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Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Alabama Type: Sidewheel Steamer Tonnage: 1,261 (or 1,264)
Length: 214’4” Beam: 35’2” Draught: Loaded: 14’6”, Light: 12’
Speed: Max: 13 knots, Avg.: 9 knots Complement: 175 men Class: Alabama
Armament: May 30, November 9 and October 20, 1864 and January 13, 1865: 6 32-pdrs. 57 cwt., 1 9” pivot, 2 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 12-pdr. rifle
Namesake: The 22d state, admitted to the Union on 14 December 1819, whose name is derived from two Choctaw Indian words: “alba amo,” meaning “thicket gatherers” or “vegetation gatherers.”

Images:

EarlyAmericanSteamersVol1Page007Alabama3

 

Captain(s):
Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne
Captain Image

Captain 2
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864):

  • Not Present

Second Offensive Order of Battle (June 19-30, 1864):

  • Not Present (source needed)

Third Offensive Order of Battle (July 1-31, 1864):

  • Not Present (in North Carolina)4

Fourth Offensive Order of Battle (August 1-31, 1864):

  • Not Present (in North Carolina)5

Fifth Offensive Order of Battle (September 1-October 13, 1864):

  • Not Present (in North Carolina)6,7,8

Sixth Offensive Order of Battle (October 14-31, 1864):

  • Not Present (source needed)
  • Armament: 6 x 32-pdrs. 57 cwt., 1 x 9” pivot, 2 x 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 x 12-pdr. rifle (October 20, 1864)9

Seventh Offensive Order of Battle (November 1-December 31, 1864):

  • Not Present (in North Carolina)10,11,12
  • Armament: 6 x 32-pdrs. 57 cwt., 1 x 9” pivot, 2 x 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 x 12-pdr. rifle (November 9, 1864)13

Eighth Offensive Order of Battle (January 1-February 28, 1865):

Not Present (Away in North Carolina)(January 1-prior to February 1, 1865)14,15

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 1 & 15, 1865)16,17

Dispatch Vessel [Where?] | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 25, 1865)18

  • Captain: Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)19,20,21,22
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 6 x 32-pdrs. 57 cwt., 1 x 9” pivot, 2 x 30-pdr. Parrott rifles, 1 x 12-pdr. rifle (January 13, 1865)23
    • 10 x “guns” (February 1 & 15, 1865)24,25
  • Notes:
    • On February 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 3” vessel.26,27
    • On February 25, 1865, this ship is noted as “carrying ordnance stores.”28

Ninth Offensive Order of Battle (March 1-April 2, 1865):

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (March 18, 1865)29

James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (April 1, 1865) (at City Point April 1)30

Ordered to West Gulf Squadron. (On or before April 15, 1865)31

  • Captain: Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Amos R. Langthorne (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)32,33,34
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 10 x “guns” (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)35,36,37
  • Note: On March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Paddle Class” vessel.38,39,40

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:41

The secession of Virginia from the Union on 17 April 1861 extended Confederate territory to the southern bank of the Potomac, greatly imperiling the capital of the United States and prompting immediate action to strengthen Washington’s almost nonexistent defenses with Northern troops. Two days later, supporters of the South clashed with soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts as that regiment was passing through Baltimore en route to Washington. This prompted Baltimore officials to order the destruction of railroad bridges north of their city. This action severed all direct rail connection between Washington and the large cities of the North which were sending troops to its defense. To reopen the flow of the capital, the Army commandeered a number of steamships in Northern ports for service as transports. Alabama, which would become the first ship to serve the United States Navy under the name of that state, was one of these steamers.

Laid down in 1849 by William Henry Webb in his shipyard on New York City’s East River, Alabama was launched sometime in 1850, probably on either 19 January or 10 June. In any case, the steamer was delivered to the New York and Savannah Steam Navigation Co. in January 1851. Before the month was out, she sailed for Savannah on her first run for her owner…

The urgent need to strengthen the defenses of Washington ended more than a decade of commercial service along the Atlantic coast for Alabama. Taken over by the Army shortly after the Baltimore riots, the steamer embarked troops at New York and got underway for the Virginia capes in company with two other transports. Escorted by the Navy’s just recommissioned brig Perry, the little convoy rounded Cape Charles and proceeded up Chesapeake Bay to the mouth of the Severn River. Upon its arrival at Annapolis on 25 April, the Union soldiers disembarked and boarded trains which, bypassing Baltimore, took them to Washington.

However, paperwork seems to have been slow in catching up with the actions taken by the Federal Government during the opening weeks of the Civil War, and the earliest charter for its use of Alabama is not dated until 10 May 1862. Meanwhile, into the summer of 1861, the steamer had continued to carry troops, munitions, and supplies to Annapolis and to Fort Monroe, the Union’s only remaining hold on the shores of Virginia’s strategic waters in the Virginia capes-Hampton Roads area.

The Union Navy purchased Alabama, at New York on 1 August 1861 from the firm of S. L. Mitchell and Son and, after fitting the ship out for naval service, commissioned her at the navy yard there on 30 September 1861, Comdr. Edmund Lanier in command…

[SOPO Editor’s Note: Most of the ships service prior to the Siege of Petersburg time frame has been omitted here.]

Recommissioned on 17 May 1864, Acting Vol. Lt. Frank Smith in command, she stood down the Piscataqua River and headed out to sea on the 30th. After stopping at New York for 10 days, she resumed her voyage south and joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Newport News, Va., on 11 June and served in its waters through the end of the war. Highlights of her remaining year in naval service were her participation in the capture of Annie off New Inlet, N.C., as that British steamer attempted to slip out of Wilmington with a cargo of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine; and her shelling of Fort Fisher during the two attacks on that Confederate stronghold which protected Wilmington, in late-December 1864 and in mid-January 1865.

On 26 March of the latter year [1865], she ascended the James River to City Point, Va., and remained there during the final days of Grant’s drive on Richmond. After the fall of Richmond and Lee’s surrender, she headed downstream on 10 April [1865] and remained in the Newport News-Hampton Roads area during the first 10 days of uncertainty, fear, and anger following Lincoln’s assassination.

Alabama stood out to sea on the 24th and, two days later, entered the New York Navy Yard for repairs. Somewhat refurbished, she headed south again on 22 May and operated between Atlantic ports from Hampton Roads to the Delaware River for almost two months. She was decommissioned at Philadelphia on 14 July 1865, sold at auction there to Samuel C. Cook on 10 August 1865, and redocumented under her original name on 3 October 1865. She operated along the Atlantic coast between New York and Florida under a series of owners. In 1872 her engines were removed and on 12 September of that year she was reregistered as a schooner. The veteran ship was destroyed by fire, probably sometime in 1878, but the details of her destruction are not known.

Civil War Involvement (Erik Heyl’s Early American Steamers)42:

On October 13, 1855 the ALABAMA cleared New York for Savannah and the ports on Florida’s east coast, to which the service had been extended and continued on this run for the next six years until the beginning of the Civil War.

August 1, 1861 ALABAMA was bought by U. S. Navy Department for $93,000.- and was armed with eight 32-pounder guns; after commissioning she was attached to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. December 21, 1861 she captured the valuable ship ADMIRAL from Liverpool off Tybee Island loaded with contraband cargo. June 20, 1862 in concert with the KEYSTONE STATE the ALABAMA captured the schooner CATALINA loaded with cotton off Charleston, S. C. September 23, 1862 she seized the British schooner NELLIE loaded with drugs and hardware off Ossabaw Sound. She continued on blockade and cruising duty until the end of 1864 when she was in the second line of the Federal fleet attacking Fort Fisher on December 24 and 25, which action was not successful. She was again in the second line of the large fleet when the second attack was made on the Fort January 14 and 15, 1865, tho in this engagement she was chiefly used in ferrying soldiers to the shore and covering the transports.

The USS ALABAMA was decommissioned July 14, 1865 and sold out of service August 10, 1865 at Philadelphia, Pa., to Samuel C. Cook for $28,000.-.

 

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. 30
      3. Heyl, Erik. Early American Steamers, Volume 1 (Buffalo, NY (self-published?): 1953), pp. 78
      4. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 324325
      5. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
      6. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 410412
      7. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      8. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 30
      10. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
      11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      12. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      13. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 30
      14. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      16. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      18. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 5455
      19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 30
      24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      26. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      27. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      28. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 5455
      29. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      31. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      32. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      33. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      34. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      35. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      36. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      37. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      38. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      39. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      40. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      41. “Alabama I (Side Wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/a/alabama-i.html.
      42. Heyl, Erik. Early American Steamers, Volume 1 (Buffalo, NY (self-published?): 1953), pp. 78

      ***



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