USRC Reliance

Coordinates: 40°26′24″N 74°11′49″W / 40.440°N 74.197°W / 40.440; -74.197
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United States
Laid down1860
Acquired7 May 1861
Commissioned13 May 1861
Out of service28 August 1863
Strickenest. 1863
  • By Confederate forces,
  • 23 August 1863
  • Destroyed by Confederate forces
  • to prevent recapture
General characteristics
Displacement90 tons
Length88 ft 2 in (26.87 m)
Beam17 ft (5.2 m)
Draught7 ft 5 in (2.26 m)
Propulsionsteam engine
Speednot known
  • one 24-pounder howitzer,
  • one 12-pounder howitzer

USRC Reliance was a steamer acquired by the United States Revenue-Marine for use during the American Civil War. Her duties included river patrols and bombarding with her howitzers.[1]

Construction and acquisition[edit]

Reliance, a wooden screw steamer built in 1860 at Keyport, New Jersey, was purchased by the U.S. Revenue-Marine at New York City on 7 May 1861; and commissioned there on 13 May 1861, Acting Lt. Jared P. K. Mygatt in command.

Assigned to the Potomac Flotilla[edit]

Assigned to the Potomac Flotilla, she began her active service by blockading the Virginia side of the Potomac River. From 29 May to 1 June 1861, she joined in attacks against Confederate positions at Aquia Creek, Virginia. On 20 June she engaged Rebel batteries at Marlborough Point, Virginia; and a week later she fought Confederate forces at Mathias Point, Virginia.[2]

Reliance patrolled the river, searching for smuggled supplies, runaway slaves, and deserting Confederate soldiers. On 12 August 1862, she captured the sloop, Blossom, and sent a boat expedition into Sturgeon Creek. She seized the sloop Painter off Alexandria, Virginia, 30 October and took the longboat, New Moon, on 24 November carrying contraband cargo.

Reliance is captured by Confederate raiders[edit]

Along with other boats of the Flotilla, she cooperated in operations with troops of the Army of the Potomac along the Rappahannock River. During these operations, Reliance service was ended by a daring Confederate raid. On 12 August 1863, Lt. John Taylor Wood, CSN, led 80 Rebel troops with six boats loaded on wagons secretly overland to the Rappahannock; concealing themselves by day, the raiders searched the river by night and found Reliance and USS Satellite anchored off Windmill Point at the mouth of the river. On 23 August, Wood's men surprised, boarded, and captured the two Federal gunboats.

Reliance is destroyed to prevent its recapture by the Union Navy[edit]

The Southerners took their two prizes to Port Royal, Virginia. There they were destroyed on 28 August to prevent their recapture by approaching Union cavalry under Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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

  1. ^ King, Irving H. (1989). The Coast Guard under sail : the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, 1789-1865. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-234-6. OCLC 19981299.
  2. ^ "U.S. Revenue Cutters and Lighthouse Service in the Civil War" (PDF).

40°26′24″N 74°11′49″W / 40.440°N 74.197°W / 40.440; -74.197