Today in History:

Tecumseh (1864-1864)

USS Tecumseh, a 2100-ton Canonicus class monitor built at Jersey City, New Jersey, was commissioned in April 1864. She served on the James River, Virginia, during May-July 1864, supporting the operations of the Union army. While so occupied on 21 June, she took part in a gunfire action with Confederate fortifications and warships at Howlett's Farm.

Tecumseh was sent to join Rear Admiral Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron in July 1864, in order to participate in an attack on Mobile Bay, Alabama. In the morning of 5 August, she steamed slowly past Fort Morgan, at the mouth of Mobile Bay, leading a line of four monitors that were to cover the advance of the rest of the attacking squadron. While maneuvering to engage the Confederate ironclad ram Tennessee, Tecumseh struck an enemy mine, quickly rolled over and sank, with the loss of 92 of her crew.

During the mid-1960s, plans were made to raise the sunken monitor and place her on exhibit. Though Tecumseh's hull was partially explored and many small objects were recovered from her interior technical, legal and financial difficulties prevented full salvage. Upside down in relatively shallow water, she remains the best-preserved Civil War ironclad that is available to serve as an artifact of that great American conflict.

This page features all the views we have related to USS Tecumseh.

Photo #: NH 61473

"Destruction of the Monitor 'Tecumseh' by a Rebel Torpedo, in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864."

Line engraving, after a sketch by Robert Weir, published in "Harper's Weekly", 10 September 1864, depicting the loss of USS Tecumseh during the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Photo #: NH 42396

"Battle of Mobile Bay ... Passing Fort Morgan and the Torpedoes"

Print after an artwork by J.O. Davidson, 1886, depicting the Union and Confederate squadrons at the moment that USS Tecumseh sank after striking a mine ("torpedo").
Confederate ships (left foreground) are Morgan, Gaines and Tennessee. Union monitors visible astern of Tecumseh are Manhattan and Winnebago. USS Brooklyn is leading the outer line of Union warships, immediately followed by USS Hartford.

Courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.

Photo #: NH 42392

"Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864"

Reproduction of an 1864 pen & ink drawing by George S. Waterman, C.S.N., depicting the action as seen from above and inside the entrance to Mobile Bay.
Confederate ships present are (as identified on the drawing): Selma, Morgan, Gaines (shown twice, in the battle line, and beached off Fort Morgan after the battle) and Tennessee.
Union monitors shown are (from the front of the line): Tecumseh (sinking after striking a mine), Manhattan, Winnebago and Chickasaw. The leading two steam sloops in the Union line are Brooklyn and Hartford.
Small diagram in the lower right represents the various efforts by Union ships to ram the Tennessee later in the action.

Photo #: NH 79925

"Rescuing the Crew of the Monitor Tecumseh."

Artwork by Bacon, published in "Deeds of Valor", Volume II, page 65, by the Perrien-Keydel Company, Detroit, 1907.
It depicts Federal sailors in boats rescuing survivors of USS Tecumseh off Fort Morgan, Alabama, as the Battle of Mobile Bay rages around them.

Photo #: NH 83136

"Entrance of Rear Admiral Farragut in to Mobile Bay. August 5th 1864"

Chart of the action, prepared by RAdm. D.G. Farragut, Washington, D.C., March 1st, 1865.
See Photo # NH 83136 (complete caption) for further information, as printed on the original chart.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation.

Online Image: 277KB; 870 x 1200 pixels