USS Princess Royal (1863)

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Career (United States)
Builder: Ted & McGregor, Glasgow, Scotland
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: date unknown
Acquired: 18 March 1863
Commissioned: 4 February 1863
Decommissioned: circa 21 July 1865
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Captured: by Union Navy forces
29 January 1863
Fate: sold, 17 August 1865
General characteristics
Displacement: 828 tons
Length: 199 ft (61 m)
Beam: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Propulsion: steam engine
Speed: 11 knots
Complement: not known
Armament: two 30-pounder Parrott rifles
one 9-inch Dahlgren smooth bore
four 24-pounder howitzers

Princess Royal was a cruiser in the Union Navy during the American Civil War.


Princess Royal was a British blockade runner captured at Charleston, South Carolina on 29 January 1863. She was purchased by the United States Navy from the Philadelphia Prize court 18 March 1863; fitted out as a cruiser; and commissioned 29 May 1863, Commander Melancthon B. Woolsey in command.

Assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Princess Royal participated in the engagement with Confederate forces at Donaldsonville, Louisiana, 28 June 1863. Then ordered to the Texas coast, she captured the British schooner Flying Scud near Matamoros, Tamaulipas 12 August, and assisted in seizing the schooner Wave 22 August. Continuing her patrols into 1864 she took Neptune off Brazos de Santiago, 19 November 1864; ran down the schooner Flash six days later; seized the schooner Alabama, 7 December; and captured Cora off Galveston, 19 December.

On 7 February 1865, she assisted in the capture of her last prize, the schooner Anna Sophia in Galveston Bay. Five months later Princess Royal was ordered north, arriving at Philadelphia 21 July. She was sold at public auction 17 August 1865.

Post war[edit]

In July 1866 the SS General Sherman entered Korean waters and attempted to travel upriver to the capital of the Joseon Dynasty, Pyongyang. Due to heavy rains in the region and the varying water levels along the river, the SS General Sherman ran aground near Pyongyang. The crew on the General Sherman attempted to trade with the locals. Korean officials refused all trade offers although they provided the crew with the supply of foods. Then, the crew of General Sherman imprisoned Korean officials to force the trade negotiation. When the tactic did not work, the crew fired the cannons against the civilians who gathered around the riverbank to see the ship. There were 7 deaths and 5 wounded. After this the Koreans opened fire on the ship and a battle ensued for the next four days, ending with the General Sherman being set ablaze and the crew all hacked to death.

Even though this incident is recorded in Korean history and would later be the catalyst for the US expedition to Korea in 1871, US Navy records[citation needed] state that the ship was active until the 10 January 1874, when she sank off Cape Fear, North Carolina.[1]

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]