Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval Historical Center homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Isaac Smith

 

(ScStr: t. 453; l. 171'6"; b. 31'4"; dph. 9'; cpl. 56; a. 1 30-pdr. P.r., 8 8-inch D.sb.)

 

Isaac Smith, built in 1851 at Nyack, N.J., as Isaac P. Smith, was purchased at New York from E. J. Hamilton 9 September 1861. On 16 October she was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in time to join Flag Officer S. F. Du Pont's assault against Port Royal, S.C. An intense hurricane occurred during the voyage south compelling the ship to jettison her guns. Nevertheless, she gallantly ignored her own distress and attempted to assist Marine Corps transport, Governor, which foundered off Cape Hatteras.

 

During a reconnaissance in force on 4 and 5 November, she engaged and repelled three attacking Confederate steamers and silenced batteries at Hilton Head and Bay Point, S.C. Two days later she towed sailing sloop Vandalia into action during the landings which wrested Port Royal from Confederate hands providing the Union a splendid base for the fleet and combined operations that steadily destroyed the Confederacy.

 

Isaac Smith participated in operations against the coast of South Carolina until 21 January 1862 when she sailed to join the expedition to Savannah, Ga., led by Captain C. H. Davis, USN, and Brig. Gen. H. G. Wright of the Army. This operation was primarily a diversionary effort to cover up a projected attack on Fernandina, Fla.; but it also provided valuable information about Confederate defenses of the water approaches to Savannah, and it interrupted communications between Fort Pulaski and Savannah.

 

During the latter half of March and all of April, Isaac Smith was active in the vicinity of St. Augustine, Fla. She took possession of the post office there 18 March and two days later mounted a gun upon the ramparts of Fort Marion in a position to command the main road to the city. Her boats captured blockade runner British Empire 3 April.

 

Isaac Smith stood out of St. Augustine and entered St. John's River 4 May to begin a period of 3 months' service in the vicinity of Jacksonville, Fla. Her presence there helped tighten the blockade, provided sanctuary for refugees, drew Southern troops away from more active fronts, and facilitated Union intelligence activity.

 

In need of repair, Isaac Smith sailed for New York 10 August for "beaching, breeming, and improvements" which kept her away from her squadron until 11 October. Then Rear Admiral Du Pont ordered her to the Stono River where she served until 30 January 1863. That day she was caught in a cross fire from masked shore batteries. Disabled by accurate fire and with her deck covered with wounded men, her captain surrendered the ship rather than risk their lives. Eight men were dead and 17 were wounded.

 

Isaac Smith served the Confederate Navy in Charleston waters under the name Stono until she was wrecked on the breakwater near Fort Moultrie, S.C., while attempting to run the blockade with a load of cotton 5 June 1863. (q.v. "Confederate Appendix", DANFS II, 569.) No data on salvage operations for Stono has been found, but the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion state that she was "burned by the Confederates at the evacuation of Charleston in 1865