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

Louisiana II (Sidewheel Steamer)

(ScStr: t. 295; l. 143'2"; b. 27'3"; dr. 8'6"; dph. 8'1" cpl. 85; a. 18" D. sb., 1 32‑pdr., 1 12‑pdr. D. r.)

Originally named by the French to honor King Louis XIV, Louisiana was admitted to the Union 30 April 1812 as the 18th State.


The second Louisiana, a sidewheel steamer built at Wilmington, Del., in 1860, was purchased by the Navy at Philadelphia 10 July 1861; and commissioned in August 1861, Lt. Alexander Murray in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, until January 1862 Louisiana operated along the Virginia coast, blocking the passage of Confederate blockade runners, and attacking them at their bases. Similar operations denied the use of coastal inlets and seaboard towns to the blockade runners, and tied down Confederate troops to guard those of such bases which could be held. On 13 September 1861, with Savannah, Louisiana engaged CSS Patrick Henry off Newport News, but shot from both sides fell short. Two of her boats destroyed a schooner fitting out as a Confederate privateer at Chincoteague Inlet 5 October, and 2 days later she captured schooner S. T. Carrison with a cargo of wood near Wallops Island.

Chincoteaque Island was lost to the Confederacy as a base when on 14 October Louisiana's Lt. A. Murray witnessed the administration of the oath of allegiance to the United States to Chincoteague's citizens. Her boats, led by Lt. Alfred Hopkins, surprised and burned three Confederate vessels at Chincoteague Inlet 28 and 29 October.

On 2 January 1862, Louisiana was ordered to Hatteras Inlet to prepare for the invasion of the Carolina Sounds. For the next 3 years, she patrolled, supported Army troops and made raids along the many miles of the intricate water system whose eventual capture would be a mortal blow to the Confederacy. Typical of such actions was that of 6 September 1862, when she tired to aid Union troops repelling Confederate attacks on Washington, N.C. Their commander, Maj. Gen. John G. Poster, reported that Louisiana "had rendered most efficient aid, throwing her shells with great precision, and clearing the streets, through which her guns had range."

She captured schooner Alice L. Webb at Rose Bay, N.C., 5 November 1862, then joined in the Army‑Navy expedition which captured Greenville, N.C., 4 days later. On 20 May 1863, one of her boatcrews under Acting Master's Mate Charles W. Fisher, captured a still unrigged schooner in the Tar River north of Washington, N.C. The prize was named for Louisiana's captain, R. T. Renshaw, and taken into the Navy as an ordnance hulk.

Fort Fisher, guarding Wilmington, N.C., was the key to the base which northern commanders foresaw the South employing after the fall of Charleston, and Commodore David Porter and Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, knowing that an assault on so powerful a defense would be long and costly, hoped to reduce it by blowing up an explosive laden ship under its walls. On 26 November 1864 contrary to naval ordnance experts' advice, Louisiana was designated for this assignment, and early in December she proceeded to Hampton Roads to be partially stripped and laden with explosives. She left Hampton Roads 13 December in tow of Sassacus for Beaufort, N.C., where the loading of powder was completed, and 5 days later arrived off Fort Fisher. Here Wilderness took up the tow, and Comdr. A. C. Rhind with a volunteer crew prepared for the attack. Wilderness and Louisiana continued toward Fort Fisher, but were turned back by the heavy swells which with worsening weather delayed the entire amphibious attack in leaving its base at Beaufort. The final attempt was made 23 December, when Wilderness brought Louisiana into position under Fort Fisher late in the evening. Rhind and his crew lit the fuses and kindled a fire aft, then escaped in small boats to Wilderness. waiting anxiously for 0118 24 December, when the fuses were timed to explode. They failed, but the fire set aft worked its way from the stern to the powder and blew Louisiana up as planned, but with little effect. Several weeks later, the massed gunfire of the fleet and amphibious assault reduced the last great bastion of the Carolina Sounds.

Published: Wed Jul 29 09:34:03 EDT 2015