Skip to main content
Related Content
Document Type
  • Themed Collection
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials
  • NHHC

USS Lancaster (1859) 

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Lancaster (1859) 

USS Lancaster (1859) was laid down by the Philadelphia Navy Yard in December 1857; launched 20 October 1858; sponsored by Miss Harriet Lane, niece and official hostess of President James Buchanan; and commissioned 12 May 1859, Capt. John Rudd in command.

The new screw sloop-of-war departed Delaware Bay 27 July 1859 for the Pacific. After rounding Cape Horn she reached Panama Bay 6 December. Two days later, Flag Officer J. B. Montgomery hoisted his flag above USS Lancaster (1859), and she served as flagship of the Pacific Squadron until 1866, cruising along the coast of South and Central America, Mexico, and California to protect American commerce and the Pacific mail steamers.

In the spring of 1866, USS Lancaster (1859) received extensive repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard and on 27 June sailed from San Francisco for the east coast, via Panama Bay, Callao, Valparaiso, Barbados, and Nassau. She arrived Norfolk Navy Yard 8 March 1867 and decommissioned on the 19th.

Recommissioned 26 August 1869, USS Lancaster (1859) sailed for the South Atlantic via Funchal, Madeira. She arrived at Rio de Janeiro 6 January 1870 and served as flagship of the squadron until 1875. From January to May 1874, she took part in fleet drills in the North Atlantic and was in the force concentrated at Key West lest war with Spain break out over the "Virginius affair." The ship decommissioned 31 July 1875, and laid up for repairs at the Portsmouth yard.

USS Lancaster (1859) recommissioned 26 August 1881 and on 12 September sailed from Portsmouth, via New York, for Europe. Arrived at Gibraltar 9 November, she became flagship of the European squadron and during the following years cruised extensively in the Mediterranean, northern European waters, and on the coast of Africa, protecting American citizens and commerce and promoting friendly relations with other countries. From 27 June to 20 July 1882 the flagship was at Alexandria, Egypt, during a series of riots and was present when the British fleet bombarded the forts 11 July.

Early in 1885 USS Lancaster (1859) cruised down the west coast of Africa and arrived in the Congo River 28 April en route to Brazil. She arrived Rio de Janeiro 1 July and served as flagship of the squadron until 1888, cruising along the coasts of South America and Africa protecting American interests and conducting squadron drills and exercises. USS Lancaster (1859) decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard 7 September 1889 and was towed to the Portsmouth, N.H., yard for repairs. Lancaster recommissioned 12 September 1895 and was ordered to the South Atlantic Squadron. On 22 October she proceeded to Newport, and on 4 November stood out for the South Atlantic, via Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands.

After the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, USS Lancaster (1859) recommissioned 5 May 1898, sailed on the 19th, and arrived on the 31st at Key West, Fla., where she served as station ship during the conflict. Departing Key West 18 August the ship arrived at Portsmouth 3 September. She continued cruising the Atlantic training landsmen until she decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard 1 May 1902. USS Lancaster (1859) served as receiving ship at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 16 November 1903 to 31 March 1912, and was transferred to the Bureau of Public Health Service, Treasury Department, on 1 February 1913. Her name was stricken from the Navy list on 31 December 1915.

For a complete history of USS Lancaster (1859) please see its DANFS page.