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George W. Rodgers

(Sch: t. 87; l. 76'; b. 22'; dph. 6'; a. 2 20-pdr. D.r.)

George Washington Rodgers, born 20 October 1822 in Brooklyn, N.Y., was commissioned Midshipman 14 October 1839. Prior to the Civil War, he served in various ships in foreign squadrons and was Commandant of Midshipmen at Annapolis in 1861. Promoted to Commander 16 July 1862, he took command of Catskill, a single-turreted monitor, 24 February 1863 and joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off the South Carolina coast. With Rear Admiral J. A. Dahlgren embarked, Catskill led a furious naval bombardment 10 July against Confederate defenses on Morris Island, Charleston harbor. During the attack, withering Confederate fire hit Catskill more than 60 times, piercing the deck in several places. Despite her "severe" damage, Rodgers renewed the attack the following day to "prevent reinforcements and ammunition" from reaching Fort Wagner. Appointed Fleet Captain 20 July, Rodgers resumed command of Catskill 17 August as Union forces continued the attack against Fort Wagner. Early in the bombardment, a Confederate shot struck the top of Catskill's pilot house, bursting the plates and killing Captain Rodgers instantly. The only officer during the Civil War to lose his life in a monitor as a result of enemy gunfire, "he fell." wrote Admiral Dahlgren, "as a brave man, at his post in battle, and for the flag to which he had devoted his whole life."

George W. Rodgers, originally blockade runner Shark, was captured by the screw steamer South Carolina off Galveston, Tex., 4 July 1861 and sent to the East Coast. Arriving New York 24 August, she was sold to a private purchaser 5 November. Later chartered by the Navy under a civilian master, Shark served during 1862 and 1863 as a dispatch ship with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until taken over by the Navy off Charleston 5 September 1863 by order of Admiral Dahlgren. Although Shark was purchased to be sunken obstruction at Charleston, she was retained. Renamed George W. Rodgers, she sailed to Port Royal, S.C., for arming and repairs, and commissioned there 17 January 1865, Acting Master Loring G. Emerson in command.

During the remainder of the war, George W. Rodgers served as a picket boat along the coast of Georgia in Wassaw and Ossabaw Sounds and on the Vernon and Great Ogeechee Rivers. Occasionally used for special dispatch service, between February and May she joined Coast Survey steamer Bibb on an important coastal survey in the sounds and rivers of the Georgia coast. She resumed picket duty 2 May and operated along the Georgia and Florida coasts until departing Ossabaw Sound for Boston 25 July. She arrived Boston Navy Yard 7 August; decommissioned 16 August; and was sold to C. H. Miller by public auction 8 September.

Published: Mon Jul 13 09:13:54 EDT 2015