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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Shepherd Knapp

 

(Ship: t. 838; l. 160'10"; b. 33'8"; dph. 22'3"; dr. 13' (It.) ; cpl. 93; a. 8 guns)

 

Shepherd Knapp-a ship-rigged sailing vessel-was purchased at New York City on 28 August 1861 from Laurence Giles & Co.

 

Since the logs of Shephard Knapp are missing, many details of her career are unknown. Apparently her first commanding officer was Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Henry S. Eytinge who was ordered on 1 November 1861 to cruise in the West Indies seeking to capture or destroy any "vessels of the rebels" he might encounter. The special object of his attention was the Confederate commerce raider, Sumter, which had been preying on Union shipping since early summer. After a long cruise in which she never quite caught up with Capt. Raphael Semmes and his elusive steamer, Shepherd Knapp returned to New York on the afternoon of 17 April 1862.

 

The ship was laid up at the New York Navy Yard for the rest of the year. On 20 January 1863, she was again ordered to cruise in the West Indies seeking Confederate ships, especially the Alabama. Again, Semmes managed to elude the Union warship. After cruising in the Caribbean for over three and one-half months, Shepherd Knapp struck a coral reef off Cape Haiten and was abandoned.