Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Port Royal I


One of the Sea Islands in Beaufort County, S.C., captured by a combined Union Army-Navy expedition on 7 November 1861. Of great strategic value, Port Royal became the principal base of the U.S. Navy's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

(Side wheel gunboat: displacement 805; length 209'; beam 35'; draft 9'; speed 9 knots)

Port Royal, a wooden, double-ended, side wheel gunboat, was launched at New York on 17 January 1862 by Thomas Stock, and commissioned at New York Navy Yard, on 26 April 1862.

Departing New York 4 May, Port Royal steamed to Hampton Roads to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in supporting Gen. George B. McClellan's drive up the peninsula toward Richmond. She engaged Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point, Va., on 8 May and a week later participated in the attack on Fort Darling, Drury's Bluff, on the James below the southern capital.

After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's seven day campaign turned back McClellan's thrust, Port Royal shifted operations to the North Carolina Sounds. She took part in a reconnaissance of the Neuse River, N.C. and attacked Kingston, from 12-16 December.

The spring of 1863 found her operating along the Florida coast. On 20 April, a landing party from the ship raided Apalachicola, Fla., capturing cotton and ordnance. On 24 May a boat expedition captured sloop Fashion laden with cotton in the same area. The Union party also burned a ship repair facility at Devil's Elbow and destroyed a barge.

In the ensuing months Port Royal continued to patrol the Confederate coast. In August 1864, she served with Rear Adm. David G. Farragut during the operations in Mobile Bay, Ala. Port Royal then continued patrol duty through the end of the Civil War. Decommissioned on 23 May 1866, she was sold at Boston, Mass., on 3 October 1866.

Updated and expanded by Mark L. Evans

25 June 2015

Published: Mon Aug 24 10:13:53 EDT 2015