Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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American I (Bark)

(Bark: t. 329; dr. 15')



American, an old bark-rigged whaler which had been laid up at Edgartown, Mass., because of the diminishing demand for whale oil caused by a growing use of kerosene in lamps, was purchased by the Union Navy on 1 November 1861 at Edgartown to be sunk as an obstruction in one of the channels approaching Savannah harbor. The vessel was laden with 300 tons of stone and-commanded by W. A. Beard, master-sailed from New Bedford, Mass., on 20 November 1861 with 24 other ships collectively known as the first contingent of stone whalers.

However, when these whalers began to arrive in waters off Savannah, they found the Southern defenders of that port had been alarmed by the Union conquest of Port Royal, S.C., and had decided to evacuate Tybee Island and relocate its batteries to Fort Pulaski. Moreover, to prevent Northern warships from bringing their guns within range of the latter stronghold, they had sunk old hulks in narrow points of the channel and, ironically, had already carried out the mission of Union's stone bearing whalers. As a result, American and most of her consorts sailed for Port Royal on the 10th and llth. There, Flag Officer DuPont decided that these ships could be put to good use as obstructions in the main channel in Charleston harbor. They were moved to that port, and American was sunk in the main channel there on 20 December 1861.

Published: Tue Jun 16 16:36:17 EDT 2015