Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Fredonia I (Bark)

(Bark: t. 800; l. 160'; b. 32'11"; dph. 16'6"; cpl. 37; a. 4 24-pdr. car.)

Former name retained.


The first Fredonia, a bark built in 1845 at Newburyport, Mass., was purchased at Boston 14 December 1846 for $52,000. The vessel was fitted out as a storeship and on 5 January 1847 was placed in commission under command of Lieutenant C. W. Chauncey.

Assigned to the Home Squadron, Fredonia sailed from Boston 9 January 1847 for the east coast of Mexico. On 16 February she arrived off Anton Lizardo where she remained until October, rendering assistanceto vessels in distress and performing duty as guard ship while dispensing provisions, wood, water, ordnance equipment, and ammunition to the squadron of Commodores Conner and Perry engaged in the bombardment and occupation of Vera Cruz, Tuxpan, and Tabasco. Before sailing for home on 8 October Fredonia embarked invalids from the squadron and men whose enlistments had expired for transportation to New York, where she arrived 22 November. The storeship made one more trip to the Gulf with supplies for the squadron before the end of the Mexican War, departing New York 9 January 1848 and arriving off Sacrificios 9 February. She sailed for home in June, via Pensacola to land hospital supplies from Salmadina, and on 23 July arrived at Norfolk to disembark a battalion of marines and invalids from the Gulf Squadron.

Fredonia proceeded to New York in October 1848 to take on a cargo destined for the west coast. She sailed from New York 11 December and on 31 July 1849 arrived in San Francisco Bay, after stopping at Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, and Callao. She remained on the west coast a year, departing San Francisco 4 July 1850, stopping at Valparaiso for urgent repairs and arriving at New York 7 January 1851. She was decommissioned on the 18th and placed in ordinary at the New York Navy Yard.

In 1852 Fredonia transported troops of the 4th Infantry, with equipment and supplies to California. She sailed from New York on 21 November and arrived at San Francisco 19 June 1853. She then proceeded to Valparaiso, Chile, arriving 12 September, and was converted to a permanent storeship for the Pacific Squadron. She served in this capacity fifteen years, stationed at Valparaiso until 1862 when she was towed to Callao, Peru, by Wyoming.

In 1868, owing to yellow fever at Callao, Fredonia was moved to Arica, Peru, where on 13 August she was destroyed by a violent earthquake. The first severe shock occurred about 5:05 p.m., followed by successive shocks and a tremendous tidal wave. Wateree, also anchored in the harbor of Arica, was washed ashore, while the storeship was completely broken up with a loss of 27 lives. Only five of Fredonia's complement survived-three officers, who were on shore, and two enlisted men who were rescued the following morning from a portion of the wreck. The earthquake, reported to be the most devastating and extensive that ever occurred in South America, destroyed not only Arica but a number of other large cities on the west side of the Andes. The officers and men of the United States Squadron, under command of Rear Admiral T. Turner, immediately rushed assistance to the stricken inhabitants of Arica, providing food, clothing and medicines from the ships' supplies and conveying surgeons, nurses, provisions and other necessities from Callao and Valparaiso.

Published: Thu Jul 09 08:20:10 EDT 2015