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Vandalia I (Sloop-of-War)

(Slp: t. 614; 1. 127'4"; b. 34'6"; dr. 16'6"; cpl. 150; a. 4 8" Sg., 16 32-pdrs.; cl. Boston)

A city in Illinois on the Kaskaskia River. Vandalia was the state capital from 1820 to 1839 and today is the seat of Fayette County. The origin of the name is uncertain, but the name probably is derived from the Germanic Vandal tribe. Other explanations of the name hold that it is a latinization of a Dutch family name or that it refers to a small Indian tribe of the early 19th century.


The first Vandalia, an 18-gun sloop-of-war, was laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1825; launched in 1828; and commissioned on 6 November of that year, Comdr. John Gallagher in command.

Vandalia left Philadelphia on 16 December 1828, bound for duty with the Brazil Squadron off the eastern seaboard of South America. She remained off the coasts of Brazil and Argentina for the next three years, helping to protect American citizens and mercantile interests during a period of continuing political unrest on the continent of South America. She returned to Norfolk, Va., on 18 December 1831; was decommissioned the next day; and remained inactive until 4 October 1832 when she was recommissioned for service with the West Indies Squadron. Vandalia again put into Norfolk in August 1834 and was decommissioned there on the 24th for major repairs. Recommissioned on the last day of the year, she joined the West Indies Squadron in January 1835 and served with that organization into the summer of 1838 protecting American citizens and property in the West Indies; cooperating with land forces in Florida during the second Seminole Indian War; and helping to suppress the slave trade. After almost three months laid up undergoing repairs from 30 August to 24 November, the ship was reactivated and returned to duty for a year in the Caribbean, ending when her commissioning pennant was again hauled down at Norfolk on 23 November 1839.

Following more than two years on the stocks, the ship was returned to commission on 3 February 1842, joined the newly created Home Squadron in 1842, and performed routine patrol and reconnaissance duties at scattered points as far north as Newfoundland and as far south as the mouth of the Amazon River. During a visit to Haiti in the early spring of 1845, an epidemic of yellow fever broke out in the ship. She returned immediately to Norfolk, was decommissioned on 30 April, and was laid up. During the sloop's period in ordinary which lasted until 1849, she was lengthened by 13 feet in 1848. The renovated Vandalia was recommissioned on 9 August 1849 and joined the Pacific Squadron on 5 September 1849 as that organization was expanding to service the territory which the United States had recently acquired on the Pacific coast. She made several visits to the Hawaiian Islands in 1851 before returning to the New York Navy Yard on 6 October 1852 and going out of commission again on the 14th.

Vandalia's rest ended on Valentine's Day 1853, and the ship soon joined Commodore Matthew C. Perry's East Indies Squadron. She was present at Commodore Perry's historic entrance into Tokyo Bay on 13 February 1854 and in 1855 helped to protect American interests in China during the Taiping Rebellion. Vandalia was decommissioned at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 30 September 1856 but was recommissioned on 11 November 1857 for duty with the Pacific Squadron. In 1859, the warship rescued survivors of the American clipper ship Wild Wave, wrecked off Oeno and Pitcairn Islands, and conducted an expedition against natives at Waya, Fiji Islands, following the murder of two American citizens. Vandalia returned to the New York Navy Yard early in 1860 and was decommissioned on 6 January of that year but was recommissioned there on 8 November and assigned to duty with the East Indies Squadron.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Vandalia was called back home and assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron on 31 May for blockade duty off Charleston and Bull's Bay, S.C. There, she captured the schooner Henry Middleton on 21 August and assisted in the capture of the sailing ship Thomas Watson in 15 October. The vessel also participated in the successful amphibious assault upon Roanoke Island, N.C., on 7 and 8 November. This victory closed the supply lines to Confederate-held Norfolk Navy Yard and was largely responsible for the evacuation of that vital naval facility six months later. Vandalia put into New York on 24 November to deliver the officers and crew of the wrecked steamer Governor.

Vandalia soon returned to duty with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and was deployed off Tybee Roads, Ga., in December. She remained at Tybee until April 1862, at which time she was ordered to proceed to the blockade at Wassaw Sound, Ga. The sloop returned to Port Royal, S.C., in June and took up blockade duty off Charleston in July. She served at Port Royal as a guardship in September and was repaired and resupplied there in November. Later that month and in December, she cruised along the outside line of the blockade off Charleston and Port Royal Bay, performing reconnaissance duties as well as giving practical sailing experience to recent Naval Academy graduates. On 12 December, the vessel was ordered north for major structural repairs at New York.

Vandalia was decommissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 4 February 1863 and then sailed for Portsmouth, N.H., on 17 October for use as a receiving and guard ship. She remained at Portsmouth until broken up there sometime between 1870 and 1872.

Published: Wed Oct 21 08:17:57 EDT 2015