USS Lackawanna (1862)

USS Lackawanna (1862)

The first USS "Lackawanna" was a screw sloop-of-war in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.

"Lackawanna" was launched by the New York Navy Yard 9 August 1862; sponsored by Miss Imogen Page Cooper; and commissioned 8 January 1863, Captain John B. Marchand in command. She was named after the Lackawanna River in Pennsylvania.

The new screw sloop-of-war departed New York 20 January to join the Union blockade of the southern coast. She reported to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at Pensacola, Florida early in February and, for the remainder of the war, served along the gulf coast of the Confederacy, principally off Mobile Bay. "Lackawanna" took her first prize, "Neptune", 14 June after a long chase in which the 200-ton Glasgow ship had jettisoned her cargo trying to escape. The Union sloop-of-war scored again the next day, capturing steamer "Planter" as the Mobile blockade runner attempted a dash to Havana, Cuba laden with cotton and resin.

Following duty along the Texas coast near Galveston in March and April 1864, "Lackawanna" returned to the blockade of Mobile early in May to prevent the escape of Confederate ram "Tennessee". During the summer she served in the blockade while preparing for Admiral David Farragut’s conquest of Mobile Bay.

On 9 July, with "Monongahela", "Galena", and "Sebago", she braved the guns of Fort Morgan to shell steamer "Virgin", a large blockade runner aground at the entrance of Mobile Bay. The Union guns forced a southern river steamer to abandon efforts to assist "Virgin", but the next day the Confederates refloated the blockade runner who reached safety in Mobile Bay. Closing this strategic southern port was an important part of the Union strategy to isolate and subdue the South.

At dawn on the morning of 5 August, Farragut’s ships crossed the bar and entered the bay. A Confederate squadron, led by ironclad ram "Tennessee" and a field of deadly mines awaited to block their advance. Farragut’s lead monitor "Tecumseh" struck a mine and went down in seconds. The Confederate flagship "Tennessee" vainly tried to ram "Brooklyn" and the action became general, raging for more than an hour. At one point in the struggle, "Lackawanna" rammed "Tennessee" at full speed, causing the Confederate ram to list, and later she collided with "Hartford" while attempting to ram "Tennessee" again, shortly before the ironclad struck. This daring operation closed the last major gulf port to the South.

Following the Union victory in Mobile Bay, "Lackawanna" continued to operate in the gulf, enforcing the blockade until after the end of the Civil War. She departed Key West 24 June 1865, reached New York on the 28th, and decommissioned at New York Navy Yard 20 July.

Recommissioned 7 May 1866, Commander William Reynolds in command, "Lackawanna" sailed for the South Atlantic 4 August, transited the Straits of Magellan 9 November, and arrived Honolulu, Hawaii 9 February 1867. She operated in the Pacific, primarily in the Hawaiian Islands and along the coast of California and Mexico until she arrived at Mare Island for decommissioning 10 February 1871.

Recommissioning 8 May 1872, the steam sloop sailed for the Orient 22 June and served in the Far East until returning to San Francisco, California 23 April 1875. In October 1880, in the midst of the War of the Pacific, the "Lackawanna" sailed for the South Pacific to host a conference of diplomacy proposed by the U.S. to end the war. Officials from the countries involved in the war--Peru, Chile, and Bolivia--did not reach an immediate agreement and U.S. efforts failed. For two brief periods in ordinary, "Lackawanna" continued to operate in the Pacific during the next 12 years. She finally decommissioned at Mare Island 7 April 1885 and was sold there to W. T. Garratt & Company 30 July 1887.



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