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

 

A city in southern Pennsylvania, site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War 1-3 July 1863. It was at the dedication of the National Cemetery on the battleground 19 November 1863 that President Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address.

 

(SwStr: t. 950; l. 221'; b. 26' 3" ; dph. 13' 6" ; s. 15 k., cpl. 96; a. 1 30-pdr. Parrott r., 2 12-pdr. r., 4 24-pdr. how.)

 

The first Gettysburg, formerly Douglass, then Margaret and Jessie, was built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1858, and was captured as a blockade runner 5 November 1863 by Fulton, Keystone State, and Nansemond off Wilmington, N.C. She was purchased from the New York Prize Court by the Navy and commissioned Gettysburg at New York Navy Yard, 2 May 1864, Lieutenant Roswell H. Lamson commanding.

 

A fast, strong steamer, Gettysburg was assigned blockading duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and departed New York 7 May 1864. She arrived at Beaufort, N.C., 14 May and from there took station at the entrance to the Cape Fear River.

 

For the next 7 months, Gettysburg was engaged in the vital business of capturing blockade runners carrying supplies to the strangling South. She captured several snips, and occasionally performed other duties. On 8 October, for instance, she rescued six survivors from schooner Home, which had capsized in a squall.

 

Gettysburg took part in the the attack on Fort Fisher 24-25 December 1864. Gettysburg assisted with the devastating bombardment prior to the landings by Army troops, and during the actual landings stood in close to shore to furnish cover for the assault. Gettysburg's boats were used to help transport troops to the beaches.

 

With the failure of the first attack on the formidable Confederate works, plans were laid for a second assault, this time including a landing force of sailors and marines to assault the sea face of the fort. In this attack, 15 January 1865, Gettysburg again engaged the fort in the preliminary bombardment, and furnished a detachment of sailors under Lieutenant Lamson and other officers in a gallant assault, which was stopped under the very ramparts of Fort Fisher. Lamson and a group of officers and men were forced to spend the night in a ditch under Confederate guns before they could escape. Though failing to take the sea face of Fort Fisher, the attack by the Navy diverted enough of the defenders to make the Army assault successful and insure victory. Gettysburg suffered two men killed and six wounded in the assault.

 

Gettysburg spent the remaining months of the war on blockade duty off Wilmington, and operated from April to June between Boston and Norfolk carrying freight and passengers. She decommissioned 23 June 1865 at New York Navy Yard.

 

Recommissioning 3 December 1866, Gettysburg made a cruise to the Caribbean Sea, returning to Washington 18 February, where she decommissioned again 1 March 1867.

 

Gettysburg went back into commission 3 March 1868 at Norfolk and put to sea 28 March on special service in the Caribbean. Until July 1868, she visited various ports in the area protecting American interests, among them Kingston, Jamaica, Havana, Cuba, and ports of Haiti. Between 3 July and 13 August, Gettysburg assisted in the laying of a telegraph cable from Key West to Havana, and joined with scientists from the Hydrographic Office in a cruise to determine the longitudes of West Indian points using the electric telegraph. From 13 August 1868 to 1 October 1869, she cruised between various Haitian ports and Key West, again helping to maintain peace in the area and protecting American interests. Gettysburg arrived New York Navy Yard 8 October 1869, decommissioned the same day, and entered the Yard for repairs.

 

Gettysburg was laid up in ordinary until 6 November 1873, when she again commissioned at Washington Navy Yard. She spent several months transporting men and supplies to the various Navy Yards on the Atlantic coast, and 25 February 1874 anchored in Pensacola harbor to embark members of the survey team seeking routes for an inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Gettysburg transported the engineers to Aspinwall Panama and Greystone, Nicaragua, and returned them to Norfolk 10 May 1874. After several more trips on the Atlantic coast with passengers and supplies, the ship again decommissioned 9 April 1875 at Washington Navy Yard.

 

Recommissioned 21 September 1875, Gettysburg departed Washington for Norfolk, where she arrived 14 October. Assigned to assist in another of the important Hydrographic Office expeditions in the Caribbean, she departed Norfolk 7 November. During the next few months she contributed markedly to safe navigation in the West Indies in surveys that led to precise charts She returned to Washington with the scientific team 14 June, decommissioning 26 June.

 

Gettysburg recommissioned 20 September 1876, for special duty to the Mediterranean, where she was to obtain navigational information about the coasts and islands of the area. Gettysburg departed Norfolk 17 October for Europe. During the next two years, she visited nearly every port in the Mediterranean, taking soundings and making observations on the southern coast of France, the entire coastline of Italy, and the Adriatic Islands. Gettysburg continued to the coast of Turkey, and from there made soundings on the coast of Egypt and other North African points, Sicily and Sardinia.

 

While visiting Genoa, 22 April 1879, Gettysburg rescued the crew of a small vessel which had run upon the rocks outside the breakwater. Her iron plates corroded from years of almost uninterrupted service and her machinery weakened, Gettysburg decommissioned 6 May 1879 and was sold 8 May 1879.