Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

19-N-8697: USS Powhatan in a Chinese port. From a painting made in China, possibly by Edward Trenchard, 1859.   Also at NHHC as NH 42663.

USS Powhatan (Sidewheel-Steam Frigate)

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USS Powhatan (Sidewheel-Steam Frigate)

The sidewheel-steam frigate, USS Powhatan, was commissioned on September 2, 1852, at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia.  Assigned to the East India Squadron and arriving in June 1853, she became Commodore Matthew C. Perry's flagship for the Treaty of Kanagawa with Japan in 1854.  During the Civil War, Powhatan served with the Gulf Blockading Squadron and South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and in the assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in December 1864-January 1865.  Following the war, she transited to the Pacific in 1866 and became the flagship of the South Pacific Squadron, where Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren commanded her from December 1866 to July 1868.  In 1869, Powhatan was attached to the North Atlantic Squadron, where three of her crew received the Medal of Honor for rescuing drowing crewmembers during the years 1872-78.   Beginning in 1880, she began cruises to protect American interests in Cuban waters until decommissioned in June 1886.  Powhatan was sold in July then scrapped in August 1887.

A model of Powhatan can be found in the Civil War section of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.    

Image:  NH 42663:  USS Powhatan in a Chinese port.  Painting made in China, possibly by Edward Trenchard, 1859.   Naval History and Hertiage Command Photograph.