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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Red Rover
(SwStr: t. 786; dr. 8'; s. 8 k.)

Red Rover was built as a sidewheel steamer at Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1859 and purchased at New Orleans by the Confederacy on 7 November 1861 to serve as a barracks and accommodation ship for the crew of the floating battery New Orleans. Lt. J. J. Guthrie, CSN, had joint command of both ships, having placed New Orleans in commission at New Orleans on 14 October 1861.

Red Rover assisted in the defense of Columbus, Ky., then joined the formidable Confederate blockade of the Federal Western Gunboat Flotilla at Island Number 10 in the Mississippi River. She was put out of service early in the Federal naval bombardment which began on 15 March 1862, being pierced through all her decks and the bottom by a piece of shell which caused considerable leakage. She was moored on the opposite side of Island Number 10 after this action and remained there until captured on 7 April by Acting Master C. Dominy of the Federal Gunboat Mound City. Fitted out by the United States Army in St. Louis as a temporary summer floating hospital for the Western Gunboat Flotilla, she was later converted to winter use and commissioned the first hospital ship of the United States Navy on 26 December 1862. Her nursing staff was headed by Sisters of the Order of the Holy Cross, pioneers of the Navy Nurse Corps. The first of her kind to carry women nurses, Red Rover gave comfort to only three less than 2,500 patients during an illustrious career with Acting Rear Adm. D. D. Porter's Mississippi Squadron that terminated on 17 November 1865.