Featured Character – Divided Allegiances
Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical
The USS Miami was a side-wheel gunboat commissioned
at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on November 16, 1861. The ship quickly
received orders to join David Glasgow Farragut’s squadron tasked with capturing
Orleans. Assigned to the
Mortar Flotilla, the Miami
provided covering fire as Farragut’s fleet sailed by the Confederate
positions at Fort St. Philip and Fort
After helping retake Pensacola,
from Confederate forces, the side-steamer rejoined Farragut’s squadron.
During the run past Vicksburg’s
guns on June 28, 1863, the Miami
once again gave covering fire for Farragut. Following Vicksburg’s surrender, the
Union Navy transferred the Miami
to patrol duty in Virginia
on the James River.
In November 1864, she became part of the coastal squadron operating in North
Carolina. As word
spread of a Confederate ironclad under construction on the upper reaches of the
Roanoke River, Union commanders ordered the Miami
and the Southfield
to support the Union garrison at Plymouth.
On April 19, 1864, the CSS Albemarle
sailed down the Roanoke
to join battle with the Union fleet. In an attempt to trap the ironclad,
naval Commodore Charles W. Flusser ordered chains hung between the two Union
vessels. However, the Albemarle
recognized the Union ruse, and rammed the Southfield.
After Flusser’s death, the captain of the Miami
cut her chains and ran for the Albemarle
Sound. Severely damaged during the battle, the Miami spent
time in dry-dock before resuming patrols on the James
River. Decommissioned after the war, the Miami was sold as surplus in August 1865.