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Octorara I (Side-wheel Steamer)

(SwStr: t. 829; 1. 193'2"; b. 34'6"; dr. 4'9"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 102; a. 1 80-pdr D.r., 1 9- D. sb., 4 24-pdrs)

A creek in Pennsylvania named for an Indian word meaning running water.


Octorara was launched by the Brooklyn Navy Yard 7 December 1861, sponsored by Miss Emma Hartt, daughter of Naval Constructor E. Hartt; and commissioned 28 February 1862, Lt. George Brown in command.

The new double-ended, side-wheel steamer departed New York 17 March 1862 and served briefly on blockade duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron before reporting to Commander David D. Porter at Ship Island, Miss. She acted as flagship for Porter's Mortar Flotilla during Flag Officer Farragut's expedition up the Mississippi to attack Vicksburg. Before dawn 28 June, Porter's ships opened fire on the Confederate fortress and shelled the southern batteries while Farragut dashed by the river strong-hold. At the height of the fight, Octorara became unmanageable when her wheel ropes jammed. She drifted down stream into Brooklyn's line of fire. She was damaged when shells from the steam sloop of war burst off her port beam.

On 24 July, in route to Baltimore for repairs, she captured Tubal Cain east of Savannah, Ga. as the British blockade running steamer tried to slip into Charleston with munitions.

Back in top fighting trim earl in September Octorara, commanded by Comdr. Napoleon Collins, was assigned to a "flying squadron" formed under Commodore Charles Wilkes to hunt Confederate commerce raiders Alabama and Florida. During the ensuing year she captured nine Confederate and British blockade runners.

On 11 September 1863 Lt. Comdr. W. W. Low relieved Comdr. Collins of command of Octorara. Arriving New Orleans 19 October 1863, the steamer joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. From November to March 1864, she assisted in the blockade of Mobile, Ala., bombarding Fort Powell at the entrance to Mississippi Sound 16-29 February. On 5 August Octorara participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay, passing Fort Morgan lashed to Brooklyn. Farragut's squadron drove past the forts into the Bay, engaged and captured the Confederate ram Tennessee and gunboat Selma. Octorara received 17 hits during the engagement. Her casualties numbered 1 killed and 10 wounded. She continued to operate in the vicinity of Mobile until July 1865, firing on fortifications and taking part in the capture of the city 12 April 1865.

Octorara sailed 20 July arriving New York the 29th, decommissioned 5 August 1865 and was sold 9 November 1866.

Published: Mon Aug 17 11:24:14 EDT 2015