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CSS Clifton
USS Clifton (I) (1861 - 1863)

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel Steamer Ferryboat:
  • Built in 1861 at Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Purchased by the US Navy, 2 December 1861
  • Outfitted by J.A. Westervelt at New York
  • Commissioned USS Clifton circa late-1861-early-1862, Acting LT. C.H. Baldwin in command
  • During th Civil War USS Clifton participated in the following operations:
    18 March 1862 assigned to the Mortar Flotilla, West Gulf Blockading Squadron
    18 to 23 April, bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, below New Orleans
    Attack on the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg - 28 June 1862 seven men KIA
    4 to 9 October capture of Galveston, TX.
    July 1863 reconnaissance up the Atchafalaya and Teche Rivers
    Captured by Confederate forces, 8 September 1863, at Sabine Pass, TX.
  • CSS Clifton was burned by Confederate forces, 21 March 1864, after an unsuccessful attempt to run the Union blockade
    Displacement 892 t.
    Length 210'
    Beam 40'
    Depth 13' 6"
    Speed unknown
    Complement unknown
    two 9" smoothbores
    four 32-pdrs
    Propulsion steam

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Contributed
    Clifton 94k USS Clifton underway off Cape Hatteras in March 1862.
    From Daniel D. T. Nestell Papers housed at the Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
    Tommy Trampp
    Clifton 173k Deck of the USS Clifton in Fighting Order showing a sketch of her gun emplacements and quarters.
    From Daniel D. T. Nestell Papers housed at the Nimitz Library, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD.
    Tommy Trampp
    Colorado 134k Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, based on a sketch by an officer of USS Mississippi depicting Commodore Farragut's Squadron and Captain Porter's Mortar Fleet entering the Mississippi River at the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi, circa 7 April 1862. Features identified in the engraving's title lines include (from left to right): Light-house on Southwest Pass;
    USS Colorado (in left foreground);
    USS Pensacola on the bar;
    USS Westfield (seen nearly stern-on);
    Porter's mortar fleet, heading up the river;
    USS Mississippi on the bar;
    USS Harriet Lane (side-wheel steamer at the rear of the mortar fleet);
    USS Connecticut (in right foreground);
    USS Clifton;
    town of Banona.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 59059
    Robert Hurst
    Owaswco 400k Union mortar steamers bombard Fort Jackson at the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. From left to right the ships are USS Clifton, USS USS Westfield, USS Owasco, and USS Harriet Lane.
    Signed by J. Davidson. Image from p. 74 of the 1887 book Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, by Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Brough Buel, being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers, based upon the Century War Series, volume 2. Courtesy of the British Library from its digital collections.
    Robert Hurst
    Clifton 230k "Fire-raft Sent Down by the Rebels, April 17" A line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, depicting USS Clifton playing a fire hose on the Confederate fire raft, as it drifted past Union ships on the lower Mississippi River on 17 April 1862.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59065
    Tommy Trampp
    J.A. Cotton 155k "Engagement at Butte la Rose"
    Line engraving after a sketch by H. Holtz, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1863, depicting the U.S. Navy gunboats USS Estrella, USS Calhoun, USS Arizona and USS Clifton (listed clockwise from lower right) engaging the Confederate gunboat CSS J.A. Cotton off Butte a la Rose, Louisiana, on 20 April 1863. Confederate Fort Burton (shown at left) was captured on the same day.
    An original engraved print titled,"Engagement at Butte la Rose." published in "Harper's Weekly" dated May 30, 1863.
    Tommy Trampp
    Clifton 130k The Disabling and Capture of the Federal Gunboats 'Sachem' and 'Clifton', in the Attack on Sabine Pass, Texas, September 8th, 1863." Line engraving published in "The Soldier in our Civil War", Volume II. USS Clifton is shown to the left, aground and returning fire from the Confederate fortifications. USS Sachem is at the right.
    US Navy photo # NH 59143 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Tommy Trampp
    Clifton 36k USS Clifton and other Union vessels during the attack on Sabine Pass, Texas, 8 September 1863.
    Harper's Weekly, dated 10 October 1863.
    Robert Hurst
    Clifton 795k Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1962, of USS Clifton painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume IV. She was originally the civilian ferryboat Clifton, built in 1861. After she was captured on 8 September 1863, she became the Confederate gunboat and blockade runner CSS Clifton and was destroyed on 21 March 1864. Watercolor courtesy of Erik Heyl.
    US Navy photo # NH 63707 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Tommy Trampp
    Alabama 144k Daniel D. T. Nestell, reportedly born in New York between 1815 and 1819, graduated with honors from the University of the City of New York's University Medical College (later the New York University School of Medicine) in 1843. Following graduation, Nestell, accompanied by one of his professors (Dr. Valentine Mott), traveled abroad for two years in furtherance of his medical studies. Upon his return to the United States, Dr. Nestell reportedly worked as a physician or apothecary until 1862. On January 25, 1862, Dr. Nestell was appointed Acting Assistant Surgeon, to serve on the U.S.S. Clifton (side wheel steamer). While assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Clifton participated in the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip in April 1862, the Siege of Vicksburg in June 1862, and the First Battle of Galveston in October 1862, before being captured by Confederate forces at Sabine Pass, Texas on September 8, 1863. Nestell was subsequently held as a prisoner of war until January 1864, when he was released. After his release from Confederate captivity, and a subsequent furlough, Nestell was assigned to the U.S.S. Alabama (side wheel steamer), again serving as Acting Assistant Surgeon. Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Alabama took part in the Union attacks on Fort Fisher from December 1864 to January 1865. During the action at Fort Fisher, Nestell suffered irreversible hearing damage. Five months later, on June 6, 1865, Dr. Nestell's appointment as Acting Assistant Surgeon was revoked, and he was honorably discharged from the Navy in August of that year.
    Image and text courtesy of the Nimitz Library - United States Naval Academy
    Bill Gonyo

    USS Clifton (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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