Today in History:

Wateree (1864-1868)

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USS Wateree, a 1173-ton Sassacus class "double-ender" steam gunboat, was built at Chester, Pennsylvania. Unlike her numerous wooden sister ships, she was constructed with an iron hull. Commissioned in January 1864, Wateree was sent around Cape Horn to the Pacific, arriving at San Francisco, California, for post-voyage repairs in November 1864. From early 1865 until mid-1868, the gunboat patrolled along the west coasts of Central and South America as a unit of the South Atlantic Squadron.

On 13 August 1868, while she was at the Port of Arica, Peru (later part of Chile), a huge tidal wave struck the anchorage, breaking several ships loose from their anchors and casting them ashore. Wateree was carried nearly five-hundred yards inland, where she was deposited relatively intact. However, refloating and repairing her would have been impossibly expensive, so she was sold where she lay in November 1868. Reportedly, her hulk was subsequently employed as an inn.

This page features all our views of USS Wateree.

Photo #: NH 43999

USS Wateree
(1864-1868)

Beached at Arica, Chile, 430 yards above the usual high water mark, after she was deposited there by a tidal wave on 13 August 1868.
Her iron hull was reasonably intact, but salvage was not economical, and she was sold where she lay.

Courtesy of Murray Greene Day.



Photo #: NH 43759

USS Wateree
(1864-1868)

Stranded at Arica, Chile, after she was washed ashore by the 13 August 1868 tidal wave.
The Peruvian corvette America is partially visible in the distance.

Courtesy of Mrs. A.B. Hendrickson, from the collection of her father, the late Rear Admiral Luther G. Billings.



Online Image: 138KB; 740 x 605 pixels

Note:
This image may be reversed. The orientation of ships is the opposite of that of other photographs of this incident.

Photo #: NH 42226

USS Wateree
(1864-1868)

Beached at Arica, Chile, after she was washed ashore by a tidal wave on 13 August 1868.
Partially dismasted ship stranded in the left distance is the Peruvian warship America.

Halftone image, copied from the U.S. Naval Institute "Proceedings", July 1926, page 1323.



Photo #: NH 42227

USS Wateree
(1864-1868)

Painting in primitive style, depicting the gunboat stranded at Arica, Chile, after she was washed ashore by a tidal wave on 13 August 1868.

Courtesy of Mrs. A.B. Hendrickson, from the collection of her father, the late Rear Admiral Luther G. Billings.



Photo #: NH 496

America
(Peruvian Warship)

Beached and partially dismasted at Arica, Chile, following the 13 August 1868 tidal wave that washed her and other vessels ashore. Photographed from the seaward side.
Ship in the distance, beyond America's bow, is USS Wateree.

This photograph was received from Captain Dudley W. Knox in 1934.



Note: In addition to the views shown above, our Photo # NH 43866 shows a ship that may be USS Wateree

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