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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Stonewall

 

(IrcRam: t. 900; l. 171'10"; b. 32'8"; dr. 14'4"; s. 10 k.; a. 1 300-pdr. r., 2 70-pdr. r.)

 

Stonewall, a powerful armored seagoing ram, was built by L. Arman at Bordeaux, France, in 1863-64 for the Confederate States Government; however, the French authorities refused to permit her delivery, following strong protests by American Ministers Dayton and Bigelow. The vessel was eventually sold to Denmark, via a Swedish intermediary, for use in the Schleswig-Holstein War. Because she failed to reach Copenhagen before the sudden termination of the war, the Danes refused acceptance, and title to the ram, now known as Sphinx, was returned to her builder who then sold her to the Confederates.

 

In December 1864 Capt. T. J. Page, CSN, took command, renamed the vessel Stonewall, and in January sailed from Copenhagen for Quiberon Bay, France, to receive supplies. In this period she was called Staerkodder and Olinde to allay suspicion of her actual ownership and mission. Stonewall was assigned the considerable tasks of dispersing the Federal blockading fleet off Wilmington, N.C., intercepting Northern commerce between California and Northern ports, attacking New England coastal cities, and destroying the Yankee fishing fleet on the Newfoundland Banks.

 

Unable to replenish fully in French waters, Stonewall sailed for Madeira, but ran into a severe storm and had to put in to Ferrol, Spain, for coal and repairs. While she was there Niagara and Sacramento arrived at Coruna, only 9 miles distant. On 24 March Stonewall steamed out of Ferrol and prepared for battle; however when the Federals, believing her gun power to be too great, declined to close she bore away for Lisbon to coal before crossing the Atlantic.

 

She reached Nassau, New Providence, on 6 May and went from there to Havana where Page learned of the war's end. Stonewall was turned over to the Captain General of Cuba in return for money needed to pay off her crew. In July 1865 the Cuban authorities voluntarily delivered her to the United States Government which later sold her to Japan, where she was known as HUMS Azuma. (See also Cheops, supra.)