The first two Samsons retained their former names during their naval service. The third was named for the Israelite judge who was noted for his great physical strength.
(SwStr.: t. 230)
Samson, a wooden side wheel steamer built in 1860 at California, Pa., was purchased by the Army on 14 July 1862 for service in the Ellet ram fleet. After the Western flotilla was placed under Navy command in the early autumn of 1862, Samson was transferred to the Navy on 27 November 1862. She served the Mississippi Squadron as a tug and a floating machine shop throughout the remainder of the Civil War. As such, she was one of the early predecessors of modern repair ships.
After the end of hostilities, she was sold at public auction at Mound City, 111., to J. W. Clark and J. Nixon, et, al., on 9 August 1865. She was redocumented on 27 December 1865 and remained in merchant service until 1869.