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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Satellite (I)

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Sidewheel Steamer:
  • Built as a wooden, side-wheel tug in 1854 at New York City
  • Launched, date unknown
  • Purchased by the Union Navy at New York, 24 July 1861
  • Commissioned, USS Satellite, 12 September 1861, at the New York Navy Yard, Acting Master Joseph Spinney in command
  • Satellite was initially assigned to the Potomac squadron, reaching the Washington Navy Yard, 16 September
  • The steamer would serve almost two years in the rivers of Tidewater VA. and the Chesapeake Bay
    25 September, fired upon by a Confederate battery at Freestone Point, suffered no casualties or damage
    18 October, bombarded Confederate positions at Shipping Point, VA.
    17 November, Satellite shelled positions below Boyd's Hole
    22 December, the steamer silenced the Confederate battery at Boyd's Hole
    15 February, provided assistance to USS Harriet Lane after a shell exploded in Harriet Lane's paddle box, disabling her as she passed Shipping Point
    20 April, Satellite and USS Island Belle captured sloop, Reindeer, and schooners, Sarah Ann and Sabine, off Tappahannock
    9 June, Satellite was ordered to join Union naval forces on the James River in support of McClellan's drive toward the Confederate capital
    Soon after reaching Hampton Roads, she was ordered to protect a submarine, which, it was hoped, would be able to destroy the railroad bridge across the Appomattox River at Petersburg, and to clear the obstructions from the channel of the James below Drewry's Bluff
    Satellite accompanied Alligator up the river but the mission was aborted for tactical reasons fearing Confederate capture of the vessel
    During McClellan's retreat on the Peninsula to Harrison's Landing, Satellite and USS Delaware ascended the Chickahominy River to strengthen his right flank
    27 July, boats from Satellite and USS Yankee ascended Chippoak Creek and captured schooner, J. W. Sturges, and a schooner-rigged lighter
    In mid-August, Satellite, USS Galena and USS Port Royal covered the retirement as McClellan's rear guard across the Chickahominy toward Fort Monroe
  • End of August Satellite was transferred to the Potomac to help protect the threatened Federal capital and its line of communications by water
    The steamer operated primarily in the Rappahannock River in support of Union army operations
    From 12 through 14 May, Satellite participated in an expedition which captured schooners, Sarah Lavinia and Ladies Delight,
    21 May, Satellite joined USS Currituck and USS Anacostia in seizing schooner, Emily, at the mouth of the Rappahannock
    A week later, she captured schooners, Sarah and Arctic, up the eastern branch of the Great Wicomico River
    Satellite's last score came on 17 August when she captured schooner, Two Brothers, near the Great Wicomico
  • Captured along with USS Reliance the night of 22 and 23 August 1863, off Windmill Point on the Rappahannock
    25 August, Satellite, now in Confederate hands, returned to the mouth of the Rappahannock seizing schooners, Golden Rod, Coquette and Two Brothers
  • Final Disposition, taken to Port Royal VA., Satellite and Reliance were stripped of useful parts and destroyed on 28 August to prevent recapture.
    Displacement 217 t.
    Length 120'7"
    Beam 22'9"
    Depth of Hold 8'6"
    Draft unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 43
    two 8" guns
    Propulsion steam, two paddlewheels

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    Size Image Description Source
    Ynakee 112k A Civil War line engravings from Frank Leslie's Illustrated, 1861. The upper engraving depicts the U.S. Potomac Flotilla in the Potomac between Freestone Point, VA., and Indian Head, MD., to prevent the passage of Confederates from Virginia to Maryland. Features seen include (from left to right):
    Tugboat Murray; USS Jacob Bell;
    Indian Head, Maryland;
    USS Yankee;
    USS Penguin;
    USS Satellite;
    USS Seminole;
    Confederate battery at Freestone Point; and the mouth of the Occoquan River.
    The lower engraving depicts a scene in Falls Village, Virginia, which was occupied by Federal troops. It shows Taylor's Tavern and the northern extremity of the town.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH NH 59240
    Robert Hurst
    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 Satellite (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 17 March 2017