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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Niagara (II)

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Niagara-class Steam Screw Frigate:
  • Laid down, date unknown, at New York Navy Yard
  • Launched, 23 February 1855
  • Commissioned USS Niagara, 6 April 1857, CAPT. William L. Hudson in command.
  • Participated in the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable, between 1857 and 1858
  • Decommissioned at New York, 2 December 1857, after laying several hundred miles of cable westward from Ireland
  • Recommissioned, 24 February 1858, CAPT. William L. Hudson in command
  • USS Niagara successfully completed laying the cable ashore at Brills Mouth Island
  • Niagara next carried 200 Africans liberated from the slave brig Echo off Cuba by the brig USS Dolphin
  • Decommissioning at New York, 17 December 1858
  • Recommissioned, 14 May 1860, CAPT. William W. McKean in command
  • Assigned to carry Japanís first diplomatic mission to the United States from Washington to New York, and then home, leaving New York 30 June 186o returning Boston 23 April 1861
  • During the Civil War USS Niagara was assigned to duty on the blockade of the southern ports at , Charleston, and at Mobile Bay
  • As flagship of Flag Officer McKean's East Gulf Blockading Squadron Niagara engaged Confederate defenses at Fort McRea, Pensacola, and Warrington 22 November 1861
  • Decommissioned, 16 June, 1862 at Boston for repairs
  • Recommissioned 14 October 1863, she steamed from New York 1 June 1864 to watch over Confederate warships then fitting out in Europe
  • Took steamer Georgia, a former Confederate warship in the Bay of Biscay, 15 August 1864
  • Niagara patrolled with the European Squadron through 29 August when she cleared Cadiz for Boston, arriving 20 September. There she decommissioned 28 September, remaining in the Boston Navy Yard until sold 6 May 1885
    Displacement 5,540 t.
    Length 328' 10"
    Beam 55'
    Draft 24'
    Speed unknown
    Complement 251
    twelve 11" Dahlgren smooth bores
    Propulsion Sail and Steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Niagara 146k Painting of the steam frigate USS Niagara depicting the ship in her original configuration. Artwork by Clary Ray.
    US Naval History & Heritage Command photo # NH 44507
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 129k Contemporary line engraving of USS Niagara in her original configuration, as she appeared prior to her 1862-1863 refit.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 44506-A
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 130k Line engraving of USS Niagara after a drawing by G.H. Andrews, published in the London Illustrated Times, June 1857, after the ship's arrival in England to participate in the first attempt to lay a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 65713
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 177k Line engraving of USS Niagara published in the Illustrated Times of London, 15 August 1857, depicting activity on board during the first attempt to lay a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 65735
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 106k Lithographic cover for a musical composition by A. Talexy, the "Atlantic Telegraph Polka" commemorating the successful laying of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Published in Boston, MA., 1858. Its illustrations include a view of USS Niagaraleft and HMS Agamemnon beginning to lay the cable, a chart of the cable route, a depiction of the cable, and scenes of the U.S. Capitol Building and Windsor Castle. The cable's first message, from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan, was sent in August 1858, but it failed after a few weeks of operation.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 1589. Courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 91k Pen & ink drawing by Samuel Wart Stanton, circa 1908, prepared in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1858 laying of the first successful trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. The artwork features a depiction of USS Niagara right and HMS Agamemnon beginning to lay the cable in late July 1858.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 65487.
    Robert Hurst
    195k One of eight hand colored lithographs published in 1861 of USS Niagara, HMS Valorous, HMS Gorgon (misspelled Gordon) and HMS Agamemnon laying the cable in 1857 at mid-ocean.
    Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, 1861 (New York: D.T. Valentine, 1861). Engraving by Sarony, Major and Knapp.
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 153k USS Niagara arriving at Yeddo, Japan, with the the Japanese Ambassador to the United States on board, 10 November 1860. Line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, 1861.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 59571
    Robert Hurst
    Mount Vernon 131k "Cutting Out of the Southern Schooner 'Aid,' off Mobile, by the Boats of the U. S. Steam Frigate Niagara, assisted by the U.S. Steamer Mount Vernon, June 5, 1861".
    Line engraving published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1861. USS Niagara in in the far distance beyond the foundering schooner Aid. USS Mount Vernon is in the right foreground. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Photo #: NH 59145
    Robert Hurst
    Ivy 375k Line engraving "Cutter of "USS Niagara"
    USS Niagara (II) hit by a shell from CSS Ivy, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, 3 November 1861. Published in "The Soldier in our Civil War, Volume I, page 126".
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 58783
    Tommy Trampp
    250k USS Niagara at anchor at her base in Europe. Antwerp, Belgium in 1864. From Antwerp Niagara prowled the English Channel looking for Confederate raiders and blockade runners.
    "Civil War Sea Battles", Chapter XVI, Page 209.
    Tommy Trampp
    New London 75k "View of Ship Island, Louisiana. -- By our Special Artist on Board the 'Sagamore"
    Line engraving, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, depicting several U.S. Navy ships anchored off the Federal base at Ship Island in early 1862. Ships are (from left to right) USS Winona, USS New London, USS Niagara, USS Sagamore, USS Wissahickon, and USS Massachusetts. Other features identified, in the center and right background, are Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, the 9th Connecticut and 22nd Massachusetts Regiments and a military camp.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59009
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Niagara 93k USS Niagara at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA, circa 1863, showing modifications made in 1862-1863. She was then under the command of CAPT. Thomas T. Craven, USN. The Bunker Hill Monument is in the left center distance.
    US Navy photo # NH 57980 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo by Black, Washington, D.C.
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 113k USS Niagara off Boston, MA., in 1863, showing modifications made in 1862-1863.
    US Navy photo # NH 75895 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Robert Hurst
    Sacramento 137k The Tower of Belem, Lisbon Harbor, Portugal. Firing on USS Niagara and USS Sacramento, 28 March 1865.
    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 13 May 1865, page 301.
    This incident resulted when Niagara was shifting her berth in the harbor and was briefly fired upon by the harbor fortification, on the presumption that she was trying to follow CSS Stonewall to sea before expiration of the 24-hour waiting period mandated by international law. Portugal later apologized for the incident
    US Navy photo # NH 59345
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Niagara 120k Boston Navy Yard waterfront, about 1870. Ships laid up and housed over, on the right, are Iowa (ex-Ammonoosuc, 1868-1888), inboard, and USS Niagara. On the stocks in left center, with sterns visible between and beyond the two shiphouses, are Connecticut (ex-Pompanoosuc), and Pennsylvania (ex-Keywadin). The receiving ship USS Ohio (1838-1883) is in the middle distance. Donation of CAPT. Yancey S. Williams, USN, 1928.
    US Navy photo # NH 57982. from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Robert Hurst
    Niagara 61k Boston Navy Yard, waterfront, as seen from East Boston, circa 1876. Ships at left are USS Wabash, outboard, with USS Niagara housed over inboard of her. Iowa (ex-Ammonoosuc) is inboard of Niagara with only her four smokestacks and stern visible. The large ships on the building ways in the center and extreme right are Connecticut (ex-Pompanoosuc) and Pennsylvania (ex-Keywadin).
    US Navy photo # NH 42470 from the US Naval History and Heritage Command, courtesy of National Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C.
    Robert Hurst

    USS Niagara (II)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 22 October 2021