Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Blockade Runner To Blockader

The USS Memphis was purchased by the Union Navy September 4th 1862 from a New York City prize court.

The USS Memphis was built by William Denny and Brothers in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1861 as a Confederate blockade runner.  The ship was a 791 ton screw steamer, and it sported seven guns.  The Memphis was making a run on the Union blockade on June 22nd 1862, when it ran aground entering Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.  Confederate troops were able to get her partially unloaded the next day and tow her to safety.  The Memphis was captured leaving Charleston with cargo of cotton July 31st 1862 by the USS Magnolia a side wheeler.

At a prize court in New York City the Union Navy bought the Memphis on September 4th 1862.  She was commissioned on October 4th 1862 the USS Memphis, under the command of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Pendleton G Watmough.  The Memphis was assigned to the South Atlantic Blocking Squadron and on October 14th 1862 she captured a British steamer heading for Havana, Cuba.  In January 1863 with help of the USS Quaker City the Memphis captured the CSS Mercury heading for Nassau, Bahamas with a cargo of turpentine.  The USS Memphis began operating on the North Edisto River near Charleston, South Carolina in March 1864.  A Confederate torpedo boat the CSS David attempting a run, hit the Memphis with a couple of torpedoes but they didn’t explode.  The Memphis served out the war doing her blockading duty.

The Memphis was decommissioned May 6th 1867 and sold to the V Brown & Co in New York.  She was renamed the Mississippi and put to work as a freight ship.  On May 13th 1883 she was gutted by a fire while docked in Seattle, Washington and abandoned.

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