Friday, January 14, 2011

A Blockade Runner Down

The USS Hatteras a Union blockade gunboat was sunk off the Galveston, Texas coast January 14th 1863.

The USS Hatteras a 1,126 ton side-wheeled steamer, was purchased from Harlan and Hollingworth of Wilmington, Delaware by the Union Navy September 25th 1861. She was fitted in the Philadelphia Naval Yard and placed under the command of Commander George F Emmons. She sailed for Key West, Florida November 13th 1861 to be part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. By January the Hatteras had captured and burnt several blockage runners and a 22 man garrison in Cedar Keys. The Hatteras was then transferred to Berwick, Louisiana to be part of the Gulf Blockading Squadron. On January 27th 1862 she engaged the CSS Mobile, but did little damage. The Hatteras was very successful in the Gulf of Mexico, most ships taken as they made a run for either Havana, Cuba or the Sabine River in Texas.

The Hatteras was under new command January 6th 1863 when she was order to join Admiral David Farragut’s squadron off the coast of Galveston, Texas. On January 14th 1863 she had a run with the CSS Alabama. The Alabama under the command of Raphael Semmes began racking the Hatteras with her guns. For twenty minutes the ships fired at each other from about 25 to 200 yards. The Union Cruiser the Brooklyn was sent to render aid, but the Hatteras had already been hit twice and was beginning to sink. The Captain of the Hatteras flooded her magazines to prevent explosions, surrendered and asked for assistance. The CSS Alabama sent boats to help remove the crew of the Hatteras, with the last of the men pulling away as the Hatteras sank. It took about forty-five minutes.

Of the 126 men on the Hatteras, two were killed and five wounded. Six men managed to escape, but rest were taken to Port Royal, Jamaica to await parole.

For more information about this subject I recommend the web site Civil War Shipwrecks (1861-1865)

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