USS Fort Donelson
Confederate Blockade Runner - Robert E Lee
American Civil War

USS Fort Donelson (1864-1865).
Previously the British steamship Giraffe (built 1860) and the Confederate Blockade Runner Robert E. Lee .

USS Fort Donelson , a 642-ton iron-hulled side-wheel gunboat, was built in 1860 at Glasgow, Scotland, as the commercial steamer Giraffe . In 1862 she became the Confederate blockade runner Robert E. Lee and, during the next year, successfully penetrated the Federal blockade of the South more than twenty times. While attempting to reach Wilmington, North Carolina, on 9 November 1863, the ship was captured by the U.S. Navy ships James Adger and Iron Age .

Purchased in January 1864, converted to a warship and placed in commission in June 1864, Fort Donelson was sent back to the waters off North Carolina as a unit of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Her most notable action was participation in the mid-January 1865 operation that captured Fort Fisher, thus eliminating Wilmington as a blockade-running port.

Some months later, when ordered to the Gulf of Mexico, she was found to be in poor condition and was sent back north. USS Fort Donelson was decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in August and sold in October 1865. She subsequently returned to civilian employment under the name Isabella and, in 1869, became the Chilean Navy ship Concepcion .

At anchor, circa 1864-1865.


Built in Scotland in 1860 as the commercial steamship Giraffe , Robert E. Lee was captured on 9 November 1863 and later became USS Fort Donelson .

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