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Massachusetts I (Gunboat)


The first Massachusetts retained the name she carried at the time of her acquisition. 


(Gunboat: tonnage 765; length 178'0"; beam 32'2"; draft 15'0"; armament 4 guns)

The first Massachusetts, a wooden steamer, was built in the shipyard of Samuel Hall, Boston, Mass., under the supervision of Edward H. Delano for Mr. R. B. Forbes in 1845. As an auxiliary steam packet, she helped pioneer commercial steamer service between New York and Liverpool, England.

Purchased by the War Department in 1847, Massachusetts served as a troop transport for the U.S. Army during the war with Mexico. In 1848 she steamed round Cape Horn to San Francisco; she was transferred to the Navy at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., on 1 August 1849; and commissioned the same day, Lt. Ssmuel R. Knox in command.

Assigned to the Pacific Squadron, Massachusetts operated along the west coast in a project for the selection of sites for lighthouses and bouys by the joint Navy and Army Commission. She departed San Francisco, Calif., on 12 August 1852; steamed via ports in Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil; and arrived at Norfolk, Va., on 17 March 1853. She was decommissioned the following day.

Massachusetts was recommissioned at Norfolk on 2 May 1854, Lt. Richard W. Meade in command. After fitting out, she departed for the Pacific on 5 July, reached the Straits of Magellan on 13 December, and arrived at Mare Island on 8 May 1855. During June and July she cruised the coast between San Francisco and the Columbia River; thence, she sailed for Central America on 25 August. She showed the flag from Mexico to Nicaragua and returned to San Francisco on 9 January 1856.

Following a Native American uprising along the coast of Puget Sound, Washington Territory, in October 1855, Massachusetts departed Mare Island on 17 February 1856 with guns and ammunition for Seattle where she arrived on 24 February. She operated in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca for more than a year, visiting ports in Washington Territory and the British Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. She departed the Pacific Northwest on 4 April 1847, reached Mare Island on 9 April, and was decommissioned there on 17 June.

On 5 January 1859 Secretary of the Navy Isaac Toucey ordered the Commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard to fit out Massachusetts prior to transfer to the War Department. She was turned over to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in May 1859 and during the next several years cruised Puget Sound "for the protection of the inhabitants of that quarter." The Quartermaster General of the Army ordered Massachusetts retransferred to the Navy on 27 January 1862. Subsequently, she was placed in ordinary [a non-commissioned status] at Mare Island and surveyed.

Massachusetts underwent conversion to a storeship. Her engines were removed, and she was converted into a bark. Renamed Farallones in January 1863, she was commissioned on 17 June 1863, Acting Master Charles C. Wells in command. She served ships of the Pacific Squadron as a storeship until February 1867 when she was decommissioned at Mare Island. She was sold at San Francisco to Moore & Co., on 15 May 1867.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

16 April 2024

Published: Wed Apr 17 09:37:07 EDT 2024