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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Bienville


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel Steamer:
  • Built in 1860 by Lawrence and Foulkes, Brooklyn, N. Y.
  • Purchased by the Navy 14 August 1861
  • Commissioned USS Bienville, 23 October 1861, CDR. C. Steedman in command.
  • During the Civil War USS Bienville was assigned Blockade duties and participated in the following actions:
    South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (1861 - 1863)
    Capture of Port Royal, S.C., 7 November 1861
    Blockades of Charleston, S.C. Fernadina, FL., and Wilmington, N.C.
    Capture of Fernadina, FL., 4 March 1862
    Captured twelve blockade runners and forced the destruction of two others
    West Gulf Blockading Squadron (1863 - 1865)
    Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864
    Blockade of Galveston, TX.
    Captured one off Galveston
  • Decommissioned, 5 October3 1867, at Boston, MA.

    Specifications:
    Displacement 1,558 t.
    Length 253'
    Beam 38'
    Draft 16' 2"
    Speed 15 kts
    Complement 185
    Armament
    eight 32-pdr smoothbores
    one 30-pdr rifle
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Source
    Oneida (II) 72k Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1947, of SS Bienville, painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I. Built at Brooklyn, New York, in 1860, this steamer served as USS Bienville in 1861-1867.
    US Navy photo NH 63868 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command, courtesy of Erik Heyl.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 186k "Merchant Steamers Converted into Gun-boats."
    Engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 volume. Depicts thirteen merchant steamships acquired by the U.S. Navy between April and August 1861 and subsequently converted into warships, plus the steamer Nashville (far left), which became a Confederate cruiser. US Navy ships as identified below the image bottom, are (from left to right:
    USS Alabama,
    USS Quaker City,
    USS Santiago de Cuba, (listed as "St. Jago de Cuba")
    USS Mount Vernon,
    USS Massachusetts,
    USS South Carolina,
    USS Florida,
    USS De Soto,
    USS Augusta,
    USS James Adger,
    USS Monticello,
    USS Bienville and
    USS R.R. Cuyler.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59366.
    Robert Hurst
    Issac Smith 78k "Army & Navy Reconnaissance. Tuesday Morning Nov. 5" 1861 Line engraving published in "The Soldier in Our Civil War", Volume I, page 189, depicting Federal ships investigating Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, prior to their successful attack on Confederate fortifications there. Ships and other items identified across the bottom of the print include (from left to right):
    USS Mercury, with Generals Sherman and Stevens & staff on board;
    USS Penguin, with Hilton Head Battery beyond;
    USS Pawnee; Broad River (in distance);
    CSS Huntress (distance);
    USS Seneca; Steamer Screamer (distance);
    USS Ottawa with Capt. Rogers & General Wright on board;
    Steamer Everglades (distance, beyond Ottawa;
    USS Pembina;
    CSS Lady Davis (distance); Beaufort River (distance); Bay Point Battery (distance); USS Curlew; (probably misidentified as no record exists that USS Curlew served with South Atlantic Blockading Squadron) Confederate camp (distance);
    USS Isaac Smith.
    US Navy photo # NH 59319
    Tommy Trampp
    Issac Smith 75k "Bombardment and Capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, 7 November 1861" Engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 volume, pages 760-761. It depicts Federal warships, under Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont, USN, bombarding Fort Beauregard (at right) and Fort Walker (at left). The Confederate squadron commanded by Commodore Josiah Tattnall is in the left center distance. Subjects identified below the image bottom are (from left): tug Mercury,
    Fort Walker,
    USS Wabash (DuPont's flagship),
    steamer Screamer (?),
    USS Susquehanna,
    CSS Huntsville, Commo. Tattnall, (probably misidentified as no record exists that CSS Huntsville served in the defenses of Port Royal, S.C.
    USS Bienville,
    USS Pembina,
    USS Seneca,
    USS Ottawa,
    USS Unadilla,
    USS Pawnee,
    USS Mohican,
    USS Isaac Smith,
    USS Curlew; (probably misidentified as no record exists that USS Curlew served with South Atlantic Blockading Squadron),
    USS Vandalia,
    USS Penguin,
    USS Pocahontas,
    USS Seminole,
    Fort Beauregard,
    USS R.B. Forbes
    and "Rebel Camp".
    US Navy photo # NH 59256
    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    USS Bienville
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 7 January 2017