USS Mississippi, a sidewheel steamer, was the first ship of
the United States Navy to bear
that name. She was named
for the Mississippi
River. Her keel was laid
down by the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1839; built under the personal supervision of
She was commissioned on December 22, 1841, with
Salter in command and launched several weeks
After several years of service in the Home
, during which she performed experiments crucial to
development of the steam Navy, Mississippi
West Indian Squadron
in 1845 as
flagship for Commodore Perry. During the Mexican-American War, she took part in
expeditions against Alvarado, Tampico, P√°nuco, and Laguna
de los T√©rminos, all successful in tightening American control
of the Mexican coastline and interrupting coastwise commerce and
military supply operations.
returned to Norfolk for repairs on January 1, 1847, then arrived at
Veracruz on March 21, carrying Perry to take command of the
At once she and her men plunged into
amphibious operations against
, supplying guns and their crews to be taken ashore for
the battery which fought the city to surrender in four days.
the remainder of the war, Mississippi contributed guns,
men, and boats to a series of coastal raids on Mexico‚Äôs east coast,
taking part in the capture of Tabasco in
Mission to Japan
Mississippi cruised the Mediterranean
Sea during 1849‚Äď1851, picking up Louis Kossuth on his way into exile.
returned to the United
States to prepare for service as the flagship of Commodore
Perry's momentous voyage to Japan.
squadron cleared Hampton
Roads on November 24, 1852, for Madeira, the
Cape of Good
Kong, and Shanghai, which was
reached May 4, 1853.
squadron now approached Japan by calls in the Ryukyu Islands and Bonin
Islands, and entered Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853.
Commodore Perry proceeded,
in one of the most difficult, skillful, and significant
naval/diplomatic missions ever recorded, to negotiate a trade
treaty with the Japanese, hitherto absolutely opposed to opening
their country to Western trade and influence. After further
cruising in the Far East, Mississippi
and the squadron
returned to Japan on February 12 , 1854 and on March 31 the
Convention of Kanagawa
Mississippi returned to New York City on April 23, 1855, and again sailed for the Far
East on August 19, 1857, to base at Shanghai and patrol in support of America's
burgeoning trade with the Orient.
As the flagship for
Commodore Josiah Tattnall
, she was
present during the British and French attack on the Chinese forts
in June 1859, and two months later, she
landed a force at Shanghai when the American consul requested her
aid in restoring order to the city, torn by civil strife.
returned to ordinary at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1860, but was reactivated when the American Civil War became
arrived off Key West,
Florida, to institute the blockade there on June 8, 1861,
and five days later made her first capture, the schooner Forest
King bound with coffee from Rio de
Janeiro to New Orleans, Louisiana.
On November 27, off Northeast Pass, Mississippi
, she joined in capturing the British bark
, again carrying coffee from Rio to New Orleans.
The following spring, she joined Farragut's squadron for the
planned assault on New Orleans. After several attempts, on April 7,
1862, she and successfully passed over the bar at Southwest Pass,
the heaviest ships ever to enter the river
to that time.
Farragut brought his fleet up the river, a key engagement was that
Jackson and Fort Saint Philip on April 24, during which Mississippi ran
the Confederate ram Manassas
ashore, wrecking her with two mighty broadsides.
was now doomed, and Mississippi
, her heavy draft making
her less suitable to river operations than lighter ships, remained
off New Orleans for much of the next year.
upriver for the operations against Port Hudson, Mississippi sailed with six other ships
lashed in pairs, while she sailed alone.
On March 14, 1863,
she grounded while attempting to pass the forts guarding Port
Hudson. Under enemy fire, every effort was made to refloat her by
Captain Melancthon Smith
executive officer George Dewey
to achieve fame as an admiral). At last, her machinery was
destroyed, her battery spiked, and she was fired to prevent
Confederate capture. When the flames reached her magazines, she
blew up and sank. She lost 64 men, with the accompanying ships
saving 223 of her crew.