(Sch: t. 100, 208 (Thames meas.); l. 111'; b. 25'; dr. 12'; a. 1 12-pdr. r., 2 24-pdr. sb.)
Memphis was constructed as the racing schooner America and launched 3 May 1851 by W. H. Brown, of New York for a local yacht club syndicate. She was the namesake of the "America's Cup." In 1857 she appears in the Royal Yacht Squadron as Camilla, owned by a Viscount Templetown and registered in Portsmouth, Hants. Henry Sotheby Pitcher bought and rebuilt her the following year. On 30 July 1860 she was reported sold to another Briton, Henry E. Decie. Lord Decie, as he was known in the Confederacy, arrived at Savannah in Camilla in the spring of 1861 and allied himself with the Southern cause. Running the blockade out of Savannah piloted by A. F. Marmelstein, Camilla carried a Confederate purchasing commission to Britain, took part in the Queenstown (Ulster) Yacht Club regatta 28 June 1861 and raced the schooner Alarm around the Isle of Wight, 5 August.
Local rumor maintained Lord Decie sold his yacht to the Confederacy later in 1861 and she was renamed Memphis-all quite consistent with the next documentation now available although details of her Confederate Government service are lacking.
It is a fact that in March 1862, the United States Ship Ottawa and other vessels discovered her scuttled in St. John's River, Fla. She was raised, towed to Port Royal, S.C., and outfitted for service in the United States Navy under her original name, with Acting Master J. Baker in command.
Until May 1863 America served with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, capturing one prize. She then reported to the Naval Academy as a school ship. She continued on that service until sold 20 June 1873. On 1 October 1921 America was presented to the Navy Department by the Eastern Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass., for preservation as a relic. She was stationed at the Naval Academy until scrapped in 1945.
(FltBtry: a. 18 guns)
Memphis was converted from a floating drydock in 1861 at New Orleans. In November 1861, she was "under construction or alteration" and in December was noted as having been at New Orleans "without any armament." By February 1862, Memphis was evidently fitted out, as she was noted as being one of the units of Flag Officer George N. Hollins, who commanded the naval defenses of the Mississippi and the coast of Louisiana.
The records are naturally skimpy on a unit of such small size. The battery, however, can be surmised to have been one of those that took part in the defense of New Orleans, and was probably destroyed or captured when Farragut's fleet captured the city.