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USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863)

USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863), built for the Treasury Department by William H. Webb, was launched in New York City November 1857. She served as a revenue cutter until temporarily transferred to the Navy late in 1858. Her new assignment took her to Paraguay with a squadron ordered to support the discussions of U.S. Special Commissioner James B. Bowlin with Dictator Carlos Antonio Lopez concerning reparations for damages incurred during an unprovoked attack on Waterwitch by the Paraguayan forces 1 February 1855. 

Returning to the United States, USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) resumed her former duties as a revenue cutter. In September 1860 she embarked Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, the first member of the British Royal Family to visit the United- States, for passage to Mount Vernon where he planted a tree and placed a wreath on the tomb of George Washington. USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) again transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 for service in the expedition sent to Charleston Harbor, S.C., to supply the Fort Sumter garrison. She departed New York 8 April and arrived off Charleston 11 April. 

Her next important service came the following summer when a task force was sent against Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras on the outer banks of North Carolina to check blockade running in the area. The ships sortied from Hampton Roads 26 August 1861 for this first important combined amphibious operation of the war. USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) ran aground while attempting to enter Pamlico Sound through Hatteras Inlet 29 August and suffered severe damage while fast on the shoal. She was refloated at the cost of her armament, rigging, stores, provisions, and everything else on board which could be heaved over the side to lighten ship. Temporary repairs completed 3 September, she proceeded to Hampton Roads, arriving 8 September 1861.

On 29 April USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) steamed up river to accept the surrender of upstream forts. The success of this attack opened the way for the movement of waterborne Union forces, now free to steam up river to join those coming south from Illinois to form a pincer which would sever the Confederacy. As his ships required extensive repairs and most of his men were ill, Farragut ordered his ships to rendezvous at Pensacola. Following blockade duty in Mobile Bay, USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) sailed for Galveston, Tex., which she bombarded and captured, with the aid of USS Westfield, USS Owasoo, USS Clifton, and USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863), 3 October 1862. She was in Galveston Harbor when the Confederates retook that base 1 January 1863; and, after a bitter contest in which her captain, Comdr. J. M. Wainwright and executive officer, Lt. Comdr. Edward Lea, were killed, she fell into Southern hands.

For a complete history of USS Harriet Lane (1861-1863) please see its DANFS page.