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USS Congress (1842-1862)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Congress (1842-1862)

USS Congress (1842-1862) was launched at the Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 16 Aug. 1841, and placed in commission under Captain P. Voorhees on 7 May 1842. Her first cruise, starting 15 July, took her to the Mediterranean for service with the Squadron of Commodores C. Morgan and C. Morris. In Dec. 1843 she proceeded to the east coast of South America seizing the Buenos Aires naval squadron blockading Montevideo on 29 September 1844, where she was active until January 1845 in safeguarding U.S. trade. She was placed in ordinary at Norfolk in March.

USS Congress (1842-1862) was recommissioned on 15 September 1845 as flagship of Commodore R. Stockton and sailed for the Pacific in late October. After landing the United States Commissioner to the Sandwich Islands at Honolulu on 10 June, she proceeded to Monterey Bay where she joined the Pacific Squadron. In May 1850 USS Congress (1842-1862) was assigned a threefold mission, protection of United States interests between the mouth of the Amazon and Cape Horn, prevention of the use of our national flag to cover the African slave trade, and maintenance of our neutral rights during hostilities among the South American countries.

On 19 June 1855 USS Congress (1842-1862)  sailed for the Mediterranean and there followed 2 years as flagship of Commodore S. Breese. Sailing from Spezia, Italy, on 26 November 1857 she arrived at Philadelphia on 13 January 1858 and was placed out of commission. In 1859 USS Congress (1842-1862) was reassigned as flagship of Commodore J. Sands and the Brazil Squadron, remaining in that area until the Civil War precipitated her return to Boston on 22 August 1861.

On 9 September 1861, she was ordered to duty under command of Captain Goldsborough in the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, later to serve under Commander W. Smith, and Lieutenant J. Smith. USS Congress (1842-1862) was anchored off Newport News, Va., on 8 March 1862, when she fell under attack by the Confederate ironclad, USS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) and five other small ships. After exchanging broadsides with USS Virginia, USS Congress (1842-1862)  slipped her moorings and ran aground in shallow water. The ironclad and her consorts attacked from a distance and inflicted great damage on the ship, killing 120, including the commanding officer. Ablaze in several places and unable to bring guns to bear on the enemy, USS Congress (1842-1862) was forced to strike her colors. Heavy shore batteries prevented USS Virginia from taking possession, instead she fired several rounds of hot shot and incendiary causing USS Congress (1842-1862)  to burn to the water's edge, and her magazine to explode.

In September 1865, USS Congress (1842-1862) was raised and taken to the Norfolk Navy Yard where she was later sold.

For a complete history of USS Congress (1842-1862) please see its DANFS page.