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

USS Lehigh

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Lehigh

USS Lehigh was launched on 17 January 1863 by Reaney, Son, and Archibold, Chester, Penn., under subcontract from John Ericsson, and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 15 April 1863, Comdr. John C. Howell in command.

On 21 April 1863, Lee placed the newly arrived USS Lehigh and the ironclad monitor USS Sangamon at Newport News with orders to protect the flagship USS Minnesota. The following month, USS Lehigh, under the command of Comdr. Andrew Bryson, departed for Charleston to begin a lengthy assignment with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Since the failure of the squadron's ironclads under Rear Adm. Samuel Francis Du Pont to breach the city's defenses in April 1863, the Navy Department sought to increase the odds of success in another attempt.

On 26 October 1863, the admiral ordered USS Lehigh and USS Patapsco to begin a series of long-range bombardments of Fort Sumter with their 150-pounder Parrott rifles. Dahlgren hoped to use this time to clear out whatever garrison may be there. During nine days of firing, USS Lehigh expended 408 shells from the Parrott rifle and 24 shells from her XV-inch smoothbore, the range varying from 1,600 to 1,800 yards. Despite displacing large masses of masonry and throwing heavy timbers into the air, there was no evidence that the garrison had been seriously weakened. USS Lehigh received two hits during this period, but neither caused any serious damage.

After repairs and modifications at Port Royal, USS Lehigh rejoined the fleet off Charleston on 13 January 1864. On 2 and 3 February, the monitor participated in the destruction of the blockade runner USS Presto, which had been run ashore off Fort Moultrie. The Parrott rifle from USS Lehigh fired forty-two times from 2,400 to 2,500 yards, hitting the wooden vessel nine times, setting her ablaze. USS Lehigh remained assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron for the rest of the year 1864, engaging in only one more major operation. 

USS Lehigh, among those vessels sent north, was decommissioned at League Island Navy Yard, Philadelphia, on 9 June 1865. Laid up and under repairs at League Island for a decade, USS Lehigh was recommissioned on 15 December 1875 at Norfolk, Comdr. George A. Stevens in command. USS Lehigh lay in the James River at City Point and off Richmond from 1879 to 1895. Taken to League Island in 1895 to be repaired, the ironclad was recommissioned on 18 April 1898 under the command of Lt. Robert G. Peck. USS Lehigh was stationed off New England for coastal defense during the Spanish-American War. Decommissioned on 8 September 1898, the now obsolete monitor remained at League Island until sold for scrapping on 14 April 1904.

For a complete history of USS Lehigh please see its DANFS page.