Largest city of Louisiana, New Orleans was the scene of Andrew Jacksons great victory at the close of the War of 1812, in which small naval forces under Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson played a large role; and of a key naval action in the Civil War, in which Admiral David Glasgow Farragut opened the southern Mississippi to Union forces.
New Orleans, a ship-of-the-line, was laid down in January 1815 by Henry Eckford and Adam and Noah Brown at Sacketts Harbor, N.Y. Her construction halted upon conclusion of peace with Great Britain, she remained on the stocks, housed over, until sold on 24 September 1883 to H. Wilkinson, Jr., of Syracuse, N.Y.
(Protected Cruiser: displacement 3,450; 1ength 351'6"; beam 43'9"; draft 17'0"; speed 21 knots; complement 112; armament 6 6", 4 4.7", 10 6-pounders, 4 Maxim machine guns, 3 37 millimeter guns; 2 12-pounder field guns, 3 Whitehead torpedo tubes)
One of the most modern warships of her day, the twin-screw protected cruiser Amazonas, ordered by the Brazilian government and named for that country's largest province, was laid down in 1895 at the Elswick (Newcastle-on-Tyne) yards of the prominent British armaments manufacturing firm, Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth, and Co., Ltd., and was launched on 14 December 1896. The ship was nearing completion in early March, 1898, when rising tensions between the United States and Spain prompted Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to direct naval attaches abroad in Europe to inform the Department as to the prices at which [naval] vessels could be bought. One of these attaches, Lt. John C. Colwell, in London, promptly completed arrangements on 16 March 1898 to acquire Amazonas and her building sister ship, Almirante Abreu, from the Brazilians. On the 18th, Colwell took delivery of Amazonas at Gravesend, England.
Later that same afternoon, San Francisco (Cruiser No. 5) arrived at Gravesend and found Amazonas already flying the American flag. Lt. Comdr. Arthur P. Nazro, San Francisco's executive officer, was detached from his ship and reported on board Amazonas to command her for the voyage to the United States. Also transferred were five officers and 87 men drawn from San Francisco's deck and engineering force, as well as an 18-man Marine detachment under the command of 1st Lt. George Barnett, a future commandant of the Corps.
Over the next nine days, Amazonas prepared for sea, and loaded stores of various kinds, as well as ammunition for her magazines and a consignment of cordite and black gunpowder for the War Department. Underway beneath leaden skies on 27 March, Amazonas stood down the Thames in San Francisco's wake, and set course for the United States. She ultimately arrived off Tompkinsville, Staten Island, via Halifax, on 15 April, there delivering the cordite and powder to the Army tug Meigs. That same day, her log records, Amazonas received official notification that this vessel is named New Orleans.
Interestingly, she had apparently been assigned that name upon acquisition from the Brazilians, but word of the change, in the days of somewhat less-than-rapid means of communication, did not catch up with her before she left England. Soon after Amazonas's arrival in American waters, the English engineers who had served in the ship during her passage were paid off and disembarked. Over the ensuing days all of the officers and men assigned her from San Francisco returned to their ship, and Amazonas assumed the name New Orleans on 16 April 1898.
New Orleans left Norfolk on 17 May and joined the Flying Squadron off Santiago de Cuba on 30 May. Next afternoon, with Massachusetts (Coast Battleship No.2) and Iowa (Coast Battleship No.4), she reconnoitered the harbor, exchanging fire with Spanish ships and batteries. After joining in the bombardment of the batteries at the entrance to the harbor on 6 and 16 June, New Orleans sailed to coal at Key West, and was thus absent during the Battle of Santiago on 3 July.
Through the summer, New Orleans cruised on the blockade between San Juan, P.R., and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during which time she captured the French blockade runner Olinde Rodrigues on 17 July 1898. She arrived at Philadelphia on 20 October for the Peace Jubilee, then prepared at New York to launch her peacetime service with a visit to New Orleans, the city she honored, between 16 and 29 May 1899. After summer exercises off the Atlantic seaboard, she sailed from New York on 21 October to join the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. She called at the Azores and Port Said, transited the Suez Canal, and reached Manila four days before Christmas, 21 December 1899. For the next five years, as flagship of the Cruiser Squadron, U.S. Asiatic Fleet, she cruised the Philippines and the China coast. Relieved by Baltimore (Cruiser No.3), she departed Cavite on 27 December 1904 for Mare Island, arriving on 27 January 1905; there she was decommissioned on 6 February 1905.
Recommissioned on 15 November 1909, New Orleans returned to Asiatic duty at Yokohama on 25 April 1910. She cruised the Orient until returning to Bremerton, Washington, on 14 February 1912 and going into reserve. Placed in full commission on 31 December 1913, New Orleans patrolled the west coast of Mexico during the tense spring of 1914, then served as training ship for the Washington State Naval Militia through the summer, returning to Mexican waters in the fall. Upon American entry into World War I, she was overhauled at Puget Sound, and sailed for the Panama Canal and the East Coast, arriving at Hampton Roads on 27 August 1917.
New Orleans escorted convoys from New York City to ocean rendezvous with destroyer escorts off the British Isles and the French coast until 16 January 1918, when she cleared New York for the Asiatic Station. She reached Yokohama from Honolulu and Panama on13 March, cruised to China, and the Philippines, and from 17 July to 20 December 1919 served as station ship at Vladivostok, Russia, supporting the Allied force in Siberia.
After repairs at Cavite, New Orleans returned to Vladivostok to resume her service for the Allied Expeditionary Force 20 May to 27 September 1920. During further cruising with the Asiatic Fleet she was redesignated as a light cruiser, CL-22, on 8 August 1921. At Kobe, Japan, New Orleans embarked Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, U.S. Army, and party, as passengers on 6 October 1921 for official visits to Japanese and Chinese ports, and then , after disembarking her guests, resumed duty at Vladivostok as station ship (14 February-17 August 1922). She returned to Mare Island on 23 September, after calls en route at Yokohama and Honolulu, and was decommissioned on 16 November 1922. Stricken from the Navy List on 13 November 1929, she was sold for scrapping on 4 February 1930 to D. C. Seagraves of San Francisco, California.