(Gbt: t. 155; a. 1 gun)
CSS Uncle Ben was a Lake Erie tug which was chartered by the United States Government in April 1861 to accompany an expedition for the reinforcement of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. She sailed from New York on 7 April but violent storms forced her to put in to Wilmington, N.C., where she was seized by the citizens and converted to a gunboat mounting one gun. When North Carolina seceded, Uncle Ben was turned over to the Confederacy and operated around Wilmington. In late summer of 1862, her engine was transferred to the ironclad North Carolina and her hull sold.
Under her new owners she was fitted out as a privateer schooner, renamed Retribution, and later Etta.
(Str: dr. 3'; a. 3 12-pdr.)
Uncle Ben, a cotton-clad steamer, operated with the Texas Marine gunboat fleet in and about Sabine City. [See Annex III]. On 20 January 1863 Uncle Ben came down Sabine Pass in company with Josiah A. Bell and stood out to engage the Union blockaders Morning Light and Fairy, formerly Velocity. In the heated battle which witnessed the capture of both blockaders, Uncle Ben concentrated her fire on Fairy and received her unconditional surrender.
The cotton-clad was used to remove obstructions from the Sabine River in June 1863. On 8 September, following another successful encounter with Federal blockaders off Sabine Pass, she went down to receive the surrender of USS Sachem and brought her into port. In October of that year Uncle Ben transported men and provisions in coastal waters.