USS Louisiana, a 295-ton (burden) in screw gunboat, was built as Wilmington, Delaware, in 1860 as the commercial steamship of the same name. She was purchased by the Navy in July 1861 and placed in commission in August. Through most of the Civil War, Louisiana was employed along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina, enforcing the blockade of the Confederacy and participating in operations against enemy positions ashore. In September 1861 she exchanged gunfire with CSS Patrick Henry off Newport News, Va. During the following month Louisiana helped secure Chincoteague and Wallops Island, capturing or destroying four sailing vessels in the process.
In early January 1862 Louisiana went to Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, to begin operations on the North Carolina Sounds, where she took part in the capture of Roanoke Island and New Bern during February and March. She was later involved in several expeditions up enemy-held rivers, used her guns to support troops ashore and seized two Confederate schooners. In November 1864, USS Louisiana was converted to a kind of large bomb for use in an upcoming attempt to capture Fort Fisher, which guarded the approaches to the blockade-running port of Wilmington, North Carolina. Filled with gunpowder, she was run ashore near the fort on the night of 23-24 December and set afire. When the flames reached the explosives, the resulting blast completely destroyed Louisiana, but had no adverse effect on Fort Fisher and its defenders, who had to be overcome by naval bombardment and amphibious assault in January 1865.
This page features the only view we have related to USS Louisiana (1861-1864).
|If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."|
Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.
Photo #: NH 59210
"Naval Skirmish between the Rebel Iron-plated War Steamer Yorktown, and a portion of the Federal Fleet anchored in James River, Va., off Newport News."
Line engraving published in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated", 1861. It probably depicts the action of 13 September 1861.
Ships shown are (from left to right): USS Louisiana, CSS Patrick Henry (ex-Yorktown), USS Savannah and USS Cumberland.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 102KB; 740 x 430 pixels
Page made 9 November 2003