USS Columbine (1862)

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For other ships with the same name, see USS Columbine.
United States
Name: USS Columbine
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 1850
Acquired: 12 December 1862
Out of service: 23 May 1864
Fate: sunk, 23 May 1864
General characteristics
Type: side-wheel steamer originally built as a tugboat
Tonnage: 133
Length: 117 ft (36 m)
Beam: 36 ft (11 m)
Draft: 6 ft (1.8 m)
Speed: 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 25 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 20-pounder Parrott rifles

USS Columbine (1862) was a side-wheel steamer that patrolled with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in the American Civil War.

On 22 May 1864, Columbine was planning a raid on Confederate supplies at St. Augustine, Florida, when local cavalry commander Captain John Jackson Dickison, alerted by Confederate spy Lola Sánchez, ambushed the vessel at Horse Landing. Half her crew were wounded, though only one man was killed, and the captured vessel was burned. It was one of the few times that a Union warship was destroyed by land-based forces in Florida.


Columbine was originally a tugboat. The vessel was built in New York City in 1850 as A. H. Schultz, purchased by the Union Navy on 12 December 1862, outfitted by Howe & Cope-\land, New York City, and placed under the command of Acting Master J. S. Dennis.

Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockade[edit]

Columbine patrolled with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Port Royal, South Carolina, from 6 January 1863-14 February 1864, when she arrived at Jacksonville, Florida. From 9–12 March, she participated in an expedition up the St. Johns River and Ocklawaha Rivers during which she took one prize.

Battle of Horse Landing[edit]

After learning from Confederate spy Lola Sánchez, that on 21 May, the Union forces planned a surprise attack on the Confederates while they slept and with the intention of proceeding towards St. Augustine to "liberate" supplies for the Union army.[1][2] Captain John Jackson Dickison, commander of Confederate forces of the 2nd Florida Cavalry, and his men crossed the St. Johns River that night and set a trap with an artillery piece from the Milton Light Artillery.

Columbine captured by Confederate cavalry and burned[edit]

The Capture of the "USS Columbine"

On the morning of 22 May, the Union forces plans were foiled when they were ambushed upon their arrival. The skirmish which followed, officially known as the "Battle of Horse Landing", occurred south of St. Augustine. Union Colonel William H. Noble, commander of the 17th Connecticut Infantry, was wounded in the ambush and taken prisoner. After the rudder was damaged and a steam pipe wrecked, Columbine could no longer be steered. She ran aground after 45 minutes of fighting, and Acting Ensign Frank Sandborn went ashore and surrendered the ship to Captain John Jackson Dickison. One landsman on the Columbine and three Negro seamen jumped off the boat, swam ashore, and marched some five days finally arriving at St. Augustine, Florida. Columbine was subsequently burned so that she would not be re-captured by Ottawa, which was only about five miles upstream.

More than half of Columbine's crew were wounded in the fighting. Official records of Columbine indicate that only one seaman was killed. The remaining seamen were eventually transferred to Andersonville, Georgia Prison; the officers being sent to Macon, Georgia.


The destruction of Columbine was one of the few instances in which a Union warship was destroyed by land-based forces during the Civil War in Florida. During the spring of 1864, the Confederates managed to sink four other Union ships in the St. Johns River with the use of a new weapon: the underwater mine.

The wreck has only recently been discovered and a marker was placed on the site where Dickison and his men captured the "USS Columbine by the Florida Confederation For The Preservation Of Historic Sites, Inc.[3]

See also[edit]


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

  1. ^ Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie (2011). "Hispanic Confederate Heritage - The Sanchez sisters". BellaOnline: Hispanic Culture Site. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  2. ^ William D. Chisolm (2008). "True heroine for the Confederacy to be honored". Columbia Star. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Horse Landing Project". The Florida Confederation for the Preservation of Historic Sites website. Daytona Beach, FL: The Florida Confederation for the Preservation of Historic Sites, Inc. 

External links[edit]