(ScTug: dp. 383; l. 140'; b. 28'; dph. 12'; dr. 10'6"; cpl. 16; a. 2 24-pdrs.)
An evergreen herb of the dogbane family.
America, a screw tug built at Philadelphia in 1864, was purchased by the Navy 9 December 1864 from John W. Lynn; renamed Periwinkle; and commissioned early in January 1865, Acting Master Henry C. Macy in command.
The two-masted, schooner rigged, white oak tug joined the Potomac Flotilla 15 January 1865 as a gunboat, and operated primarily in the Rappahannock River. In mid-March, a fleet of oyster schooners operating in the area was threatened by a Confederate enemy force, and Periwinkle with Morse, blockaded the mouths of the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers to protect them. The Flotilla also interrupted contraband business between lower Maryland and Virginia, and cleared the rivers of mines, and fought guerillas ashore.
After the Civil War ended, Periwinkle continued to serve with the flotilla until June 1865. Next, ordered to Norfolk, she operated out of the Navy Yard there until placed in ordinary in 1867.
Late in 1870 she was selected for service with the Hall Scientific Expedition to the Arctic, and was sent to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs. Renamed Polaris early in 1871, she arrived at New York Navy Yard 9 June 1871 to complete loading of stores and provisions for the expedition. She sailed from the New York Navy Yard in July 1871, Charles F. Hall in command. Aiming for the North Pole, she reached 82'1°11' N. latitude, then the furthest point north reached by a vessel. Polaris was caught in the ice on the homeward voyage in October 1872, and carried for some distance before being crushed. Her crew was later rescued.