The USS Ice Boat was owned by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was also sometime called the Refrigerator and Release. Right after the Civil War started Philadelphia offered her for the use of the Union Navy. The USS Ice Boat was placed in service under the command of Commodore Oliver S Glisson on April 23rd 1861. She left Philadelphia that day to protect Union troops who were landing at Annapolis, Maryland.
The Ice Boat did duty on the Potomac River and Aquia Creek, trying to stop the trade between Virginia and Maryland. When the Union lost at the First Battle of Bull Run, she returned to the Washington, DC area to defend the city. After a month she returned to Aquia Creek where she served until late in November 1861, before being returned to the city of Philadelphia.