Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Catawba I (Monitor)

(Monitor: displacement 2,100 tons; length 225'; beam 43'3"; dr. 11'6"; speed 13 knots; complement 100 (approx.) ; armament 2 15-inch Dhalgren smooth bore cannons; class Canonicus)

A river in North Carolina.


Catawba a harbor and river monitor built by Alexander Swift & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Niles Tool Works, Hamilton, Ohio, was launched 13 April 1864 and delivered to the Navy on 7 June 1865.

Placed in ordinary at Mound City, Ill., the monitor remained there until sold back to her builder, Alex Swift and Co., on 13 April 1868. Around that same time, the Peruvian government made an offer to purchase Catawba (as well as Oneota) but the transaction was held up owing to disputes over the applicability of U.S. neutrality laws regarding armament sales to South America. Continued legal wrangling, and the need to repair deterioration suffered by the monitors while in storage, kept the monitors at New Orleans until the summer of 1869 when the ships finally sailed south to Peru.

Named Atalhualpa, for the last Emperor of the Inca Empire, the monitor served in the Peruvian Navy in the 1870s but suffered from neglect and poor maintenance. In 1879, after the outbreak of war between Chile and Peru, Atalhualpa served at Callao in a port defense role as her poor engine state did not permit operations at sea. Although the monitor helped defend Callao against the Chileans during a long-range gunnery duel in December 1880, the warship was scuttled in January 1881 to avoid capture when Chilean troops took the port. The hulk was later raised and used as a storeship until scrapped in the early 20th century.

Corrected by Dr. Timothy L. Francis, 30 August 2007


Published: Tue Jun 30 08:58:27 EDT 2015