Today in History:

Florida (1861-1868)

Florida, a 1261-ton wooden side-wheel steamship, was built at New York City in 1850. After more than a decade of commercial employment, the outbreak of the American Civil War caused her to enter Naval service. She was purchased by the U.S. Navy in August 1861, converted to a cruiser and commissioned as USS Florida in early October of that year. For the next three years, she enforced the blockade of the Atlantic coast of the Confederacy. Florida participated in the expeditions that seized Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861 and positions in northern Florida and Georgia in March 1862. She also took part in the capture or destruction of several blockade runners.

In March 1865, Florida was used to carry supplies down the Atlantic coast and into the Gulf of Mexico. After transporting Confederate prisoners from New Orleans to New York, she served in the Gulf until late 1865 and in the West Indies in 1866-67. Decommissioned in April 1867, USS Florida was sold in December 1868. Later operated as the merchant steamer Delphine and the Haitian warship Republique, she was disposed of in the mid-1870s.

This page features all the views we have related to USS Florida (1861-1868) and the civilian steamship Florida.

Photo #: NH 63849

SS Florida
(American Steamship, 1850)

Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1948, painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I.
This steamer served as USS Florida during 1861-1868. After returning to civilian ownership, she was renamed Delphine.

Courtesy of Erik Heyl.

Photo #: NH 59366

"Merchant Steamers Converted into Gun-boats."

Engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 volume.
It depicts thirteen merchant steamships acquired by the U.S. Navy between April and August 1861 and subsequently converted into warships, plus the steamer Nashville (far left), which became a Confederate cruiser.
U.S. Navy ships, as identified below the image bottom, are (from left to right: Alabama, Quaker City, Santiago de Cuba (listed as "St. Jago de Cuba", Mount Vernon, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida, De Soto, Augusta, James Adger, Monticello, Bienville and R.R. Cuyler.

Online Image: 182KB; 1200 x 470 pixels

Photo #: NH 59316

"Portion of the Naval Expedition, as it appeared on the night of October 16, sailing to Hampton Roads. -- Sketched by an Officer on Board." 1861

Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 volume, pages 712. It depicts Flag Officer DuPont's squadron en route to capture Port Royal, South Carolina.
Ships, all U.S. Navy, as identified below the image bottom, are (from left): Wabash, Florida, Augusta, Alabama, Ottawa, Seneca and Pembina.