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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Samuel Rotan

 

(Sch.: t. 212; l. 110'; b. 28'6"; dph. 7'6"; dr. 9'; cpl. 29; a. 2 32-pdrs.)

 

Samuel Rotan, a wooden, center-board schooner purchased by the Navy at Philadelphia on 21 September 1861, was fitted out as a gunboat at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; and commissioned there on 12 November 1861, Acting Master John A. Rogers in command.

 

Assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron, the schooner arrived off Fort Pickens, Fla., on 16 December 1861. After a reconnaissance voyage to the Texas coast, she performed blockade duty off the Mississippi passes; and, on 23 January 1862, captured Confederate privateer, Calhoun, in East Bay, formed by the Southwest-Pass and Grand-Pass fingers of the Mississippi delta. The prize had been attempting to slip into the Southwest Pass laden with over 25 tons of gunpowder, rifles, chemicals, coffee, and other assorted cargo needed by the Confederacy.

 

Since Calhoun was not deemed able to make the voyage north during the stormy winter months, her papers and cargo were transferred to Samuel Rotan which sailed from Ship Island, Miss., in mid-February and carried them north for adjudication in the Philadelphia Prize Court.

 

Meanwhile, on 20 January 1862, Secretary of the Navy Welles, on splitting naval jurisdiction in the Gulf of Mexico between Flag Officers McKean and Farragut, had given Samuel Rotan to the former for service in the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. The schooner joined her squadron at Key West in April and, into the autumn, blockaded the Florida .coast, primarily off St. Andrew's Bay. Badly in need of repairs, she sailed north in November for work in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

 

In January 1863, Samuel Rotan joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and was ordered to the York River for blockade duty. On the morning of 24 April, she and Western World captured schooners, Martha Ann and A. Carson, off Horn Harbor. On 2 July, she took 35-ton schooner, Champion, off the mouth of the Piankatank River. On the 27th, her picket boat seized a canoe which had run the blockade from the Severn River, Va., laden with corn, chickens, and eggs. On 10 October, her picket boat chased a yawl standing up the beach of Horn Harbor, Va. Its occupants jumped overboard and fled to the beach. Then the Southerners fired upon the Union sailors who came up and took possession of the little prize and its cargo of salt.

 

Soon thereafter, the schooner's need for repairs became serious, and she proceeded to the Norfolk Navy Yard for the work. Late in January 1864, she was back on blockade duty off the west coast of Chesapeake Bay, and she continued this duty into the autumn. Then she was transferred to the James River to help support General Grant's operations against Richmond. Early in December 1864, she was back off the York River and served in that area into the spring of 1865. In April, she sailed north for inactivation; and she was decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 10 June 1865. The schooner was sold there on 15 August 1865 to a Mr. Stannard.