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 Minnesota Type: Frigate Tonnage: 3,307
Length: 264’8.5” Beam: 51’4” Draught: Loaded, forward: 22’10”, Aft: 23’10”
Speed: Max, Steam: 5.5 knots; Max, Sail: 12.5 knots Complement: 540 men Class: Minnesota
Armament: May 26, 1864: 1 150-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 11” Dahlgren Smoothbore, 18 9” Dahlgren Smoothbores

October 12, 1864 and January 3, 1865: 1 150-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 11” Dahlgren Smoothbore, 4 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 18 9” Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 12-pdr. rifled howitzers, 2 12-pdr. Smoothbore howitzers

Namesake: Minnesota, a territory named for a Lakota (Sioux) Native American word meaning “sky‑tinted water” and organized in 1849, was admitted to the Union as the 32d State on 11 May 1858.

Images:

ORNVol05Page617Minnesota3

 

Captain(s):
Commodore Joseph Lanman
Captain Image

Lieutenant Moses S. Stuyvesant
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)4

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 1 x 150-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 x 11” Dahlgren Smoothbore, 18 x 9” Dahlgren Smoothbores (May 26, 1864)5
  • Note: On June 17, 1864 the ship was recruiting, with the crew mostly discharged.6

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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

  • Captain: Lieutenant Moses S. Stuyvesant (July 18, 1864)8
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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: On August 17, 1864, this ship is noted as at “Hampton Roads.”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: Commodore Joseph Lanman (October 1, 1864)14
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 1 x 150-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 x 11” Dahlgren Smoothbore, 4 x 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 18 x 9” Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 x 12-pdr. rifled howitzers, 2 x 12-pdr. Smoothbore howitzers (October 12, 1864)15
  • Notes:
    • On September 1, 1864, this ship is noted as at “Hampton Roads.”16
    • On September 16, 1864, this ship is noted as “reported in bad condition and in much want of repairs.”17
    • On October 1, 1864, this ship is noted as “engines in bad condition.”

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (November 1 and December 5, 1864)18,19

Not Present (North Carolina) (December 15, 1864)20

  • Captain: Commodore Joseph Lanman (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)21,22,23
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 46 x “guns” (December 15, 1864)24
  • Note: On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 1” vessel.25

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

Not Present (North Carolina) (January 1 & 15, 1865)26,27

Not Present (Portsmouth, NH) (February 1, 1865)28

 

  • Captain: Commodore Joseph Lanman (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)29,30,31
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 46 x “guns” (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)32,33,34
    • 1 x 150-pdr. Parrott rifle, 1 x 11” Dahlgren Smoothbore, 4 x 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 18 x 9” Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 x 12-pdr. rifled howitzers, 2 x 12-pdr. Smoothbore howitzers (January 3, 1865)35
  • Note: On January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 1” vessel.36,37,38

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

  • Not Present (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)39,40,41

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:42

The first Minnesota, a wooden steam frigate, was authorized by an Act of Congress on 6 April 1854 and laid down in May 1854 at the Washington [D.C.] Navy Yard; launched on 1 December 1855; and sponsored by Miss Susan L. Mann, of Washington, D.C. She had cost $691.408.14 to build. She was commissioned on 21 May 1857, Capt. Samuel F. Du Pont in command…

Minnesota reached Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Colony (South Africa) on 20 April [1859], and returned to Boston Navy Yard on 2 June, where she decommissioned and remained in ordinary until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Minnesota was recommissioned on 2 May 1861, Capt. Gershom J. Van Brunt in command.

[SOPO Editor’s Note: A lengthy description of Minnesota’s service early in the Civil War is omitted.]

For the next few years, Minnesota served as the flagship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (the Navy divided the Atlantic Blockading Squadron into the North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons on 29 October 1861), sailing frequently off Wilmington, N.C. Minnesota seized Confederate schooner Almira Ann, running the blockade with a cargo of timber, near the Chickahominy River, Va., on 17 May 1863. Lt. Joseph Fyffe relieved Cmdr. Harrison as the commanding officer on 19 November [1863]. Lt. Cmdr. John H. Upshur relieved Lt. Fyffe as the commanding officer on 9 December [1863].

A Union army expedition attempted to seize a Confederate encampment and a store of tobacco on Pagan Creek near Smithfield, Va., on 1 February 1864. Minnesota deployed launches that embarked some of the soldiers, in company with other vessels including converted ferry boat Commodore Morris. Southern sharpshooters defeated the landing with the Union loss of army gunboat Smith Briggs.

Acting Master James M. Williams of screw steamer Commodore Barney led a boat expedition up Chuckatuck Creek, Va., against some Confederate soldiers reported to be in the vicinity on the night of 29 and 30 March 1864. Acting Master Charles B. Wilder of Minnesota led a detachment of sailors from the ship that reinforced Williams. The men landed at Cherry Grove shortly before dawn, silently surrounded the enemy headquarters, and captured 20 prisoners. Rear Adm. Samuel P. Lee, Commander North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, reported to Secretary Welles that “…it gives me pleasure to commend the energy and zeal displayed by these officers in planning and carrying out to a successful termination an expedition of no little difficulty.”…

Rear Adm. Lee led Union ships and soldiers in a thrust up the Nansemond River, Va., to search for Confederate troops believed to be in the area, and to capture Squib (13–14 April 1864). Acting Lt. Charles B. Wilder led two launches from Minnesota, which joined converted ferryboats Commodore BarneyCommodore MorrisCommodore PerryShokokon, and Stepping Stones. Confederate snipers killed Wilder near Smithfield, and Lt. Cmdr. Upshur afterward noted that “true to the reputation he had won among his shipmates for promptness and gallantry, he fell while in the act of firing a shot at the enemy.” The raiders took a handful of prisoners, but Squib again eluded capture by slipping from Smithfield toward Richmond on 10 April.

During the spring of 1864, the Confederates considered a bold plan to divert Union forces from the fighting in Virginia that included an operation to free the estimated 15,000 Southern prisoners held at a Northern prison at Point Lookout, Md. Maj. John Tyler, CSA, wrote to Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, CSA, explaining the scheme. Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early, CSA, Commander Second Corps, was to capture Baltimore, and hold the city with his infantry while his cavalry assailed Point Lookout. The naval portion comprised a voyage by Capt. John T. Wood, CSN, and five gunboats carrying 20,000 ‘stand of arms’ to rendezvous with Early at the prison. In the event of victory, the Confederates considered a further assault to seize Washington, D.C. “This I regard as decidedly the most brilliant idea of the war,” Tyler concluded.

Lt. Moses S. Stuyvesant, who had recently assumed command of Minnesota, learned of the plan from intelligence gained in the area of the ship’s operations. Stuyvesant telegraphed Secretary Welles, who alerted the army, during the evening of 18 July 1864: “The commanding general at this point deems reliable the following information which he has just obtained from four refugees [Confederate deserters]. That 800 Sailors and Marines, under John T. Wood, left Richmond on the 7th or 8th of July, to man two armed blockade runners at Wilmington, N.C., for the purpose of attempting the release of prisoners confined here. Will telegraph to senior officer at Fortress Monroe.” Unbeknownst to Stuyvesant, however, the inadequate Southern security precautions alarmed Confederate President Jefferson F. Davis, who feared that the Northerners learned of the attack, and on 10 July he recommended its cancellation. The Confederates subsequently ended the operation.

Commodore Joseph Lanman relieved Lt. Stuyvesant as the commanding officer of Minnesota on 1 October 1864.

[SOPO Editor’s Note: The large portion removed here discusses the two assaults on Fort Fisher outside Wilmington, NC in December 1864 and January 1865.]

Minnesota was decommissioned at Portsmouth, N.H., on 16 February 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. 145
      3. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume V, p. 617
      4. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      5. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 145
      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. “Minnesota I (Frigate).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/m/minnesota-i.html.
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 370371
      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. “Minnesota I (Frigate).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/m/minnesota-i.html.
      15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 145
      16. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 410412
      17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      18. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
      19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
      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. 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. 398400
      27. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      28. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      29. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      31. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      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, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 145
      36. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      37. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      38. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      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. 7173
      41. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      42. “Minnesota I (Frigate).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/m/minnesota-i.html.

      ***



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