Today in History:

Connecticut (1861-1865)

Mississippi, a 1725-ton wooden side-wheel steamship built at New York in 1861, was purchased by the Navy in July of that year. Following conversion to a warship, she was commissioned as USS Connecticut in August 1861. During the rest of the year and for most of 1862 she served as a transport, carrying supplies and personnel in support of the Navy's blockade of the Confederate coast from Virginia to Texas. During this time, Connecticut also captured several sailing blockade runners.

From December 1862 until June 1863, Connecticut was employed as a convoy and tow ship, stationed off Aspinwall, Panama. She was then assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, where she performed well against vessels attempting to carry cargo to and from the rebellious Southern states. Between September 1863 and May 1864, Connecticut participated in the capture or destruction of six blockade running steamers and a schooner. She made another supply voyage in the summer and early fall of 1864, then underwent repairs that lasted until February 1865.

Connecticut's final tour of duty, along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, took place as the Civil War came to an end and the Navy began its post-war demobilization. Decommissioned in mid-August 1865 and sold a month later, she was soon renamed South America and began a commercial career that lasted until she was broken up in 1879.

This page features all the views we have related to USS Connecticut (1861-1865) and the civilian steamships Mississippi (1861) and South America (1865-1879.

Photo #: NH 55349

USS Connecticut

Photograph taken during the Civil War.
The original print is mounted on a carte de visite.

Photo #: NH 50446

USS Connecticut

Artwork by Xanthus Smith, circa 1863.

Photo #: NH 59586

USS Connecticut

Line engraving, published in "Harper's Weekly", in 1861, depicting the ship undergoing conversion for Naval service, at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, in July 1861.
She was originally the civilian steamship Mississippi.

Photo #: NH 59315

"The Great Naval Expedition" to capture Port Royal, South Carolina, November 1861

Engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1861 volume, pages 696-697.
It depicts Federal warships and transports, under Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont, USN, departing Hampton Roads, Virginia, en route to Port Royal.
Ships, as identified below the image bottom, are (from left): (illegible), Oriental, Baltic, USS O.M. Pettit, USS Gem of the Sea, Great Republic, USS Wabash (DuPont's flagship), USS Seneca, USS Pembina, USS Connecticut, tug Mercury, USS Unadilla, USS Augusta, USS Alabama and (illegible).

Photo #: NH 59059

"Commodore Farragut's Squadron and Captain Porter's Mortar Fleet entering the Mississippi River"

Line engraving based on a sketch by an officer of USS Mississippi, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, depicting the scene 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.

Photo #: NH 63890

Steamship South America

Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1948, painted for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume I.
Built at New York City in 1861 as the civilian steamship Mississippi, she served as USS Connecticut in 1861-1865 and was renamed South America after her return to commercial employment in 1865.

Courtesy of Erik Heyl.