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 Tecumseh Type: Single-Turreted Monitor Tonnage: 1,034
Length: 223’ Beam: 43’8” Draught: Loaded: 14’; When Launched: Forward, 7’5”, Aft: 10’10”
Speed: 7 knots Complement: 100 men Class: Canonicus
Armament: March 28, 1863 and July 30, 1864: 2 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores
Namesake: While still a youth, Tecumseh, a Shawnee Indian chief born near the present site of Springfield, Ohio, sometime in or around 1768, won renown as a brave and skillful warrior. He devoted his life to opposing the advance of white settlers. Reasoning that land in North America, especially in the Ohio valley, belonged to all of the tribes in common, Tecumseh maintained that sales of territory by any single tribe to the United States were null and void. After the Federal Government refused to recognize this principle, Tecumseh attempted to organize a great Indian Confederacy to stem the white tide.

However, while he was in the South working to unite the tribes, Federal troops under Governor William Henry Harrison defeated and scattered Indian forces on 7 November 1811 in the battle of Tippecanoe. This defeat doomed the Indian Confederacy.

After Congress declared war on Great Britain the following year, Tecumseh accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the British army. He cooperated with British troops to win a number of victories in the Great Lakes region, including the capture of Detroit. However, Comdr. Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, late in the summer of 1813, cut British supply lines and prompted them to withdraw along the Thames Valley. Tecumseh and his braves covered the British retirement until American troops led by Harrison, now a major general, caught up with them at Moraviantown. Tecumseh was killed in the ensuing Battle of the Thames on 5 October 1813.

In June 1930, a bronze replica of the figurehead of ship-of-the-line Delaware was presented by the Class of 1891 to the United States Naval Academy. This bust, perhaps the most famous relic on the campus, has been widely identified as Tecumseh. However, when it adorned the American man-of-war, it commemorated not Tecumseh but Tamanend, the revered Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn to America when he arrived in Delaware country on October 2, 1682.

Images:

NH 61473: "Destruction of the Monitor 'Tecumseh' by a Rebel Torpedo, in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864."3

 

Captain(s):
Commander Tunis A. M. Craven
TunisAMCravenUSNavyV74P36744

Captain 2
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)5

  • Captain: Commander Tunis A. M. Craven (June 15, 1864)6
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: On June 17, 1864, this ship is noted as at “Trent’s Reach” and “above Wilson’s Wharf.”7

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

  • Captain: Commander Tunis A. M. Craven (at least June 21, 1864)8
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament:
  • Note: Eutaw, Tecumseh, Tritonia, Pink, Rose, and Althea were ordered to leave the front for Hampton Roads on June 23, 1864. The latter four vessels, all tugs, were to be repaired by Captain Gansevoort prior to being sent on to their destinations.9,10

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

  • Captain:
  • Crew Strength:
  • Armament: 2 x 15″ Dahlgren Smoothbores (July 30, 1864)11
  • Note: The Tecumseh left the James River on July 5, 1864 in company with Augusta and Eutaw and resumed her voyage southward to Mobile Bay. She would be sunk there in August 1864.12

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

  • Not Present

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

  • Not Present

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

  • Not Present

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

  • Not Present

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

  • Not Present

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

  • Not Present

 

Siege of Petersburg Battles:

 

Siege of Petersburg Involvement:14

The first Tecumseh, an iron-hulled, single-turret monitor, was launched on 12 September 1863 at Jersey City, N.J., by Secor and Co., of New York City; and was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 19 April 1864, Comdr. Tunis A. M. Craven in command.

Although slated to strengthen Rear Admiral Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron for forthcoming operations against Confederate fortifications guarding Mobile Bay, Tecumseh was ordered to serve temporarily with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, then sorely taxed by General Grant’s operations against Richmond-particularly by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s planned landing to establish a bridgehead across the James at Bermuda Hundred. Early in May, she was assigned to the James River Flotilla; and she ascended the river to guard Union shipping from Confederate naval forces below Richmond.

In order to prevent Confederate warships from coming down from the upper navigable reaches of the James, The Union Army and Navy cooperated to block the channel. Tecumseh participated in this effort from 15 to 18 June by sinking four hulks; stretching a heavy boom across the channel supporting a chain cable; extending a heavy boom across the flats; and sinking a schooner along the right hand bank of the river from which a short boom was extended to the flats.

Three days after the obstructions were completed, Tecumseh’s commanding officer, Comdr. Craven, [on June 21, 1864] noticed that the enemy was building a line of breastworks at Howlett’s Farm. Tecumseh’s gunners manned their Dahlgrens, and Craven ordered “commence fire.” Five heavy shells landed amidst the enemy encampment and work gang. Craven reported, “I threw into it [the Confederate construction gang’s vicinity] five 15-inch shells, two of which exploded in the right place, destroying a platform, throwing the plank and timbers in every direction.” The Union shells stirred up a veritable hornet’s nest. At 1130, the enemy unmasked a battery of four guns.

Tecumseh resumed fire, and Craven ordered Canonicus and Saugus to engage as well. The enemy guns replied; and, a half-hour later, Confederate ironclads near Dutch Gap commenced what Craven termed “a wild cross-fire.” The enemy vessels, however, were concealed by a line of trees, and thus the Union guns could not reach them.

“Our fire was delivered slowly and with great precision,” wrote Craven, “most of our shells exploding within the works of the enemy.” Tecumseh ceased fire at 1330, as Craven gave his crew a half-hour to rest and eat dinner before delivering a slow and devastating fire from 1400 to 1600. During the engagement, the monitor fired 46 15-inch shells and was not struck by any return fire. She and her sister Union warships had turned back the Confederate threat to Grant’s riverine supply line.

On 5 July [1864], the monitor got underway in company with Augusta and Eutaw and resumed her voyage southward…

[SOPO Editor’s Note: Tecumseh never returned to the Siege of Petersburg.  Commander Craven and nearly the entire crew went down with the ship at the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. The Tecumseh hit a torpedo (aka a mine) and sank almost instantaneously.]

 

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. 220221
      3. “NH 61473 ‘Destruction of the Monitor ‘Tecumseh’ by a Rebel Torpedo, in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.”.” Naval History and Heritage Command, www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/photography/numerical-list-of-images/nhhc-series/nh-series/NH-61000/NH-61473.html. Photo #: NH 61473 Destruction of the Monitor ‘Tecumseh’ by a Rebel Torpedo, in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864. Line engraving, after a sketch by Robert Weir, published in Harper’s Weekly, 10 September 1864, depicting the loss of USS Tecumseh during the Battle of Mobile Bay. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 61473
      4. Tunis A. M. Craven image.  MOLLUS-Mass Civil War Photograph Collection, Vol. 74, Page 3674L.  United States Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA.
      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 1, Volume X, pp. 149150
      7. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume X, pp. 157158
      8. “Tecumseh I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/t/tecumseh.html.
      9. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10, p. 197
      10. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume X, pp. 198199
      11. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 1, p. 220 221
      12. “Tecumseh I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/t/tecumseh.html.
      13. “Tecumseh I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/t/tecumseh.html.
      14. “Tecumseh I (Monitor).” Naval History and Heritage Command, https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/t/tecumseh.html.

      ***



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