USS Monticello (1859)

USS Monticello (1859)

The first USS "Monticello" was a wooden screw-steamer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She was named for the home of Thomas Jefferson. She was briefly named "Star" in May 1861.

"Monticello" was built at Mystic, Connecticut, in 1859; chartered by the Navy in May 1861; and purchased 12 September 1861 at New York from H. P. Cromwell & Company, for service in the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Captain Henry Eagle in command.

"Monticello" was renamed "Star" 3 May 1861, but resumed her original name 23 May. Seeing immediate action, "Monticello" relieved "Baltimore" in blockading the James River and preventing communication with the Elizabeth River 2 May, then relieved "Quaker City" at Cape Henry the 8th. She engaged the batteries at Sewell's Point 10 to 14 May, then continued blockade duty until steaming up the Rappahannock to Smith’s Island 24 June. Operating with the Army on the James River above Newport News, Virginia 5 July, she dispersed a body of Confederate cavalry. Often engaging Confederate batteries through the remainder of 1861, she was in the squadron that captured the batteries at Hatteras Inlet 28 and 29 August in the first significant Union victory, one which greatly encouraged the North. She drove off Confederates attacking Union soldiers in that area 5 October.

Departing Baltimore, Maryland 25 March 1862 for the blockade of Wilmington, North Carolina, "Monticello" sent a boat party to the expedition up Little River 26 June that destroyed two schooners. She engaged the batteries at New Inlet 12 July, and took British schooner "Revere" off Wilmington 21 October. After relieving "Genesee" on blockade at Shallow Inlet 15 November, "Monticello" destroyed British schooners "Ariel" and "Ann" there the 24th.

"Monticello" operated around Little River through 1863, taking British schooner "Sun" 30 March, and steamer "Old Fellow" 15 April. She joined the expedition to Murrell’s Inlet 25 April, and shelled a schooner there 12 May with "Conemaugh". In November she destroyed salt works near Little River Inlet.

Returning to the Wilmington blockade in January 1864, she joined in the expedition to Smithville 29 February, capturing Captain Kelly of General Hobert’s staff. In July she joined in the chase after CSS "Florida", and 24 August attacked Confederate batteries at Masonboro Inlet.

"Monticello" participated in the attacks on Fort Fisher 24 and 25 December and 13 and 14 January 1865. She took the surrender of Fort Casswell 18 and 19 January, then participated in the Little River expedition of 4 to 6 February.

After the war, "Monticello" decommissioned 24 July 1865 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and was sold at public auction at Boston, Massachusetts to W. H. Lincoln 1 November 1865. Redocumented for merchant service 25 July 1866, she served American commerce until foundering off Newfoundland 29 April 1872.



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