Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Galena (1862-1872)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Galena (1862-1872)

USS Galena (1862-1872), one of the first three ironclads, each of a different design, built by the Union Navy during the Civil War, was towed from New York to arrive off Fortress Monroe, Va., 24 April and join Flag Officer L. M. Goldsborough's North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Comdr. John Rodgers relieved Comdr. Taylor the same day.

USS Galena (1862-1872) cleared her decks for action 4 and 7 May when dreaded Confederate ironclad Virginia briefly appeared. On 8 May Galena stood up the James River with gunboats Port Royal and Aroostook in an attempt to reach Richmond and compel its surrender. After the feared Virginia was destroyed, Monitor and Naugatuck joined the expedition at James Island on 12 May and on the 13th the force steamed across Harrison's Bar to City Point, where USS Galena (1862-1872) stopped two steamers for evidence of contraband. She opened fire the following morning to scatter Confederate sharpshooters waiting in ambush along the river banks.

With gunboats of the flotilla, USS Galena (1862-1872) afforded protection to the daily movement of Army transports and supply ships along the James River from Harrison's Bay to the mouth of the Chickahominy, giving the indispensable protection that left the Confederate troops without ability to move effectively against Mc-Clellan's Army of the Potomac along the James River. USS Galena (1862-1872) was detached from the James River Flotilla in September 1862 and assigned picket duty at Hampton Roads and Newport News until 21 May 1863 when she arrived at Philadelphia and was decommissioned for repairs. 

Recommissioned 15 February 1864, USS Galena (1862-1872) stood down the river on the 18th for the Gulf of Mexico. Becoming icebound at New Castle, Del., she was towed out to sea by an ice boat, then developed leaks which forced her to put in at Norfolk. USS Galena (1862-1872) provided supporting bombardment for the capture of Fort Morgan on 23 August 1864 and departed Mobile Bay on the 31st to serve as a part of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron out of Key West, Fla. She arrived in Philadelphia from her blockade station on 4 November 1864 and was decommissioned for repair on the 22d.

USS Galena (1862-1872) was recommissioned at Philadelphia on 29 March 1865 and reached Newport News, Va., 2 April to serve the North Atlantic Squadron as a picket and patrol ship at the mouth of the Nansemond River and in the James River until her departure 5 June for Portsmouth, N.H. She was decommissioned there 17 June 1865 and remained inactive until recommissioned 9 April 1869 for movement to Hampton Roads, where USS Galena (1862-1872) was placed out of commission 2 June. Condemned by survey in 1870, Galena was broken up in 1872 at the Norfolk Navy Yard.

For a complete history of USS Galena (1862-1872) please see its DANFS page.