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Ship Information (from DANFS)1,2:

Name: USS Sassacus Type: Double-Ender Sidewheel Steamer Tonnage: 974
Length: 205’ Beam: 35’ Draught: Loaded: 9’, Light: 7’6”
Speed: Max: 14.5 knots, Avg.: 9 knots Complement: 145 men Class: Sassacus
Armament: January 26, 1864: 2 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 4 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 1 12-pdr. rifle, 1 heavy 12-pdr. Smoothbore

December 6, 1864: 2 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 4 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 4 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 2 12-pdr. Rifles

December 31, 1864: 2 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 4 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 1 12-pdr. rifle, 1 heavy 12-pdr. Smoothbore

January 26 and February 5, 1865: 3 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 3 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 1 12-pdr. rifle, 1 heavy 12-pdr. Smoothbore

Namesake: An Indian word meaning tribe.

Images:

NH 108680: US STEAMER SASSACUS (1863-1865)3

 

Captain(s):
Lieutenant Commander John Lee Davis
Captain Image

Captain 2
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): Sounds of North Carolina, but ordered up the James River | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (June 17, 1864)4

 

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as “ordered up James River.”5
    • “The ship reached Newport News on June 22, 1864. The next day, ‘although sadly yet honorably mutilated,’ she ascended the James River and reported for duty.”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:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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, 1864)10,11

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Notes:
    • On September 1, 1864, this ship is noted as “needs extensive repairs to boiler.”12
    • On September 16, 1864, this ship is noted as “needs extensive repairs to boilers; will be sent to receive them when relieved by the Eutaw.”13

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

Seventh Offensive Order of Battle (November 1-December 31, 1864): Norfolk, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (December 5, 1864) (but was in North Carolina by December 15 for the First Fort Fisher attack)14,15

  • Captain: Lieutenant Commander John Lee Davis (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)16,17,18
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 2 x 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 4 x 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 4 x 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 x 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 2 x 12-pdr. Rifles (December 6, 1864)19
    • 2 x 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 4 x 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 x 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 x 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 1 x 12-pdr. rifle, 1 x heavy 12-pdr. Smoothbore (December 31, 1864)20

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

Not Present (away in North Carolina)(January 1-after February 15, 1865)21,22,23,24

James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 25, 1865)25

  • Captain: Lieutenant Commander John Lee Davis (January 1 & 15 and February 1 & 15, 1865)26,27,28,29
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 3 100-pdr. Parrott rifles, 3 9″ Dahlgren Smoothbores, 2 24-pdr. howitzer rifles, 2 20-pdr. Dahlgren rifles, 1 12-pdr. rifle, 1 heavy 12-pdr. Smoothbore (January 26 and February 5, 1865)30
  • Note: Based on the lists of vessels in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron on February 15 and 25, 1865, the USS Sassacus returned to the James River sometime between those two dates.  More research is needed.31,32

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) (on the Appomattox River on April 1, 1865)33,34,35

  • Captain: Lieutenant Commander John Lee Davis (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)36,37,38
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 12 x “guns” (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)39,40,41
  • Note: On March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Paddle Class” vessel.42,43,44

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

  • TBD

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:45

The first Sassacus, a wooden, double-ended, side-wheel steamer, was launched on 23 December 1862 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard; sponsored by Miss Wilhemina G. Lambert; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 5 October 1863, Lt. Comdr. Francis A. Roe in command.

That day, the new steamer got underway for trials at sea and returned to Boston for repairs. Later, en route to Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, the ship suffered mechanical difficulty and was detained at the Washington Navy Yard for repairs from 19 November 1863 to 22 January 1864. When she finally reached Hampton Roads late in January, the double-ender was assigned to the outer blockade of Wilmington, N.C., and stationed off Cape Lookout Shoals to intercept inward-bound blockade runners attempting to slip through the net of Union ships…

In March [1864], Sassacus returned to Hampton Roads for repairs and then proceeded to the Washington Navy Yard to add two 12-pounder Dahlgren rifles to her battery…

Sassacus, operating with only jury-rig repairs, remained in the sounds for over six weeks [after May 6, 1864] struggling to help maintain the Union’s tenuous grasp on eastern North Carolina. Then, steaming stern first to minimize the pressure on her battered bow, she headed for the James River where Union strength afloat was needed by General Grant in his drive toward Richmond. The ship reached Newport News on 22 June [1864]. The next day, “although sadly yet honorably mutilated,” she ascended the river and reported for duty. The ship operated on the James through the summer, from time to time engaging riflemen along the river banks. In September, she finally sailed north for overdue repairs, reaching Philadelphia on the 26th [of September 1864].

Early in November [1864], Sassacus returned to Hampton Roads where preparations were underway for a joint Army-Navy expedition against Fort Fisher, which protected Wilmington, the Confederacy’s last major blockade-running center…

Late in February [1865], the durable double-ender was ordered back to the James River to support Grant as he closed his stranglehold on the southern capital. After the Confederacy collapsed, Sassacus cruised in the Chesapeake Bay to prevent any possible attempt of conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln to escape by sea. Upon her return to Hampton Roads on 2 May [1865], the ship, in need of extensive repairs, was ordered north. She sailed for Philadelphia on the evening of 4 May. Sassacus was decommissioned and was laid up at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 13 May 1865. She was sold there on 28 August 1868 to John Roach.

 

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. 202
      3. “NH 108680 US STEAMER SASSACUS (1863-1865).” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/NH-108000/NH-108680.html. US STEAMER SASSACUS (1863-1865) Caption: In action against C.S.S ram ALBEEMARLE Description: Catalog #: NH 108680
      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, Volume X, pp. 157158
      6. “Sassacus I (Side-wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/sassacus-i.html.
      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. 410412
      11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      12. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 410412
      13. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
      14. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
      15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
      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, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
      20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
      21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
      22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 597599
      23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 722724
      24. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 2021
      25. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 5455
      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 XII, pp. 2021
      30. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
      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 XII, pp. 5455
      33. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
      34. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
      35. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
      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. 93-94
      44. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116-118
      45. “Sassacus I (Side-wheel Steamer).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/sassacus-i.html.

      ***



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