Daybreak or early morning.
(ScStr: t. 399; l. 154'; b. 28'; dr. 12'; s. 8 k.; cpl. 60; a. 2 32-pdr.)
The first Dawn, a screw steamer, was built in 1857 by Samuel Sneden, New York; chartered 26 April 1861 and purchased 12 October 1861; outfitted at New York Navy Yard; and commissioned 9 May 1861, Commander W. Chandler in command.
Assigned to duty with the Potomac Flotilla, Dawn sailed from New York 11 May and took station at the mouth of the York River on blockade duty until 24 September. During this time she captured three ships with contraband goods and passengers on board. After repairs at Washington Navy Yard, she was sent up the Rappahannock River on blockade duty in November.
Dawn had a new boiler installed at New York Navy Yard from 7 February to 27 April 1862, then stood out for Port Royal, S.C., for service with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Arriving on station 14 May, she patrolled the coastal and inland waters of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, frequently exchanging fire with enemy shore batteries, and joining in the attacks on Fort McAllister of 27 January and 1 February 1863. She also assisted in the capture of several blockade runners, including the Confederate privateer Nashville with a valuable cargo of cotton.
Out of commission at New York from 9 July to 2 December 1863 for repairs, Dawn departed 10 December to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and cruised in the James River from 14 December 1863 to 25 March 1865, performing picket duty and assisting in keeping the river banks free from enemy batteries. Dawn was placed out of commission 17 June 1865 at Portsmouth Navy Yard and later taken to Boston Navy Yard and sold 1 November 1865.