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USS Ascutney
Career (US) US flag 34 stars.svg
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 4 April 1863
Acquired: June 1863
Commissioned: 28 July 1864
Decommissioned: 22 September 1864
In service: 19 October 1865
Out of service: 1 August 1868
Struck: 1868 (est.)
Fate: sold, 28 October 1868
General characteristics
Displacement: 974 tons
Length: 205 ft (62 m)
Beam: 35 ft (11 m)
Draft: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Depth of hold: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Propulsion: steam engine
side wheel-propelled
Speed: not known
Complement: 102
Armament: two 100-pounder rifles
four 9” smoothbores guns
two 24-pounder howitzers
two 12-pounder howitzers

USS Ascutney (1862) was a large steamer with powerful guns acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a gunboat in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways. Post-war she performed some steamship service for the Navy.

Launched in 1863 in MassachusettsEdit

Ascutney—a wooden-hulled, side-wheel gunboat ordered by the Navy in the autumn of 1862—was launched on 4 April 1863 by G. W. Jackson at Newburyport, Massachusetts, on 4 April 1863. Delivered to the New York Navy Yard in June 1863, she was commissioned on 28 July 1864, Lt. Comdr. William Mitchell in command.

Ordered to search for the steamer Electric SparkEdit

On 1 August 1864, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles ordered Mitchell to ". . . visit the fishing grounds on the eastern coast [of the] French Islands, in the Bay [Gulf] of St. Lawrence ..." to seek the steamer Electric Spark, a prize of CSS Florida, thought to have been sent there. However, some now-unknown problem prevented Ascutney from undertaking this mission; and, three days later, Welles instructed Mitchell to bring his ship to Washington, D.C. en route to duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

Assigned to the North Atlantic BlockadeEdit

The steamer arrived at Beaufort, North Carolina, on 21 August and, two days later, sailed for waters off Wilmington, North Carolina.

Encounter with Confederate raider CSS TallahasseeEdit

Assigned to the outer cordon of blockaders attempting to seal off that vital Confederate port, Ascutney was the first Union warship to encounter CSS Tallahassee when—at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of 25 August—a lookout sighted that Confederate raider which Comdr. John Taylor Wood, CSN, was bringing back to Wilmington, North Carolina, at the end of a highly destructive 19-day cruise. Mitchell immediately gave chase, but the Southern ship's speed—17 knots—enabled her to slip away with ease. To make matters worse, Ascutney's engine broke down, taking the gunboat out of the race.

Decommissioned after engine failureEdit

Following a survey, the gunboat was towed to the Washington Navy Yard where she was decommissioned on 22 September 1864. Extensive repairs kept her in ordinary through the end of the Civil War.

Recommissioned post-war for cargo serviceEdit

Finally recommissioned on 19 October 1865, Ascutney was stationed at the Washington Navy Yard and carried cargo and passengers in the Chesapeake Bay area and along the Atlantic Ocean coast between New York City and the Virginia Capes.

Post-war decommissioning, saleEdit

Decommissioned at Washington, D.C. on 1 August 1868, she was sold on 28 October 1868 to John Roach. Since the ship's name did not appear on subsequent lists of merchant vessels, and since Roach was then embarking upon an extensive shipbuilding program, it is reasonable to conclude that she was scrapped for her materials

See alsoEdit


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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