Tuesday, May 13, 2008

USS Signal

I went to Wikipedia and did some research on the USS Signal, a ship I was unfamiliar with in the Civil War.

It was launched in 1862 and burned April 19, 1864. At 190 tons, 157 feet, 30 ft beam, it carried an armament of two 30-pdr Parrots, four 24-pdr howitzers, and two 12-pdr Dahlgren rifles.

It was called Tinclad #8 and at first used as a dispatch vessel. She was involved in the Yazoo River operations in November and Dec. 11, 1862, went up the Yazoo River to get information for a joint Army-Navy operation to outflank Vicksburg. She and the Marmosa discovered mines. Returned the next morning with the Cairo, Pittsburg, and Queen of the West to destroy them. The Cairo hit one detonated by Confederates onshore and sank in twelve minutes.

On January 4, 1863, the USS Signal went up the White River and took part in the attack on Fort Hindman which surrendered after a three day battle. From February to July 4th, the Signal probed the Yazoo River until Vicksburg fell. After that, she served as a dispatch vessel and stopped Confederate commerce on the Mississippi.


On April 19, 1864, she was ordered up the Red River to protect the coal and provision barges for Porter's Red River Expedition. On May 4, while taking dispatches from General Banks downriver when, 20 miles away, she was attacked by Confederate cavalry and continued fighting another four miles when it reached the USS Covington and army transport John Warner. The two ships continued the fight the rest of the day and into the night.

At daylight, the ships got underway and while rounding Dunn's Bayou, artillery and small arms fire disabled the transport. The Signal became disabled and ran aground. The crew set fire and escaped to shore where they were captured. The Covington and Warner were also burned to escape capture. About half of the Covington's crew escaped.

Quite a Loss for the US Navy That Day. --Old Blockade-R.