The Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Transcription Tuesday event has arrived! We are delighted to welcome today’s transcribers to our maritime community! To mark the occasion, we have added some new vessels to those currently available for transcription. Up to know, the ship’s musters we have been working on were all related to vessels beginning with the letter “A”, but now we have added some “B” ships to the fleet. In this post, we will take a quick run through the stories of these new vessels.
A brig launched in 1842, this was a ship that had seen a lot of pre Civil War service for the Navy around the globe. Bainbridge spent the first year of the war in the Gulf, and was later assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Disaster struck on 21 August 1863, when she capsized and sunk off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.All but a single member of her crew perished.
A side-wheeled steamer first built in 1848, Baltimore was captured by the U.S. Army on the Potomac River in April 1861 and put into naval service. An ordnance vessel, she carried munitions between the Washington Navy Yard and ammunition depots, engaged in ferrying troops across the Potomac, and acted as a dispatch and supply vessel for the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Her most famous moment came in May 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary Salmon P. Chase took a trip on her to try and look at the remains of the famed Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.
Built in Liverpool in 1862 by Jones, Quiggin & Co., the Banshee was a side-wheeled steamer originally constructed as a Confederate blockade runner. Captured by the U.S. Navy off Wilmington, North Carolina, in November 1863, she was later put into service blockading the very same port as part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She participated in the First Battle of Fort Fisher, North Carolina on 24 December 1864, and close out the war in 1865 serving with the Potomac Flotilla.
USS Baron de Kalb
The Baron de Kalb was one of the famous “City Class” ironclads constructed in 1861. Originally named the St Louis, she served in the Western Gunboat Flotilla, which primarily operated on the Mississippi River and its tributaries during the Civil War. Having served in most of the most notorious engagements on Western Waters through the first half of the conflict, Baron de Kalb met her end in July 1863 when she struck a Confederate “torpedo” (what we would today call a mine) on the Yazoo River, Mississippi.
Another English-built vessel, the Bat side-wheel steamer built in Liverpool in 1864 by Jones, Quiggins & Co. She sought to run the Union blockade to bring supplies to the Jefferson Davis administration (including actual “red tape”!) Afer a dramatic chase, she was captured trying to enter Wilmington, North Carolina in October that year. She entered U.S. service in December 1864, and served both in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and as a dispatch vessel. Later she also provided an escort to President Abraham Lincoln as he sailed to City Point for a meeting with General Grant. She later took General Sherman from that meeting to New Bern, North Carolina. It was among the first vessels into Richmond, Virginia, following the Confederate captial’s fall. After the war Bat was sold into merchant service, performing that role for the remainder of the 19th century.
A screw tug built in Gloucester, New Jersey in 1863, the Bazely was purchased by the U.S. Navy in June 1864. Used as a support and protection for larger vessels, she was variously designated Patrol Boat No. 2, Tug No. 2 and Beta. She first operated in the inland waters of the North Carolina sounds as part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She participated in the U.S. recapture of Plymouth, North Carolina. On 9 December 1864 she was participating in an expedition on the Roanoake River when she struck a Confederate torpedo (mine) and sank, with the loss of two of her crew. Her remains were subsequently destroyed by Union forces to prevent them from falling into Rebel hands.
An armed schooner, this was originally a Confederate vessel (named for Rebel General Beauregard) captured by the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in November 1861. She entered U.S. Naval service in March 1862, retaining her Confederate name. Part of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron that operated along the Florida coastline, she went on to capture ten blockade runners through the course of the war.
The Belle was screw tug built in Philadelphia and purchased by the U.S. Navy in June 1864. Fitted out as a torpedo boat to counter Confederate ironclads (specifically CSS Albermarle) in the North Carolina sounds, she participated in the recapture of Plymouth, North Carolina in October 1864. Serving in the sounds until the end of the war, she was later sold into private hands.
USS Ben Morgan
Built in Philadelphia as a sailing vessel in 1826, Ben Morgan was called the Mediator until her purchase for the U.S. Navy in May 1861. She was fitted out as a hospital ship and sent to Hampton Roads, Virginia. Among those she treated were sailors wounded in the famous action against the CSS Virginia in March 1862. As well as looking after sick and injured sailors, Ben Morgan also served as a collier and supply vessel, performing that role exclusively from June 1862. While being refitted in 1863 there was an outbreak of smallpox among her crew, but she eventually resumed service and stayed at Hampton Roads until the conclusion of the war, when she was sold into private ownership.
A wooden-hulled screw steamer originally called Columbia, the Navy bought and renamed the vessel in August 1864. She was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and specifically to service off the Confederate port of Wilmington, North Carolina. While there, aside from chasing blockade runners she also took damage on a number of occasions during both operations and as a result of the weather. She remained in service along the coasts of North Carolina for the remainder of the war.
Bermuda was built in Stockton-on-Tees, North East England in 1861. Designed as a Confederate blockade runner, she loaded her first cargo for the Confederacy in West Hartlepool and set of for Savannah, Georgia. In January 1862 she returned to Liverpool, her hold laden down with cotton. Her career as a runner came to an end in April 1862 when Bermuda was captured by USS Mercedita of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. She was commissioned into the U.S. Navy in May 1863. She spent the remainder of the conflict as a supply vessel serving the ships of the Gulf Blockade.
U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command. Dictionary of Fighting Ships.