286,151 Pages

USS Vindicator (1863)
USS Vindicator 55835.jpg
Sepia wash drawing by F. Muller, circa 1900, depicting USS Vindicator on the Western Rivers during the Civil War.
Career (US) Union Navy Jack
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: date unknown
Acquired: in 1864 from the Union Army
Commissioned: 24 May 1864
Decommissioned: circa 24 April 1865
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Fate: sold, 29 November 1865 at Mound City, Illinois
General characteristics
Displacement: 750 tons
Length: not known
Beam: not known
Draught: 6 ft (1.8 m)
Propulsion: steam engine
side wheel-propelled
Speed: 12 MPH
Complement: not known
Armament: ram
one 100-pounder Parrott rifle
two 24-pounder howitzers
one 12-pounder rifle
one heavy 12-pounder gun

USS Vindicator (1863) was a 750-ton steamer acquired by the U.S. Navy and put to use by the Union during the American Civil War.

Vindicator served the Union Navy primarily as a ram on the Mississippi River and its tributaries as part of the Union effort to control the Mississippi River and, essentially, divide the Confederate States of America in half. Vindicator was also equipped by the Navy as a gunship with a number of powerful guns installed on board.

Acquired by the Union in Indiana in 1863[edit | edit source]

Vindicator—originally acquired by the Federal Government in 1863 at New Albany, Indiana, for use by the Union Army during the American Civil War—was transferred to the Union Navy in 1864; and commissioned on 24 May, Lt. Comdr. Thomas O. Selfridge in command.

Civil War operations[edit | edit source]

Reworked as a ram gunboat[edit | edit source]

Shortly after her transfer from the Army, Vindicator was reworked at Mound City, Illinois, for use as a ram in the Mississippi Squadron. She was assigned Command to the 5th District of the squadron on 4 July and deployed off Natchez, Mississippi, later that month.

While off Natchez, Vindicator and her squadron performed patrol and reconnaissance duties, and the mere presence and vigilance of the formidable Union gunboats there were credited with preventing a planned Confederate crossing of the river on 22 August.

USS Vindicator photographed on the Western Rivers in 1864-65, tied up to the shore. Note glossy paint on her hull, possibly an indication that the photograph may have been taken when Vindicator was first commissioned.

Yazoo River expedition[edit | edit source]

Vindicator was transferred to the 6th District of the Mississippi River for duty in early November. During an expedition up the Yazoo River, Vindicator and the stern-wheeler Prairie Bird transported and covered Union cavalry forces in an attack on Confederate communications in western Mississippi on the 27th. The Federals destroyed the railroad bridge over the Big Black River and tore up tracks for a distance of 30 miles around. Major General Napoleon J. T. Dana praised the performance of the two gunboats, saying:

"The assistance of the vessels of the Sixth Division Mississippi Squadron rendered the expedition a complete success."

Pursuit of CSS William H. Webb[edit | edit source]

Vindicator remained in the 6th District for the duration of the war and conducted a spirited, though unsuccessful, pursuit of the ram William H. Webb off the mouth of the Red River in Mississippi on 23 and 24 April 1865. During the chase, Acting Master D. P. Slattery of Vindicator stoked his boilers to near bursting point, commenting that

"Such was the spirit animating every officer, man, and boy that all seemed to vie with each other in the rapid and intelligent execution of each order."

Vindicator was withdrawn from service soon thereafter and laid up at Mound City, Illinois, where she was partially dismantled in July.

Post-war decommissioning and subsequent career[edit | edit source]

She was sold at public auction at Mound City to W. L. Hambleton on 29 November; redocumented New Orleans on 27 February 1866; and dropped from documentation in 1869.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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

External links[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.