Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Massasoit I (SwGbt)

(SwGbt: dp. 974; l. 205'; b. 35'; dr. 8'8"; s. 8.5 k.; a. 2 100‑pdr., 4 9" S. B., 2 24‑pdr., 2 12‑pdr.; cl. Sassacus)

Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoag Indians of New England, born around 1580, befriended the English colonists and gave the food and assistance during the early settlement of the Plymouth Colony. His son, the chief known as King Philip, started the destructive King Philip's War some years after Massasoit's death in 1661.


The first Massasoit was launched 8 March 1863 by Curtis & Tilden, Boston, Mass.; commissioned 8 March 1864, Lt. Comdr. Edward Barrett in command; but did not leave the Navy Yard before decommissioning 31 July 1864.

Recommissioned 25 August 1864 in the tense days before Gen. William Sherman's "march to the sea," she first patrolled the New England coast for Confederate raiders. In October Massasoit joined Rear Adm. David D. Porter's North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. After several escort voyages from New York to Hampton Roads she served on picket duty on the James River, in Virginia. She took part in the 24 January 1865 duel with Confederate batteries at Howlett's House, and the following months stood by to prevent any southern rams from reaching the coast.

Ordered 6 April to carry dispatches to General Sherman in North Carolina, she remained on duty in the Sounds of North Carolina in the last days of the Civil War. Entering New York Harbor 18 June, Massasoit decommissioned 27 June 1865 and was sold 15 October 1867.

Published: Thu Aug 06 09:49:25 EDT 2015