Today in History:

Lexington (1861-1865)

USS Lexington, a 448-ton side-wheel steamer, was built in 1860 at Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, for commercial use. She was acquired for the Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla in June 1861 and converted to a "timberclad" river gunboat, with officers to be provided by the Navy. Assigned to duty on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, Lexington took part in several actions with Confederate vessels and land forces during the last four months of 1861 and early 1862. In February 1862, she took part in the capture of Fort Henry and in other operations on the Tennessee River. During the next few months, she continued her activities in that area, participating in the great Battle of Shiloh in early April.

In June 1862, Lexington went up the White River and helped to bombard enemy positions at Saint Charles, Arkansas. She operated on the Mississippi during much of the rest of 1862 and was formally transferred to the Navy in October. November and December found her on the Yazoo, clearing "torpedoes" and bombarding the Confederates. Lexington was active in Arkansas and Tennessee in 1863, participating in the Capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas, in January, the defense of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in February, and the burning of Palmyra, Tennessee, in March. In March-May 1864, she took part in expeditions up the Black, Ouachita, and Red rivers in Louisiana, and helped defeat an attack on White River Station, Arkansas, in June. Following the end of the Civil War, USS Lexington was decommissioned in July 1865 and sold the following month.

This page features all our views of USS Lexington.

Photo #: NH 55322

USS Lexington (1861-1865)

Photographed on the Western Rivers during the Civil War.

Online Image: 75KB; 740 x 460 pixels

This photograph has occasionally been published with the ship identified, incorrectly, as USS Conestoga.

Photo #: NH 55833

USS Lexington (1861-1865)

Sepia wash drawing by F. Muller, circa 1900.

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C..

Photo #: NH 53870

USS General Price (1863-1865)

Off Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 18 January 1864, with USS Lexington in the left background.
The original print is mounted on a Carte de Visite.

Photo #: NH 59003-KN (Color)

"Gun-Boats Fitting Out at Cincinnati, Ohio, for Government Service on the Mississippi"

Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1861. This example has been hand-tinted in water colors.
The scene represents the conversion of the first "timber-clad" gunboats for the Western Gunboat Flotilla, in mid-1861. These ships were Conestoga, Lexington and Tyler, two of which are depicted here.

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC.

Photo #: NH 59004

"The Flotilla of Federal Gunboats for the Protection of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, Under the Command of Captain John Rodgers, U.S.N. -- From a Sketch by our Special Artist at Cairo, Illinois"

Line engraving published in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated ...", 1861, depicting the "timber-clad" gunboats Tyler, Lexington and Conestoga.

Photo #: NH 59589

"The 'Conestoga' and 'Lexington,' United States Gun-Boats on the Mississippi."

Line engraving, after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1861.
It depicts Conestoga on the right, with Lexington at left.

Photo #: NH 59002

"Commodore Foote's Gun-boat Flotilla on the Mississippi"

Line engraving after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862.
Ships are identified below the image as (from left to right): Mound City, Essex, Cairo, Saint Louis, Louisville, Benton, Pittsburg and Lexington.

Photo #: NH 1997

Battle of Belmont, Missouri
, 7 November 1861

Engraving published in Rear Admiral Henry Walke's "Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War in the United States ..." (1877), depicting the first attack by the gunboats Tyler and Lexington.

Photo #: NH 59000

"Fort Holt, Kentucky, Opposite Cairo."

Line engraving, after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in "Harper's Weekly", circa January 1862.
It depicts Fort Holt in the foreground. Background features identified on the print include (from left): "Gun-boat Lexington", Bird's Point, Mississippi River, Fort Cairo, Cairo (Illinois), and the Ohio River.

Photo #: NH 59057

"Battle at St. Charles, White River, Arkansas--Explosion of the 'Mound City'"

Line engraving after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862.
This action between Federal gunboats and Confederate shore batteries took place on 17 June 1862. USS Mound City was disabled by a shot that penetrated her steam drum, causing heavy casualties among her crew. Other U.S. ships present were the ironclad Saint Louis (seen in the right foreground) and "timberclads" Lexington and Conestoga. The gunboat in left center is one of the "timberclads".