Skip to main content
Related Content
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Dolphin III (Brigantine)

(Brig: t. 224; l. 88'; b. 25'; dr. 13'; cpl. 80; a. 2 9-pdr., 8 24-pdr. car.)

A gregarious aquatic mammal having a pointed muzzle, and found in most oceans; also, a swift, spiny-finned fish having a long dorsal fin and iridescent body, and found throughout warm seas.


The third Dolphin, a brig, was launched 17 June 1836 at New York Navy Yard, and commissioned 6 September 1836. She sailed 6 October under the command of Lieutenant W. E. McKenney to join the Brazil Squadron after a short cruise on the coast of Africa. She joined her squadron 21 February 1837 and was employed in the waters along the Atlantic coast of South America to protect the rights and property of American citizens. She set sail from Bahia, Brazil, 17 April 1839, and arrived at New York 16 May, where she was decommissioned 25 May 1839.

Dolphin made two cruises off the coast of Africa to suppress the slave trade between 18 December 1839 and 14 July 1840 and again between 5 November 1840 and 25 May 1841. On 7 September she sailed to join the newly organized Home Squadron cruising on the Atlantic coast and in the West Indies. Aside from a repair period at New York from 31 December 1841 to 4 March 1842, she served with the Home Squadron until October 1843.

Dolphin lay at Norfolk until 13 November 1845 when she sailed to join the African Squadron, returning to New York 5 November 1847. She got underway 6 May 1848 to join the East India Squadron, protecting American citizens in Asiatic waters. She called at the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean for repairs suffered during a gale and arrived at Whampoa, China, in February 1849. Dolphin cruised in Chinese waters until 22 July 1850 when she sailed for New York by way of the California coast and Cape Horn, arriving 24 June 1851.

Out of commission at New York until 10 September 1852, Dolphin put to sea on the last day of that month on a special cruise to test and perfect discoveries made by Lieutenant M. F. Maury in his investigation of the winds and currents of the ocean, sailing as far as the English Channel. She arrived at Hampton Roads 12 November 1853, then returned to New York where she was placed in ordinary during 1854.

Recommissioned at Norfolk 23 April 1855, Dolphin put to sea 8 May for another African cruise. She arrived on station 16 June and patrolled to suppress the slave trade until 28 June 1857 when she stood out for the United States, arriving at Boston 21 July. She went out of commission 27 July 1857. Placed back in commission she cruised on our southern coast and in the West Indies to intercept slave ships between June and September 1858. On 21 August she captured the slaver Echo with 318 Africans on board and sent her into Charleston, S.C. Those thus saved from slavery were later sent back to Africa.

Dolphin sailed from Boston 16 October 1858 for duty on the Brazil Station, taking part in the expedition to Paraguay to obtain redress for the unprovoked firing upon the American ship Water Witch and to settle diplomatic difficulties, between December 1858 and February 1859. Dolphin returned to Norfolk 22 December 1860 and was laid up at the Navy Yard. She was burned there 21 April 1861 by Union forces to prevent her falling into Confederate hands.

Published: Tue Jul 07 07:47:11 EDT 2015