USS Minnesota  

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Minnesota

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Minnesota

Minnesota, a territory organized in 1849 and named for a Sioux Indian word meaning "Sky-tinted water," was admitted to the Union 11 May, the 32nd State.

Minnesota, a wooden steam frigate, was laid down in May 1854 by Washington Navy Yard, launched 1 December 1855, sponsored by Miss Suson L. Mann, and commissioned 21 May 1857, Capt. S. F. Dupont in command.

Minnesota, carrying William B. Reed, U.S. Minister to China, departed Norfolk 1 July 1857 for the Orient. Dnring her service with the East India Squadron, she visited mally of the principal ports of China and Japan before departing Hong Kong to bring Mr. Reed home with a ne\vly negotiated Treaty of Commerce with China. Upon arrival in Boston 2 June 1859, Minnesota decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard, 2 June 1859 and remained in ordinary until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Minnesota recommissioned 2 May 1861, Capt. G. J. Van Brlmt in command, and became flngship of the Atlantic Blockading Squndron, commanded by k'lag Offlcer Silas Stringham. She arrived Hampton Roads 13 May and the next day captured schooners Afary Willis, Delaware Farmer, and Emily Ann. Minnesota took bark Winfred on the 25th and bark Sally McGee 26 June. Schooner Sally Gears became her prize 1 July and bark Mary Warick struck her colors to the steam frignte on the 10th.

Minnesota led n joint Army-Nnvy expedition against two important Confederate forts which had been erected at Hatteras Inlet, N.C. The squadron opened fire on Fort Clark on the morning of 28 August 1861 forcing the Confedernte gunners to abandon the fort at noon. The following day, the fire of the squadron was concentrated on Fort EIatteras. The bombardment was so effective the Confederates were compelled to seek cover in bom,b shelters and surrendered.

When Flag Offlcer Louis M. Goldsborough relieved Stringham in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron 23 September, he selected Minnesota as his flng ship.

While blockading off Hampton Roads, 8 March 1862, Minnesota sighted three Confedernte ships, Jamestown, Patrick Henry, and Virginia—the former Merrimack, rebuilt and protected by iron plates—rounding Sewell's Point and heading toward Newport News. Minnesota slipped her cables and got underway to engage the southern warships. When about 11/2 miles from Newport News, Minnesota grounded.

Meanwhile Virginia passed frigate Congress and rammed sloop-of-war Cumberland. Virginia then engaged Congress compelling her to surrender. Then Virfinia, Jameatown, and Patrick Henry bombarded Minnesota
killing and wounding several of her crew before the Union warship's heavy guns drove them off.Minnesota also fired upon Virginia with her pivot gun. Townrd twilight the southern iron-clad withdrew toward Norfolk.

The recoil from her broadside guns forced Minnesota further upon the mud bank. All night togs worked to haul her off, but to no nvail. However, during the night Monitor arrived. Eary the next morning Virginia reappeared. As the range closed, Monitor, steaming between Minnesota and the irol-clad, fired gun after gun, and Virginia returned fire with whole broadsides, neither with much apparent effect. Virginia, finding she could not hurt monitor, turned her attention to Minnesota, who answered with all guns. Virginia fired from her rifled bow gun a shell which passed through the chief engineer's stateroom, through the engineers' mess room, amidships nud burst in the bontswnin's room, exploding two charges of powder, starting a fire which was promptly extinguished.

At midday Virginia withdrew toward Norfolk and the Union Navy resumed its efforts to refloat.lIinnesota Early the next morning steamer S. R. Spaulding and several tugs managed to refloat the frigate and she anchored opposite Fort Monroe for temporary repairs.

For the next few years she served as flagship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. While anchored off Newport News 9 April 1864, Minnesota was attacked by Confedernte torpedo boat Squibwho exploded n torpedo charge alongside without causing damage and escaped.

On 24 and 25 December, Minnesota took pnrt in amphibious operations at Fort Fisher which guarded Wihllington, N.C. During the landings she took a position about a mile from the fort and laid down a devastnting barrage on the Conferedate stronghold. However, Gen. B. F. Butler
wlthdrew his troops nullltying the gains won by the Joint Army-Navy effort. Three weeks later the Union Navy returned Federal Troops, now commanded by the more vigorous General Terry, to Fort Fisher. A landing force of 240 men from Minnesota, covered by a barrage from their own ship, participated in the successful assault. This operation closed Wilmington, denying the Confederacy the use of this invaluable port.

Ordered to Portsmouth, N.H.,Minnesota decommissioned 16 February 1865. She recommissioned 3 June 1867, and made n cruise with midshipmen to Europe. She was placed in ordinary at the New York Navy Yard, 13 January 1868. Recommissioned 12 June 1875, she remained at the New York Navy Yard as gunnery and training ship for naval apprentices. In October 1895, she was loaned to the ~Massachusetts Naval Militia, continuing that duty until August 1901 when she was sold to Thomas Butler & Co. of Boston. She eventually was burned at Eastport, Maine.