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

Ellis I (Sidewheel Steamer)

(SwStr: t. 100; dr. 6'; cpl. 28; a. 1 32-pdr. r., 1 12-pdr. how.)

The first Ellis retained her Confederate name.

George Henry Ellis born in Peoria, Ill., in 1875, enlisted in the Navy in 1892. Chief Yeoman Ellis was killed 3 July 1898 while serving in Brooklyn during the Battle of Santiago. DD-154 was named in his honor.


The first Ellis, a sidewheel steamer, was captured from the Confederates at Elizabeth City, N.C., on 10 February 1862, and taken into the Navy under the same name. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, she was placed under the command of Lieutenant C. L. Franklin, and spent her entire service in the sounds and rivers of North Carolina.

Ellis took part in a combined expedition which captured Fort Macon, Beaufort Harbor, N.C., on 25 April 1862. She had a brief engagement with Confederate cavalry off Winton, N.C., 27 June, and from 15 to 19 August she made an expedition to Swansboro to destroy salt works and a battery. On 14 October she was detailed to the blockade of Bogue Inlet and a week later, captured and burned the schooner Adelaide with a valuable cargo of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco.

In November 1862 Ellis, under command of Lieutenant W. B. Cushing, sailed up New River Inlet to capture Jacksonville, N.C. The steamer captured two schooners, some arms and mail. On her way down river, Ellis ran aground 24 November and could not be refloated. After dark her commanding officer, with great coolness, moved all the crew except six and all her equipment and supplies except her pivot gun, some ammunition, 2 tons of coal, and a few small arms, to one of the captured schooners. While the schooners slipped down the river to wait, Cushing and five of his men remained to fight it out. Early on the morning of the 25th, the Confederates opened fire on Ellis and in a short time, Cushing was forced to decide between surrender and a pull of a mile and a half to a waiting schooner. The gallant lieutenant chose not to surrender, and before leaving his ship, set fire to her in five places, leaving the gun trained on the enemy to let the ship herself carry on the fight when flames would fire the cannon. Cushing and his men reached the schooner and made for the sea, getting the vessel over the bar just in time to escape several companies of cavalry trying to cut off the schooner at the mouth of the inlet. Ellis was blown to pieces by the explosion of her magazine on the morning of 25 November 1862.

Published: Tue Jul 07 13:17:20 EDT 2015