USS Epsilon (aka Picket Boat No. 5) (aka Tug No. 5)

   

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in Union Navy

Editor’s Note: Do you have information on this ship’s role at the Siege of Petersburg?  Please contact us using the Contact button in the menu at the top of the screen.  We are happy to exchange information with other researchers.

Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Epsilon (aka Tug No. 5) (aka Picket Boat No. 5) Type: Tug Tonnage: 55
Length: 66’ Beam: 15’ Draught: 7’6”
Speed: Max: 9 knots, Avg.: 3 knots Complement: Not listed. Class: Not listed.
Armament: October 18, 1864: 8 muskets
Namesake: The fifth letter of the Greek alphabet.

Images:

01767vEpsilonCLOSEUP3

 

Captain(s):
Acting Master Frederick W. Mintzer
Captain Image

Acting Ensign Ely M. Boggs
Captain Image

Acting Ensign Charles F. Russell
CharlesFRussellUSNavyV109P56224

Captain 4
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): James River | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (June 17, 1864)5

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
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  • Note: On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as “unarmed; fitting with torpedoes” and “above Wilson’s Wharf” on the James River.6

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

  • Captain:
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Third Offensive Order of Battle (July 1-31, 1864): Fourth Division (James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (July 31, 1864)7

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Fourth Offensive Order of Battle (August 1-31, 1864): Fourth Division (James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (August 1 & 17, 1864)8,9

  • Captain:
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  • Note: On August 17, 1864, this ship is noted as a “torpedo boat.”10

Fifth Offensive Order of Battle (September 1-October 13, 1864): Second Division (Hampton Roads and James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (September 1 & 16 and October 1, 1864)11,12,13

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  • Note:
    • On September 16, 1864, this ship is noted as “fitted as torpedo boat.”14
    • On October 1, 1864, this ship is noted as in “James River; fitted as torpedo boat.”15

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
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Seventh Offensive Order of Battle (November 1-December 31, 1864): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)16,17,18

  • Captain:
    • Not listed. (November 1, 1864)19
    • Acting Ensign Ely M. Boggs (December 5 & 15, 1864)20,21
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • On December 5, 1864, this ship is noted as having its name changed to “Epsilon.”22
    • On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.23

Eighth Offensive Order of Battle (January 1-February 28, 1865): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)24,25,26,27

  • Captain:
    • Acting Ensign Ely M. Boggs (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)28,29,30
    • Acting Master Frederick W. Mintzer (February 15, 1865)31
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.32,33,34,35

Ninth Offensive Order of Battle (March 1-April 2, 1865): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)36,37,38

  • Captain:
    • Acting Ensign Frederick W. Mintzer (March 18, 1865)39
    • Acting Ensign Charles F. Russell (April 1 & 15, 1865)40,41
  • Crew Strength:
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  • Note: On March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Screw Class” vessel.42,43,44

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:45

Epsilon, a steam tug, was purchased as Harry Bumm at Philadelphia 3 June 1864, and assigned to duty in the James River, Acting Ensign Ely M. Boggs in command. She was known as Tug No. 5 until November 1864 when she was named Epsilon.

Throughout her career, Epsilon performed useful service in the James, reconnoitering, patrolling, serving as picket, carrying mail, and transferring men from one ship’s company to another. She was ordered north in May 1865 and was sold at New York 12 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. 79
      3. Deep Bottom, Va., vicinity. Transport Linda of Philadelphia and a monitor Onondaga? on the James. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2018666829/>. SOPO Editor’s Note: Picket Boat #5, renamed Epsilon, is the vessel pictured here.  Note the “5” painted on her smokestack.  This alone would not necessarily be a smoking gun, but Picket Boats #3 and #4 are located further to the right in the original image.  The Delta or Picket Boat #4 was originally the Linda of Philadelphia.  The vessel is identified both in the title of the larger image and in the traditional spot on her stern.  She has the #4 painted on her smokestack. Given this information, it is easy to deduce that the vessel behind her with a “3” on the smokestack is Picket Boat #3, renamed Gamma and the vessel pictured here is Picket Boat #5, the Epsilon.
      4. Charles F. Russell image.  MOLLUS-Mass Civil War Photograph Collection, Vol. 109, Page 5622.  United States Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA.
      5. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      6. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      7. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 324325
      8. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, p. 326
      10. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
      11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 410412
      12. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      13. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
      14. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
      16. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
      17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      18. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
      20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      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 XI, pp. 398400
      29. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      31. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      32. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      33. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      34. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      35. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      36. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      37. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      38. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      39. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      40. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      41. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      42. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      43. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      44. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      45. “Epsilon.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/e/epsilon.html.

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