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Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: CSS Patrick Henry Type: Side-Wheel Steamer Tonnage: 1,300
Length: 250’ Beam: 34’ Draught: 13’(or Forward: 9’4”, Aft: 10’2”)
Speed: 12 knots Complement: 150 men Class: Patrick Henry
Armament: April 30 and November 5, 1864: 4 guns

(DANFS lists: 1 10-inch smoothbore, 1 64-pounder, 6 8-inch, 2 32-pounder rifles)

Namesake: [T]he Virginia Revolutionary War patriot.

Images:

ORNS2Vol1Page262CSSPatrickHenry3

 

Captain(s):
Lieutenant William H. Parker
Captain Image

Captain 2
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy4

  • Captain: Not Listed.5
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”6
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.7

Second Offensive Order of Battle (June 19-30, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy8

  • Captain: Not Listed.9
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”10
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.11

Third Offensive Order of Battle (July 1-31, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy12

  • Captain: Not Listed.13
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”14
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.15

Fourth Offensive Order of Battle (August 1-31, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy16

  • Captain: Not Listed.17
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”18
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.19

Fifth Offensive Order of Battle (September 1-October 13, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy20

  • Captain: Lieutenant William H. Parker21
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”22
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.23

Sixth Offensive Order of Battle (October 14-31, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy24

  • Captain: Lieutenant William H. Parker25
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”26
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.27

Seventh Offensive Order of Battle (November 1-December 31, 1864): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy28,29

  • Captain: Lieutenant William H. Parker (November & December 1864)30,31
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 4 “guns” (November 5, 1864)32
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”33,34
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.35

Eighth Offensive Order of Battle (January 1-February 28, 1865): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy36,37

  • Captain:
    • Not Listed. (January 1865)38
    • Not Listed. (February 1865)39
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”40
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.41

Ninth Offensive Order of Battle (March 1-April 2, 1865): James River Naval Squadron | Confederate Navy42

  • Captain:
    • Lieutenant William H. Parker (April 2, 1865)43
    • Not Listed. (March & April 1865)44
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • This ship is noted as a “gunboat.”45
    • The Patrick Henry doubled as a floating Confederate States Naval Academy during the entire Siege of Petersburg.46

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:47

Patrick Henry was the former side-wheel passenger and freight steamer Yorktown which ran between Richmond, Va. and New York. When Virginia seceded from the Union on 17 April 1861, Yorktown, then in the James River, was seized by the commonwealth and subsequently turned over to the Confederate States Navy.

Brigantine-rigged Yorktown was built at New York City by the renowned William H. Webb in 1859 for the New York & Old Dominion Steam Ship Line. The Webb plans of her are still in existence.

49 year-old Cmdr. John Randolph Tucker, CSN, who commanded the newly organized James River Squadron, ordered that Yorktown be converted into a lightly protected man-of-war at the Confederate States Navy Yard at Rocketts Landing in Richmond and rechristened Patrick Henry, in honor of the Virginia Revolutionary War patriot. She was assigned to a position near Mulberry Island in the James to protect the right flank of the Confederate Army of the Peninsula and during the following months remained vigilant against possible attack by Federal vessels from Newport News.

In October 1863 Patrick Henry housed the floating Confederate States Naval Academy at Drewry’s Bluff, where instruction for 52 midshipmen began under the superintendence of Lt. W. H. Parker. She had been designated as an academy ship in May 1862 and had undergone alterations to accommodate the school.

The Confederate Naval Academy is a somewhat inflated appellation for the school ship Patrick Henry which did double duty during the last two years of the Civil War as a training vessel for Confederate midshipmen and a sometime member of the James River Squadron.

The Naval Academy was founded in mid-summer of 1863 in the wake of the dual Confederate setbacks of Gettysburg and Vicksburg and it existed for less than two years. In that time, a total of 180 young men spent time onboard and 40 of them graduated to bear the title of Passed Midshipmen. It may seem bizarre that the manpower-strapped Confederacy established a naval academy, but Secretary Mallory saw the institution as an essential first step in the professionalization of the Confederate Navy and he continued to support it until the last days of the war.

Also in October 1863, Lt. William H. Parker was appointed commanding officer of Patrick Henry as well as the ironclad Richmond that was also a part of the James River Squadron. 37 year-old Parker was born in N.Y. and was serving as a Lt. in the US Navy when war broke out. He resigned his commission and joined the Confederate Navy on 10 June 1861. Parker commanded the gunboat Beaufort during the Battle of Hampton Roads and then spent several months on shore duty before being assigned duties as executive officer of the ironclad Palmetto State.

Subsequently, Lt. Parker became superintendent of the Confederate Naval Academy based on Patrick Henry. Though the primary purpose of the ship was to provide instruction to the approximately 50 midshipmen at a time that lived and studied aboard her, the scant resources of the Confederacy frequently caused the midshipmen to be called away from their studies to participate in active operations against the enemy. These included the capture and destruction of Underwriter on 2 February 1864 and the boarding and capture of Water Witch III on 3 June 1864. After such adventures, it must have seemed anticlimactic to the midshipmen to return to Patrick Henry in order to take exams.

For those midshipmen still onboard when Richmond fell on 2 April 1865, likely the most unforgettable part of their time at the naval school was their role as mounted escorts for the Confederate treasury during the evacuation of the capital and the flight southwest to Danville, Va. Between 40-60 midshipmen accompanied Lt. Parker and the treasure train, while 10 were left behind with Lt. George W. Billups to scuttle and set Patrick Henry afire that evening. She had never left the confines of the James during her active service.

During the Civil War’s final days in Virginia, Patrick Henry’s first commander, Commodore John Randolph Tucker served in the defenses of Richmond, Va. and with the Army of Northern Virginia as it retreated west. On 6 April 1865 at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, amidst the chaos that was unfolding before them, hardened veterans couldn’t help being amused as the old seaman called to his naval battalion “To the starboard march! Grand moral combination!”. He surrendered in the field with his sailors that evening and remained a prisoner of war until 24 July 1865.

 

Bibliography:

    Siege of Petersburg Documents Which Mention This Unit:

      Sources:

      1. “DANFS.” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs.html.
      2. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 262
      3. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 262
      4. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      5. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      6. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      7. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      8. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      9. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      10. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 118
      11. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      12. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 127
      13. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 127
      14. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 127
      15. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      16. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 136
      17. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 136
      18. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 136
      19. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      20. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 145
      21. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 145
      22. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 145
      23. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      24. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 153
      25. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 153
      26. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 153
      27. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      28. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 161
      29. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 170
      30. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 161
      31. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 170
      32. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 262
      33. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 161
      34. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 170
      35. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      36. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 179
      37. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 189
      38. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 179
      39. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 189
      40. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 179
      41. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      42. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 198
      43. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      44. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 198
      45. The Confederate Order of Battle, Volume 1: The Army of Northern Virginia by F. Ray Sibley, Jr., p. 198
      46. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.
      47. “Patrick Henry (Side-Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/confederate_ships/patrick-henry-side-wheel-steamer.html.

      ***



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