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Oneida II (Screw Sloop of War)

(Screw Sloop: displacement 1,488 tons; length 201 feet 5 inches; beam 33 feet 10 inches; draft 8 feet 11 inches; speed 12 knots; complement 186; armament 3 30-pounders, 2 9-inch, 4 32-pounders, 1 12-pounder)

Counties in Idaho, New York and Wisconsin. Name originates from an Iroquoian Indian tribe (Oneida) living in New York state and its environs.


Oneida, a three-masted screw sloop of war, was authorized by Act of Congress, February 1861, and built at the New York Navy Yard; launched 20 November 1861; and commissioned 28 February 1862, Capt. Samuel P. Lee in command.

Shortly after commissioning Oneida sailed from New York and joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron commanded by Flag officer David G. Farragut. On 24 April she participated in the attacks on Forts Jackson and St. Philip below New Orleans, and drove off the confederate ram which sank steam gunboat Varuna. Oneida destroyed CSS Governor Moore in a following engagement, the same date.

On 27 April Oneida destroyed obstructions in the Mississippi River above Carrollton, Miss., helping prepare the way for the Vicksburg campaign. In both passages of the Confederate works at Vicksburg, 28 June 1862, and 15 July 1862, by the Union Fleet under Admiral Farragut, Oneida was second in line.

In August 1862, under command of Comdr. George H. Preble, Oneida sank the steamer Lewis Whitman loaded with wounded troops. Early in the following month she failed in an attempt to stop the passage of CSS Florida into Mobile.

From 15 October 1863 to 23 August 1864, Oneida served in blockade operations off Mobile, where on 5 August she participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay and the subsequent capture of CSS Tennessee. At a later date she witnessed the surrender of Fort Morgan at Mobile.

Oneida decommissioned 11 August 1865 at New York. Recommissioned in May 1867, she was attached to the Asiatic Squadron and continued in that capacity until January 1870.

Sailing out from Yokohama, Japan on 24 January 1870, Oneida was struck by the British Peninsula & Oriental steamer City of Bombay, at 6:30 pm near Saratoga Spit. The starboard quarter was cut off Oneida and she was left to sink, as the City of Bombay steamed on without rendering assistance. Oneida sank at 6:45 pin in 20 fathoms of water with the loss of 125 men, 61 Sailors being saved in two Japanese fishing boats. The British captain of City of Bombay was apparently suspended and the ship itself was libelled, meaning that steamer and other ships of the P.&O. Line kept away from American ports.

The wreck of the Oneida was sold at public auction at Yokohama 9 October 1872, to Mr. Tatchobonaiya. Two Japanese salvage efforts in 1905 and 1955 recovered some gold coins and artifacts from the wreck.

09 November 2004

Published: Mon Aug 17 12:31:51 EDT 2015