USS Cambridge (1860)

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USS Cambridge (1861-1865) Depicted during the Civil War. This 19th-century photographic print may be of an artwork, or possibly a model
USS Cambridge (1861-1865) Depicted during the Civil War. This 19th-century photographic print may be of an artwork, or possibly a model.
Union Navy Jack United States
Name: USS Cambridge
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 1860 at Medford, Massachusetts
Acquired: 30 July 1861
Commissioned: 29 August 1861
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Fate: sold, 20 June 1865
General characteristics
Type: Gunboat
Displacement: 868 long tons (882 t)
Length: 200 ft (61 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draft: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
Speed: 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 96
Armament: 2 × 8 in (200 mm) rifles

USS Cambridge (1861) was a heavy (868 long tons (882 t)) steamship purchased by the Union Navy at the start of the American Civil War.

She was outfitted as a gunboat, with two powerful 8 in (200 mm) rifled guns, and assigned to the blockade of ports and waterways of the Confederate States of America.

Built in Massachusetts in 1861[edit]

Cambridge — an armed steamer — was built in 1860 by Paul Curtis, Medford, Massachusetts; purchased at Boston, Massachusetts on 30 July 1861; and commissioned on 29 August 1861, Commander W. A. Parker in command.

Civil War blockade duties[edit]

Assigned to the North Atlantic blockade[edit]

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron from 9 September 1861-5 October 1864, and to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron from 9 February 1865 until the close of the war, Cambridge helped tighten the stranglehold on the Confederacy as she cruised off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina.

Determined vigilance and alert action won her 11 prizes, some of them taken under the guns of Confederate shore batteries. In a brief five days, she and two other ships in company took four blockade runners, and chased a fifth ashore.

Shore party captured[edit]

In one of her most daring exploits, Cambridge's guns drove a schooner ashore near Masonboro Inlet, North Carolina on 17 November 1862. Boat parties from Cambridge rowed through boiling surf, which swamped one of the boats, to burn the schooner, only to be made prisoner themselves by a party of armed Confederate men who sprang out of the brush.


Cambridge was decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and sold there on 20 June 1865.

Historical Relevance[edit]

Cambridge is notable for having picked up escaped slave William B. Gould I off Cape Fear, North Carolina.

See also[edit]


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

External links[edit]