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(Screw Steamer: 450 tons; length 132 feet 5 inches; beam 24 feet 6 inches; depth of hold 16 feet 5 inches; draft 10 feet; speed 9.5 knots; armament 1 30-pounder Parrott rifle, 4 8-inch guns)

Towns in Connecticut and New York, named for a county borough in Norfolk, England, about 100 miles northeast of London.



A schooner named Norwich served the Navy during the war of 1812. Since no record of her construction or acquisition has been found, Norwich probably was chartered.

Norwich, a wooden, screw steamer built at Norwich, Conn., in 1861, was purchased by the Navy at New York City 26 September 1861 from J. M. Huntington & Co.; and commissioned at New York Navy Yard 28 December 1861, Lt. James M. Duncan in command.

Norwich got underway 2 January 1862 for Port Royal, S.C. where she joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She was stationed off Savannah and blockaded that important port during the following two months.

On 10 March 1863, she and Uncas escorted troop transports up St. John's River and shelled Confederate positions defending Jacksonville, Fla., clearing the way for Army landings. After destroying much of the city, Union forces evacuated the Jacksonville area late in the month. On 19 August, a boat expedition from Norwich and Hale destroyed a Confederate signal station near Jacksonville.

Early in February 1864, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore advised Rear Admiral Dahlgren of his intention "... to throw a force into Florida on the west bank of St. John's River." He requested the support of two or three naval gunboats for the operation. Dahlgren promptly detailed steamers Ottawa and Norwich to convoy the Army troops to Jacksonville and ordered screw steamer Dai Ching and side wheelers Mahaska and Water Witch up the St. John's. The Admiral himself went to Florida to take a personal hand in directing his forces to "... keep open the communications by the river and give any assistance to the troops which operations may need." With the gunboats deployed according to Dahlgren's instructions, the soldiers, under Brigadier General Truman Seymour, landed at Jacksonville, moved inland, captured fieldpieces and took a large quantity of cotton. On the 7th, Norwich trapped blockade runner St. Mary's in Me Girt's Creek, above Jacksonville where she was scuttled and her cargo of cotton destroyed to prevent capture.

A strong Confederate counterattack commenced on 20 February and compelled the Union troops to fall back on Jacksonville where the gunboats stood by to defend the city. Naval howitzers were put ashore in battery, manned by seamen. Commander Balch, senior naval officer present, reported: "I had abundant reasons to believe that to the naval force must our troops be indebted for protection against a greatly superior force flushed with victory." Seymour expressed his appreciation for Balch's quick action "... at a moment when it appeared probable that the vigorous assistance of the force under your command would be necessary."

Norwich continued to perform blockade duty along the coast and in the rivers of Florida and Georgia through the end of the Civil War. She decommissioned at Philadelphia 30 June 1865 and was sold at public auction there 10 August 1865. Redocumented 14 October 1865, she remained in merchant service until lost in February 1873.

03 November 2004