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Romeo

 

(Stern wheel Gunboat: tonnage 175; length 1542; beam 312; draft 46; depth of hold 4; armament 6 24-pounders howitzer)

 

Romeo (Gunboat No. 3), a wooden, stern-wheel "tinclad," was purchased at Cincinnati, Ohio, on 31 October 1862 for duty in the Mississippi Squadron. Fitted out at Cairo, she was commissioned on 11 December, Acting Ensign Robert B. Smith in command.

 

On the 12th she moved downriver to Helena where she joined the squadron and prepared for an expedition up the Yazoo River in support of Army operations against Vicksburg.

 

On 21 December, the gunboats left Helena and on the 23d they started up the river, the lighter draft vessels - including Romeo - proceeding first to clear torpedoes (mines) from the water just below Drumgould's Bluff. From the 26th to 3 January 1863, Romeo remained in the Yazoo and its tributaries, patrolling to prevent Rebel boats from launching and placing more torpedoes in cleared areas; to protect refugees; and to engage Confederate batteries and troops in the rifle pits which lined the river. By 3 January, heavy rains had prevented the Union assault from taking the city and the gunboats were withdrawn.

 

From 4 to 11 January, Romeo participated in the successful campaign against Port of Arkansas (Fort Hindman); then after rearming and refueling at the mouth of the White River, ascended the river again to lead the ironclads up to Devall's Bluff and Des Arc, Ark. There the naval squadron supported Army forces as the approaches to Little Rock were secured.

 

The gunboat returned to the Yazoo on 6 February. At the end of April, she participated in a feigned attack on Haynes' Bluff to prevent Confederate forces from massing to repel the Army's land attack at Grand Gulf, and from then until the fall of Vicksburg in July, engaged Rebels at various landings to assist in the isolation of the city. Further operations during the summer and early fall took her back to the White River and up the Little Red River. In October, she shifted to the Tennessee; gained a brief respite at Cairo in November; then returned to the Tennessee for patrols into December. In February 1864, she resumed operations in the Yazoo area and in May was assigned to patrol between Natchez and Vicksburg. For the remainder of the Civil War, interrupted only by a run to the Ohio during the final weeks, Romeo patrolled in that area, and from there to the mouth of the Arkansas River.

 

In May, Romeo returned to Cairo, thence proceeded to Mound City where she was decommissioned on 30 June and was sold at public auction on 17 August 1865 to Nathaniel Williams.


20 October 2005