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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS James Adger


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Screw Steamer:
  • Built in 1851 at New York City
  • Launched, date unknown
  • Purchased by the US Navy from Spofford, Tileston & Co., 20 July 1861
  • Commissioned, 20 September 1861, as USS James Adger, at New York Navy Yard, CDR. John B. Marchand in command
  • USS James Adger departed New York 16 October 1861 in pursuit of CSS Nashville, a Confederate cruiser reported to have escaped from Charleston with the South's ministers to England and France, James M. Mason and John Slidell
  • James Adger arrived at Queenstown, Ireland in October, and cruised in quest of Nashville during November
  • She returned to Hampton Roads, VA., 2 December 1861, where she was ordered to Port Royal for duty in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
    James Adger was assigned to assume command of the blockade at Georgetown, S.C., seeing there from 24 December 1861 to 7 March 1862
    Reassigned in March to command of the blockage at Charleston
    On 18 March 1862 she joined four other Union ships in capturing Emily St. Pierre attempting to slip into Charleston
    Helped USS Keystone State, 29 May 1862, in capturing Elizabeth, a 250-ton steamer trying to enter Charleston with a cargo of munitions
    Assisted Keystone State and USS Flag in driving off and pursuing her old adversary Nashville, now a blockade runner named Thomas L. Wragg trying to slip into Charleston
  • James Adger sailed for Baltimore, 19 September 1862, for repairs and departed for the South 31 December touching at Hampton Roads 2 January 1863 to take monitor USS Montauk in tow
  • 22 January 1863 James Adger stood out of Port Royal, with Montauk in tow and steamed to Ossabaw Sound in search of Nashville, now a privateer renamed Rattlesnake on the Ogeechee River
  • Returning to Port Royal James Adger was assigned blockade duty off Charleston
  • She was recalled to Port Royal to embark prisoners captured with CSS Atlanta for passage to Fort Monroe and refitting at Philadelphia
  • The steamer sailed from Philadelphia before repairs were completed, 25 June in pursuit of Confederate commerce raider Tacony, then operating against Union merchantmen on the East Coast
  • 7 July James Adger, not yet repaired, received orders to Wilmington for duty with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, arriving at Wilmington 27 July
    Off New Inlet, 1 August 1863 she assisted USS Iroquois and USS Mount Vernon in taking Confederate steamer Kate
    On 8 November with the assistance of USS Niphon she captured CS Cornubia, an iron side wheeler bringing in a valuable cargo of arms, ammunition, and chemicals
    Moreover, a package of documents thrown overboard before the capture, when plucked out of the sea, divulged information so important to the South that Cornubia's captain lamented, "though the Cornubia is a small vessel the Confederate Government could better have afforded to lose almost any other..."
    The next morning James Adger took Confederate steamer Robert E. Lee coming into Wilmington from Bermuda with a cargo of arms and Army clothing
    26 November, 1863, schooner Ella, approaching Wilmington with a cargo of salt and yard goods from Nassau, was James Adger's next victim
  • When the ship's long postponed repairs could be delayed no longer, James Adger sailed north and decommissioned at Philadelphia 28 December, 1863
  • Recommissioned, 17 June 1864, USS James Adger served in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until the end of the war
  • On 21 April 1865, Secretary Welles ordered her to Mariguana Passage (now Mayaguana Passage) in the Bahamas to escort a convoy of California-bound ships
  • Following a visit to New York, she cruised in the Caribbean off Panama and Colombia from August 1865 to February 1866
  • Back in New York, she assisted British steamer European after she exploded in New York Harbor 3 April 1866
  • James Adger decommissioned at New York Navy Yard, 2 May 1866 and was sold at New York to James B. Campbell 9 October 1866
  • Final Disposition, fate unknown
    Specifications:
    Displacement 1,152 t.
    Length 215'
    Beam 33'6"
    Depth of Hold 21'3"
    Draft unknown
    Speed 11 kts
    Complement 120
    Armament
    one 20-pdr Parrot rifle
    eight 32-pdrs
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Source
    James Adger 154k Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1948 of the steamship James Adger, painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I. Built at New York City in 1852, this steamer was commercially employed as SS James Adger in 1851-1861 and in 1866-1878. Between 1861 and 1866, she served as USS James Adger
    . US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 63851. Courtesy of Erik Heyl.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    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

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