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USS Ossipee (1861)
USS Ossipee (1861)
Career Union Navy Jack
Name: USS Ossipee
Namesake: The Ossipee River
Builder: Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine
Laid down: June 1861
Launched: 16 November 1861
Sponsored by: Mrs. McFarland
Commissioned: 6 November 1862
Decommissioned: 3 July 1865
Recommissioned: 27 October 1866
Decommissioned: 30 November 1872
Recommissioned: 10 October 1873
Decommissioned: 25 May 1878
Recommissioned: 28 January 1884
Decommissioned: 12 November 1889
Fate: Sold 25 March 1891
General characteristics
Type: Screw sloop-of-war
Displacement: 1,240 long tons (1,260 t)
Length: 207 ft (63 m)
Beam: 38 ft (12 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Depth of hold: 16 ft 10 in (5.13 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 141 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 1 × 100-pounder Parrott rifle
• 1 × 11 in (280 mm) smoothbore Dahlgren gun
• 3 × 30-pounder Dahlgren rifles
• 6 × 32-pounder guns
• 1 × heavy 12-pounder smoothbore gun
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle

The first USS Ossipee was a wooden, screw sloop of war in the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was named for the Ossipee River of New Hampshire and Maine.

Ossipee's keel was laid down in June 1861 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine; launched 16 November 1861; sponsored by Mrs. McFarland, wife of the editor of the Concord Statesman; and commissioned 6 November 1862 Lieutenant Commander Robert Boyd in command. Ossipee was one of four sister ships which included USS Adirondack, USS Housatonic and USS Juniata.

Service history

Civil War, 1862–1865

Ten days later Captain John P. Gillis took command of the ship and she got underway for Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in which she served until departing Newport News, Virginia, 18 May 1863 to join the West Gulf Blockading Squadron off Mobile, Alabama. She captured schooner Helena there 30 June and with USS Kennebec seized steamers James Battle and William Bagley in the Gulf of Mexico on 18 July. The former, "the finest packet on the Alabama River...altered to suit her for a blockade runner," was laden with cotton and rosin while the latter carried cotton which they hoped to sell abroad.

In September Ossipee steamed to the coast of Texas for blockade duty until returning to station off Mobile in mid-March 1864 as Admiral David Farragut built up his forces for the invasion of Mobile Bay. On 5 August, with USS Itasca alongside, she passed the forts and entered Mobile Bay with Farragut and participated in the ensuing naval battle, playing a large role in the struggle with Tennessee which finally forced the well fought, heavy southern ironclad ram to surrender.

In September Ossipee returned to blockade duty off the Texas coast and, but for repairs at Pensacola, Florida late in 1864, served there until moving to New Orleans, Louisiana in April 1865. She was one of the Federal ships to pursue CSS Webb during the Confederate steamer’s daring attempt to race down the Mississippi River and escape to sea.

Following duty off Mobile, Ossipee sailed North late in June and decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 3 July.

Pacific, 1866–1872

Recommissioned 27 October 1866, Captain George F. Emmons in command, Ossipee served in the north Pacific protecting American interests along the coasts of Mexico and Central America. She departed San Francisco 27 September 1867 for Sitka, Alaska, carrying Russian Commissioners for the ceremony transferring Alaska to the United States on 18 October.

After serving in the Pacific into the spring of 1872, Ossipee headed home on 6 June. On 20 June, Seaman James Benson jumped overboard to rescue a shipmate, for which he was later awarded the Medal of Honor.[1] Ossipee arrived in New York on 18 November, and was decommissioned there on the 30th.

North Atlantic, 1873–1878

Recommissioned 10 October 1873, the veteran sloop of war served in the North Atlantic. She departed Key West 15 December for Dry Tortugas to await filibustering steamer Virginius which had been seized on the high seas by Spanish cruiser Tornado under fraudulent American registry. To help ease tension caused by the Virginius Affair, Spain had turned the prize over to the United States, represented by Captain Whiting, commander of USS Despatch at Bahia Honda, Cuba. Despatch took Virginius to Tortugas. Ossipee departed Tortugas 19 December towing Virginius north, but the notorious prize foundered off Cape Hatteras a week later. Ossipee continued operations in the North Atlantic until decommissioning at Boston 25 May 1878.

Asiatic Squadron, Atlantic, 1884–1891

Recommissioned 28 January 1884, Ossipee departed Hampton Roads 30 April for the Far East via Gibraltar and the Suez Canal and served on the Asiatic station until returning to New York 15 February 1887. She then served along the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies until decommissioning at Norfolk, Virginia 12 November 1889. She was sold there 25 March 1891 to Herbert H. Ives.

See also


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  • Canney, Donald L. (1990). The Old Steam Navy: Frigates, Slops and Gunboats, 1815–1882. 1. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-004-1. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Olmstead, Edwin; Stark, Wayne E.; Tucker, Spencer C. (1997). The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast, and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, New York: Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-88855-012-X. 
  • "Ossipee". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command (NH&HC). Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). Civil War Navies 1855–1883. The U.S. Navy Warship Series. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97870-X. 

External links

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