USS Ceres (1856)

USS Ceres (1856)

USS "Ceres" (1856) was a small 150-ton steamboat acquired by the Union Navy during the beginning of the American Civil War. She was outfitted as a gunboat and used in the Union blockade of the waterways of the Confederate States of America.

Built in New Jersey

"Ceres", an armed side-wheel merchant steamer, was built at Keyport, New Jersey in 1856. "Ceres" was purchased by the United States Navy on September 11, 1861, fitted out at the Washington Navy Yard, and commissioned the same month, Acting Master J. L. Elliott in command.

Civil War service

North Atlantic blockade operations

Originally assigned to the Potomac Flotilla, "Ceres" was ordered on September 18, 1861 to report to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and for the remainder of the war, aside from repair periods at Baltimore, Maryland operated in the rivers and sounds of Virginia and North Carolina. Here she maintained the close watch for Confederate States merchantmen through which the blockading forces provided so important a part of the U.S. Navy's contribution in the U.S. Civil War. She was successful in capturing four blockade runners during her service, as well as aiding in the seizure of others.

Capture of Roanoke Island

Another crucial assignment carried out by "Ceres"' squadron was support for U.S. Army forces holding or attempting to take coastal positions, as well as providing boats and cover for amphibious operations, raids, and reconnaissance. She took part in the capture of Roanoke Island on February 7-February 8, 1862, during which she was hit while firing on Confederate shore positions. When nearby Confederate naval ships retired up Albemarle Sound as Roanoke Island fell, "Ceres" joined in following them, and next took part in the naval engagement off Elizabeth City, North Carolina. During this action, in which one of her men was wounded, she captured CSS "Ellis".

Continuing her operations in North Carolinian waters, "Ceres" took the steamer "Wilson" on July 9, 1862 while covering the landing of an Army raiding party near Hamilton, North Carolina. Through most of 1863, she protected the forces holding such posts as Fort Anderson at New Bern, North Carolina and the positions near Washington, North Carolina, coming under fire from Confederate batteries on several occasions.

Under fire with casualties

In the lengthy series of attacks around Plymouth, North Carolina, "Ceres" lost two men killed and six wounded when she was taken under heavy fire from Fort Grey, upriver from Plymouth, on April 17, 1864. Two days later, it was "Ceres" who gave warning of the approach of the formidable Confederate ram CSS "Albemarle", and took part in the first engagement with the ram which followed. On May 5, her group again was engaged with "Albemarle" and two other steamers.

Following the dramatic sinking of "Albemarle" by Lieutenant William B. Cushing, and later salvage, "Ceres" towed "Albemarle" north to Norfolk, Virginia at the close of the war.

Post-war decommissioning and sale

After a final patrol period off North Carolina, "Ceres" was decommissioned at New York City on July 14, 1865, and sold on October 25, 1865.


See also

* United States Navy
* American Civil War
* Confederate States Navy

External links

* [ USS Ceres]

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