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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Marblehead

 

A port in Massachusetts.

 

I

 

(ScGbt: dp. 691; l. 158'4"; b. 28'; dr. 10'6"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 81; a. 2 24‑pdr.; 1 11" sb., 1 20‑pdr.)

 

The first Marblehead was launched by G. W. Jackman, Newburyport, Mass., 16 October 1861; and commissioned 8 March 1862; Lt. Comdr. Somerville Nicholson in command.

 

First assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Marblehead took part in operations along the York and Pamunkey Rivers in Virginia. On 1 May 1862, she participated in the shelling of Confederate positions at Yorktown, supporting General McClellan’s drive up the Peninsula toward Richmond. Reassigned 3 months later, she joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and commenced patrols off the southern east coast in search of Confederate vessels. With monitor Passaic in early February 1863, she reconnoitered the Wilmington River, Ga., in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the ironclad ram CSS Atlanta (ex‑Fingal). Later in the month, on the 23d, she took possession of the prize Glide and her cargo of cotton which had been captured by the Coast Survey schooners Caswell and Arago at the entrance of Tybee Creek, Ga., while enroute to Nassau.

 

During her patrols of the coastal rivers, Marblehead periodically engaged in operations on the Stono River, S.C., in support of the Union defenders of James Island. On 16 July 1863, during an assault by Confederate forces on that position, the gunboat came under fire from Southern batteries at Gimball’s Landing. Forced further down river, she continued to provide fire support and prevented Confederate reinforcements from reaching the main body of their attack force. She then joined in the bombardment of forts in Charleston harbor before heading north for repairs.

 

Back on the Stono River with Pawnee by November, she provided cover for Army troops as they sank piles as obstructions in the river above Legareville, S.C., on the 24th. The next month, on Christmas day, Confederate batteries, in an attempt to remove the support provided by Marblehead and Pawnee, opened fire on the two gunboats. Marblehead suffered 20 hits, but was able to capture two of the enemy’s VIII‑inch seacoast howitizers before returning north for repairs and reassignment.

 

On 2 June 1864, she was ordered to serve as a practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen at Newport. A month later this service was interrupted as she resumed coastal patrol duties for 5 months. She then returned to Newport to serve as a practice ship. After completion of this duty, Marblehead arrived at the Washington Navy Yard where she decommissioned 19 September 1866. Recommissioned the following month and assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, she operated in the Caribbean for the next 2 years. On 18 August 1868, she returned to the New York Navy Yard, decommissioned 4 September, and was sold 30 September.