Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval History and Heritage Command homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Althea

 

A shrub of the mallow family; the rose of sharon; a hollyhock.

 

(Sch)

 

Little is now known of a schooner named Althea which served the Union Navy during the Civil War. The first information on her operations comes from a report by Lt. George H. Preble, the commanding officer of the screw gunboat Katahdin, to David Glasgow Farragut dated 26 May 1862. Preble tells Farragut that, two days before, the coal vessels Althea and Golden Lead had anchored eight or nine miles above Natchez, Miss. At the time, several warships of Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron were ascending the Mississippi after capturing New Orleans. On the 28th, while Farragut was descending from Vicksburg in the flagship Hartford, Althea was lashed to the port side of that screw sloop of war. Upon reaching Baton Rouge, the Union sailors noticed ". . . that the United States flag which we had left flying over the arsenal had been removed." Farragut sent Hartford's chief engineer James B. Kimball into the city with a letter protesting this fact. As the party carrying the message approached the shore a large group of horsemen opened fire on their boat, severely wounding Kimball and two oarsmen. Since Althea was tied between Hartford and the city, she was cut loose and". . . dropped down stream 200 or 300 yards . . ."so that Hartford's, ". . . guns could be opened upon the rebels."

 

The next mention of the schooner Althea in naval records is found in two reportsóboth dated 27 February 1863óby Commodore Henry H. Bell who had taken steam sloop Brooklyn to waters off Galveston, Tex., to reestablish the blockade there following the Confederate recapture of that port on New Year's Day 1863. Bell tells Farragut that Althea was carrying messages to blockading vessels stationed along the coast of Texas and supplying them with coal.

 

Finally, in May and November 1863, a schooner named Althea was carrying provisions to the warships of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston, S.C. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that this was the ship which earlier had served in the gulf.

 

Nothing further is known of the legal status or of the ultimate fate of the schooner or schooners named Althea which served the Navy in the gulf and off the South Carolina coast.

 

II

 

(MB: t. 25 (gross); I. 60'; b. 12'; dr. 4' (aft); s. 9 1/2 mph.; cpl. 9; a. 1 3-pdr., 2 mg.)

 

The second Althea (SP-218)óa motorboat constructed in 1907 at Steinway (Long Island), N.Y., by the William Whitlesey Co.ówas formally purchased by the Navy on 15 June 1917 from Mr. James H. Moore more than a month after she had been taken over and commissioned on 12 May 1917, Ens. E. L. Anderson, USNRF, in command.

 

Assigned to the section patrol in the 9th Naval District, she conducted operations from her base at Detroit, Mich. Laid up for the winter on 14 November 1917, Althea returned to duty in May 1918. On 2 August 1919, her name was struck from the Navy list, and she was laid up at the Naval Training Station, Detroit. There, she remained awaiting sale until 18 March 1920 when she sank as a result of ice. The motorboat, still under water, was sold for salvage on 12 May 1920.