Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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(ScStGbt: t. 1,000; l. 183'6"; b. 30'3"; dr. 12'9"; a. 11.5 k.; a. 8 32‑pdrs.)

The diminutive of Mercedes, the Indiana town for which she was named, Mercedita means graceful.

Mercedita, a wooden steamer, was built at Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1861; purchased by the Navy 31 July 1861 from J. C. Jewett & Co.; and commissioned at New York 8 December 1861, Comdr. H. S. Stellwagon in command.

Mercedita joined the Gulf Blockading Squadron 3 Jannary 1862 and the next day chased two vessels attempting to run the blockade; Julia and an unidentified ship ran aground trying to escape and were set afire by their crews. In March Mercedita was ordered to Apalachacola, Fla., to relieve Marion in West Pass. There she destroyed the Confederate batteries at St. Vincent-s on the 21st. She and Sagamore captured Apalachacola 3 April. Mercedita pursued blockade runner Magnolia 12April, but during the chase Confederate ships Whitmore and Florida slipped through the blockade. Mercedita captured blockade runner Bermuda 27 April and schooners Victoria and Ida 12 July.

In September, she transferred to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and arrived Charleston the 19th. She served on the blockade of Charleston Harbor until the end of January 1863. On the night of the 31st, Palmetto State and Chicora, Confederate ironclad rams, slipped out of the main ship channel of the harbor. They hoped to recapture British iron propeller Princess Royal, taken by Union blockaders 2 days earlier with two powerful steam engines for new Confederate ironclads aboard.

Mercedita, was the first Union ship the southern raiders encountered, and Palmetto State succeeded in ramming her, ripping a hole in her keel, piercing her boiler, and leaving her in a sinking condition. Challenged "Surrender or I'll sink you," Mercedita. unable to move or bring her guns to bear, struck her colors. However, the Confederate rams, eager for further action, accepted paroles for Mercedita's officers and crew, and sped off to attack Keystone State, Quaker City, and Augusta before retiring to Charleston.

Hardly captured before abandoned, Mercedita made temporary repairs before proceeding to Port Royal and Philadelphia for complete repairs. In April she was attached to the West India Squadron, to escort California steamers over part of their route, from New York to Aspinwall. Later that spring, she joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and operated from Beaufort, N.C., for much of the remainder of the year.

Joining the West Gulf Squadron in March 1865, she saw only brief action with it. In May she searched for Susquehanna. When the conflict ended, the Navy resumed its peacetime activities, protecting American citizens and their property throughout the world. Mercedita, went to Santo Domingo 3 August to protect Americans there. Arriving Ciudad de Santo Domingo 11 August, the ship found the country in an unsettled political state, but there was no sign of the reported Spanish man‑of‑war on the southern coast. Mercedita departed Santo Domingo 14 August, touching at Kingston, Jamaica 17 August for coal en route home.

Decommissioned 14 October 1865, Mercedita was sold at public auction at New York 25 October 1865, and redocumented in merchant service 9 November 1865. She was converted to a brigantine 16 June 1879.

Published: Fri Aug 07 09:44:24 EDT 2015