Naval History and Heritage Command

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Granite City (side-wheel steamer)

(SwStr: t 450; l. 160'; b. 23'; dph. 9'2"; a. 624-pdr. howitizers, 1 12-pdr. rifle)

A city in Illinois.

Granite City was originally a Confederate blockade runner, and was captured in the Bahama Islands 22 March 1863 by U.S.S. Tioga. She was bought by the United States from the New York Prize Court for $55,000 and delivered to the Navy at New York 16 April 1863, Acting Master Charles W. Lamson in command.

Assigned to the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, Granite City arrived in New Orleans for duty 27 August 1863. She was detained for a time in quarantine because of sickness on board, but departed 4 September to take part in the ill-fated Sabine Pass Expedition, which was intended to provide a Union lodgement in Texas and prevent possible French moves into that State from Mexico. Granite City was ideally suited to help support the troop landings because her shallow draft allowed her to cross the bar and lie close to shore. She crossed the bar in company with Sachem, Clifton, and Arizona on 8 September, but the withering fire of Confederate batteries forced the gunboats and their transports to withdraw. Sachem and Clifton were disabled and captured in the action, though Granite City suffered no damage.

For the next 8 months, Granite City, though often in need of repairs to her weak machinery, actively participated in the blockade of the Texas coast. She captured schooner Anita 27 October 1863, schooner Amelia Ann 16 November, and bark Teresita 17 November. In addition, the steamer supported two landings of troops on the Texas coast. With Sciota, she shelled Confederate cavalry off Pass Cavallo 31 December 1863, allowing Union reconnaissance forces to land successfully. Again on 19 January 1864, the two ships covered the landing of several hundred troops near Smiths Landing, Tex., and defended them by shelling shore positions.

After 3 more months of grueling blockade duty, Granite City was dispatched with steamer Wave to Calcasieu Pass, La., to receive refugees. While engaged in this duty, 28 April 1864, the ships were attacked by Confederate troops and shore batteries. After an hour's sharp engagement, both ships surrendered, placing Granite City in Confederate hands for the second time.

Fitted out as a Confederate blockade runner, her original occupation, Granite City was loaded at Galveston and ran out of Velasco, Tex., 20 January 1865. The night was foggy and she succeeded in eluding the blockading squadron for a time, but the next day she was chased ashore by steamer Penguin, and soon broke up on the beach.

Published: Mon Jul 13 13:36:13 EDT 2015