Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Young America (Tug)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her capture.

(Tug: tonnage 173; draft 10'6"; armament 1 30-pounder Parrott rifle, 1 32-pounder, 1 12-pounder rifle)

On 24 April 1861, Union sloop-of-war Cumberland captured Young America in Hampton Roads, Va., as that Confederate tug attempted to help blockade-running schooner George M. Smith enter the James River laden with munitions for the Confederacy. Cumberland armed the prize, a screw steamer built in 1855 at New York City, and used her as a tender. However, early in June, Young America was ordered to the Washington Navy Yard for repairs to her machinery. She broke down while en route and was towed up the Potomac by Union steamer Resolute. Repairs completed, the tug departed Washington late in July, bound for Hampton Roads and duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. After patrol and reconnaissance assignments, Young America proceeded to the Baltimore Navy Yard on 13 October 1861 for further repairs and returned to duty in Hampton Roads late in November. On 26 February 1862, the vessel briefly left the Virginia capes area for Currituck Inlet, N.C., to rescue crewmen and stores threatened with capture when Union screw steamer R. B. Forbes grounded on 25 February.

Young America performed invaluable service to the squadron during engagements with CSS Virginia (the former Federal screw frigate Merrimack) on 8 and 9 March 1862. On 8 March, Young America towed Roanoke to an anchorage off Sewell's Point, Va., enabling the frigate to bombard Confederate batteries ashore. On 9 March, she refloated the grounded Union frigate, St. Lawrence, and jockeyed the vessel into firing position against Virginia. Later, Young America rescued the crew of Union gunboat Whitehall when fire destroyed that vessel on 10 March 1862. She also rescued people on board Henry Adams, grounded at Nag's Head, N.C., on 26 August 1862. Young America left for repairs at the Baltimore Navy Yard in September.

Young America returned to Hampton Roads in mid-October 1862, resuming duties as an armed guard tug. On 30 November 1862, Zouave and Young America towed monitor Passaic to the Washington Navy Yard for renairs but returned to Newport News early in December and, but for occasional runs north, operated in the vicinity of Hampton Roads and the James River through the end of the Civil War. On 7 January 1864, the tug was finally purchased by the Navy from the Boston prize court.

Young America was assigned to captured Confederate ram CSS Atlanta for use as a tug on 9 April 1864 and assisted African-American troops (the "African Brigade") under Brig. Gen. Edward A. Wild in repulsing a Confederate attack upon Wilson's Wharf, James River, Va., on 24 May 1864. She remained with the James River Squadron, Fourth Division, until the end of the war.

Young America was decommissioned on 9 June 1865 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va., and was sold at public auction at New York City on 12 July 1865 to Camden & Amboy Railroad Co.

James L. Mooney,

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

17 February 2022

Published: Thu Feb 17 14:29:05 EST 2022