Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Malvern I (Str)

(Str: dp. 1,477; l. 239'4"; b. 33'; dr. 10')

Malvern Hill is a plateau on the northern bank of the James River, where McClellan, aided greatly by Union gunboats,. repulsed Lee's attack 1 July 1862, saving his army of the Potomac in the final 1 battle of the Seven Days Battle of the peninsular campaign.


Malvern was built in 1860 as William G. Hewes by Harlan and Hollingsworth Co., Wilmington, Del., for Charles Morgan-s Southern Steamship Co. She commenced regular service between New York City and New Orleans 11 January 1861.

As William G. Hewes she was seized 28 April by the Governor of Louisiana and put into service as a Confederate blockade runner, although she was not officially registered as a Confederate steamer until 5 April 1862. Because of her speed, maneuverability, and large‑cargo capacity Hewes was of far greater value as a blockade running transport than as a gunboat. Few of her contemporaries were able to match the 1,440‑bale payload of cotton that she carried to Havana in April.

When Farragut captured New Orleans in April 1862, Hewes shifted her operations from there to Charleston, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C. She was then renamed Ella and Annie. Under the Importing & Exporting Co. of South Carolina she renewed blockade running to Bermuda in April 1863.

Damage sustained during a hurricane in September necessitated repairs in Bermuda. Ella and Annie departed there 5 November in company with steamer R. E. Lee. The two ships separated off Carolina and Ella and Annie steamed for Wilmington, N.C. She was delayed by a storm and intercepted the morning of 8 November by Niphon off New Inlet, N.C. Capt. Frank N. Bonneau, CSN, in command of the blockade runner, rammed the northern gunboat in a desperate attempt at evasion. A broadside from Niphon, Acting Master Joseph B. Breck, USN, in command, killed one man in Ella and Annie, riddled her hull, and brought her to.

A boarding party from Niphon captured Ella and Annie and her valuable cargo, and a prize crew took her to Boston. Captain Bonneau was later convicted of piracy by a Boston court, but the presiding officer, who had been a flag officer himself, suspended the sentence on the grounds that he would have acted in a like manner had he been in similar circumstances.

Ella and Annie was condemned as a prize of war and sold to the Navy. Hastily armed, renamed Malvern and provisionally commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard 10 December, she was sent to intercept Chesapeake, which had been hijacked at sea by passengers professing allegiance to the Confederacy. Chesapeake was found abandoned, taken to Halifax, and turned over to British authorities.

Malvern was formally commissioned 9 February 1864 at Boston Navy Yard. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, she became Admiral Porter-s flagship. She participated in the campaign that resulted in the capture of Fort Fisher, N.C., in December 1864 and January 1865. She captured blockade running steamers Stag and Charlotte 19 January off New Inlet, N.C., and participated in the attack 18 February on Fort Anderson, Cape Fear River.

She was frequently utilized for conferences between General Grant, Admiral Porter, and President Lincoln. Her last notable service for the Navy was to convey the President up the James River to Richmond when that city was evacuated by the Confederates 2 April. Malvern decommissioned 24 October at New York City.

Malvern was sold at auction at New York to S. G. Bogart, who promptly resold her to her original owner. She was again named William G. Hewes and reconditioned for passenger and freight service at Wilmington, Del., during January 1866. Charles Morgan then operated her from New Orleans to the Texas Gulf ports until 1878, when he turned his steamers over to the Louisiana & Texas RR., which he owned.

Hewes served in the West Indies fruit trade for many years. She was caught in a violent gulf storm in February 1895 and wrecked on Colorado Reef off the coast of Cuba.

Published: Wed Aug 05 12:43:01 EDT 2015