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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Powhatan (I)

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel Steamer:
  • Laid down, 6 August 1847, at Norfolk Navy Yard
  • Commissioned USS Powhatan, 2 September 1852, CAPT. William Mervine in command.
  • Powhatan was initially assigned to the Home Squadron as the flagship of COMO. John T. Newton
  • Powhatan, under CDR. William J. McCluney, was next assigned to the East India Squadron serving as COMO. Matthew C. Perry's flagship during negotiations for commercial relations with Japan and the opening of two ports
  • During August 1855 USS Powhatan along with HMS Rattler conducted a successful raid against Chinese pirates off Kulan before reaching the U.S. 14 February 1856 with the new treaty.
  • During the Civil War Powhatan served as Flag Officer Pendergrastís flagship at Vera Cruz during October 1860
  • In April 1861, while under the command of LT. David Dixon Porter, she assisted in the relief of Fort Pickens, FL. and in the establishment of the blockade of Mobile 26 May, capturing schooner Mary Clinton 29 May
  • During July and August Powhatan joined the blockade of the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi, retaking schooner Abby Bradford 15 August
  • Powhatan operated off Charleston, SC from October 1862 to August 1863, capturing the schooner Major E. Willis 19 April and sloop C. Routereau 16 May
  • She deployed for a second time to the West Indies from November 1863 to September 1864 as flagship of RADM. Lardner
  • USS Powhatan participated in the successful reduction of Fort Fisher, NC from 24 to 25 December 1864 and in its capture 13 to 15 January 1865
  • In October 1865 she sailed from Boston with USS Tuscarora and USS Vanderbilt, escorting monitor USS Monadnock to California via Cape Horn. She arrived at San Francisco on 22 June 1866.
  • Following the Civil War Powhatan served as the flagship for the South Pacific Squadron from 1866 to 1869
  • March 1866 she was sent to Valparaiso to protect American interests during the Spanish attack
  • From 1869 to 1886 she was attached to the Home Squadron and cruised Cuban waters to protect American commerce:
  • Decommissioned, 2 June 1886
  • Final Disposition, sold 30 July 1886 to Burdette Pond of Meriden, CT., and scrapped 5 August 1887
    Displacement 3,765 t.
    Length 253' 8"
    Beam 45'
    Draft 18' 6"
    Speed 11kts
    Complement 289
    one 11" Dahlgren smooth bores
    five 12-pdrs
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Powhatan 30k

    Powhatan (born June 17, 1545; died April 1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh (alternately spelled Wahunsenacah, Wahunsunacock or Wahunsonacock), was the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia at the time English settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607.
    Powhatan, alternately called "King" or "Chief" Powhatan by the English, led the main political and military power facing the early colonists, was probably the older brother of Opechancanough, who led attacks against the English in 1622 and 1644. He was the father of Pocahontas, who eventually converted to Christianity and married the English settler John Rolfe.
    Tommy Trampp
    Powhatan 140k USS Powhatan one of Commodore Perry's "Black Ships" during his second visit to Japan. From the book "Retrospective 18-year history of Meiji and Taisho"), published by The Eastern Culture Association in 1933-1934. Robert Hurst
    Powhatan 82k Undated image of USS Powhatan in Hawaii, 1860.
    Courtesy Asian Art Museum.
    Robert Hurst
    Powhatan 104k Japanese bowl made to commemorate the visit of COMO. Perry to Japan. His visit instigated the opening up of trade between the two nations with a Treaty signed between the two countries on the 31st of March 1854, US Naval History and Heritage Command Accession # 88-15A. Collection of Curator Branch, US Naval History and Heritage Command
    163k "Napha From the Sea" (Japan). Lithograph by J. Queen, after W. Heine and H. Walke, published by P.C. Duval and Company, circa the later 1850s. It shows ships of Commodore M.C. Perry's Squadron at Naha, Okinawa, circa 1853-1854. Steamers are (center)
    USS Mississippi and (right) either
    USS Powhatan or
    USS Susquehanna, circa later 1850s. Courtesy of and copied from the Collection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 1936. This print was exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in April 1963. Catalog #131.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 42760.
    Robert Hurst
    Wyandotte 146k "Relief of Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa Island, Fla., by the United States Fleet, April 17th 1861" A line engraving published in "The Soldier in Our Civil War", Volume I, depicting the scene off Pensacola as USS Powhatan landed Federal troops to reinforce Fort Pickens on 17 April 1861. Features identified in text immediately below the image are (left to right): USS Powhatan, USS Wyandotte, Fort McRae, Entrance to Harbor, Fort Pickens, Encampment of Confederates, Lighthouse, Steamer SS Illinois and Navy Foundry. This engraving was originally published in 1861 in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", with text giving an incorrect date in March 1861.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59114
    Bill Gonyo
    Maumee 94k "Bombardment of Fort Fisher" "Jan. 15th 1865"
    Lithograph after a drawing by T.F. Laycock, published by Endicott & Co., New York, 1865, depicting the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron bombarding Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in preparation for its capture. The print is dedicated to Commodore S.W. Godon, USN. Ships present, as named on the original print, are (from left to right in the main battle line):
    USS Tacony;
    USS Maumee;
    USS Ticonderoga;
    USS Shenandoah;
    USS Tuscarora;
    USS Juniata;
    USS Wabash;
    USS Susquehanna;
    USS Colorado;
    USS Minnesota;
    USS Brooklyn;
    USS New Ironsides and
    USS Mohican.
    Ships in the foreground are (left to right, from the center of the view):
    USS Powhatan;
    USS Mackinaw;
    USS Vanderbilt and
    USS Malvern (Flagship of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter).
    Monitors in the right middle distance are:
    USS Monadnock (with two turrets);
    USS Mahopac;
    USS Saugus and
    USS Canonicus.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # LC-USZ62-144 from the collections of the Library of Congress.
    Bill Gonyo
    Powhatan 92k USS Powhatan at anchor, date and location unknown.
    Library of Congress photo # LC-D4-20889
    Mike Green
    Powhatan 94k Undated image of USS Powhatan at anchor, date and location unknown. Tommy Trampp
    Marion 79k Lithograph after a drawing by Joseph L. Jones, circa 1877-1880 depicting a Naval Review in Hampton-Roads, VA. dedicated to Secretary of the Navy Richard W. Thompson. Ships present include (from left):
    USS Marion,
    USS Tallapoosa (flying the Secretary of the Navy's Flag),
    USS Constitution,
    USS Kearsarge,
    USS Saratoga,
    USS Powhatan,
    USS Portsmouth and
    USS Minnesota.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 61193. Courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.
    Robert Hurst
    78k USS Powhatan (1848-87) sometime between 1860 and 1869. Unknown author. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # NH 48102. Robert Hurst
    177k Warships rigged for mourning in the Hudson River, New York, seen from Manhattan Island, probably during the funeral of ex-President Ulysses S. Grant in August 1885. Ship at the far right is USS Powhatan. If the event is actually Grant's funeral, the three sloops of war in the center are (from left to right) USS Alliance, USS Swatara and USS Omaha. The Revenue Cutter at left may be USRC U.S. Grant.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 95874, courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1986
    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    USS Powhatan (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 19 October 2023