Virginia III (ScGbt)
The first English colony in America and one of the original 13 states. Virginia ratified the constitution on 26 June 1788 to become the 10th state to enter the Union.
The third Virginia was originally the British merchantman Pet built at Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1861. Pet sailed as Noe-Daquy during the early months of the Civil War and, in December 1862, was acquired by a Havana merchant for use as a Confederate blockade runner. Renamed Virginia, the vessel was captured off Mugeres Island, Mexico, by Wachusett and Sonoma on 18 January 1863; was later purchased by the Navy from the New York prize court on 1 September; and was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 12 June.
Virginia was assigned duty with Rear Admiral David G. Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron and, within a week of her commissioning, departed New York, bound for the Gulf of Mexico. En route, she touched briefly at Hampton Roads, Va., finally joining Farragut's squadron in July. However, further repairs and modifications were needed before the vessel could become a fully effective fighting unit; and the ship spent August and most of September at New Orleans undergoing overhaul.
Virginia finally returned to active duty in late September and was deployed along the coast of Texas for the duration of the war. There, she conducted numerous patrol and reconnaissance missions, which often took her up the rivers which empty into the gulf, and also compiled an impressive list of captures. Her first success was the seizure of the British blockade runner Jenny off the Texas coast with a cargo of cotton on 6 October. Between 2 and 14 November, Monongahela, Owasco, and Virginia convoyed and supported General Nathaniel Banks' successful landing at Brazos Santiago, Tex., near the mouth of the Rio Grande River. Here, Virginia also captured the British steamer Matamoras on the 4th and the English brig Dashing Wave on the 5th. This expedition began a Union offensive aimed both at wresting Texas from Confederate control and deterring French troops in Mexico from attempting to invade the state. On the 4th, Southern forces evacuated Brownsville, giving the Union a strong foothold at the Mexican border.
After the Rio Grande expedition, Virginia returned to blockade duty and found the waters off Texas a fertile breeding ground of smuggling activity. This was especially true of the area off San Luis Pass, Tex., and Virginia made most of her captures here. These included the British schooner Mary Douglas and her cargo of coffee, bananas, and linen which were seized on 15 February 1864, and the English schooner Henry Colthirst which she took on the 22d. On the 29th off Galveston, Tex., Virginia overhauled the Confederate schooner Camilla with a cargo of cotton. The sloop Cassie Holt was also captured at the same time, but she grounded off San Luis Pass and was burned. Once again off San Luis Pass, Virginia captured the sloop Randall on 8 March, the schooner Sylphide on the 10th, and the Mexican schooner Juanita on 11 April. However, Juanita grounded on the 13th and was recaptured with the loss of the prize crew. This incident was partially offset by the capture of the Mexican schooner Alma on the 19th and the seizure and destruction of the sloop Rosina on the 20th. Virginia's last captures off San Luis Pass included the schooner Experiment, which she took on 3 May and subsequently destroyed and 94 stacked bales of cotton picked up ashore on the 7th and 8th.
Virginia returned to New Orleans in mid-May for badly needed repairs to her boilers. She remained at New Orleans until December, leaving on the 5th for the blockade off Galveston. Here, she captured the schooner Belle on 27 December and helped to destroy the side-wheel steamer Acadia in February 1865.
After the war ended in April 1865, Virginia sailed for Philadelphia on 17 July. The veteran blockader was sold at public auction at New York City to Perry Brothers on 30 November; was documented on 14 December; and was rerigged as a barge on 24 March 1885.