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Kineo I (Ironclad Gunboat)

(Gbt: t. 507; l. 158'; b. 28'; dr. 4'6"; cpl. 81; a. 1 11", 1 20-pdr. P.r., 2 24-pdr. hows.)

A mountain peak in central Maine.


The first Kineo, an ironclad gunboat, was launched 9 October 1861 at Portland, Maine, by J. W. Dyer; sponsored by Miss Eunice C. Dyer, daughter of the builder, and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard 8 February 1862, Lt. George M. Ransom in command.

Slated for Admiral Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron, the new 90-day gunboat got underway 13 February and reached Ship Island, Miss. 7 March to prepare for the conquest of New Orleans. She did reconnaissance work in the lower Mississippi while Farragut labored to get his deep-draft oceangoing ships over the bar and into the river. The mortar flotilla opened a steady fire on Fort Jackson and St. Philip 18 April which continued until the Union ships braved a heavy Confederate cannonade as they dashed by the forts 24 April. Kineo was hit several times as she ran the gauntlet in the division commanded by Captain Bailey. On 27 April she captured 5 Confederate sail boats below New Orleans.

In ensuing months, she patrolled the Mississippi from time to time exchanging fire with shore batteries. She reached sight of Vicksburg 19 May and engaged Southern batteries at Grand Gulf a week later. On 6 August with Sumter, Cayuga, and Katahdin, she helped repel a Confederate attack on the Union garrison at Baton Rouge enabling the Union Navy to maintain its blockade of the important Red River supply line. She shelled a guerrilla camp on the 9 and fired over the city on the 20th to stop the approach of a Confederate force. On the 28th she captured and destroyed several small boats.

October opened with the capture of a large drove of cattle near Donaldsonville, La., which were being sent east to feed Lee's Army. Two days later transports arrived, loaded the cattle, some 1,500 head, and carried them downstream. The next day a member of the crew was killed and another wounded in engaging a battery on the west bank.

Gunboats were constantly necessary to protect Union steamboats from attacks by flying batteries and roving snipers. Kineo efficiently performed this duty during the months when the Union Navy and Army fought and labored to take Vicksburg. As the campaign to clear the Mississippi approached its climax, Farragut decided to move up the river to a position where he could interrupt Southern supplies from the West at the mouth of the Red River. Powerful batteries at Port Hudson, La., barred his way, but the Admiral was undaunted. He lashed gunboats to his deep-water ships to shield them from gunfire and to assist them in navigating the tricky waters of the Mississippi. Kineo was paired with Monongahela for the dash on the night of 13 and 14 March. Heavy and deadly accurate fire rained down on the Union ships which prevented all but the flagship Hartford and her consort Albatross from passing the fort.

A shot disabled Monongahela's rudder causing her and Kineo to run aground. The gunboat worked herself free and then pulled Monongahela off and guided her as they drifted down stream out of range.

After this engagement Kineo resumed her varied but vital duties in the lower river and remained at the task until after the fall of Vicksburg. She left the Mississippi 16 August and reached Baltimore on the 25th for repairs.

Back in top trim, Kineo departed the Delaware Capes 29 February 1864 and rejoined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at New Orleans 17 March and was assigned to blockade duty off the Texas coast. She boarded British schooner Sting Ray 22 May, but the blockade runner's crew overcame the prize crew, ran the schooner aground on the Texas crew, and turned the Union prize master and sailors over to Confederate troops.

Kineo returned to New Orleans 8 December and served in the Mississippi until the final weeks of the Civil War. She stood to sea 5 April 1865 and entered Chesapeake Bay on the 17th. She entered Philadelphia Navy Yard on the 26th, decommissioned 9 May, and was sold 9 October 1866.

Published: Tue Jul 28 12:54:25 EDT 2015