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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS William G. Putnam

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel Steamer:
  • Built as a wooden-hulled tug in 1857 at Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Launched, date unknown
  • Purchased by the Union Navy, 24 July 1861, at New York City and renamed General Putnam soon thereafter
  • Name reverted to William G. Putnam, apparently before commissioning
  • Commissioned, USS William G. Putnam, 13 September 1861, Acting Master William J. Hotchkiss in command
  • Initially assigned to the Potomac Flotilla, at Washington, D. C., arriving 16 September 1861
  • Reassigned to the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, the next day at Old Point Comfort, VA. arriving 23 September, operating off the North Carolina coast
    William G. Putnam initial duty was to reconnoiter Ocracoke Inlet, she additionally patrolled off Hatteras Inlet
  • Reassigned to the newly formed North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 29 October 1861
  • In February 1862, the tug took part in the expedition which captured Roanoke Island, N.C. On the 6th
  • 6 November the tug was reassigned to blockade duty off the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay between Fortress Monroe and the south side of the Piankatank River
    William G. Putnam joined the small flotilla at Yorktown, VA., operating with the Army in an attempt to take Mathews Court House up the East River
    Subsequently serving as guard vessel in the York River and off neighboring coasts, the tug cooperated with the Army in landing troops on expeditions up to West Point and enforced the blockade by patrolling the region
    While operating in the Piankatank River on blockade duties, 17 August her commanding officer, Acting Master Hotchkiss fell mortally wounded by sniper fire
    Subsequently towed to Yorktown, William G. Putnam was stationed at the mouth of Queen's Creek as part of the defense of Yorktown
    Joined an expedition, 8 March 1864, to head up the Mattaponi River, convoying Army transports covering the landing of General Kilpatrick's troops at Sheppard's Landing
    From mid-April to June 1864, William G. Putnam operated in joint Army-Navy operations in the James, Nansemond and Appomattox Rivers, covering the landings of troops
    From 28 July 1864 on William G. Putnam operated on the James and Appomattox Rivers
  • Detached from the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 8 March 1865, she patrolled the Rappahannock and St. Mary's Rivers
  • Decommissioned, 2 June 1865, at Washington Navy Yard
  • Purchased by the Treasury Department for service with the Lighthouse Board
    Renamed USLHT General Putnam she was assigned to the 3rd Lighthouse District where she was rammed, sunk and raised at Wilmington, DE.
    Reassigned to the 3rd Lighthouse District, her name was shortened to simply Putnam in September of 1869
    Rebuilt and lengthened to 135 feet in 1877 prior to being transferred back to the 2nd Lighthouse District
    Overhauled in New York in August 1880 and rebuilt yet again in 1889
    Transferred her to the 7th Lighthouse District in March of 1891, based out of Key West
  • Taken out of service in 1891 and sold in 1893 for $1,825 entering merchant service as SS Putnam, operating until 1896.
  • Final Disposition, fate unknown
    Displacement 149 t.
    Length 103'6"
    Beam 22'
    Depth of Hold unknown
    Draft 7'2"
    Speed 7 kts
    Complement 62
    12 September 1861 one 32-pdr.
    14 September 1861 one 20-pdr, one 20-pdr. Parrott rifle
    13 May 1863 one 20-pdr. Parrott rifle, two 24-pdr. howitzers
    2 June 1863 one 20-pdr. Parrott rifle, two 24-pdr. howitzers, one 12-pdr
    Propulsion steam, two paddlewheels

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    Size Image Description Source
    Willam G. Putnam 351k Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 depicting former civilian tugs William G. Putnam and Satellite being prepared for Naval service at New York City, circa July-September 1861.
    US Navy History and Heritage Command photo # NH 59379
    US Navy History and Heritage Command

    USS William G. Putnam
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 7 January 2017