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Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Heliotrope Type: Sidewheel Steamer Tonnage: 239
Length: 134’ Beam: 24’6” Draught: 5’
Speed: Avg.: 6 knots Complement: Not Listed. Class:
Armament: October 23, 1864: 1 heavy 12-pdr.

April 1, 1865: 1 30-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 12-pdr. rifle, 1 heavy 12-pdr. rifle

Namesake: An herb of the genus heliotropium.

Images:

Image Needed (Does One Exist?)

 

Captain(s):
Acting Ensign James M. Norman
Captain Image

Captain 2
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): Hampton Roads, Virginia | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (June 17, 1864)3

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as a “tug, without battery, in ordnance service.”4
    • Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.5

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.6

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.8

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.10

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • On September 16, 1864, this ship is noted as a “tug; Hampton Roads.”14
    • On October 1, 1864, this ship is noted as a “tug.”15
    • Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.16

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 1 x heavy 12-pdr. (October 23, 1864)17
  • Note: Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.18

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

Norfolk Navy Yard, Va. (repairing) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (November 1, 1864)19

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (December 5, 1864)20

Norfolk, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (December 15, 1864)21

  • Captain: Acting Ensign James M. Norman (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)22,23,24
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 1 x “gun” (December 15, 1864)25
  • Notes:
    • On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.26
    • Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.27

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

Norfolk, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (January 1 & 15, 1865)28,29

Hampton Roads | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 1, 1865)30

  • Captain: Acting Ensign James M. Norman (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)31,32,33
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 1 x “gun” (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)34,35,36
  • Notes:
    • On January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.37,38,39
    • Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.40

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

  • Not Present41
  • Armament: 1 x 30-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 x 12-pdr. rifle, 1 x heavy 12-pdr. rifle (April 1, 1865)42
  • Note: Heliotrope typically served as a tug and ordnance boat with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla on January 23, 1865.43

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:44

Heliotrope, a wooden steamer, was originally named Maggie Baker, and was purchased by the Navy from her owner, Stacey Pitcher, at New York 16 December 1863. Renamed Heliotrope, she commissioned at New York Navy Yard 24 April 1864.

Heliotrope was assigned initially to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and sailed soon after her commissioning to Hampton Roads, Va., where she served as a tug and ordnance boat. She continued this duty with occasional patrols up the James River, until her transfer to the Potomac Flotilla 23 January 1865.

Heliotrope reported for her new duties early in February, and participated 6-8 March in a joint expedition up the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg. In cooperation with Army units, Heliotrope and the other gunboats succeeded in destroying railroad facilities, a large quantity of track, and a depot of army supplies. Returning to routine patrolling in the Potomac, she embarked with other gunboats on another expedition 16 March, sending her small boats with about 50 men up Mattox Creek. Three schooners and various types of supplies were captured or destroyed on this 2-day foray.

The small gunboat continued her vital work of choking off Confederate supplies in the Potomac River area until mid-April, when she steamed for New York, arriving 20 April. Heliotrope decommissioned 12 January 1865 and was sold 17 June to the Department of the Treasury for use with the Lighthouse Service.

 

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. 100
      3. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      4. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      5. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      6. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      7. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 324325
      8. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
      10. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      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. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 100
      18. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      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. 3940
      23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      26. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      27. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      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 XI, pp. 398400
      32. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      33. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      34. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      35. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      36. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      37. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      38. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      39. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      40. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      41. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      42. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 100
      43. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.
      44. “Heliotrope.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/h/heliotrope.html.

      ***



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