USS Memphis (1862)

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USS Memphis
USS Memphis
Career (CSA) Confederate Navy Jack
Name: Memphis
Builder: William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton, Scotland
Launched: 1861
Fate: Captured, 31 July 1862
Career (USA) 100x35px
Name: USS Memphis
Acquired: by capture 31 July 1862
Purchased, 4 September 1862
Commissioned: 4 October 1862
Decommissioned: 6 May 1867
Fate: Sold, 8 May 1869
Renamed Mississippi, destroyed by dock fire, 13 May 1883
General characteristics
Type: Screw steamer
Displacement: 791 long tons (804 t)
Length: 227 ft 6 in (69.34 m)
Beam: 30 ft 1 in (9.17 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 14 kn (16 mph; 26 km/h)
Armament: 7 × guns

The second USS Memphis was a 7‑gun screw steamer, built by William Denny and Brothers, Dumbarton, Scotland in 1861, which briefly served as a Confederate blockade runner before being captured and taken into the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

Civil War service

Confederate blockade runner

Memphis — while running the Union blockade of Confederate ports on 22 June 1862 — ran aground while attempting to enter Charleston harbor, South Carolina. Efficient work by Southern troops got her partially unloaded on the following day, and she was towed to safety before Federal warships could hit her with shell fire. Memphis was captured by sidewheel gunboat USS Magnolia outbound from Charleston with a cargo of cotton on 31 July 1862, and purchased by the Union Navy from a prize court at New York City on 4 September 1862. Memphis was commissioned on 4 October 1862, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Pendleton G. Watmough in command.

Union blockade ship

Assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Memphis sailed for Charleston and began service on 14 October with the capture of British steamer Ouachita bound for Havana, Cuba. She continued patrol in 1862-1863. On 4 January 1863, she joined sidewheel steamer Quaker City in taking Confederate sloop Mercury with a cargo of turpentine for Nassau, Bahamas. On 31 January, Confederate ironclads CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora made a dash out of Charleston Harbor into the midst of the blockading ships. Screw steamer Mercedita was rammed and disabled by Palmetto State while sidewheel steamer Keystone State was next attacked and left for Memphis to take in tow. The two rams then retired.

By March of the following year, Memphis was operating in the North Edisto River. On 6 March 1864, Confederate torpedo boat CSS David attempted a run on the Union blockader. The spar torpedo struck Memphis' port quarter but did not explode. After her second torpedo misfired, David retreated upstream out of range of her foe's heavy guns. Memphis, uninjured, continued her blockading duties to the end of the Civil War.


On 6 May 1867, Memphis was decommissioned, and sold to V. Brown & Co., at New York on 8 May 1869. Renamed Mississippi, the screw steamer operated as a freight ship until 13 May 1883, when she was gutted by a dock fire at Seattle, Washington, and her wreck abandoned.