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Monocacy I (Sidewheel Gunboat)

A free flowing tributary of the Potomac River located in northern Maryland; its name derives from the Shawnee Native American tribe's description of the river "Monnockkesey," which is believed to mean: a river with many bends.


(Side-wheel-Gunboat: displacement 1,370 tons; length 265 feet; beam 35 feet; draft 9 feet (mean); speed 11.2 knots; complement 159; armament 6 guns)

The first Monocacy, a sidewheel gunboat, was launched by A. & W. Denmead & Son, Baltimore, Md., 14 December 1864; sponsored by Miss Ellen Denmead; completed late in 1865; and placed in service in 1866.

Assigned to the Asiatic Station, Monocacy remained there until 1903, a period of service so long that the lightdraft gunboat was given the nickname "Jinricksha of the Navy."

After patrol duty through 1867, Monocacy joined her squadron in representing the U.S. Government at the opening of the ports of Osaka and Hiogo, Japan, 1 January 1868. In December she surveyed the Inland Sea between Nagasaki and Osaka to locate appropriate sites for lighthouses, another step in the realization of American commercial trade with isolationist Japan. The gunboat spent most of 1869 and 1870 patrolling off Japan to help check license in the restless years following the Meiji Restoration in 1867 and the country's subsequent modernization.

After repairs at Shanghai, Monocacy began charting the Yangtze River 23 March 1871. By April she was underway for Nagasaki, Japan, to participate in a five-ship survey expedition to the Salee River, Korea, and, while there, attempt contact with representatives of the Kingdom of Korea. After Korean shore batteries attacked screw tug Palos near Chemulpo, a landing party of 576 Sailors and 110 Marines stormed a series of forts along the Salee River on 10 June, losing three killed and seven wounded. The expedition to retires in July. In September the gunboat resumed her navigation of the Yangtze before returning to Shanghai 4 February 1872.

For the last quarter of the 19th century, Monocacy cruised along the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China, docking in Japan through the winter months. From 23 October until 11 November 1899 the veteran ship carried the U.S. Minister to China as she visited the open ports of the Yangtze River. In 1900 Monocacy became involved in the repercussions of the Boxer Rebellion, the extremist Chinese attempt to oust foreigners. On 14 June she captured seven small craft off Tongku, China. The foreign persecutions ended with the capture of Peking 14 August by an Allied expedition, and Monocacy docked at Taku Bar, China, where she remained through the razing of the Taku fort in accordance with the formal settlement signed in September 1901.

On 22 June 1903 Monocacy was struck from the Navy list and sold to Hashimoto and Son, Nagasaki, Japan.

11 April 2005

Published: Mon Apr 02 14:30:54 EDT 2018