Skip to main content
Related Content
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials
(SwStr: t. 1,300; l. 250'; b. 34'; dph. 17'; a. 2 guns)

Jamestown, originally a passenger steamer, was built at New York, N.Y., in 1853, and seized at Richmond, Va., in 1861 for the Commonwealth of Virginia Navy. She was commissioned by the Confederate Navy the following July, renamed Thomas Jefferson but was generally referred to as Jamestown.

Brigantine-rigged Jamestown was designed and constructed by the well known William H. Webb for the New York and Old Dominion Line as a sister to Yorktown (v. Patrick Henry).

With Lt. J. N. Barney, CSN, in command she was actively employed until the end of her career in May 1862. Her service was highlighted by the battle of Hampton Roads on 8-9 March 1862 during which she assisted CSS Virginia in attacking Congress and Cumberland and stood by during the battle between Monitor and Virginia. The Confederate Congress tendered special thanks to the officers and crew of Jamestown for their "gallant conduct and bearing" in combat.

Some 4 weeks later, on 11 April 1862, Jamestown, CSS Virginia, and five other Confederate ships sailed from Norfolk into Hampton Roads in full view of the Union squadron there. When it became clear that the Federal ships were not going to attack, Jamestown, covered by Virginia and the others, moved in, captured three merchant ships, and helped by CSS Raleigh, towed them to Norfolk. Later that month Jamestown was despatched from Norfolk to cooperate with Major General Magruder, CSA, in the James River and early in May she was used to transport army sick and wounded to Richmond.

On the night of 5 May, Jamestown and CSS Patrick Henry proceeded to Norfolk and returned the following night with CSS Richmond, CSS Hampton and ordnance store boats, passing the Federal battery at Newport News unobserved on both occasions. A second attempt to return to Norfolk met with failure.

On 8 May Jamestown was ordered to notify the Secretary of the Confederate States Navy of the continuing engagement of two Federal gunboats and ironclad Galena with the Confederate batteries at Day's Point. Unable to carry out her assignment Jamestown retired up the James River as far as Drewry's Bluff where on 15 May 1862 she was sunk to obstruct the channel.