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Monocacy II (Gunboat No. 20)

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."


(Gunboat No. 20: displacement 204 tons; length 165 feet, 6 inches; beam 24 feet 6 inches; draft 2 feet 5 inches; speed 13.25 knots; complement 47; armament 2 6‑pounders, 6 machine guns)

The second Monocacy (Gunboat No. 20) a shallow draft gunboat built for service on the Yangtze River, was preconstructed at Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., in 1912 and then dismantled and shipped to Shanghai, China. Laid down by the Shanghai Dock & Engineering Co., on 28 April 1913, she was launched on 27 April 1914; sponsored by Mrs. Andrew E. Carter, wife of the prospective commanding officer; and commissioned on 24 June 1914, Lt. Andrew E. Carter in command.

Assigned to the Second Division, Asiatic Fleet (popularly called the Yangtze Patrol), Monocacy sailed upriver from Shanghai on 29 June 1914 to cruise between Ichang and Chungking. For the next 15 years, but for annual visits to Shanghai for overhaul, the gunboat patrolled the upper Yangtze with Chungking her upriver base. Monocacy protected American interests in treaty ports down the entire length of the Yangtze, at times escorting vessels, evacuating American citizens during periods of disturbance, and, in general, assisting U.S. Consulates in various Chinese cities.

On 16 January 1918, Chinese southern revolutionary troops attacked the little warship 50 miles above Chenglin. Monocacy prevented the bandits from firing on a Japanese steamer standing down stream. One crewman was killed and two others were wounded in the short but fierce fight. In June 1920, she was reclassified as PG-20. Three years later, in February and March 1923, the gunboat operated against bandits holding up American missionaries and firing upon U.S. flag vessels above Kiangnang, rescuing the Syracuse Medical Unit and a number of American families. Later that year, she protected U.S. river commerce from war lord armies and then in August, she established friendly relations with the Governor of Kiangsin Province.

Monocacy continued her patrol operations on the upper Yangtze. Reclassified as a river gunboat, PR‑2, on 15 June 1928, she was placed in reserve on 24 June 1929. Based at Shanghai, the gunboat cruised the lower river, making less frequent voyages to her original patrol area between Chungking and Ichang. She was placed in full commission once again on 19 September 1931 to join other American naval vessels on the river in assisting the many Chinese forced from their homes by August floods which had inundated 34,000 square miles of land during the worst disaster in the river's history. In 1933, Monocacy began to serve as station ship in various treaty ports during the cruising season, with her crew serving as a landing force in case of trouble.

Monocacy was at Kiukiang protecting American neutrality during the Japanese invasion of China, when on 29 August 1938 several mines exploded within 80 yards of the ship, showering the gunboat with fragments. She was then held at the port until the Japanese completed sweeping operations some days later. She was decommissioned at Shanghai on 31 January 1939. The veteran gunboat, one of the last "Old China Hands," who had never seen the land which she served so well, was towed to sea and sunk on 10 February, in deep water off the China coast.

11 February 2004

Published: Mon Apr 02 22:54:35 EDT 2018