Union Navy

The Union Navy was the United States Navy (USN) during the American Civil War, when it fought the Confederate States Navy (CSN). The term is sometimes used carelessly to include vessels of war used on the rivers of the interior while they were under the control of the United States Army, also called the Union Army.

USSMonitor1862.1.ws
Part of the crew of USS Monitor, after her encounter with CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack)
USS Monitor crew2
Crewmen of USS Lehigh in 1864 or 1865.
USS Hunchback crewmen in the American Civil War
U.S. sailors from USS Hunchback on the James River; approximately a fifth of the sailors in the photograph are black. Nearly 10,000 sailors of the Union Navy in the American Civil War were black,[1][2] with seven of them being awarded the Medal of Honor.[3]
Supposedly Ensign Benjamin H. Porter - NARA - 528593
Lt. Benjamin Porter killed at the Battle of Ft Fisher

Primary missions

The primary missions of the Union Navy were:

1. Maintain the blockade of Confederate ports by restraining all blockade runners; declared by President Lincoln on April 19, 1861, and continued until the end of the Rebellion.
2. Meet in combat the war vessels of the CSN.
3. Carry the war to places in the seceded states that were inaccessible to the Union Army, but could be reached by water.
4. Support the Army by providing both gunfire support and rapid transport and communications on the rivers of the interior.

Transformation

To accomplish these, the Union Navy had to undergo a profound transformation, both technical and institutional. During the war, sailing vessels were completely supplanted by ships propelled by steam for purposes of combat. Vessels of widely differing character were built from the keel up in response to peculiar problems they would encounter. Wooden hulls were at first protected by armor plating, and soon were replaced by iron or steel throughout. Guns were reduced in number, but increased in size and range; the reduction in number was partially compensated by mounting the guns in rotating turrets or by pivoting the gun on a curved deck tracks so they could be turned to fire in any direction.

The institutional changes that were introduced during the war were equally significant. The Bureau of Steam Engineering was added to the bureau system, testimony to the U.S. Navy's conversion from sail to steam. Most important from the standpoint of Army-Navy cooperation in joint operations, the set of officer ranks was redefined so that each rank in the U.S. Army had its equivalent in the U.S. Navy. The establishment of the ranks of admirals implied also a change of naval doctrine, from one favoring single-ship operations to that of employing whole fleets.

Ships

USS Conestoga h55321
USS Conestoga, a converted gunboat that served on the Mississippi River.

At the start of the war, the Union Navy had 42 ships in commission. Another 48 were laid up and listed as available for service as soon as crews could be assembled and trained, but few were appropriate for the task at hand. Most were sailing vessels, some were hopelessly outdated, and one (USS Michigan) served on Lake Erie and could not be moved to the ocean.[4] During the course of the war, the number in commission was increased by more than a factor 15, so that at the end the U.S. Navy had 671 vessels.[5]

Even more significant than the increase in raw numbers was the variety of ship types that were represented, some of forms that had not been seen previously in naval war anywhere. The nature of the conflict, much of which took place in the interior of the continent or in rather shallow harbors along the coast, meant that vessels designed for use on the open seas were less useful than more specialized ships. To confront the forms of combat that came about, the federal government developed a new type of warship, the monitor, based on the original, USS Monitor.[6] The U.S. Navy took over a class of armored river gunboats created for the U.S. Army, but designed by naval personnel, the Eads gunboats.[7] So-called double-enders were produced to maneuver in the confined waters of the rivers and harbors.[8] The Union Navy experimented with submarines before the Confederacy produced its famed CSS Hunley; the result, USS Alligator failed primarily because of lack of suitable targets.[9] Building on Confederate designs, the Union Navy produced and used torpedo boats, small vessels that mounted spar torpedoes and were forerunners of both the modern torpedo and destroyer type of warship.[10]

Because of haste in their design and construction, most of the vessels taken into the U.S. Navy in this period of rapid expansion incorporated flaws that would make them unsuitable for use in a permanent system of defense. Accordingly, at the end of the war, most of them were soon stricken from the service rather than being mothballed. The number of ships at sea fell back to its prewar level.[11]

Rank insignia

1861–62

Commissioned officer rank structure of the Union Navy[12]
Title Flag Officer Captain Commander Lieutenant Master
Epaulette None.svg U.S. Navy captain rank insignia (1861-1862) None.svg None.svg None.svg
Sleeve lace None.svg None.svg None.svg None.svg None.svg
NCO and enlisted rank structure of the Union Navy[13]
Title Passed Midshipman Midshipman Boatswain / Gunner / Carpenter / Sailmaker Master's mate Rated Master's Mate
Epaulette None.svg None None None None
Sleeve lace None.svg None.svg None.svg None.svg None.svg

1862–64

Commissioned officer rank structure of the Union Navy[14]
Title Rear admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant
Commander
Lieutenant Master Ensign
Insignia US-Navy-Rear Admiral (1862-1864) US-Navy-Commodore (1862-1864) U.S. Navy captain rank insignia (1862-1864) None.svg None.svg US-Navy-Lieutenant (1862-1864) US-Navy-Master (1862-1864) US-Navy-Ensign (1862-1864)
NCO and enlisted rank structure of the Union Navy[15]
Title Midshipman Boatswain / Gunner / Carpenter / Sailmaker
Insignia US-Navy-Midshipman (1862-1864).svg US-Navy-Midshipman (1862-1864).svg

1864–66

Commissioned officer rank structure of the Union Navy[16][17]
Title Vice admiral Rear admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant
Commander
Lieutenant Master Ensign
Insignia US-Navy-Vice Admiral 1865
Introduced in 1865
US-Navy-Rear Admiral 1865
Introduced in 1865
US-Navy-Rear Admiral (1864-1866) US-Navy-Commodore (1864-1866) US-Navy-Captain (1864-1866) USN com rank insignia USN lt com rank insignia US-Navy-Lieutenant (1864-1866) US-Navy-Master (1864-1866) US-Navy-Ensign (1864-1866)
NCO and enlisted rank structure of the Union Navy[18]
Title Midshipman Boatswain / Gunner / Carpenter / Sailmaker Master's Mate
Insignia None.svg None.svg None.svg

Institution

Aaron Anderson
Aaron Anderson, a Union Navy sailor who was awarded the Medal of Honor
James Mifflin poster
James Mifflin, a Union Navy sailor who was awarded the Medal of Honor
Robert Blake (MOH) poster
Robert Blake, a Union Navy sailor who was awarded the Medal of Honor

The highest rank available to an U.S. naval officer when the war began was that of captain.[19] The Confederate constitution provided for the rank of admiral, but it was to be awarded for valor in battle. No Confederate officer was made admiral until Franklin Buchanan was named such after the Battle of Hampton Roads. This created problems when many ships had to operate together, with no clearly established chain of command. Even worse, when the Navy worked with the Army in joint operations, the customary rank equivalency between the two services meant that the naval captain, equivalent to an army colonel, would always be inferior to every army general present.[20] After the existing arrangement had been used for the first year of the war, the case was made that the interests of the nation would be better served by organizing the Navy along lines more like that of the Royal Navy of Great Britain. A set of officer ranks was established in the summer of 1862 that precisely matched the set of Army ranks.[21] The most visible change was that henceforth some individuals would be designated commodore, rear admiral, vice admiral, and finally admiral, all new formal ranks, and equivalent to, respectively, brigadier general, major general, lieutenant general, and general.[22]

A doctrinal shift took place at the same time. Prior to the war, the United States Navy emphasized single-ship operations, but the nature of the conflict soon made use of whole fleets necessary. Already at the Battle of Port Royal (7 November 1861), 77 vessels, including 19 warships, were employed.[23] This was the largest naval expedition that had ever sailed under the U.S. flag, but the record did not stand for long. Subsequent operations at New Orleans, Mobile, and several positions in the interior confirmed the importance of large fleets in modern naval operations.

The system of naval bureaus was revised in the summer of 1862. Some of the older bureaus were rearranged or had their names altered. The most radical change was the creation of the Bureau of Steam Engineering.[24] Its existence was testimony to the fact that the U.S. Navy would no longer rely upon the winds to propel its ships. More was involved in this decision than meets the eye, as the necessity of maintaining coaling stations around the globe meant that the nation had to rethink its attitude toward colonialism.

During the war the Union Navy had a total of 84,415 personnel. The Union Navy suffered 6,233 total casualties with 4,523 deaths from all causes. 2,112 Union sailors were killed by enemy action and 2,411 died by disease or injury. The Union Navy suffered at least 1,710 personnel wounded in action, injured, or disabled by disease.[25] The Union Navy started the war with 8,000 men, 7,600 enlisted men of all ratings and some 1,200 commissioned officers. The number of hands in the Union Navy grew five times its original strength at the war's outbreak. Most of these new hands were volunteers who desired to serve in the navy temporarily rather than make the navy a career as with many of the pre-war sailors. Most of these volunteers were rated as "Land's Men" by recruiters meaning they had little or no experience at sea in their civilian lives, although many sailors from the United States pre-war merchant marine joined the navy and they were often given higher ratings due to their background and experience.[26] A key part of the Union Navy's recruiting efforts was the offer of higher pay than a volunteer for the Union Army would receive and the promise of greater freedom or the opportunity to see more of the country and world. When the Draft was introduced the Navy tried to recruit volunteers by offering service at sea as a better paying alternative to being drafted into the Army, this incentive was especially meant to attract professional sailors who could be drafted the same as any other civilian and would rather see combat in an environment they were more familiar with.[27]

Sailors

Union sailors differed from their counterparts on land, soldiers. The sailors were typically unemployed, working-class men from urban areas, including recent immigrants. Unlike soldiers, few were farmers. They seldom enlisted to preserve the Union, end slavery, or display their courage; instead, many were coerced into joining.[28] According to Michael Bennett:

The typical Union sailor was a hard, pragmatic, and cynical man who bore little patience for patriotism, reform, and religion. He drank too much, fought too much, and prayed too little. He preferred adventure to stability and went for quick and lucrative jobs rather than steady and slow employ under the tightening strictures of the new market economy. He was rough, dirty, and profane. Out of date before his time, he was aggressively masculine in a Northern society bent on gentling men. Overall, Union sailors proved less committed to emerging Northern values and were less ideological than soldiers for whom the broader issues of freedom, market success, and constitutional government proved constant touchstones during the war.[29]

Nevertheless, Union navy sailors and marines were awarded 325 Medals of Honor for Civil War valor with immigrants receiving 39 percent of the awards: Ireland (50), England (25) and Scotland (13). [30]

Approximately 10,000 sailors of the Union Navy were black;[1][2] seven of them were awarded the Medal of Honor.[3] or approximately 17%.[31] The tension between white and "contraband" (black) sailors was high and remained serious during the war. Bennett argues:

For the most part, white sailors rejected contrabands as sailors. They did so owing to a tangled mix of racial prejudices, unflattering stereotypes that equated sailors with slaves, and working-class people's fears of blacks as labor competition. The combination of all of these tensions eventually triggered a social war—referred to as "frictions" by sailors—as whites racially harassed, sometimes violently, former slaves serving alongside them.[32]

Blockade

The blockade of all ports in the seceded states was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln on 19 April 1861, one of the first acts of his administration following the bombardment of Fort Sumter.[33] It existed mostly on paper in the early days of the conflict, but became increasingly tighter as it continued. Although the blockade was never perfect,[34] it contributed to the isolation of the South and hastened the devaluation of its currency.

For administration of the blockade, the Navy was divided into four squadrons: the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, East Gulf, and West Gulf Blockading Squadrons.[35] (A fifth squadron, the Mississippi River Squadron, was created in late 1862 to operate in the Vicksburg campaign and its consequences; it was not involved with the blockade.)[36]

Invasion

New Orleans h76369k
"The Splendid Naval Triumph on the Mississippi, April 24th, 1862" (Currier and Ives lithograph)

Two early invasions of the South were meant primarily to improve the blockade, and then led to further actions. Following the capture of Cape Hatteras, much of eastern North Carolina was soon occupied by the Union Army.[37] The easy success in North Carolina was not repeated after the seizure of Port Royal in South Carolina, as determined resistance prevented significant expansion of the beachhead there. Charleston did not fall until the last days of the war.[38] The later capture of Fernandina, Florida, was intended from the start to provide a southern anchor for the Atlantic blockade. It led to the capture of Jacksonville and the southern sounds of Georgia, but this was not part of a larger scheme of conquest. It reflected mostly a decision by the Confederate government to retire from the coast, with the exception of a few major ports.[39] Late in the war, Mobile Bay was taken by fleet action, but there was no immediate attempt to take Mobile itself.

The capture of New Orleans was only marginally connected with the blockade, as New Orleans was already pretty well sealed off.[40] It was important, however, for several other reasons. The passage of the forts below the city by Farragut's fleet showed that fixed fortifications could not defend against a fleet that was powered by steam, so it was crucial for the emergence of the Navy as equal to the Army in national defense. It also demonstrated the possibility of attacking the Confederacy along the line of the Mississippi River, and thus was an important, even vital, predecessor of the campaign that ultimately split the Confederacy. Finally, it cast doubt on the ability of the Confederacy to defend itself, and thus gave European nations reason not to grant diplomatic recognition.

The final important naval action of the war was the second assault on Fort Fisher, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. It was one of the few actions of the war on the coast in which the Army and Navy cooperated fully.[41] The capture of the fort sealed off Wilmington, the last Confederate port to remain open. The death of the Confederacy followed in a little more than three months.

Battles

Coastal and ocean

USS Kearsarge CSS Alabama
Encounter between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama, off the coast of Cherbourg, France, 19 June 1864.
Hatteras Inlet
Port Royal
Burnside Expedition: Battle of Roanoke Island
Battle of Elizabeth City
Battle of New Bern
Siege of Fort Macon
Hampton Roads
New Orleans (Forts Jackson and St. Philip)
Drewry's Bluff
Galveston Harbor
Charleston Harbor
Fort Wagner (Morris Island)
Albemarle Sound
Sinking of CSS Alabama by the USS Kearsarge
Mobile Bay
First Battle of Fort Fisher
Second Battle of Fort Fisher
Trent's Reach

There were numerous small or one-to-one battles far away from the coasts between ocean-going Union vessels and blockade runners, often in the Caribbean but also in the Atlantic, the Battle of Cherbourg being the most famous example.

Inland waters

Forts Henry and Donelson
Island No. 10
Plum Point Bend
Memphis
St. Charles, Arkansas (White River expedition)
Vicksburg campaign
Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman)
Yazoo Pass Expedition
Steele's Bayou Expedition
Battle of Grand Gulf
Red River expedition

Not included in this list are several incidents in which the Navy took part more or less incidentally. These include Shiloh and Malvern Hill. They are not put on the list because naval personnel were not involved in planning or preparation for the battle.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b McPherson, James M.; Lamb, Brian (May 22, 1994). "James McPherson: What They Fought For, 1861-1865". Booknotes. C-SPAN. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2016. About 180,000 black soldiers and an estimated 10,000 black sailors fought in the Union Army and Navy, all of them in late 1862 or later, except for some blacks who enrolled in the Navy earlier.
  2. ^ a b Loewen, James W. (2007). "John Brown and Abraham Lincoln". Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: The New Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-56584-100-0. OCLC 29877812. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Hanna, C. W. African American recipients of the Medal of Honor. p. 3. Note: Hanna includes Clement Dees in his count, while this list does not, because Dees's medal was rescinded.
  4. ^ Soley, The blockade and the cruisers, Appendix A. The number of ships in commission should probably be reduced to 41, as one vessel, sloop USS Levant, had left Hawaii on 18 September 1860, bound for Aspinwall (present-day Colon, Panama), and was never seen again. See DANFS.[1]
  5. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, p. 1.
  6. ^ Gibbons, Warships and naval battles of the Civil War, pp. 24–25.
  7. ^ Gibbons, Warships and naval battles of the Civil War, pp. 16–17.
  8. ^ Gibbons, Warships and naval battles of the Civil War, pp. 106–107.
  9. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, pp. 267–268.
  10. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, pp. 260–261.
  11. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, p. 365.
  12. ^ "Sea or Line Officers, 1861-July 31, 1862". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Cont". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Sea or Line Officers, July 31, 1862-January 28, 1864". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Cont". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  16. ^ US Navy (23 August 2017). "Uniform Regulations, 1866". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Line Officers, January 28, 1864-1866". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  18. ^ "Cont". Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  19. ^ Soley, The blockade and the cruisers,, pp. 1–6.
  20. ^ By the same token, in combined operations with foreign fleets, no U.S. captain could command if a foreign admiral was present, no matter what the composition of the fleet. This was a purely hypothetical problem in the nineteenth century, as the United States did not ally itself with any foreign powers at that time.
  21. ^ Soley, The Blockade and the cruisers, pp. 6–8.
  22. ^ The principle of service equivalence is now so strongly established that it was applied without any particular thought when the additional ranks of General of the Army and Fleet Admiral were introduced at the same time following World War II.
  23. ^ Browning, Success is all that was expected, pp. 23–42.
  24. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, pp. 2–3.
  25. ^ Leland, Anne and Mari-Jana Oboroceanu. American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics Washington, DC, Congressional Research Service, February 26, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2014. p. 2.
  26. ^ McPherson, James M. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861–1865 pp. 25-29
  27. ^ http://www.ijnhonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/pdf_williams.pdf
  28. ^ Michael J. Bennett, “Dissenters from the American Mood: Why Men Became Yankee Sailors During the Civil War.” North & South (2005) 8#2: 12–21.
  29. ^ Michael J. Bennett (2005). Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War. U of North Carolina Press. p. x.
  30. ^ ""Medal of Honor Recipients"". “US Army Center of Military History”.
  31. ^ "Racism". www.friesian.com.
  32. ^ Bennett, p. 150
  33. ^ Civil War naval chronology, p. I-9.
  34. ^ Wise, Lifeline of the Confederacy, pp. 221–226.
  35. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, p. 4.
  36. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, p. 150.
  37. ^ Browning, From Cape Charles to Cape Fear, pp. 27–36.
  38. ^ Tucker, Blue and gray navies, p. 255.
  39. ^ Browning, the success is all that was expected, pp. 66–73.
  40. ^ Dufour, The night the war was lost, pp. 59–70.
  41. ^ Browning, From Cape Charles to Cape Fear, pp. 293–297.

Further reading

  • Anderson, Bern, By Sea and By River: The Naval History of the Civil War. Knopf, 1962. Reprint, Da Capo, 1989, ISBN 0-306-80367-4.
  • Bennett, Michael J. Union Jacks: Yankee Sailors in the Civil War (2004). online
  • Browning, Robert M. Jr., From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War. University of Alabama Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8173-5019-5.
  • Browning, Robert M. Jr., Success is All That Was Expected: The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War. Brassey's, Inc., 2002, ISBN 1-57488-514-6 .
  • Dufour, Charles L., The Night the War Was Lost. University of Nebraska Press, 1994, ISBN 0-8032-6599-9.
  • Gibbon, Tony, Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War. Gallery Books, 1989, ISBN 0-8317-9301-5.
  • Jones, Virgil Carrington, The Civil War at Sea (3 vols.) Holt, 1960--2.
  • Leland, Anne and Mari-Jana Oboroceanu. American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics Washington, DC, Congressional Research Service, February 26, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  • McPherson, James M. War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861–1865 (University of North Carolina Press; 2012) 277 pages.
  • Musicant, Ivan, Divided Waters: The Naval History of the Civil War. HarperCollins, 1995, ISBN 0-06-016482-4.
  • Ramold, Steven J. Slaves, Sailors, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy (2007) .
  • Soley, James Russell, The Blockade and the Cruisers. C. Scribner's Sons, 1883; Reprint Edition, Blue and Grey Press, n.d.
  • Tucker, Spencer, Blue and Gray Navies: The Civil War Afloat. Naval Institute Press, 2006, ISBN 1-59114-882-0.
  • Wise, Stephen R., Lifeline of the Confederacy: Blockade Running During the Civil War, University of South Carolina Press, 1988, ISBN 0-87249-554-X.
Andrew Hull Foote

Andrew Hull Foote (September 12, 1806 – June 26, 1863) was an American naval officer who was noted for his service in the American Civil War and also for his contributions to several naval reforms in the years prior to the war. When the war came, he was appointed to command of the Western Gunboat Flotilla, predecessor of the Mississippi River Squadron. In that position, he led the gunboats in the Battle of Fort Henry. For his services with the Western Gunboat Flotilla, Foote was among the first naval officers to be promoted to the then-new rank of rear admiral.

CSS Tennessee (1863)

CSS Tennessee was a casemate ironclad ram built for the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War. She served as the flagship of Admiral Franklin Buchanan, commander of the Mobile Squadron, after her commissioning. She was captured in 1864 by the Union Navy during the Battle of Mobile Bay and then participated in the Union's subsequent Siege of Fort Morgan. Tennessee was decommissioned after the war and sold in 1867 for scrap.

Frank W. Hackett

Frank W. Hackett (April 11, 1841 – August 10, 1926) was a civilian administrator and lawyer who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley. During the American Civil War, he was an assistant paymaster serving the Atlantic Fleet. Hackett was on board USS Miami during its skirmish against CSS Albemarle. After the war, he passed the bar exam and eventually opened a law office in Washington, D.C. From April 1900 to December 1901, Hackett served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Gustavus Fox

Gustavus Vasa Fox (June 13, 1821 – October 29, 1883) was an officer of the United States Navy, who served during the Mexican–American War, and as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War.

Mississippi River Squadron

The Mississippi River Squadron was the Union brown-water naval squadron that operated on the western rivers during the American Civil War. It was initially created as a part of the Union Army, although it was commanded by naval officers, and was then known as the Western Gunboat Flotilla and sometimes as the Mississippi Flotilla. It received its final designation when it was transferred to the Union Navy at the beginning of October 1862.

Soviet Navy

The Soviet Navy (Russian: Военно-морской флот СССР (ВМФ), romanized: Voyenno-morskoy flot SSSR (VMF), lit. 'Military Maritime Fleet of the USSR') was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy was a large part of the Soviet Union's strategic plan in the event of a conflict with opposing super power, the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or another conflict related to the Warsaw Pact of Eastern Europe. The influence of the Soviet Navy played a large role in the Cold War (1945-1991), as the majority of conflicts centered on naval forces.

The Soviet Navy was divided into four major fleets: the Northern, Pacific, Black Sea, and Baltic Fleets; under separate command was the Leningrad Naval Base. The Caspian Flotilla was a smaller force operating in the land-locked Caspian Sea. Main components of the Soviet Navy included Soviet Naval Aviation, Naval Infantry (Soviet Marines), and Coastal Artillery.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia inherited the largest part of the Soviet Navy and reformed it into the Russian Navy, with smaller parts becoming the basis for navies of the newly independent post-Soviet states.

USS Annie

USS Annie was a schooner captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a ship's tender in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways. Her service during the Union naval blockade of Confederate waters peaked during the Second Chesapeake Affair (1863–64) as a "fresh reinforcement from the south" in the search and capture of the U.S.S Chesapeake.

USS Atlanta (1861)

Atlanta was a casemate ironclad that served in the Confederate and Union Navies during the American Civil War. She was converted from a British-built blockade runner named Fingal by the Confederacy after she made one run to Savannah, Georgia. After several failed attempts to attack Union blockaders, the ship was captured by two Union monitors in 1863 when she ran aground. Atlanta was floated off, repaired, and rearmed, serving in the Union Navy for the rest of the war. She spent most of her time deployed on the James River supporting Union forces there. The ship was decommissioned in 1865 and placed in reserve. Several years after the end of the war, Atlanta was sold to Haiti, but was lost at sea in December 1869 on her delivery voyage.

USS Black Hawk (1848)

USS Black Hawk (1848) was a large steamer purchased by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

She was assigned by the Union Navy to gunboat duty in the waterways of the rebellious Confederate States of America.

USS Choctaw (1856)

USS Choctaw (1856) was a large (1,004-ton) steamer built for the merchant service, but acquired by the Union Navy during the second year of the American Civil War.

Choctaw, with her crew of 106, was outfitted by the Navy as a ram with heavy rifled guns and was used both as a gunboat and as a ram on the rivers of the Confederate States of America.

USS Clifton (1861)

USS Clifton was a shallow-draft side-wheel paddle steamer, built in 1861 at Brooklyn, as a civilian ferry. The Union Navy bought her early that December, and commissioned her after having her converted into a gunboat. In 1863 she ran aground, was captured and commissioned into the Texas Marine Department. Her career ended in 1864 when she ran aground and her Confederate crew burned her to prevent her recapture.

USS Clyde (1863)

USS Clyde (1863) was a steamer captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was assigned by the Union Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

USS Eastport (1862)

USS Eastport was a steamer captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a convoy and patrol vessel on Confederate waterways.

USS G. L. Brockenborough (1862)

USS G. L. Brockenborough (1862) was a sloop captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

She was placed in service by the Navy as a gunboat to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries. She also served as a ship's tender, providing help to other ships on blockade duty.

USS Onward (1852)

The first USS Onward was a clipper in the Union Navy.

Onward was launched 3 July 1852 by James O. Curtis at Medford, Massachusetts, for Reed, Wade, and Co., of Boston, Massachusetts, and operated in the merchant service between New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. Purchased by the U.S. Navy at New York City from John Ogden on 9 September 1861, for service in the American Civil War, Onward commissioned at New York Navy Yard on 11 January 1862, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant J. Frederick Nickels in command.

USS Otsego (1863)

USS Otsego (1863) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

Otsego, a wooden, double-ended, side-wheel gunboat, was launched 31 March 1863 by Jacob A. & D. D. Westervelt, New York City, New York, and apparently commissioned in the spring of 1864, Commander John P. Bankhead in command.

USS Polaris (1871)

USS Polaris, originally called the America, was an 1864-screw steamer procured by the Union Navy as USS Periwinkle during the final months of the American Civil War. She served the Union Navy's struggle against the Confederate States as a gunboat.

After the war, the ship was retained by the U.S. Navy. She was renamed Polaris in 1871 and became the designated vessel of the Hall scientific expedition to the North Pole. It was on this voyage that she proceeded into Arctic waters, only to have her hull crushed by the ice in October 1872.

USS Rose

USS Rose was a screw steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

She was used by the Union Navy as a tugboat and ammunition ship in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways.

USS Vincennes (1826)

USS Vincennes (1826) was a 703-ton Boston-class sloop of war in the United States Navy from 1826 to 1865. During her service, Vincennes patrolled the Pacific, explored the Antarctic, and blockaded the Confederate Gulf coast in the Civil War. Named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Vincennes, she was the first U.S. warship to circumnavigate the globe.

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