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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Commodore Barney


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel steamer:
  • Built in 1859 as the sidewheel ferry boat SS Ethan Allen at New York
  • Purchased by the Navy 2 October 1861
  • Commissioned USS Commodore Barney later in the month, LT. Richard T. Renshaw
  • During the Civil War USS Commodore Barney was assigned to the:
    Northern Blockading Squadron to patrol the Virginia and North Carolina coasts and participated in the;
    Seizure of Roanoke Island, 7 to 9 February 1862
    Chowan River reconnaissance, 18 to 20 February 1862
    Capture of New Bern, N.C. 13 to 14 March 1862
    Defense of Suffolk, VA, 11 April to 4 May 1862
    Pamunkey River expedition, 24 to 29 June 1863
    James River expedition, 4 to 7 August 1863, damaged by torpedo
    James-Nansemond Rivers expedition, 13 to 14 April 1864
  • Decommissioned, 5 May 1865
  • Sold, 20 July 1865
  • Final Disposition, fate unknown
    Specifications:
    Displacement 512 t.
    Length 143'
    Beam 33'
    Draft 9'
    Speed 8 kts
    Complement 96
    Armament
    one 100-pdr rifle
    three 9" (230 mm) smoothbores
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
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    Barney 67k
    Namesake

    Joshua Barney was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 6 July 1759, and died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1 December 1818, having served with distinction in the Navy during both the Revolution and the War of 1812. In February 1776, as masterís mate of Hornet, he took part in Commodore Hopkinsís descent upon New Providence. Later he served on Wasp and was made a lieutenant for gallantry in the action between that vessel and the British brig Tender. While serving on Andrea Doria he took a prominent part in the defense of the Delaware. Lieutenant Barney was taken prisoner several times and several times exchanged. In 1779 he was again taken prisoner and was imprisoned in Hill Prison in England until his escape in 1781. In 1782 he was put in command of the Pennsylvania ship, Hyder Ally, in which he captured the British ship, General Monk, a vessel of far heavier guns than his own. He was given command of this prize and sailed for France with dispatches for Benjamin Franklin, returning with the information that peace had been declared. After the Revolution he entered the French Navy, where he was made commander of a squadron. After a successful stint as the captain of the privateer Rossie early in the War of 1812, Barney devised a plan to defend the Chesapeake Bay that the Navy Department accepted. As a captain in the US Navy, he assembled, outfitted, and manned a flotilla of barges that served to delay but not deter the British forces from attacking Washington. After scuttling his vessels to prevent their capture, Barney and his flotillamen made a valiant but doomed attempt to repulse the British at Bladensburg, Maryland, on 24 August 1814. For his gallant conduct in the defense of the capital, he received a sword from the city of Philadelphia and the thanks of the legislature of Georgia. The wounds received in the battle of Bladensburg may have contributed to his death in Pittsburgh in 1818, which occurred while on his way to Kentucky where he planned to retire. His body is buried in Pittsburg's Allegheny Cemetery. Digital ID: cph 3a04337, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
    Bill Gonyo
    Commodore Barney 117k A sketch of USS Commodore Barney striking a torpedo during the James River expedition of 4 to 7 August 1863. She continued on the rest of the expedition while under tow.
    "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", 29 August 1863, from the publication collections of the US Library of Congress.
    Bill Gonyo
    Commodore Barney 226k A dramatic illustration made from a sketch by an eye-witness aboard the gunboat Cohasset. It is titled, "Explosion Of A Torpedo Under The Bow Of The United States Gun-Boat '[USS] Commodore Barney,' In The James River." published in a Civil War era "Harper's Weekly", August 29, 1863 Tommy Trampp
    Commodore Barney 171k USS Commodore Barney at anchor on the James River, date unknown.
    US Library of Congress photo.
    Bill Gonyo
    Commodore Barney 164k USS Commodore Barney officers photo taken while the ship was at anchor on the James River, date unknown.
    US Library of Congress photo.
    Bill Gonyo
    Commodore Barney 280k USS Commodore Barney at an unknown location sometime between 1862 and 1865. The vessel appears to be moored and has a slight list to starboard, as evidenced by the paddle wheel partially out of water.Library of Congress; Lot 4182, no. 56 Mike Green

    USS Commodore Barney
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Officers in Charge
    01LT. Renshaw, Richard T.October 1861 - 10 March 1862
    02LCDR. Chaplin, James C.10 March 1862 - 28 October 1862
    03LT. Cushing, William Barker28 October 1862 - 29 June 1863
    05Act. Master Williams, James M.25 February 1864 - 10 August 1864
    06Act. LT. Livingston, George B.10 August 1864 - 5 May 1865
    Courtesy Bill Gonyo

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    Last Updated 8 May 2015