Yesterday's question was quick and pointed:
Q: Edgar Terry was transported from Fort Independence, MA to Fort Moultrie, SC. What was the name of the ship that carried him to the fort in South Carolina?
The quick answer: Using the name Edgar A. Perry (note: not Terry), Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 26, 1827 and was stationed at Fort Independence, MA.
He (Poe / Perry) rose from private to regimental sergeant major of the 1st Artillery Regiment. He was promoted on Jan. 1, 1829 and served nearly two years of a five-year enlistment before he was discharged April 15, 1829 so he could begin attending West Point. He began his studies at the Military Academy on July 1, 1830 and was dismissed just 9 months later on March 6, 1831, after a court martial for neglecting duties and disobeying orders.
Poe and his regiment were transported from Fort Independence, MA to Fort Moultrie, SC on the brigantine Waltham. (A typical 19th-century brigantine was a two-masted, square-rigged ship with a gaff sail aft of the main mast and stay sails on both the main and fore masts.)
Solution: When I first got this problem, I too was surprised to not find much when searching for "Edgar Terry." Sure, there are Edgar Terrys in the record, but there wasn't much of note.
But when I did a search for [ Edgar Terry Fort Independence Fort Moultrie ] the reference to "Edgar Perry" quickly showed up. Google inserted this at the top of the SERP:
Did you mean: Edgar Perry Fort Independence Fort Moultrie
Well, yes, Google, I DID mean Edgar Perry! Thanks.
I did my search this way (with the two fort names) because I was hoping to find a few documents that would tell the story of the travel between the forts. I was thinking that not too many people would have written about such a connection. And I was right.
Reading the first article, I discovered that "Edgar Perry" was the alias of Edgar Allan Poe. Once I knew that it was him, it becomes fairly straightforward to find a number of documents (e.g., the Wikipedia article about Poe, a biography of Poe, etc.) that tell the story of his transport on the good ship Waltham.
For extra credit: His experiences at Fort Moultrie appeared in his later writings. Can you find at least two of his writings that make use of his time there?
Now that we know it's Poe, finding the answer here is also pretty straightforward. [ Edgar Allan Poe Fort Moultrie ] quickly shows that he used the Fort (and its location on Sullivan Island) as the setting for much of his short story The Gold-Bug. In his story, The Balloon Hoax, a gas balloon is reported to have made a trip from Great Britain to Sullivan's Island in three days. And The Oblong Box, a macabre tale of devotion to a mysterious coffin-shaped box, is set just off-short from Charleston, very near Fort Moultrie.
Search Lesson: The question was given to me in just this form... misspelled name included. This kind of mistake in original task is actually fairly common. (Ask any reference librarian. They swap stories constantly about patrons who ask for all kinds of variations on names, places and titles. My favorite is the patron who asks for "War and Peaches" when really looking for "War and Peace," a mistake you wouldn't think could have been made.
In such a case, making your query contain a bit more information (in this case, the start and ending points of the journey) was enough to get us to the information we're looking for. And always ALWAYS look at the suggested query reformulation. They're often pretty good and can get you out of the black hole (complete with sunken pit and swinging pendulum) of your question.