A nymph of Elis, one of the Nereids, who—in Greek mythology—was the daughter of Oceanus and one of Diana's attendants. One evening on the island of Ortygia, near Syracuse, as Arethusa was heading home from the day's hunt, she chanced upon the Alpheus, a clear and beautiful brook. When she entered its cool waters seeking relief from heat and fatigue, she heard a voice rise from the stream which frightened her into leaping to land and fleeing in terror. The river god pursued her until, in desperation at her failing strength, she prayed to Diana for help. In response the kind goddess changed Arethusa into a fountain.
(ScStr: t. 195; 1. 110'; b. 22'; dph. 9'6"; dr. 8'8"; cp1. 32; a. 2 heavy 12-pdr. sb., 1 20-pdr. D.r.)
The first Arethusa—a small screw steamer built in 1864 at Philadelphia as Wabask—was purchased there by the Navy from Messrs. S. and J. M. Flanagan on 1 July 1864; and was commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 29 July 1864, Acting Ensign John V. Cook in command.
Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Arethusa arrived at Port Royal, S. C., on 6 August 1864 and served as a collier there through the end of the Civil War, supporting theUnion warships which were becoming ever more efficient in then-efforts to enforce the blockade of the Southern coast.
Following the collapse of the Confederacy, the ship continued to serve at Port Royal assisting the Navy's efforts to demobilize the gigantic Fleet which it had built to prosecute the war. When most of the Union warships had returned north, Arethusa was decommissioned at Port Royal on 3 January 1866 and sold there later that month. Unfortunately, all trace of the ship's career after she left the Navy seems to have vanished.