Conservation of Lucius Waterman’s USS Cyane

by Erin McGough, Collections Manager

November 2012: Ken Bizarro of New Bedford, Massachusetts repairing the rigging on ship model U.S.S. Cyane.

November 2012: Ken Bizarro of New Bedford, Massachusetts repairing the rigging on ship model U.S.S. Cyane.

In August, I wrote a blog on the Civil War service of Duxbury resident Lucius A. Waterman (1832-1895).[1] Lucius was the son of Martin and Joan/Joanna (Cushing) Waterman and he was born in Duxbury. In 1865, he married Harriet Case and had two daughters, the donor Grace L. (b. 1872), and Edith G. (b. 1879). He died in 1895 of “La Grippe” (influenza) while working as a salesman in Malden and summering in Duxbury. He is buried in Duxbury.

A Civil War naval officer, he enlisted in 1862/1863 with the rank of Acting Ensign (“acting” often being a title given to volunteers with significant maritime experience prior to enlistment). During his enlistment, Waterman served on the Aries, Philadelphia, and Passaic–all of which served in the North American Blockading Squadron during the Civil War, preventing blockade runners from transporting goods and services in and out of the Confederate southern states. He re-enlisted from 1866-1869 and served on board the Aroostook, traveling to Asia, and at some point obtaining rank of Lieutenant. The DRHS is fortunate to have a number of personal items relating to Waterman, including his shoulder boards (the subject of my previous blog), uniform buttons, and a painting he created of Benjamin Franklin.

Waterman was also an artist, and sometime in the mid-19th century, he created the ship model seen here, of the U.S.S. Cyane. The Cyane was a sloop-of-war launched at Boston Navy Yard in 1837. She played a prominent role in the Mexican War from 1846-1848, clearing the Gulf of California of more than 30 hostile vessels. Afterwards, the Cyane was constantly employed on the coasts of North and South America, protecting American interests. In August 1858 Cyane joined the Pacific Squadron, and in 1863, during the Civil War, the Cyane prevented the sloop J. M. Chapman from being used as a Confederate privateer when their boarding parties took control of the ship as it was preparing to leave San Franscisco. Cyane was decommissioned and placed in ordinary at Mare Island Navy Yard in 1871. She was sold at auction in 1887.

The ship model is of interest, certainly, because it was made and owned by a Duxbury resident, but it is made even more interesting by the fact that Waterman himself had such significant maritime experience. In addition to his naval experience, Waterman was the son of Capt. Martin Waterman (1793-1860), a ship master and maritime businessman from Duxbury. And the 1860 census, taken just before the war began, lists Lucius Waterman’s occupation as a “mariner.” This ship model, then, is a rare example of a model built by a knowledgeable sailor with contemporary, first-hand knowledge of the ship’s details.

In 1951, Waterman’s daughter, Grace, donated the ship model to the DRHS, where it has been a valuable part of the collection. Sadly, over the years its condition has deteriorated. The ship model was deemed this year to be in need of conservation treatment, with treatment including overall cleaning, repair and replacement of rigging, and the repair or replacement of hull and deck features. The work on this ship model is currently underway, and we are very fortunate that the ship model’s conservation treatment was “adopted” by Bill and Lynn Rice at our recent “Adopt-an-Object” event. We thank them for their generous support of the project.


[1] https://duxburyinthecivilwar.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/lucius-waterman-a-civil-war-sailor/

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