(SwStr.: t. 176; l. 110'; b. 22'6"; dr. 7'; s. 15 k.; a. 1 30-pdr. 2 12-pdr.)
The well-known family of green, mostly leafless and spiny, plants of arid climates.
Cactus, an armed side-wheel steamer, was built during 1863 in Brooklyn, N.Y., as Polar Star; purchased at New York 9 December 1863; and commissioned 4 May 1864,- Acting Master N. Graham in command.
Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron with its task of isolating the Confederacy from overseas sources of supply, Cactus served as a supply ship and tender in Hampton Roads until 28 May 1864. She was then ordered up the York River to guard the Army's lines of communication. On 20 June, with Morse, she fought an engagement with Confederate batteries along the Pamunkey River. After assisting in covering the withdrawal of the Army from White House, Va., the steamer returned to Hampton Roads 23 June. Until April 1865, Cactus operated in Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay towing launches and supply schooners. She then served in the Potomac Flotilla until placed out of commission at the Washington Navy Yard 8 June 1865. Cactus was transferred to the Light House Board 20 June 1865.