Today in History:

Wachusett (1862-1887)

USS Wachusett, a 1032-ton Iroquois class screw sloop of war, was built at the Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts. Commissioned in March 1862, she saw her first service in the Hampton Roads and James River area of Virginia, where she participated in an attack on the Drewry's Bluff fortifications on 15 May. From September 1862 into 1863, Wachusett was flagship of a special "Flying Squadron" sent to search for Confederate Navy raiders in the Caribbean. Following six months of repairs, she went to the South Atlantic on a similar mission. On 7 October 1864, her commanding officer, Napoleon Collins, took Wachusett into the neutral port of Bahia, Brazil, where she captured the Southern cruiser Florida.

Wachusett's next duty station was in East Indies and Asiatic waters, where she operated from the Spring of 1865 until 1867. In 1871-74, she cruised in the Mediterranean, off the U.S. Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. After being laid up from 1874 to 1879, Wachusett returned to the Gulf for a brief time and then went to the South Atlantic. In May 1880, she transferred to the Pacific, where she remained active until decommissioning for the last time in September 1885. USS Wachusett was sold in July 1887.

This page features views of USS Wachusett.

Wachusett's commanding officer's report of his seizure of CSS Florida is reproduced in the Documents of the Civil War section as Capture of CSS Florida by USS Wachusett, 7 October 1864.

Photo #: NH 78212

USS Wachusett (1862-1887)

Lithograph published circa 1865, showing the ship in her original bark rig.

Courtesy of Charles H. Bogart, 1973.

Photo #: NH 78211

USS Wachusett (1862-1887)

Photographed at Shanghai, China, in 1867.

Courtesy of Charles H. Bogart, 1973.

Photo #: NH 59938

USS Wachusett (1862-1887)

Drying sails at the Boston Navy Yard, with two small tugs docked beyond her bow.
The original print bears the date 22 December 1874, seven days before she decommissioned at Boston.
Plans in the National Archives indicate that Wachusett was altered to this configuration during her 1874-79 refit at Boston, and retained it until she was finally decommissioned in 1885.

Photo #: NH 49155

USS Wachusett (1862-1887)

Wash drawing by Clary Ray, circa 1898.
She is depicted with yards on her mizzen mast, the way she was rerigged some years after the Civil War.

Photo #: NH 68681

USS Wachusett (1862-1887)

Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, with the city of Vallejo in the distance, circa 1880-85.
She decommissioned for the last time in September 1885, at Mare Island.

Photograph from the William H. Topley Collection, Courtesy of Charles M. Loring, 1969.

Photo #: NH 42918

Scene off City Point, James River, Virginia
shortly after the action of 15 May 1862

Sketch, possibly by Edward H. Schmidt (a crewman on USS Mahaska). Items identified by numbers include:
1. USS Mahaska; 2. Schooner N.C. Claver; 3. tug Dragon; 4. USS Monitor; 5. USS Wachusett; 6. chartered steamer; 7. a schooner; 8. a gunboat; 9. USS Galena, disabled; 10. City Point, James River, abandoned.

Sketch was received from Mrs. W.L. Smith, of Savannah, Georgia, with her letter dated 26 August 1933.

Photo #: NH 59206

"Rendezvous of Our Fleet in James River, off City Point, -- Drawn on the Spot, May 29, 1862"

Line engraving, published in "Harper's Weekly", Volume of January-June 1862, page 390.
It depicts the U.S. Navy ships (listed as shown, from left to right) Maratanza, Wachusett, Aroostook, Monitor, Mahaska and Galena operating on the James River, Virginia, in support of General McClellan's army.

Photo #: NH 59355

"Cutting out of the Florida from Bahia, Brazil, by the U.S.S. Wachusett"

19th Century phototype print by F. Gutekunst, Philadelphia.
It depicts the capture of CSS Florida by USS Wachusett at Bahia, Brazil, on 7 October 1864.