Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Figure 1: Wash drawing by Clary Ray, circa 1900, of USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892), depicts the ship as she appeared during the Civil War. Courtesy of the US Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892) photographed after reconstruction, circa 1874-1884. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892) tied up at the Sheer Wharf, Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, circa 1876, after she was reconstructed. Note the sheer legs on the wharf, and the sterns of USS Wabash and USS Ohio at the left. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892) in dry dock, probably at the New York Navy Yard in 1884 or 1885, showing damage received in August 1884 when she was sunk in a collision with the schooner James S. Lowell. The view looks toward her starboard side, just forward of the midships superstructure. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892) at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, circa 1886, following her final rebuilding. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, view of the waterfront, circa 1886, with the floating dry dock at left. Ships present are (from left to right): USS Constellation; USS Dale; USS Tallapoosa; and USS Constitution (housed over). Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Tallapoosa (1864-1892) ship's officers, 1873. Her Commanding Officer, Lieutenant David G. McRitchie, is seated in the center. Courtesy of Admiral William D. Leahy, December 1938. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a river in Georgia, USS Tallapoosa was a 974-ton Sassacus class “double-ender” gunboat that was built at the New York Navy Yard by C.W. Booz of Baltimore, Maryland, and was commissioned on 13 September 1864. She was a side-wheel steamer approximately 205 feet long and 35 feet wide, had a top speed of 11.5 knots, and had a crew of 190 officers and men. Tallapoosa was armed with two 100-pounder guns, four 9-inch guns, two 20-pounders, and two 24-pounders.
While Tallapoosa was being completed at the dockyard, the Confederate raider Tallahassee was steaming off the Atlantic coast attacking Union merchant ships from the Virginia capes to Nova Scotia. Shortly after Tallapoosa was commissioned, she was sent out to locate and destroy Tallahassee. Tallapoosa’s search took her from New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia, then south to Virginia, then back north to Nova Scotia. On 4 November 1864, Tallapoosa was hit by a southeasterly gale and severely damaged. However, she was able to limp into Boston harbor under her own power on 7 November. After approximately six weeks, repairs to Tallapoosa were completed at the Boston Navy Yard. She was assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron and on 11 January 1865 assisted in salvaging material and equipment from the screw frigate San Jacinto, which had run aground off the coast of the Bahamas on an uncharted reef.
After the end of the Civil War, Tallapoosa was assigned to the Gulf Squadron. She patrolled the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico until 1867, when she was placed in reserve at the Washington Navy Yard. Re-commissioned in 1869, Tallapoosa was used as an armed dispatch vessel. In January 1870, she transported Admiral David Farragut to Portland, Maine, where he met the British battleship HMS Monarch, which had just arrived in the United States carrying the remains of philanthropist George Peabody who had died in England. During the summer of 1870, Tallapoosa took Farragut from New York City to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to visit the commandant of the Navy Yard there. Farragut’s health was deteriorating rapidly and it was hoped that the cooler New England sea breezes would improve the admiral’s health. As Tallapoosa arrived at Portsmouth on 4 July, she fired a cannon salute for her distinguished passenger, the Navy’s highest ranking and most respected officer. When Farragut heard the thunder of Tallapoosa’s guns, he left his sick bed, put on his uniform, and walked onto the ship’s quarterdeck. Once there he stated, “It would be well if I died now.” A little more than a month later, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, hero of the Union Navy during the Civil War, died at Portsmouth.
In 1872, Tallapoosa became a training ship for the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. The following year, the ship was converted into a transport. But Tallapoosa was getting on in years and aging badly, so the ship basically was rebuilt at Baltimore from 1874 to 1875. She was reconfigured as a “single-ender” and was given an extended superstructure. Once this major overhaul was completed, Tallapoosa resumed her duties as an armed dispatch vessel and remained in this role for almost 10 years.
At approximately midnight on 24 August 1884, Tallapoosa was rammed by the schooner J.S. Lowell and sank five miles from Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Miraculously, the tough old warship was raised and repaired by the Merritt Wrecking Company and was re-commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 11 January 1886. She was assigned to the South Atlantic Squadron and left New York on 7 June 1886, heading for Rio de Janeiro. At the time, there was much political unrest in South America and Tallapoosa was sent to the area to protect American lives and property. Tallapoosa continued patrolling off the coast of South America until 30 January 1892, when she was condemned as unfit for further service. After serving in the US Navy for almost 30 years, USS Tallapoosa was sold at public auction at Montevideo, Uruguay, on 3 March 1892.
Posted by Remo at 8:27 AM