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Port Royal


One of the Sea Islands in Beaufort County, South Carolina captured for the Union by a combined Army-Navy expedition 7 November 1861. Of great strategic value, Port Royal became the principal base of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


(SwGbt: t. 805; l. 209’; b. 35’; dph. 11’6”; dr. 9’; s. 9 k.)


Port Royal, a wooden, double-ended, side-wheel gunboat, was launched at New York 17 January 1862 by Thomas Stock, and commissioned at New York Navy Yard, 26 April 1862.


Departing New York 4 May, Port Royal steamed to Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in supporting General McClellan’s drive up the peninsula toward Richmond. She engaged Confederate batteries at Sewell’s Point, Va., 8 May and a week later participated in the attack on Fort Darling, Drury’s Bluff, on the James below the southern capital.


After General Lee’s brilliant seven day campaign turned back McClellan’s thrust, Port Royal shifted operations to the North Carolina Sounds. She was part of the Union Naval force which reconnoitered the Neuse River, N.C. arid attacked Kingston, 12–16 December.


The spring of 1863 found her operating along the Florida coast. On 20 April, a landing party from the ship raided Apalachicola, Fla., capturing cotton and ordnance. On 24 May a boat expedition captured sloop Fashion laden with cotton in the same area. The Union party also burned a ship repair facility at Devil’s Elbow and destroyed a barge.


In ensuing months Port Royal continued to patrol the Confederate coast. In August 1864, she served with Rear Admiral Farragut during the operations in Mobile Bay, Ala. Port Royal then continued patrol duty through the end of the Civil War. Decommissioned 23 May 1866, she was sold at Boston 3 October 1866.