Confederate States Navy ~ A Brief History

The following interesting and instructive article was prepared for the Times by Mr. John W. H. Porter, of Portsmouth, Va., from memoranda left by John L. Porter, Chief Constructor of the Confederate States Navy. The article contains much valuable historical information, and will doubtless be widely read. It gives a list of the vessels in commission in the Confederate States Navy; tells where and when most of them were built; what became of them, and gives brief data about their movements and service:


Alabama

Alabama, Wooden steam cruiser, eighty-nine guns, built at Liverpool in 1862, sailed from that port July 29th, 1862, and was sunk in action with the United States ship Kearsarge off Cherbourg, June 19, 1864.


Atlanta

Atlanta, Formerly the merchant steamer Fingall. Converted into an iron-clad at Savannah and mounted four guns. Got aground in Wassaw Sound June 17, 1863, and was captured by the Federals.


Albemarle

Albemarle, Iron-clad, two guns. Built on the Roanake River in 1864, sunk by a Federal torpedo boat the same year at Plymouth.

Appomattox

Appomattox, Formerly the tug Empire. Bought at Norfolk in 1861 and mounted, two guns. Dismantled and abandoned in 1862.

Archer, Merchant schooner

Archer, Merchant schooner, captured by the Confederates off Long Island June 24, 1863, converted into a cruiser, abandoned off Portland June 27, and recaptured. Crew transferred to the Caleb Cushing.

Arctic

Arctic, Iron-plated floating battery at Wilmington. Mounted three guns and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city, 1865.


Arkansas

Arkansas, Iron-clad, ten guns. Launched at Memphis in 1862 and completed on the Yazoo River, July 15, 1862. Her machinery became disabled near Baton Rouge in August of that year, and she was set on fire and abandoned by order of her commander.


Baltic

Baltic, Iron-plated ram, three guns. Burned by the Confederates at the fall of Mobile, in 1865.

Beaufor

Beaufort, Iron hull tug-boat. Bought at New Berne in 1861, and armed with one gun. Burned by the Confederates at Richmond in 1865.

Bienville

Bienville, Side-wheel river steamer. Bought at New Orleans in 1861 and mounted with six guns. Burned by Confederates on Lake Pontchartrain in 1862.

Black Warrior

Black Warrior, Merchant schooner, armed to assist in the defense of Elizabeth City, February 10, 1862. Burned and deserted by her crew during the fight.

Bombshell

Bombshell, Formerly a Federal gun-boat. Sunk by Confederate batteries at Plymouth, April 18, 1864, raised by the Confederates and recaptured by the Federals in Albemarle Sound, May 5, 1864.

Caleb Cushing

Caleb Cushing, United States revenue cutter, two guns. Captured by the Confederate schooner Archer in Portland harbor, June 27, 1863, and set on fire and abandoned to prevent recapture.

Calhoun

Calhoun, Small side-wheel river steamer. Bought at New Orleans, 1861, and burned by the Confederates after the fall of that city in 1862.

Carondelet

Carondelet, Side-wheel river steamer. Bought at New Orleans in 1861 and mounted with six guns. Burned on Lake Pontchartrain in 1862 to prevent capture.

Columbia

Columbia, Iron-clad, six guns. Built at Charleston, 1864. Caught on a sunken wreck there and broken in two by the falling tide.

Caswell

Caswell, Wooden side-wheel tender. Burned by the Confederates at the fall of Wilmington, 1865.

Charleston

Charleston, Iron-clad, six guns. Built in 1863 Charleston and destroyed by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city in 1865.

Chattahoochie

Chattahoochie, Wooden gun-boat, two guns. Burned by the Confederates on the Chattahoochie River at the close of the war.


Chicora

Chicora, Iron-clad. Built at Charleston and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city in 1865.


Chicamauga

Chicamauga, Formerly the blockade-runner Edith, Bought at Wilmington in 1864, mounted with two guns and turned into a cruiser. She was burned by the Confederates at Wilmington in 1865.

Clarence

Clarence, Merchant brig captured by the Florida, May 6, 1863, and armed with a 12-pounder boat-howitzer. She was burned by her commander June 12, 1863, and her crew transferred to the Tacony.

Cotton, Side-wheel

Cotton, Side-wheel river steamer. Bought at New Orleans in 1861 and made into a gun-boat, Burned by her crew in 1864 to prevent capture.

Curlew, Side-wheel

Curlew, Side-wheel river steamer. Bought at Norfolk, 1861, mounted with two guns. Sunk in battle at Roanoke Island, February 7, 1862.

Drewry

Drewry, Wooden tender, one gun. Built at Richmond. Disabled in action with Federal batteries at Trent's Reach, January 24, 1865, and abandoned.

Diana

Diana, Wooden gun-boat, five guns. Captured from the Federals, March 23, 1863, in Atchafalaya River and burned in Bayou Teche, April 12, 1863, to prevent recapture.

Edwards

Edwards, Wooden tug, bought at Norfolk, 1861, and mounted with one gun. Her name was afterwards changed to the Forrest.

Ellis, Iron hull

Ellis, Iron hull tug-boat. Bought at Norfolk in 1861 and mounted with one gun. Captured by the Federals at the battle of Elizabeth City, 1862.

Equator

Equator, Wooden tug-boat, one gun. Burned by Confederates at the fall of Wilmington in 1865.

Fanny

Fanny, Iron hull propeller, two guns. Captured from the Federals October 1, 1861 and set on fire by Confederates at the battle of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, February 10, 1862.

Fire Fly

Fire Fly, Wooden side-wheel river steamer. Used for a while at Savannah as a tender and then permitted to go to wreck.

Florida

Florida, Originally the merchant steamer Oreto. Bought in 1862 at Liverpool by the Confederates and mounted with five guns. She was boarded by the United States Ship Wachusett and captured in the harbor of Bahai, Brazil, October 7, 1864, while her captain and crew were ashore on liberty.

Forrest

Forrest, Wooden tug-boat formerly the Edwards, bought at Norfolk in 1861 and mounted with two guns. She was disabled in battle at Roanoke Island. February 7, 1862, and was burned on the ways at Elizabeth City by the Confederates, February 10th.


Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, Iron-clad, four guns. Built at Richmond, 1863, and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city, April, 1865.

Gaines

Gaines, Side-wheel merchant steamer, mounted six guns. Sunk in battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

Germantown

Germantown, Sailing sloop of war, twenty-two guns. Seized by Confederates at Gosport Navy Yard, 1861, and burned at the evacuation of Norfolk.


Georgia

Georgia, Iron-clad floating battery at Savannah. Destroyed by the Confederates at the fall of that city, in December, 1864.


Georgia, Cruiser

Georgia, Cruiser, originally the merchant steamer Japan. Bought at Dumbarton in April, 1863, and mounted five guns. Sold at Liverpool by the Confederate Government in 1864.

George Page

George Page, Side-wheel river steamer, seized at Alexandria in 1861 and armed with two guns. Her name was afterwards changed to the Richmond. She was burned by the Confederates at Quantico in 1862.


Harriet Lane

Harriet Lane, Captured from the Federals at Galveston, January I, 1863. Mounted eight guns. Her name was changed to the Lavina and she was converted into a blockade runner. She was in Havana harbor at the close of the war.

Hampton

Hampton, Wooden gun-boat, two guns. Built at Norfolk, 1862, and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of Richmond, April, 1865.

Huntress

Huntress, Side-wheel tug, bought at Charleston in 1861, and mounted two guns. She was later condemned and sold.

Huntsville

Huntsville, Iron-clad, four guns; built at Mobile. She was burned by the Confederates at the fall of that city in 1865.

Indian Chief

Indian Chief, Receiving ship at Charleston. Burned at the evacuation of that city in 1865.

Ivy, Side-wheel

Ivy, Side-wheel river steamer, bought at New Orleans in 1861, and mounted two guns. She was burned by the Confederates in Yazoo River in 1863 prevent capture.

Isendiga

Isendiga, Wooden gun-boat, three guns. Burned by the Confederates at the fall of Savannah, December, 1864.

Jackson, Tug-boat

Jackson, Tug-boat, bought at Norfolk, 1861, and mounted two guns. She was dismantled and sold in 1862.

Kate Bruce

Kate Bruce, Wooden schooner, bought in 1861 to convert into a gun-boat, but before completion she was sunk as an obstruction in the Chattahoochie River.

Lady Davis

Lady Davis, Iron tug, bought at Charleston, 1861, and mounted one gun. Her machinery was put in the Palmetto State and the vessel sold.

Lapwing

Lapwing, Merchant bark, captured by the Florida, March 20, 1863, armed with two boat-howitzers and name changed to Oreto. She was set on fire and burned by her crew June 20, 1863.

Livingston

Livingston, Side-wheel river steamer, bought at New Orleans, 1861, and mounted six guns. Burned by Confederates in Yazoo River in 1863.


Louisiana

Louisiana, Iron-clad, built at New Orleans, 1862, and mounted ten guns. She was set on fire by order of her commander and burned after the fall of New Orleans in 1862.


McRae

McRea, Wooden propeller, bought at New Orleans, 1861, and mounted six guns. She was sunk by the Confederates after the fall of that city in 1862.

Macon

Macon, Wooden propeller, ten guns, built at Savannah, taken to Augusta after the fall of that city and held until the war ended.


Manassas

Manassas, Iron-plated ram, built at New Orleans in 1861, mounted one gun; sunk by order of her commander at the battle of New Orleans, 1862.

Manassas, Schooner

Manassas, Schooner, formerly United States revenue-cutter; seized at New Berne, 1861, and name changed to Manassas, She was dismantled after a few months' service.

Maurepas

Maurepas, Side-wheel river steamer, bought at New Orleans, 1861, and mounted five guns; sunk by Confederates to obstruct White River in 1862.

Missouri

Missouri, Center wheel iron-clad, eight guns; built at Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1864.

Mobile

Mobile, Wooden tug, two guns; burned by Confederates in Yazoo River.

Morgan

Morgan, Merchant steamer, bought at Mobile, 1861; mounted six guns. She was destroyed by Confederates at the fall of that city in 1865.

Morning Light

Morning Light, Steamer, twelve guns, captured from the Federals off Sabine Pass, January 21, 1863.


Muscogee

Muscogee, Centre-wheel iron-clad, eight guns; built at Columbus, Georgia, and burned at the close of the war.

Nansemond

Nansemond, Wooden gun-boat, two guns; built at Norfolk, 1862, and burned by the Confederates at Richmond, 1865.


Nashville

Nashville, Side-wheel merchant steamer, seized at Charleston in 1861, and mounted eight guns; ran aground in Ogeeche River in 1864, and was destroyed by shell from the blockading vessels.


Neuse

Neuse, Iron-clad, two guns; built on the Neuse River, 1864, and burned by the Confederates in 1865 approach of Sherman's army.

North Carolina

North Carolina, Iron-clad, four guns; built at Wilmington, North Carolina, 1863; sprung a leak and sunk in Cape Fear River in September, 1864, at anchor.


Palmetto State

Palmetto State, Iron-clad, four guns; built at Charleston, and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city, in 1865.

Pamlico

Pamlico, Side-wheel river steamer; bought at New Orleans in 1861; burned by Confederates on Lake Pontchartrain, 1862, to avoid capture.


Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry, Side-wheel merchant steamer Yorktown; seized at Richmond, 1861; mounted ten guns; burned by Confederates at Richmond, 1865.

Plymouth, Sailing sloop

Plymouth, Sailing sloop of war; seized by the Confederates at the Gosport navy-yard, 1861; burned at the evacuation of Norfolk, 1862.

Polk

Polk, Side-wheel river steamer, mounted seven guns; burned by Confederates in Yazoo River in 1863, avoid capture.

Phoenix

Phoenix, Iron-clad floating battery, at Mobile. Burned by the Confederates at the fall of that city in 1865.

 Pontchartrain

Pontchartrain, Side-wheel river steamer, mounted seven guns. Burned by Confederates in 1863 on the Arkansas River.


Queen of the West

Queen of the West, Iron-protected ram. Captured from the Federals, February 14th, 1863, in Red River and sunk in battle in Atchafalaya River in April, 1863.


Raleigh

Raleigh, Iron-clad, four guns; built at Wilmington in 1864 and wrecked on Wilmington bar, May 7, 1864.

 
Rappahannock

Rappahannock, Side-wheel river steamer, formerly the Saint Nicholas. Captured at Point Lookout, June 29, 1861, mounted one gun. Burned by the Confederates at Fredericksburg, April, 1862.

Rappahannock, Cruiser

Rappahannock, Cruiser, formerly the British gun-boat Victoria. Purchased at London in 1863 taken to Calais, but on account of complications with the French Government she never put to sea, and was finally sold in 1864.

Resolute

Resolute, Wooden gun-boat, one gun. Destroyed by Federal field battery at the fall of Savannah in 1864.


Richmond

Richmond, Iron-clad, four guns. Launched at Gosport Navy Yard in 1862 and burned by Confederates at the evacuation of Richmond, April, 1865.


Roanoke

Roanoke, Iron tug, formerly the Raleigh. Bought in Norfolk in 1861 and mounted one gun. Burned at Richmond upon the evacuation of that city.


Savannah

Savannah, Iron-clad, four guns. Built at Savannah and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city in December, 1864.

Sampson

Sampson, Side-wheel river steamer, two guns. Taken by the Confederates to Augusta upon the evacuation of Savannah, December, 1864.

Sea-Bird

Sea-Bird, Side- wheel river steamer. Bought at Norfolk in 1861 and armed with two guns. Sunk in battle at Elizabeth City, February loth, 1852.


Selma

Selma, Side-wheel merchant steamer. Mounted, four guns. Captured by the Federals at the battle of Mobile Bay, August 5th, 1864.

St. Mary

St. Mary, Side-wheel river steamer, two guns. Burned on Yazoo River.

Stono

Stono, Gun-boat, seven guns, formerly the Isaac Smith. Captured from the Federals in Stono River, January 30th, 1863, and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of Charleston in 1865.

Spray

Spray, Tug-boat, two guns. Sunk by the Confederates on St. Mary's River.


Shenandoah

Shenandoah, Cruiser, formerly the merchant steamer Sea King, six guns. Delivered to English authorities at Liverpool after the close of the war, November 6th, 1865.

Stonewall

Stonewall, Sea-going iron-clad ram, three guns, formerly the Sphinx. Purchased in Denmark in 1865 name changed to Stonewall. She was acquired too late to be of service and was turned over to the Spanish authorities at Havana after the war ended.


Sumter

Sumter, Cruiser, formerly the merchant steamer Habana, Bought at New Orleans in 1861 and mounted with five guns. Her machinery gave out and she was sold at Charleston in 1862 by the Confederate authorities.

Tacony

Tacony, Merchant bark, captured by the Clarence June 12, 1863. Burned June 24th and crew transferred to the Archer.


Tallahassee

Tallahassee, Cruiser, formerly the blockade runner Atlanta. Bought at Wilmington and mounted two guns. Name afterwards changed to Olivetree. Reconverted into a blockade runner, the "Chameleon" and taken to England.

Talmico

Talmico, Side-wheel, two guns. Accidentally sunk at Savannah in 1863.

Teaser

Teaser, Wooden tug, two guns, bought at Richmond in 1861, and captured by the Federals in James River in 1862.


Tennessee

Tennessee, Iron-clad, six guns. Built at Mobile and captured in battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, Side-wheel merchant steamer, formerly the Jamestown. Seized at Richmond in 1861 and mounted two guns. She was sunk by the Confederates, May, 1862, at Drewry's Bluff to obstruct James River.

Torpedo

Torpedo, Wooden tug, two guns, burned by Confederates at Richmond.

Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa, Iron-clad, four guns. Burned by Confederates at at the fall of Mobile in 1865.

Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa, Formerly the bark Conrad. Captured June 21, 1863, the Alabama and armed with four boat-howitzers. She was seized by the English authorities at Simon's Bay, South Africa, December, 1863, upon the charge of violation of neutrality of the port. She was subsequently released, but the Confederates never again claimed her.

Tuscaloosa

Tuscarora, Side-wheel river steamer, two guns. Burned accidently at New Orleans.


Virginia

Virginia, Iron-clad, formerly the United States ship Merrimac, ten guns. Seized by Confederates at Gosport Navy-yard, 1861, and converted into an iron-clad. Burned by her captain at the evacuation of Norfolk, in 1862.

Virginia Second, Iron-clad, four guns. Built at Richmond in 1864 and burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of that city in April, 1865.

Velocity

Velocity, Gun-boat, two guns. Captured from the Federals at Sabine Pass, January 21, 1863.


Uncle Ben, Tug-boat

Uncle Ben, Tug-boat, seized at Wilmington in 1861, mounted one gun. Her machinery was taken out and put in the North Carolina, and hull sold.

 

United States, Old wooden frigate in ordinary at Gosport Navy-yard. Seized by Confederates in 1861, and used as a receiving ship. She was called sometimes the Confederate States.

 

Water Witch, Captured from the Federals in Ossabaw sound, June 3, 1864. Burned at the fall of Savannah, December, 1864.

Webb, Wooden ram on the Mississippi and Red Rivers. Burned by the Confederates after the close of the war.

Winslow, Side-wheel river steamer, formerly the J. E, Coffee, Bought at Norfolk in 1861 and mounted one gun. Wrecked on a sunken hulk outside of Hatteras, in 1861.

Yadkin, Wooden gun-boat. Built at Wilmington and burned by the Confederates at the fall of that city in 1865.

In addition to the foregoing, there were the following which were used temporarily as tenders and afterwards returned to their original owners that did not carry permanent armament:

Superior, Harmony and Kankakee near Norfolk, and the Schrapnel at Richmond.

In the fall of 1861 the citizens of New Orleans fitted up a number of river boats as rams for local defense, and put them under command of Captain J. Edward Montgomery. They were bravely fought and were sunk in battle at Memphis and New Orleans. They were not attached to the Confederate States Navy. They were the Warrior, Stonewall Jackson, Resolute, Defiance, Breckenridge, Van Horn, Price, Bragg, Lovell, Sumter, Beauregard, Jeff. Thompson. Little Rebel, Governor Moore, Quitman, and possibly three or four others.

There were in the Confederate States Navy at Richmond three torpedo launches, the Hornet, Scorpion and Wasp. The Wasp was destroyed by the Federal batteries at Trent's Reach, in January, 1865, and the others were burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of Richmond, in April, 1865. There was also a torpedo launch at Charleston, with which Lieutenant Glassell attacked the Ironsides, and also the one with which Lieutenant Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Regiment, sunk the United States ship Housatonic.

AHGP

Data Carefully Compiled from the Memoranda of John L. Porter, the Distinguished Chief Constructor of the Confederate States Navy.

 

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