USS Bienville (1861-1867). Originally the civilian steamship Bienville (1860)
Bienville , a 1558-ton (Burden) wooden side-wheel steamship built at Brooklyn, New York in 1860, was purchased by the Navy in August 1861 as part of the great expansion that took place in the first months of the Civil War. She was commissioned in October 1861 and soon participated in the expedition that seized future Naval bases at Port Royal and Beaufort, South Carolina.
Bienville operated off the Confederacy's Atlantic coast for more than a year, taking part in the capture of positions along the Georgia and Florida shore as well as ending the careers of several blockade runners, among them the steamers Stettin (taken on 24 May 1862) and Patras (27 May 1862).
In 1863, Bienville was transferred to the Gulf of Mexico, where she continued her blockading work. In addition, she supported the capture of the entrances to Mobile Bay, Alabama, on 5 August 1864. In an operation typical of the era's coastal warfare, she sent a boat party into Galveston Bay, Texas, on the night of 7 February 1865 and seized two schooners loaded with cotton.
Bienville was decommissioned soon after the end of the Civil War. Following some two years in reserve, she was sold in October 1867. Operating under the same name as a commercial steamship, she lasted until 15 August 1872, when a fire destroyed her at Watling Island, Bahamas.
Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1947, painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I. Built at Brooklyn, New York, in 1860, this steamer served as USS Bienville in 1861-1867.
Merchant Steamers Converted into Gun-boats Engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861. It depicts thirteen merchant steamships acquired by the U.S. Navy between April and August 1861 and subsequently converted into warships, plus the
steamer Nashville (far left), which became a Confederate cruiser. U.S. Navy ships, as identified below the image bottom, are (from left to right: Alabama , Quaker City , Santiago de Cuba (listed as "St. Jago de Cuba", Mount Vernon , Massachusetts ,
South Carolina , Florida , De Soto , Augusta , James Adger , Monticello , Bienville and R.R. Cuyler
War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor The
experience of the men aboard the Monitor and their reactions to the thrills and dangers that accompanied the new machine. The invention surrounded men with iron and threatened their heroism, their self-image as warriors, even their lives
Confederate Ironclad vs Union Ironclad: Hampton Roads 1862 The Ironclad was a revolutionary weapon of war. Although iron was used for
protection in the Far East during the 16th century, it was the 19th century and the American Civil War that heralded the first modern armored self-propelled warships.
Year on a Monitor and the Destruction of Fort Sumter Personal view of the
Civil War Navy. The monitor saw action in several significant naval assaults by the Union's Squadron. It took part in the failed Federal attack on Sumter in April 1863. The "Nahant" also participated in the capture of the Confederate Ram "Atlanta," and in the assault on Fort Wagner
The H. L. Hunley The Secret Hope of the Confederacy On the evening of February 17, 1864, the
Confederacy H. L. Hunley sank the USS Housatonic and became the first submarine in world history to sink an enemy ship. Not until World War I "half a century later” would a submarine again accomplish such a feat. But also perishing that moonlit night, vanishing beneath the cold Atlantic waters off Charleston, South Carolina, was the Hunley and her
entire crew of eight
Halls of Honor The U.S. Navy Museum takes you on an informed and entertaining romp through
one of North America s oldest and finest military museums. The museum has been in continuous operation at the Washington Navy Yard since the American Civil War
Raise The Alabama She was known as "the ghost ship." During the Civil War, the CSS Alabama
sailed over 75,000 miles and captured more than 60 Union vessels. But her career came to an end in June of 1864 when she was sunk by the USS Kearsarge off the coast of Northern France
The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns Here is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers,
a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one
Blue Vs. Gray - Killing Fields Relive the most vicious fighting of the Civil War, in
which General Ulysses S. Grant forcibly reversed the tide of the conflict by paying with the blood of thousands. It was a desperate time for the Union
Sources: U.S. National Park Service U.S. Library of Congress US Naval Archives