USS Adela (1863–1865) Drawing by George H. Rogers, depicting the ship "on blockading service off the coast of Florida, winter of 1863". The artist served on board Adela as a Pharmacist's Mate.
|Laid down:||date unknown|
|Acquired:||23 May 1863|
|Commissioned:||circa 13 June 1863|
|Fate:||sold, 30 November 1865|
|Length:||211 ft (64 m)|
|Beam:||23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)|
depth of hold 12 ft (3.7 m) |
draft 9 ft 3 in (2.82 m)
steam engine |
|Speed:||12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)|
two 20-pounder Parrott rifles |
four 24-pounder smoothbores
In the spring of 1862, when the American Civil War was about a year old, Adela – a fast, iron-hulled, sidewheel steamer which had been operating out of Belfast, Ireland, as a merchantman—was purchased by some now unidentified agent who planned to use her for carrying arms and other contraband cargo through the Union blockade to the Confederacy. She steamed in ballast via Glasgow to Liverpool in May and—toward the end of that month—cleared the latter port, bound for the Bahamas where she planned to fill her holds with ordnance for the Confederate forces.
Adela spotted by Quaker City and Huntsville
After a stop en route at Bermuda, the ship got underway on 4 July and headed for the island of New Providence in the Bahamas to take on her forbidden cargo at Nassau and to prepare for a dash through the Union blockade. Shortly after dawn on the 7th, lookouts on Northern warships, USS Quaker City and USS Huntsville, spotted the would-be blockade runner northwest of Great Abaco Island, endeavoring to evade them. The blockaders immediately gave chase.
Six shots required to stop the stubborn captain of Adela
As the three speeding vessels approached New Providence, Quaker City hoisted the Stars and Stripes and fired a shell across Adela's bow, signaling her to heave to. After the fleeing steamer had ignored not only that round, but a second in the same direction and two more behind her stern, Quaker City sent a fifth shell directly into her stubborn quarry. Nevertheless, despite having taken a damaging direct hit, the sidewheeler continued her efforts to get away. Finally, a sixth shot into Adela's beam persuaded her commanding officer, James Walker—a former master of the Cunard Line's famed sidewheeler Great Eastern – to stop. A prize crew from Quaker City boarded the British steamer, and the Union warship towed the captured vessel to Key West, Florida, where she was turned over to the Admiralty court.
British authorities strongly protested this action by the Union blockaders, demanding the release of the ship and of two bags of mail which the prize had been carrying. One had been taken on board at Liverpool and the other at Bermuda. The ensuing protracted diplomatic relations delayed the United States attorney at Key West as he attempted to press charges against the ship, but did not save her from ultimate condemnation. The Union case was strengthened by the fact that Adela's master removed the mail bags from the courthouse and destroyed their contents which was thereafter presumed to contain evidence of forbidden activity. Once the vessel finally had been condemned, the Navy purchased her on 23 May 1863.
Since her logs have apparently not survived, the ship decommissioning date is unknown, but she was sold at public auction at New York City on 30 November 1865. Her subsequent career remains a mystery.
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