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Wamsutta

 

A Wampanoag sachem (chief). Wamsutta was the eldest son of Massasoit, the chief of all the Indian tribes between the Charles River, Mass., and Narra-ganset Bay, R.I., including the tribes in eastern Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. Massasoit joined the English in an alliance soon after the arrival of white men in New England so that he might use them as a counter-weight to the hostile Pequots, Narragan-setts, and Mohegans. The price of this alliance was English encroachment upon Indian land and interference in tribal affairs. In 1656, Wamsutta and his brother, Metacom, received the names "Alexander" and "Philip" from the colonists.

 

In 1661, Wamsutta succeeded his father. His efforts to maintain the alliance forged by Massasoit were not entirely successful. The English summoned Wamsutta to Duxbury, Mass., in 1662 for questioning concerning a rumored plot against the colonial settlements. Wamsutta fell ill during the questioning and soon died.

 

Metacom became sachem at Wamsutta's death. A hot-tempered, embittered individual, Metacom fanned smoldering Indian resentment of the colonists until the situation degenerated into open warfare lasting from June 1675 until Metacom's death on 12 August 1676. Called King Philip's War by the English, this was the bloodiest of all the confrontations between the colonists and Indians during the 17th century.

 

I

 

(ScGbt.: t. 270; l. 129'3"; b. 26'8"; dr. 11'; s. 9 k.; a. 1 20-pdr. P.r., 4 32-pdrs.)

 

Wamsutta—a screw steamer built in 1853 at Hoboken, N.J.—was purchased by the Navy on 20 September 1861 at New York City from H. Haldrege; and commissioned on 14 March 1862, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant William L. Stone in command.

 

Wamsutta was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and arrived in Port Royal harbor on 14 April 1862. The next day, she received orders to report to Comdr. Edmund Lanier, in Alabama, for blockade and reconnaissance duty in St. Simon's Sound, Ga. On 27 April, while on an expedition to destroy a brig believed to be near Dorchester, Ga., Wamsutta and Potomska engaged a company of dismounted Confederate cavalry on Woodville Island in the Riceboro River. The battle lasted 40 minutes. Wamsutta suffered two casualties and received superficial damage to her port side. On 8 May, again accompanied by Potomska, Wamsutta proceeded to Darien, Ga., to capture stored lighthouse machinery. However, a search of the town on the 9th found nothing, and the two gunboats withdrew that evening. Wamsutta remained off Darien, blockading Doboy Sound, Ga.

 

On 4 August 1862, Wamsutta departed Doboy Sound to blockade St. Catherine's Sound, Ga. There, she and Braziliera captured the schooner Defiance on 19 September. On 8 November, a broken air pump forced Wamsutta to Port Royal for repairs. Ultimately, she proceeded to the New York Navy Yard where she was decommissioned on 3 December 1862.

 

Wamsutta was recomissioned there on 2 February 1863 and returned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, arriving off Port Royal on the 13th. Five days later, she proceeded to Doboy Sound to tow Fernandina into position to blockade the entrance to the sound. On the 28th, Wamsutta was ordered to Sapelo Sound, Ga., to relieve Potomska and remained until ordered to Wassaw Sound, Ga., on 29 March to relieve Marblehead. By 1 May, Wamsutta lay off Charleston, S.C., but spent the remainder of May and the first two weeks of June repairing and reprovi-sioning in Port Royal. Wamsutta arrived back off Sapelo Sound on 15 June 1863. Four days later, she was relieved by Midnight and ordered to proceed to Doboy Sound to relieve Fernandina. After serving there for most of the summer, Wamsutta headed north on 5 September for repairs in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was decommissioned there on 14 September 1863.

 

Wamsutta was reactivated on 24 April 1864 at Philadelphia and was ordered back to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She arrived in Port Royal harbor on 6 May and was assigned to blockade duty off Georgetown, S.C. On 3 June, she chased the British steamer Rose aground there and burned the blockade runner. On 9 June, while reconnoitering Confederate island batteries scattered about Winjah Bay, S.C., she drew sporadic fire from shore batteries. On 14 July, Wamsutta returned to duty in Charleston and carried out frequent operations against Confederate vessels from her anchorage off Morris Island, S.C. On 22 October, she helped chase the blockade runner Flora aground near Fort Moultrie, S.C. On 5 December 1864, she drove off an unidentified blockade runner attempting to slip into port. On 4 February 1865, Wamsutta and Potomska ran another schooner aground, but the crew of the potential prize burned the ship before the Federals could take possession of her. Finally, two days later, Wamsutta turned back a blockade runner attempting to reach Charleston.

 

Late in April, Wamsutta was reassigned to duty off St. Simon's Island, Ga. She remained there through May and sailed for the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard early in June. She was decommissioned at Portsmouth on 29 June 1865 and was sold at public auction there on 20 July to Otis Seabury.