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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Wissahickon

 

A small stream in southeastern Pennsylvania which rises in Montgomery County near Lansdale and flows south some 40 miles to empty into the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

 

I

 

(ScGbt.: t. 507; l. 158'4"; b. 28'0"; dr. 10'8"; dph. 12'0"; s. 10½  k.; a. 1 11" D. sb., 1 20-pdr., 2 24-pdrs.)

 

The first Wissahickon, a screw gunboat, was built in 1861 at Philadelphia by John Lynn and was delivered to the Navy on 12 November 1861 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was placed in commission on 25 November 1861, Lt. A. N. Smith in command.

 

Assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Wissahickon participated in her first combat action on 24 April 1862 when she passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip with the squadron commanded by Flag Officer David Glasgow Farragut. On 9 June, she took part in the attack on the Confederate works at Grand Gulf, Miss. Nineteen days later, the gunboat joined in the dash by the Southern batteries at Vicksburg, Miss. She remained above the Confederate citadel until 15 July, the day that the powerful Southern ironclad ram Arkansas made her successful exit from the Yazoo River and ran through the Union fleet to the protection of Vicksburg's batteries. That evening, Wissahickon joined Iroquois, Oneida, Richmond, Sumter, and Hartford in repassing the Confederate stronghold to carry out an attack on the new Southern warship. However, darkness reduced that action to an inconclusive exchange of broadsides as the Federal ships passed the shore batteries and their well-concealed floating foe. Soon thereafter, Wissahickon proceeded downriver to New Orleans and thence to Philadelphia for repairs.

 

Her yard work began on 5 August and was completed two months later to the day. She departed Philadelphia on 8 October to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and to participate in the blockade off the coast of Georgia. The gunboat participated in the attack on Fort McAllister, located on the shores of the Big Ogeechee River in Georgia, on 27 January 1863. A month and a day later, she helped to destroy the blockade runner Rattlesnake—the former CSS Nashvillenear that same place. On 19 March, Wissahickon destroyed the steamer Georaiana off Charleston, S.C. The gunboat returned to Philadelphia on 25 April and underwent repairs until 21 May. Returning to the blockade after repairs, the warship participated in the attack on Fort Wagner in July and in the bombardment of Fort Sumter in September. For the remainder of the year, the gunboat patrolled off Port Royal, S.C.

 

Routine blockade duty occupied most of her time in 1864. However, in November, she participated in an expedition up the Broad River in Georgia in support of Sherman's advancing army. During the last month of 1864 and the first months of 1865, the warship participated in operations against Savannah, Ga.

 

After the war ended, she entered Port Royal for repairs on 1 May 1865. On 20 June, the ship arrived at the New York Navy Yard where she was placed out of commission on 1 July 1865. Wissahickon was sold at auction at New York on 25 October 1865. The steamer was documented as Adele on 20 January 1866 and operated comercially out of New York. Her final disposition is unknown.