USS Periwinkle (1864)

USS Periwinkle (1864)

USS "Periwinkle" (1864) was a steamer procured by the Union Navy during the final months of the American Civil War. She served the Union Navy’s struggle against the Confederate States of America as a patrol gunship.

Post-war she was retained by the Navy to support the Hall Scientific Expedition to the Arctic Ocean, during which voyage – under her new name "Polaris" -- she proceeded into Arctic waters, only to be have her hull crushed by the ice.

Built in Philadelphia as "America" in 1864

"America", a heavy screw tugboat built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1864, was purchased by the Union Navy 9 December 1864 from John W. Lynn; renamed "Periwinkle"; and commissioned early in January 1865, Acting Master Henry C. Macy in command.

Assigned to river patrol in the Potomac River

The two-masted, schooner-rigged, white oak tug joined the Potomac Flotilla 15 January 1865 as a gunboat, and operated primarily in the Rappahannock River.

In mid-March, a fleet of oyster schooners operating in the area was threatened by a Confederate enemy force, and "Periwinkle" with "Morse", blockaded the mouths of the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers to protect them.

The Flotilla also interrupted contraband business between lower Maryland and Virginia, and cleared the rivers of mines, and fought guerillas ashore.

Post-war assignment based out of Norfolk, Virginia

After the Civil War ended, "Periwinkle" continued to serve with the flotilla until June 1865. Next, ordered to Norfolk, Virginia, she operated out of the Norfolk Navy Yard until placed in ordinary in 1867.

Renamed "Polaris" and sent into the frozen Arctic Ocean

Late in 1870 she was selected for service with the Charles Francis Hall's North Polar Expedition, and was sent to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs.

Renamed "Polaris" early in 1871, she arrived at New York Navy Yard 9 June 1871 to complete loading of stores and provisions for the expedition. She sailed from the New York Navy Yard in July 1871, Charles F. Hall in command.

After reaching 82’ north, "Polaris" is crushed in the ice

Aiming for the North Pole, she reached 82’1 11’ N. latitude, then the furthest point north reached by a vessel. "Polaris" was caught in the ice on the homeward voyage in October 1872, and carried for some distance before being crushed.

Her crew was later rescued


See also

* American Civil War
* Union Navy
* Confederate States Navy

External links

* [ USS Periwinkle]

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