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Wasp VI (Sidewheel Gunboat)


Any of numerous winged hymenopterus insects possessing smooth, slender bodies, and an abdomen attached by a narrow stalk. They have well developed wings, biting mouthparts, and often administer painful stings.


(Sidewheel Gunboat: tonnage 521; length 212'0"; beam 25'2"; depth of hold 10'0"; draft 6'0"; armament 1 30-pounder Parrott rifle, 2 24-pounder howitzers)

Emma Henry, an iron-hulled sidewheel steamer, was captured at sea in December of 1864 attempting to run the Union blockade of the Confederacy; purchased from the New York prize court on 13 January 1865; and commissioned on 11 May 1865.

At Norfolk, Emma Henry joined the squadron commanded by Acting Rear Admiral Sylvanus W. Godon which had been established to search for the Confederate ram Stonewall. She departed Hampton Roads with the rest of the squadron on 17 May. On the 22nd, she carried Acting Rear Admiral Godon into Charleston harbor to confer with Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren before the squadron continued on its way. During that interlude, she collided with another ship and, after returning Godon to his flagship Susquehanna, headed north for repairs at Philadelphia.

On 13 June 1865, while undergoing repairs, she was renamed Wasp. As soon as she completed repairs, the ship rejoined Rear Admiral Godon's squadron, designated the Brazil Squadron and based at Rio de Janeiro. The original reason for the squadron's dispatch, Stonewall, had long since ceased to pose a problem. The former Confederate ironclad had surrendered to Spanish authorities in Cuba on 19 May just as Wasp had begun her repairs at Philadelphia. Thus, she and her squadron-mates took up a different duty, watching out for American interests in South America and along the eastern coast of Africa.

The latter location, however, Wasp left to her larger sisters while she concentrated upon the vicinity of the La Plata and Uruguay Rivers during the war between Paraguay and the coalition of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay which had begun when the Paraguayan dictator, Francisco Solano Lopez, invaded Brazil on the day after Christmas 1864. The war lasted until mid-1870, peace coming only after the complete reduction of Paraguay and the death of Lopez at the hands of Brazilian lancers following a protracted guerrilla campaign. In the meantime, Wasp patrolled the area to protect Americans and their interests in the combat zone. As frequently on the rivers in the interior as she was at sea, she ascended Rio de La Plata and its tributaries, the Uruguay Parana and Paraguay Rivers.

After the war ended in June 1870, Wasp continued to operate out of Montevideo in Uruguay on the aforementioned rivers, ascending them as far as Asuncion, Uruguay. Her duty consisted of transporting diplomats and generally watching out for American interests. She continued to be so employed until surveyed early in 1876 when she was found to be unfit for further naval service.

Decommissioned that same spring, Wasp was sold to Mr. L. B. Scheiner of Montevideo on 5 June 1876.

Published: Tue Aug 03 11:52:55 EDT 2021