(StwStr: t. 236; l. 155'1"; b. 32'2"; dph. 5'2"; dr. 6'; s. 7 mph. (upstream) ; a. 6 24-pdr. D. how.)
The first Silver Cloud-a wooden-hulled stern wheel steamer built in 1862 at Brownsville, Pa.-was taken over by the Navy on 1 April 1863 at Cairo, Ill.; commissioned there on 4 May 1863; and was formally purchased by the Navy on 19 May 1863.
The gunboat (Tinclad No. 28), commanded by Acting Master Augustus F. Thompson, joined the Mississippi Squadron after it had succeeded in opening the Mississippi River and its tributaries to navigation by Union ships-naval, military, and merchant. However, since the South was not yet beaten, it was still necessary for the ships to patrol the rivers to protect Union shipping from attacks by guerrilla bands.
Early in May 1863, her first assignment took her up the Tennessee River as far as Eastport, Miss., to destroy every boat found along the way which might be used by the Confederates to cross the river. She and her consorts-Champion, Queen City, Covington, andArgosy-also carried Army troops to Linden, Tenn., for a surprise raid at dawn on the 13th. The operation was completely successful and resulted in the capture of five officers, 40 men, 50 horses, as well as their arms, supplies, and equipment.
Such operations became almost routine for Silver Cloud during the almost two remaining years of the Civil War.
Highlights of her service included another expedition up the Tennessee in July and an engagement with some 200 Confederate soldiers whom she drove away from Osceola, Ark. In mid-January 1864, she carried Gen. William T. Sherman from Memphis to Vicksburg. On 14 April, she assisted New Era and Platte Valley in driving Confederate cavalry and infantry from Fort Pillow, Tenn., which Major General Nathan B. Forrest had captured two days before. Late in May, she assisted Osage, after that river monitor had run aground at Helena Bar, Ark.
After the Confederacy collapsed, Silver Cloud operated briefly on the rivers helping to return conditions to normal. She was decommissioned at Mound City on 13 July 1865 and was sold at public auction there on 17 August 1865 to J. H. Sterritt. The ship was converted from a stern to a side wheeler and redocumented on 7 October 1865. She was snagged and lost on 27 February 1866 in Buffalo Bayou, Tex.