in his wheelhouse

GSCole gscole at ARK.SHIP.EDU
Tue Jun 12 19:11:54 UTC 2001

The earlier usage, among naval folk, might have been "in her
wheelhouse", given the feminine reference for certain naval vessels.
Examples from Cornell's MOA, showing usage of "in her wheelhouse" in
three geographic areas (one example of "his wheelhouse" is also given):

In reference to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron (Civil War) --
"...the vessels became stationary and a fair target for what guns the
enemy were able to fire.  The Jackson, Lieutenant Commanding Woodworth,
was struck badly with rifle shell, one of which exploded in her
wheelhouse, disabling the man at the wheel...."

In reference to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron (Civil War), Operations
on the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers --
"...the [Harriet] Lane got a shot in her wheelhouse, but not much

Naval Forces on Western Waters (i.e., Mississippi River) [Civil War]:
"...the Choctaw having received several shots in her wheelhouse and
upper works."

One instance of "his wheelhouse", also from the Civil War, and in
reference to action on 'Western Waters':
"The Queen struck a little in advance of amidships, but, as she was
turning, the force of the blow glanced along his side and past his
wheelhouse without inflicting any very serious damage."

George Cole   gscole at
Shippensburg University

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