USS Dictator (1863)

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A watercolor of the USS Dictator by Oscar Parks
A watercolor of the USS Dictator by Oscar Parks
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Name: USS Dictator
Builder: Delamater Iron Works, New York
Launched: 26 December 1863
Commissioned: 11 November 1864
Decommissioned: 1 June 1877
Fate: Sold, 27 September 1883
General characteristics
Type: Monitor
Displacement: 4,438 long tons (4,509 t)
Length: 312 ft (95 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 174 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 15 in (380 mm) Dahlgren smoothbores
Armor: Turret: 15 in (380 mm)
Pilothouse: 12 in (300 mm)
Hull: 6 in (150 mm)
Deck: 1.5 in (38 mm)

USS Dictator was a single-turreted ironclad monitor. Originally to be named the Protector, the Navy Department preferred a more aggressive name. On 1 April 1862, John Ericsson proposed to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Gustavus Fox, Dictator "a name which I respectfully request for the new Ocean Monarch." The vessel was to be originally armed with two 20-inch (510 mm) caliber smoothbores.[1]

Dictator was launched 26 December 1863 by Delamater Iron Works, New York, NY, under contract with John Ericsson; and commissioned 11 November 1864, Commander J. Rodgers in command.

Service history

Construction problems with her powerplant kept her initial service relatively brief and inactive. Assigned to duty with North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Dictator cruised on the Atlantic coast from 15 December 1864 until placed out of commission 5 September 1865 at League Island Navy Yard. She remained in ordinary there until 1869.

Recommissioned 20 July 1869 Dictator served with the North Atlantic Fleet until 28 June 1871 when she was again placed out of commission. She was in ordinary at New York Navy Yard until 12 January 1874 when she was commissioned for service on the North Atlantic Station. Dictator was decommissioned at League Island 1 June 1877 and remained there until sold 27 September 1883.


  1. Ericsson Papers Collection, American-Swedish Historical Foundation, Philadelphia

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