Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS R. B. Forbes

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

  • Built in 1845 as the twin-screw steamer SS R. B. Forbes
  • Acquired by the Navy, 17 August 1861, at Boston, MA.
  • Fitted out at Boston for naval service
  • Commissioned in August 1861, Acting Master William G. Gregory in command
  • Formally purchased by the Navy in September 1861
  • During the Civil War USS R. B. Forbes operated in the Chesapeake area until assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in late October
  • Participated in the capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard at Port Royal, S.C., 7 November 1861
  • Decommissioned for repairs at New York
  • Recommissioned, 8 February 1862, assigned to the Mortar Flotilla below New Orleans
  • Caught in a gale off Cape Henry, 25 February 1862 and driven ashore and wrecked a few miles south of Currituck Inlet
  • Final Disposition, burned to prevent capture by Confederate forces
    Displacement 329 t.
    Length 121'
    Beam 25' 6"
    Depth of Hold 11' 7"
    Draft 12' 3"
    Speed 11 kts (max)
    Complement 200
    Armament two 32-pdrs
    Propulsion steam

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    R. B. Forbes 92k
    Robert Bennet Forbes was a ship captain, China Trade merchant, shipbuilder, and philanthropist of Milton and Boston, Mass. He was born in Jamaica Plain, Mass. on 18 September 1804. At the age of thirteen, he sailed on the first of several voyages to China under the command of his uncles, James and Thomas H. Perkins who were China Trade merchants. He was promoted to an officer at the age of sixteen. In 1824, he commanded his first ship on a three-year voyage around the world and he was captain of his own ship by the age of 21. He made many trips between from 1830 until his last trip in 1849. In 1847, Forbes was appointed by the New England Committee for the Relief of Ireland and Scotland (NECRIS) to command a mission to Ireland to relieve the victims of famine. He was lent a ship, the U.S.S. Jamestown, for that purpose. It was the first ship-of-war ever lent to a private citizen by Congress for a foreign voyage. When Forbes returned from China in 1840, he entered into a life-long interest in shipbuilding. He was part owner or supervisor on the construction of over 68 ships. He invented the "Forbes rig" for sailing vessels. During the Civil War, he organized a coast-guard unit for Mass. and entered into negotiations with the U.S. Navy to build ships for the United States in order to aid the war effort. When the negotiations broke down, he built warships for the Union cause at his own expense and sold them to Congress. In 1866, he founded the National Sailor's Home in Quincy, Mass. for sailors who had been injured during the Civil War. His later years were spent in humanitarian work and writing. Most notable was his work building lifeboats and other lifesaving devices with the Humane Society of Massachusetts and the Naval Institute of the Boston Marine Society. In 1876, he published his memoirs entitled, Personal Reminiscences. He spent the remainder of his life at home in Milton, where he died on 23 November 1889. Information courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society
    Bill Gonyo
    R. B. Forbes 72k Sketch of USS R. B. Forbes from the Library of Congress. Bill Gonyo
    Narragansett 223k "The Great Expedition -- The Vessels at Anchor at Hampton Roads Previous to the Departure". Line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, July-December 1861 volume, page 725. It consists of two views of Flag Officer DuPont's squadron at Hampton Roads, VA., prior to leaving, 29 October 1861 to capture Port Royal, S.C. Ships and geographical features, as identified below the images, are (upper engraving, from left to right):
    ferry boats,
    store ship,
    steamer SS Marion,
    USS Seminole,
    steamer SS Ben Deford,
    tug Grapeshot,
    Fort Monroe,
    USS Narragansett,
    USS Alabama,
    USS Pawnee, and
    new ("90-Day") gunboats.

    (lower engraving, from left to right):
    store ship,
    SS Vanderbilt,
    steam tug (foreground),
    store ship,
    steamer Winfield Scott,
    steamer Atlantic,
    USS Minnesota,
    steamer SS Baltic,
    USS Relief,
    USS Wabash,
    USS R.B. Forbes,
    steamer SS Oriental,
    steamer SS Matanzas,
    steamer SS Philadelphia,
    and the Rip Raps.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #: NH 59317
    Robert Hurst
    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 R. B. Forbes
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)

    Back To The Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Old Navy" Steam and Sail Index
    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster.
    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 17 March 2017