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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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St. Philip

(SwStr: t. 1,172; l. 228'4"; b. 32'8"; dph. 24'6"; s. 11.5 k.; a. 2 68-pdr., 4 32-pdr.)
St. Philip

St. Philip was originally San Juan, built for $250,000 by Jeremiah Simonson at Greenpoint, N.Y., in 1852, brigantine-rigged, with two vertical beam engines, and sailed as the noted passenger steamer Star of the West which operated between New York and the California coast. In January 1861 she was chartered by the Federal Government to carry reinforcements to Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, S.C. Within sight of the fort, she was greeted by fire from harbor defense guns manned by cadets from the Citadel Military Academy, and was compelled to return to New York without accomplishing her mission. The Federal Government again chartered her 3 months afterwards to carry troops from the coast of Texas to New York, but on 17 April she was captured by the Confederate Army steamer General Rusk and sent to New Orleans. There the Confederate Navy employed her as a receiving ship and renamed her St. Philip.

With the impending surrender of New Orleans in April 1862 St. Philip was sent up the Yazoo River with Confederate specie on board. In March 1863, when Rear Adm. D. D. Porter attempted to outflank Vicksburg by a naval expedition through the Yazoo Pass, the Confederates sank her to obstruct the channel of the Tallahatchie River, above the Yalobusha's mouth at Fort Pemberton.