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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Essex (II)
USS New Era

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Ironclad steamer:
  • Built in 1856 as the steamer New Era at St Louis, MO. for the Wiggins Ferry Co.
  • Purchased by the War Department, 20 September 1861
  • Converted into a timberclad gunboat by James B. Eads of St. Louis, MO.
  • Commissioned USS New Era, 4 October 1861, CDR. William D. Porter in command
  • USS New Era initially operated on the Ohio, Mississippi and Cumberland rivers in October
  • Converted to a partial ironclad in November, renamed USS Essex
  • During the Civil War USS Essex participated in the following engagements:
  • Engagement of Confederate gunboats at Lucas Bend MO. in the Tennessee River, 7 to 11 January 1862
  • Capture of Fort Henry, TN., 6 February, suffering 11 KIA and 23 WIA
  • After extensive overhaul including heavier armor USS Essex participated in the assault on Vicksburg on 13 July 1862
  • Attacked the Confederate ram, CSS Arkansas below Vicksburg, inflicting considerable damage
  • Steaming south to Baton Rouge, LA. she joined with the Army in repelling a Confederate attack, 5 August
  • Again attacked CSS Arkansas on 6 August when Arkansas broke down and drifted ashore where she was destroyed by her crew
  • Refitted at New Orleans, operational control turned over to the Navy, 1 October 1862
  • Following refit USS Essex participated in the capture of Port Hudson, LA., 8 May to 8 July 1863
  • Engagement at Donaldsonville, 9 July and although damaged in the battle, carried out her patrol duty at this point through 6 March 1864
  • Assisted in the capture of Fort de Russy on 15 and 16 March
  • USS Essex was assigned on 4 May as guardship at Memphis, TN. for the duration of the war
  • Decommissioned at Mound City, IL., 20 July 1865
  • Final Disposition, sold 29 November 1865, fate unknown
    Displacement 614 t.
    Length 159'
    Beam 47' 6"
    Draft 6'
    Speed unknown
    Complement 124
    one 32-pdr
    three 9" smoothbore
    one 10" smoothbore
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    USS New Ira
    Essex 166k The Gunboat USS New Ira being built at St. Louis. Tommy Trampp
    Essex 163k USS New Ira underway on the Mississippi River. Tommy Trampp
    USS Essex (II)
    Essex 109k USS Essex moored at Memphis, TN. with her awnings up, during the Civil War. Note mortar boats alongside Essex, also with awnings deployed, and small building atop the bluff, toward the left, marked "Pittsburgh COAL", with the Pittsburgh Coal Company's castle symbol between "CO" and "AL".
    US Navy photo # NH 54286 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Essex 156k USS Essex at a Mississippi River area port, circa 1862-65. Note: The original caption identified location and date as Baton Rouge, LA., in July 1862. However, the presence of a mortar boat (at right) indicates that either the date is later or the location is above Vicksburg if the photo was taken in 1862. The original photograph accompanied a claim filed by James A. Payne.
    US Navy photo # NH 61567 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Essex 131k USS Essex coaling at Baton Rouge, LA., in late July 1862, just after she reached the lower Mississippi. Ships of Farragut's fleet are in the background. The original photograph accompanied a claim filed by James A. Payne.
    US Navy photo # NH 54289 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Arkansas 436k Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862 depicting the Union gunboat USS Essex, destroying the Rebel Iron-clad Ram CSS Arkansas, on the Mississippi River. Arkansas had been run ashore and burned to prevent capture when her engines failed during this encounter with Essex, 6 August 1862.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59042
    Robert Hurst
    Essex 79k Post card image of USS Essex moored in front of Vicksburg, MS., date unknown. Tommy Trampp

    USS New Era / USS Essex (II)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Pook's Turtles by Aryeh Wetherhorn
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 9 September 2016