USS Leyden (1865)
|Namesake:||Original merchant ship name retained after acquisition by U.S. Navy|
|Builder:||James Tetlow, Chelsea, Massachusetts|
|Fate:||Foundered near Block Island on 21 January 1903|
Leyden was launched in 1865 by James Tetlow, Chelsea, Massachusetts. From 1866 to 1879 she operated as a yard tug at the Boston Navy Yard, performing various harbor duties out of Boston, Massachusetts, until reassigned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1879. Leyden served there until 1897, when she was assigned to Newport, Rhode Island. While the ship was near Boston on 26 August 1881, Seaman Michael Thornton jumped overboard and rescued a fellow sailor from drowning, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In 1898, Leyden performed towing operations off Cuba during the Spanish–American War. On 21 July 1898, her captain Ensign Walter S. Crosley joined armed yacht USS Wasp, and gunboats USS Annapolis and USS Topeka in firing on and sinking the Spanish sloop Jorge Juan in Nipe Bay, Cuba, in the Battle of Nipe Bay. She also fought at the Battle of Fajardo the night of 8–9 August, bombarding enemy positions with her one-pound guns to support bluejackets from USS Amphitrite (BM-2) holding the Cape San Juan Light against a Spanish ground attack. The next morning, Leyden transported 60 women and children from the town of Fajardo that had been quartered at the lighthouse to Ponce, Puerto Rico.
From 1898 to 1903, Leyden alternated her services between the Caribbean and Newport, Rhode Island. While on a return passage from Puerto Rico on 21 January 1903, the tug foundered in heavy fog off Block Island, ending her long, useful career. Ordinary Seaman Ernest H. Bjorkman, Fireman First Class Loddie Stupka, Quartermaster Third Class August P. Teytand, and Chief Machinist Michael Walsh received the Medal of Honor "for heroism at the time of the wreck of that vessel".
- "Medal of Honor Recipients - Interim Awards, 1871–1898". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy for the Year 1898, Appendix to the Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, p. 657
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Photo gallery at Naval Historical Center