(ScGbt: t. 161; dr. 12'; s. 12 k.; a. 3 12-pdrs.)
Wooden screw steamer R. E. & A. H. Watson, built at Belle Verne, Pa., in 1859; operated In the Confederate Mississippi Defense Fleet; was captured 6 June 1862; purchased by the U.S. Navy from the Illinois Prize Court, 9 January 1863; and fitted out at Cairo in 1863, Acting Master William R. Sanford in command.
Commodore Montgomery’s flagship at the Battle of Memphis 6 June 1862, Little Rebel was forced aground on the Arkansas shore by Monarch, also responsible for disabling General Beauregard. Of the eight Confederate ships at Memphis, the Union ships sank seven, clearing the upper Mississippi of naval craft. Behind the Navy’s power the Federals occupied Memphis, later to be an important Union military base and repair center. The Union squadron captured the abandoned Little Rebel, sending her to Cairo 11 June for gunboat service in Colonel Ellet’s Ram Fleet.
Little Rebel soon assumed a role in Fitch’s antiguerrills, campaign on the Mississippi, joining the flotilla on the western rivers 21 August. In October she detained steamer City of Alton and scouted Bird’s Point, Cypress Bend, on the Yazoo River, and Hopefield, Ark., where Union ships discouraged further guerrilla activity in December 1863.
Little Rebel patrolled from Red River to Fort Adams in March 1863, as Union ships captured Fort De Russey and moved to counter Maximilian’s threat to Texas. Steaming to the Mississippi in April, she patrolled this area for the remainder of the conflict. In May 1805, she and seven other Union ships guarded to prevent the escape of Jefferson Davis. On the 28th, she convoyed troops to Red River, remaining at the mouth of the river when the squadron was reduced in June. Little Rebel decommissioned at Mound City 24 July 1865 and was sold there to Daniel Jacobs 29 November 1865. Redocumented as Spy 4 March 1867, the steamer remained in merchant service until 1874.