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Neosho I (Monitor)

(Mon: t. 523 (old tonnage); l. 180-; b. 45-; dr. 4-6-; dph. 9-; cpl. 100; a. 2 11-; cl. Neosho)

A river flowing south from its source in Morris County in east central Kansas until emptying into the Arkansas River near Fort Gibson in Muskogee County, Okla.


The first Neosho, a single-turreted, wooden-hulled, river monitor protected by iron plate armor, was laid down in mid1862 by James B. Eads at his Union Iron Works, Carondelet, Mo.; launched 18 February 1863; commissioned at Cairo, III. 13 May 1863, Comdr. John C. Febiger in command, and completed 1 July 1863.

Neosho and her sister Osage were the first of Eads' river warships to employ the "turtleback" design which became his hallmark and were the only monitors to be propelled by stern wheels. Their shallow draft made them extremely useful in the riverine warfare to come.

Neosho departed Cairo 14 July 1863, and reached Vicksburg 6 August, just over a month after that heroically defended Confedrate river fortress had finally fallen to the combined land and Naval attacks. Nevertheless, much work remained for the Union Navy in order to hold the mighty Mississippi River system which it had so dearly won.

Confederate cavalry raiders and flying batteries would appear at unexpected points along the Mississippi and its tributaries and attempt to sever Federal lines of supply and communication. Neosho and sister river warships tirelessly patrolled the Mississippi and its tributaries clearing riverbanks and levees of Southern raiders.

For example, on 8 December 1863, when a Confederate shore battery attacked disabled merchant steamer Henry Von Phul, Neosho and Signal steamed up to defend the ship and silenced the battery.

From 12 March to 22 May 1864, Neosho participated in Adm. Porter's Red River expedition which, while failing to achieve its purpose of establishing a Union power base in Texas, nevertheless, demonstrated the Navy's great imagination, determination, and ingenuity in safely withdrawing its ships over dangerous shallows, when bereft of necessary Army support.

Neosho decommissioned at Mound City, III. 23 July 1865 and remained in ordinary. Renamed Vixen 15 June 1869 and again renamed Osceola 2 August 1869, the monitor was sold at Mound City to David Campbell 17 August 1873.

Published: Wed Aug 12 14:50:33 EDT 2015