USS Walter Forward

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Walter Forward

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Walter Forward

(RC: t. 160; a. 6 9-pdrs.)

Walter Forward—a schooner built in 1841 by William Easby at Washington, D.C., for service as a cutter in the Revenue Marine—was delivered to that service at Washington on 23 April 1842. Operating out of Baltimore, Md., she served with the Revenue Marine until 1846. On 16 May of that year, soon after hostilities broke out with Mexico, Walter Forward was ordered to sail to Philadelphia, make repairs there, and then to join the naval forces in the Gulf of Mexico as soon as possible. She set sail for the gulf on 23 May in company with another cutter, Ewing, and arrived at South West Pass of the Mississippi River on 19 June. There General Zachary Taylor ordered the ship to blockade a stretch of the Mexican coast near Soto la Marina and capture any ships engaged in trade with the enemy. That and similar missions occupied her mid-summer. On 23 August, she received orders to report for duty with Commodore David Conner's naval squadron off Tampico. Four days later, she entered the anchorage at Anton Lizardo and began patrolling off Tampico. That assignment lasted until the middle of September, at which time she moved farther down the coast to join the blockade of Veracruz.

In mid-October, she joined a force commanded by Matthew Calbraith Perry. On the 15th, Perry's ships attempted to cross the bar at the mouth of the Alvarado River. The steamer Vixen led the way and succeeded in making her crossing, and Walter Forward followed in tow of sister revenue cutter McLane. McLane grounded on the bar while the three ships she towed fouled each other's towlines. Vixen engaged the Mexican batteries on shore but, when it became apparent that McLane would never succeed in getting across the bar, she and her tows retired. Luckily, McLane came off the bar, and all American ships retired.

The next day, however, Walter Forward set sail for a similar, but far more successful, operation at the mouth of the Tabasco River on the Yucatan peninsula. Successfully navigating the bar on the 23d, the force quickly seized the town of Frontera and took several prizes in the process. Walter Forward and the other small steamers attached to Perry's force then continued the foray, sailing 74 miles up the river through hostile territory to the town of Tabasco. There, they seized additional enemy shipping—before returning to the ocean on the 26th. However, Walter Forward remained at Frontera until late November, engaged in the destruction of the captured Mexican shipping. She departed the area on 21 November and returned to the base at Anton Lizardo on the 23d.

In December, the revenue cutter left the Mexican coast to carry dispatches to Belize City in British Honduras. She returned to blockade duty on 7 February 1847 and took station off Veracruz once again on the 9th. She continued routine blockade operations at various points along the eastern coast of Mexico until April. On the 15th, she received orders to set sail for Wilmington, Del. Voyaging by way of New Orleans, La., she reached her destination on 23 May.

She underwent repairs during the summer of 1847 and, that fall, transferred to the cognizance of the Coast Survey. Walter Forward completed that duty in mid December and resumed service with the Revenue Marine at Wilmington. She performed routine Revenue Marine duty for most of the remainder of her active career. During the Civil War, Walter Forward participated in troop transport convoys in the Chesapeake and took part in one small skirmish at the mouth of Wicomico River in Virginia. Her career ended soon after the end of that war. Her sale was ordered at Baltimore on 30 November 1865.
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