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USRC Walter Forward (1841)
Career (U.S.) US flag 34 stars.svg Ensign of the United States Coast Guard.svg
Namesake: Walter P. Forward.
Owner: U.S.
Operator: U.S. Revenue Marine.
Builder: William Easby, Washington, D.C.
Launched: 1841
Acquired: 23 April 1842
Commissioned: circa 16 May 1842
Decommissioned: 30 November 1865.
In service: Fall 1847
Out of service: 30 November 1865.
Struck: 1865
Homeport: Baltimore, Maryland.
Honors and
U.S. Navy commendation.
Fate: Sold on 30 November 1865 in Baltimore MD for approximately $5000.00.
General characteristics
Type: Topsail schooner.
Displacement: 139 tons.
Length: 89 feet.
Beam: 21 feet 2 inches.
Draft: 8 feet, 6 inches.
Propulsion: Sail.
Sail plan: Topsail.
Speed: Varied.
Armament: 2 x 18-pounder; 4 x 9-pounders.

USRC Walter Forward (1841) was a schooner constructed for service with the United States Revenue Marine. She served with the U.S.Navy in Mexican waters during the Mexican-American War and was, after the war, was temporarily transferred to the U.S. Coast Survey as USC&GS Walter Forward before being returned to the U.S. Revenue Marine for service during the American Civil War.

Schooner constructed for the Revenue MarineEdit

The cutter Forward was built in Washington, D.C. and was first stationed at Baltimore, Maryland. She also served out of Wilmington, Delaware later in her career. She was charged with enforcing customs laws, sailing on annual winter cruises, and assisting mariners in distress. She was ordered to the Gulf of Mexico in May 1846 to cooperate with the U.S.Army and U.S.Navy during the Mexican-American War. She participated in the blockade of Vera Cruz and in the amphibious assaults on Tabasco, coming under enemy fire, and receiving a commendation from Commodore Matthew C. Perry. She returned to Wilmington, DE in May 1847. From mid-1862 until the end of the Civil War, she was stationed at Beaufort, North Carolina. She was decommissioned and sold in Baltimore, Maryland in November 1865 for approximately $5,000.

Assigned to join U.S. Naval forcesEdit

On 16 May 1846, soon after hostilities broke out with Mexico, Walter Forward was ordered to sail to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, make repairs there, and then to join the naval forces in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as possible.

Mexican-American War operationsEdit

She set sail for the gulf on 23 May 1846 in company with another cutter, USRC Ewing, and arrived at South West Pass of the Mississippi River on 19 June 1846. There, General Zachary Taylor ordered the ship to blockade a stretch of the Mexican coast near Soto la Marina and capture any ships engaged in trade with the enemy. That and similar missions occupied her the mid-summer of 1846.

Patrolling off Tampico, MexicoEdit

On 23 August 1846, she received orders to report for duty with Commodore David Conner's naval squadron off Tampico, Mexico. Four days later, she entered the anchorage at Anton Lizardo and began patrolling off Tampico. That assignment lasted until the middle of September 1846, at which time she moved farther down the coast to join the blockade of Veracruz.

Attempting to save Revenue Cutter McLaneEdit

In mid-October 1846, she joined a force commanded by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, U.S.N.. On 15 October 1846, Perry's ships attempted to cross the bar at the mouth of the Alvarado River. The steamer Vixen led the way and succeeded in making her crossing, and Walter Forward followed, in tow of sister revenue cutter the USRC McClane.

McLane grounded on the bar while the three ships she towed fouled each other's towlines. Vixen engaged the Mexican batteries on shore but, when it became apparent that McLane would never succeed in getting across the bar, she and her tows retired. Luckily, McLane came off the bar, and all American ships retired.

Foray on the Tabasco RiverEdit

The next day, however, Walter Forward set sail for a similar, but far more successful, amphibious operation at the mouth of the Tabasco River on the Yucatan peninsula. Successfully navigating the bar on 23 October 1846, the force quickly seized the town of Frontera and took several prizes in the process.

Walter Forward and the other small steamers attached to Perry's force then continued the foray, sailing 74 miles up the river through hostile territory to the town of Tabasco. There, they seized additional enemy shipping—before returning to the ocean on 26 October 1846. However, Walter Forward remained at Frontera until late November 1846, engaged in the destruction of the captured Mexican shipping. She departed the area on 21 November 1846 and returned to the base at Anton Lizardo on 23 November 1846.

U.S. Navy commendationEdit

The Forward received a commendation from Commodore Matthew C. Perry, U.S.N, vice commander of the U.S. Navy Home Squadron for her participation in the Tabasco River landings, where-in he said in part: "I am gratified to bear witness to the valuable services of the Revenue Schooner (sic) Forward".

Carrying dispatches to BelizeEdit

In December 1846, the revenue cutter left the Mexican coast to carry dispatches to Belize City in British Honduras. She returned to blockade duty on 7 February 1847 and took station off Veracruz once again on 9 February 1847. She continued routine blockade operations at various points along the eastern coast of Mexico until April 1847. On 15 April1847, she received orders to set sail for Wilmington, Delaware. Voyaging by way of New Orleans, Louisiana, she reached her destination on 23 May 1847.

Temporarily transferred to the Coast SurveyEdit

She underwent repairs during the summer of 1847 and, that fall, transferred to the cognizance of the U.S. Coast Survey.

Returned to service with the Revenue MarineEdit

Walter Forward completed that duty in mid-December 1847 and resumed service with the Revenue Marine at Wilmington. She performed routine Revenue Marine duty for most of the remainder of her active career.

American Civil War serviceEdit

During the American Civil War, Walter Forward participated in troop transport convoys in the Chesapeake Bay and took part in one small skirmish at the mouth of Wicomico River in Virginia.

Post-war decommissioning and saleEdit

Her career ended soon after the end of that war. Her sale was ordered at Baltimore, Maryland, on 30 November 1865.

See alsoEdit


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Coast Guard.

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