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Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Saffron Type: Screw Tug Tonnage: 73
Length: Not Listed. Beam: Not Listed. Draught: Forward: 5’, Aft: 8’
Speed: Max: 14 knots Complement: 16 men Class: Not Listed.
Armament: 1 gun
Namesake: A species of crocus used as a source of orange dye.

Images:

Image Needed (Does One Exist?)

 

Captain(s):
Acting Volunteer Lieutenant [Acting Ensign] Henry M. Pishon
Captain Image

Captain 2
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

  • Not present at the Siege of Petersburg.

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

Perth Amboy, NJ (up to her purchase date of December 8, 1864)3

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (December 15, 1864)4

  • Captain: Acting Volunteer Lieutenant [Acting Ensign?] Henry M. Pishon (~December 15, 1864)5,6
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: The Saffron was commissioned within a week after December 8, 1864, her purchase date by the US Navy, and was serving at Hampton Roads by December 15, 1864.7
  • Note: On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.8

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

Hampton Roads, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (January 1 & 15, 1865)9,10

James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 1, 15 & 25, 1865)11,12,13

  • Captain: Acting Ensign Henry M. Pishon (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)14,15,16,17
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 4” vessel.18,19,20,21

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

Norfolk Navy Yard, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (March 18, 1865)22

James River, Va. (April 1 & 15, 1865)23,24

  • Captain: Acting Ensign Henry M. Pishon (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)25,26,27
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On March 18 and April 1, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Screw Class” vessel.28,29
  • Note: On April 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “torpedo boat.”30

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • Clearing the James River of Mines (April 3, 1865)
  • Towing the captured Confederate Ironclad Texas down the James River (April 3-4?, 1865)

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:31

John T. Jenkins, a wooden-hulled screw tug built in 1863 at New Brunswick, N.J., was purchased by the Navy on 8 December 1864 at Perth Amboy, N.J.; renamed Saffron; and commissioned within the following week, Act. Vol. Lt. Henry M. Pishon in command.

The tug was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and was serving at Hampton Roads by 15 December 1864. Saffron operated there and up the James River supporting Army forces during the final months of General Grant’s Richmond campaign.

On 3 April 1865, soon after Union forces learned that General Lee had evacuated Richmond, Saffron joined a group of other Union ships in clearing obstructions and torpedoes from the channel leading to the fallen city. Their rapid and efficient work enabled President Lincoln to proceed safely up stream the next day to the newly-captured Confederate capital. There, throngs of rejoicing former slaves greeted the President as he walked to the Confederate executive mansion.

After clearing the river to Richmond, Saffron helped to tow a captured Confederate ram, Texas, down stream. The tug then continued to operate in the James, clearing torpedoes and obstructions from that important waterway, until late in May.

Her squadron’s report of 1 June [1865] tells that Saffron either had recently sailed or was about to sail north.

No record of her decommissioning has been found, but it is certain that the ship was sold at New York City to a D. Townsend on 25 October 1865. The tug was redocumented as Clifton on 17 February 1866 and remained in merchant service until she was lost under unknown circumstances in 1885.

 

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. 196
      3. “Saffron.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saffron.html.
      4. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      5. “Saffron.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saffron.html.: This source lists Pishon as an Acting Volunteer Lieutenant.
      6. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194: This source lists Pishon as an Acting Ensign
      7. “Saffron.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saffron.html.
      8. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      10. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      12. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      13. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 5455
      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 XI, pp. 398400
      19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      26. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      27. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      28. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      29. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      31. “Saffron.” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saffron.html.

      ***



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