often enough to suit him). Robinson gives a good deal of detail about the ship's movements as well as that of other American forces, as well as information about the Spanish fleet. A letter dated 3 Apr 1866 reads in part:

The Spanish fleet left here yesterday evening, for what place I have not yet learned but think "Callao" is the most probable. Commodore Rogers follows them tomorrow in the "Vanderbilt" accompanied by the "Tuscarora" and "Monadnock." He follows to look out for the rights and protections of Americans resident in the place. One of the English frigates went on the 13th and the other will probably follow in a few days.
By their leaving this port wholly unguarded, the blockade of this port is declared as raised, therefore although the two countries may be in actual warfare, this port can not again be under blockade for sixty days at the very least, and by that time we are in hopes to see the Chilians so well fortified that the Spanish will not be able to again enter this port.

Arrangement of the Collection



Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See also the John A. Dahlgren Collection.

Subject Headings


Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard, 1809-1870.
Robinson, Horatio G.

Corporate Bodies

Powhatan (Side-wheel steamer)
United States. -- Navy -- 19th century -- Sources.
United States. -- Navy. -- Pacific Squadron.


Callao (Callao, Peru) -- Description and travel.
Chile -- History -- War with Spain, 1865-1866 -- Personal narratives.
Valparaiso (Chile) -- Description and travel.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Horatio G. Robinson Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Transfer, 1970.

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