USS Benton (1861)

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USS Benton
Career Union Navy Jack 100x35px
Builder: James B. Eads, St. Louis, Missouri
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 1861
Commissioned: 24 February 1862
Decommissioned: 20 July 1865
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Fate: sold 29 November 1865
General characteristics
Displacement: 1033 tons
Length: 202 ft (62 m)
Beam: 72 ft (22 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: steam engine
Speed: 5.5 knots
Complement: 176 officers and enlisted
Armament: two 9” smoothbores
seven 32-pounder smoothbores
seven 42-pounder rifles
Armor: ironclad

USS Benton (1861) was an ironclad river gunboat in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She was named for American senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Conversion from snagboat

Benton was a former center-wheel catamaran snagboat and was converted by James B. Eads, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1861 and commissioned 24 February 1862, Lieutenant J. Bishop in command as part of the Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla.

Civil War service

In the spring of 1862, she was present at the captures of Island Number Ten, Fort Pillow and Memphis, Tennessee. During the summer, Benton was in action with the Confederate ironclad Arkansas near Vicksburg, Mississippi, and participated in an expedition up the Yazoo River. She was transferred to the Union Navy in October 1862, and continued her service as the Mississippi Squadron's flagship into 1863.

In December 1862, Benton was damaged by Confederate gunfire during another operation on the Yazoo River. She was one of the ships that ran past Vicksburg, Mississippi on 16 April 1863 and bombarded Grand Gulf, Mississippi, later in that month. She participated in an attack on Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, in May, then provided gunfire support for the siege of Vicksburg.

In March-May 1864, Benton was involved in the Red River expedition, in Louisiana, and according to Admiral Porter's memoirs "Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War" she fired one volley from her bow battery on Fort DeRussy; the only ship in the fleet proported to have fired on the fort before its surrender to Union General A.J. Smith.

The Bention returned to the Red River vicinity in June 1865 during operations that followed the formal end of the Civil War.

Post-war decommissioning

Decommissioned 20 July 1865 at Mound City, Illinois, Benton was sold 29 November 1865.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

See also

fr:USS Benton (1861)