USS Lackawanna (1862)

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Uss lackawanna 1880.jpg
United States
NameUSS Lackawanna
BuilderNew York Navy Yard
Launched9 August 1862
Commissioned8 January 1863
Decommissioned7 April 1885
FateSold 30 July 1887
General characteristics
Displacement1,533 long tons (1,558 t)
Length237 ft (72 m)
Beam38 ft 2 in (11.63 m)
Draft16 ft 3 in (4.95 m)
Propulsionsteam engine, screw-propelled
Speed10.5 kn (12.1 mph; 19.4 km/h)
Armament2 × 24-pounder howitzers, 2 × 12-pounder howitzers, 2 × 12-pounder rifled guns, 1 × 150-pounder Parrot rifled gun, 1 × 50-pounder Dahlgren rifled gun, 2 × 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren smoothbores, 2 × 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren smoothbores

The first USS Lackawanna was a screw-propelled sloop-of-war in the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

Lackawanna was launched by the New York Navy Yard on 9 August 1862; sponsored by Ms. Imogen Page Cooper; and commissioned on 8 January 1863, Captain John B. Marchand in command. She was named after the Lackawanna River in Pennsylvania.

Civil War[edit]

The new screw sloop-of-war departed New York on 20 January, to join the Union blockade of the southern coast. She reported to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at Pensacola, Florida early in February and, for the remainder of the war, served along the gulf coast of the Confederacy, principally off Mobile Bay. Lackawanna took her first prize – Neptune – on 14 June after a long chase in which the 200 long tons (200 t) Glasgow ship had jettisoned her cargo trying to escape. The Union sloop-of-war scored again the next day, capturing steamer Planter as the Mobile blockade runner attempted a dash to Havana, Cuba laden with cotton and resin.

Following duty along the Texas coast near Galveston in March–April 1864, Lackawanna returned to the blockade of Mobile early in May to prevent the escape of Confederate ram Tennessee. During the summer she served in the blockade while preparing for Admiral David Farragut's conquest of Mobile Bay.

On 9 July, with Monongahela, Galena, and Sebago, she braved the guns of Fort Morgan to shell steamer Virgin, a large blockade runner aground at the entrance of Mobile Bay. The Union guns forced a southern river steamer to abandon efforts to assist Virgin, but the next day the Confederates refloated the blockade runner which reached safety in Mobile Bay. Closing this strategic southern port was an important part of the Union strategy to isolate and subdue the South.

At dawn on the morning of 5 August, Farragut's ships crossed the bar and entered the bay. A Confederate squadron, led by ironclad ram Tennessee and a field of deadly mines awaited to block their advance. Farragut's lead monitor Tecumseh struck a mine and went down in seconds. The Confederate flagship Tennessee vainly tried to ram Brooklyn and the action became general, raging for more than an hour. At one point in the struggle, Lackawanna rammed Tennessee at full speed, causing the Confederate ram to list, and later she collided with Hartford while attempting to ram Tennessee again, shortly before the ironclad struck. This daring operation closed the last major gulf port to the South.

Twelve of Lackawanna's sailors received the Medal of Honor for their actions during this battle:[1][2]

Following the Union victory in Mobile Bay, Lackawanna continued to operate in the gulf, enforcing the blockade until after the end of the Civil War. She departed Key West on 24 June 1865, reached New York on the 28th, and decommissioned at New York Navy Yard on 20 July.


Pacific, 1866–1885[edit]

Recommissioned on 7 May 1866, Commander William Reynolds in command, Lackawanna sailed for the South Atlantic on 4 August, transited the Straits of Magellan on 9 November, and arrived Honolulu, Hawaii on 9 February 1867. Lackawanna sailed to Midway Island and, on 28 August 1867, Captain Reynolds took formal possession of the island for the United States.[3] She continued to operate in the Pacific, primarily in the Hawaiian Islands and along the coast of California and Mexico, until she arrived at Mare Island for decommissioning on 10 February 1871.

In 1867, the USS Lackawanna surveyed what is now called Kure Atoll to produce more accurate charts of the reefs, which had been causing shipwrecks.[4]

Recommissioning on 8 May 1872, the steam sloop sailed for the Orient on 22 June and served in the Far East until returning to San Francisco on 23 April 1875. In October 1880, in the midst of the War of the Pacific, Lackawanna sailed for the South Pacific to host a conference of diplomacy proposed by the U.S. to end the war, such conference took place at the port of Arica. Officials from the countries involved in the war – Peru, Chile, and Bolivia – did not reach an immediate agreement and U.S. efforts failed.[5]: 153  For two brief periods, Lackawanna continued to operate in ordinary in the Pacific during the next 12 years. On 16 March 1883 at Honolulu, Captain of the Hold Louis Williams jumped overboard and rescued a fellow sailor from drowning, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. A year later, at Callao, Peru, on 13 June 1884, Williams again rescued a man from drowning, along with Ordinary Seaman Isaac L. Fasseur. Both Williams and Fasseur were awarded a Medal of Honor for this act, making Williams one of the few two-time recipients of the award.[6] Lackawanna finally decommissioned at Mare Island on 7 April 1885 and was sold there to W. T. Garratt & Company on 30 July 1887.


  1. ^ "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (A–L)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (M–Z)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 26 June 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  3. ^ Orent, Beatrice & Reinsch, Pauline (1941). "Sovereignty over Islands in the Pacific". American Journal of International Law. 35 (3): 443–461.
  4. ^[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ B.W. Farcau, The Ten Cents War
  6. ^ "Medal of Honor Recipients – Interim Awards, 1871–1898". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010.