USS Canonicus (1863)

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USS Canonicus
USS Canonicus in Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 June 1907
Career 100x35px
Builder: Harrison Loring
Laid down: 1862 at Boston, Massachusetts
Launched: 1 August 1863
Commissioned: 16 April 1864
Decommissioned: 1877
Renamed: USS Scylla, 15 June – 10 August 1869
Struck: 1908 (est.)
Fate: Sold, 19 February 1908
General characteristics
Displacement: 2,100 tons
Length: 225 ft (69 m)
Beam: 43 ft 8 in (13.31 m)
Draft: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
Propulsion: (steam engine) - 2 boilers, 1-shaft Ericsson vibrating lever engine, 320 ihp (235 kW)
Speed: 7 knots (13 km/h)
Complement: 85 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 15 in (381 mm) Dahlgren smoothbore guns
Armor: Iron
Side: 3–5 in (7.6–13 cm)
Turret: 10 in (25 cm)
Deck: 1+12 in (3.8 cm)

USS Canonicus (1863) was a monitor constructed for the Union Navy during the third year of the American Civil War where she operated as part of the Union blockade in the waterways of the Confederate States of America. Post-war, she was recommissioned and placed into service protecting American interests in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

The first U.S. Navy ship to be so named, USS Canonicus was a single-turret monitor in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. The lead ship of her class, she was originally named for Canonicus, a chief of the Narragansett Indians. She was briefly named Scylla.

Commissioned in Boston in 1864

Canonicus was launched on 1 August 1863 by Harrison Loring, Boston, Massachusetts, and commissioned on 16 April 1864 at Boston, Commander E. G. Parrott in command.

Civil War service

Canonicus sailed from Boston 22 April 1864 and arrived at Newport News, Virginia, 3 May for service with the James River Flotilla. Her heavy guns pounded Confederate batteries at strong points along the James on 21 June, 16 August, and 5 December–6 December.

Reassigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, the monitor arrived at Beaufort, North Carolina, 15 December 1864, and took part in the heated attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina. In the first engagement on 24 December and 25 December, Canonicus was hit four times, but suffered no casualties and only minor damage while her own fire put two guns of Fort Fisher's battery out of action. On 13 January 1865, during the second attack, Canonicus received thirty six hits. Twice her flag was shot away, twice replaced. None of her men was killed, and only three wounded. Again, she dismounted two of the Fort's guns. Quartermaster Daniel D. Stevens (1839–1916) was awarded the Medal of Honor for replacing the ship's flag under fire.

In February 1865, Canonicus joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Charleston, South Carolina, and during the closing months of the war aided in the capture of several blockade runners off the South Carolina coast, as well as voyaging to Havana, Cuba, in search of CSS Stonewall.

Post-Civil War operations

The monitor entered Philadelphia Navy Yard 25 June 1869, and was decommissioned five days later. Renamed Scylla 15 June 1869, she was reassigned her former name 10 August 1869.

Recommissioned 22 January 1872, Canonicus cruised in coastal waters in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico when not out of commission, as she was frequently during this time.

The last Civil War monitor to have survived

Her final decommissioning took place at Pensacola, Florida, in 1877, and she performed no further active service. The old ironclad was towed to Hampton Roads, Virginia, in mid-1907 for exhibit during the Jamestown Exposition. She had the distinction of being the last survivor of the Navy's once-large fleet of Civil War monitors.

Final fate

Canonicus was sold for scrapping on 19 February 1908.


See also

pl:USS Canonicus (1864)