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 Saugus Type: Single-turreted Monitor Tonnage: 1,034
Length: 235’ Beam: 43’8” Draught: Loaded, forward: 13’; Aft: 13’6”
Speed: Max: 8 knots Complement: 81 men Class: Canonicus
Armament: April 25, June 30, July 1, October 13, November 9, 1864; January 13, March 31, June 7, 1865: 2 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores
Namesake: A town in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Images:

NH 42269: USS Saugus (1864-1891)3

 

Captain(s):
Commander Edmund R. Colhoun
Captain Image

Lieutenant Benjamin F. Day
Captain Image

Captain 3
Captain Image

 

First Offensive Order of Battle (June 13-18, 1864): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (June 17, 1864)4

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as at “Trent’s Reach” and “above Wilson’s Wharf” on the James River.5

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (June 30, 1864)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: 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (July 1, 1864)8

Fourth Offensive Order of Battle (August 1-31, 1864): Fourth Division (James River) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (August 1 & 17, 1864)9,10

  • 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, 1864)11

Norfolk Navy Yard, Va. (repairing) | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (September 16 and October 1, 1864)12,13

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (October 13, 1864)14
  • Note: On September 16 and October 1, 1864, this ship is noted as “Second Division, repairing.”15,16

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:

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)17,18,19

  • Captain: Commander Edmund R. Colhoun (November 1 and December 5 & 15, 1864)20,21,22
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (November 9, 1864)23
    • 2 x “guns” (December 15, 1864)24
  • Note:
    • On December 15, 1864, this ship is noted as a “Class 3” vessel.25
    • Based on the lists of vessels in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron on December 15, 1864 and January 1, 1865, the USS Saugus left for North Carolina sometime between those two dates.  She was involved in the first effort to take Fort Fisher in late December 1864 and remained in North Carolina for the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865.26,27,28

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

Not Present (away in North Carolina) (January 1-27, 1865)29,30

James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (February 1, 1865)31

  • Captain: Commander Edmund R. Colhoun (January 1 & 15 and February 1, 1865)32,33,34
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (January 13, 1865)35
    • 2 x “guns” (February 1, 1865)36
  • Note:
    • On February 1, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Class 3” vessel.37
    • Based on the lists of vessels in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron for January 15 and February 1, 1865, the USS Saugus returned to the James River from North Carolina sometimes between those two dates. The DANFS entry for Saugus indicates she reached City Point on January 27, 1865 in response to the Battle of Trent’s Reach.38,39,40

Ninth Offensive Order of Battle (March 1-April 2, 1865): James River, Va. | North Atlantic Blockading Squadron | Union Navy (March 18 and April 1, 1865)(at Trent’s Reach on April 1) (Ordered to Washington, D. C. on or before April 15, 1865)41,42,43

  • Captain:
    • Commander Edmund R. Colhoun (March 18 and April 1, 1865)44,45
    • Lieutenant Benjamin F. Day (April 15, 1865)46
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
    • 2 x “guns” (March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865)47,48,49
    • 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (March 31, 1865)50
  • Note: On March 18 and April 1 & 15, 1865, this ship is noted as a “Screw Class” vessel.51,52,53

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:54

The first Saugus, a single-turreted monitor, was launched on 16 December 1863 by Harlan & Hollingsworth & Co., Wilmington, Del.; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 7 April 1864, Comdr. Edmund R. Colhoun in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Saugus arrived at Port Monroe just as General Grant was making final preparations to lead The Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan to begin his determined drive toward Richmond which, despite appalling casualties, would keep unrelenting pressure on the veteran Confederate Army of Northern Virginia until its surrender at Appomattox Court House almost a year later.

Simultaneous with Grant’s overland thrust, Major General B. P. Butler ascended the James in Navy-protected transports and landed on its south bank at City Point. Butler’s mission was to attack Petersburg, a railroad and communications center through which life flowed to Richmond, the Confederate capital. During these operations, the Union Navy was responsible for maintaining control of the James.

Submarine torpedoes (mines); hit-and-run attacks from riverside batteries; concealed snipers; a strong Confederate Flotilla built around ironclads Virginia II, Fredericksburg, and Richmond; and the tricky channel of the serpentine James itself; all threatened Saugus and her sister ships as they guarded Butler’s line of communications and supply. About noon on 21 June [1864], a Confederate battery on the shore at Howlett’s joined Southern ironclads at Dutch Gap in firing on the Federal squadron which guarded the James just below a line of obstructions in Trent’s Reach. Saugus was struck once, apparently by a 10-inch round shot. Her turret and some of her deck armor plates were damaged. After about three hours, the inconclusive, long-range, artillery duel ended with neither side suffering much damage. Eight days later, Saugus and Hunchback engaged a battery at Deep Bottom Creek. During the summer, as she remained upriver ready to challenge the Southern ironclads should they come down, Saugus frequently supported Union troops by shelling Confederate positions ashore. Late in the summer, she dropped downriver to Gosport for repairs in the Norfolk Navy Yard…

Saugus was still at Norfolk, under repairs and unable to move, early in September when she received orders to proceed with Canonicus, Glaucus, and Janiata to Port Royal, S.C., and there await Farragut…

However, when poor health caused Farragut to decline the appointment, Saugus’s orders south were cancelled; and she returned to duty supporting the Army up the James. In one of her engagements with Southern guns at Howlett’s on 5 December, a solid shot slightly damaged her turret. At mid-month, preparations for the expedition to the Cape Fear River were well advanced; and Saugus dropped downriver, was speedily repaired at Norfolk, and then awaited a tow to New Inlet, N.C…

On the 23d [of January, 1865], as Saugus was proceeding to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs, the Confederate James River Squadron took advantage of the depleted Union naval force on the James and dropped down stream and attempted to slip through the obstructions at Trent’s Reach for an attack on the Union gunboats and Grant’s transports. Rhode Island carried orders to Saugus to turn around and head for the upper James. When the monitor reached City Point on the 27th, she learned that the Confederate fleet, plagued by the grounding of two of her three ironclads and the loss of two wooden gunboats, had already retired.

Saugus remained in the upper James until after the Confederate squadron was scuttled on the night of 2 and 3 April [1865] and Richmond had fallen. She then returned to the Washington Navy Yard. After the assassination of President Lincoln, eight of the suspected conspirators were incarcerated in monitors Saugus and Montuck below decks under heavy guard. The prisoners were manacled with wrist and leg irons and blindfolded. On the 30th, they were transferred to the Arsenal Penitentiary located on the ground now occupied by Fort McNair. Three were later to be hanged, three sentenced to prison terms, and two released without being brought to trial.

Saugus was decommissioned and laid up at Washington on 13 June 1865. Recommissioned on 30 April 1869, the monitor steamed to the West Indies to investigate reports of mistreatment of Americans in Cuba during a revolt there. Thence she cruised along the Florida coast until she was decommissioned and laid up at Key West on the last day of 1870. During this service, she was renamed Centaur on 15 June 1869 but resumed the name Saugus on 10 August 1869.

After being towed to Philadelphia for repairs, the monitor was recommissioned at the navy yard there on 9 November 1872, sailed south, and was based at Key West until transferred to Port Royal, S.C., in 1876. During this tour of duty at Key West, the ship was out of commission from 9 March to 10 October 1874. In 1877, Saugus returned to Washington and was decommissioned there on 8 October of that year. The monitor was condemned in 1886 and sold on 25 May 1891.

 

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 42269 USS Saugus (1864-1891).” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/NH-42000/NH-42269.html. In Trent’s Reach on the James River, Virginia, circa early 1865. Note the mine sweeping rake attached to her bow. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 42269
    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. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
    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, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
    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, p. 326
    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, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
    15. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 462463
    16. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 514515
    17. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
    18. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
    19. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    20. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 3940
    21. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 140142
    22. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 192194
    23. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
    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. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pp. 398400
    28. “Saugus I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saugus-i.html.
    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. 202
    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. 722724
    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. “Saugus I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saugus-i.html.
    41. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    42. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    43. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    44. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    45. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    46. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    47. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    48. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    49. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    50. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 202
    51. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 7173
    52. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 9394
    53. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XII, pp. 116118
    54. “Saugus I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/s/saugus-i.html.

    ***



    What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

    { 0 comments… add one now }

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: