Today in History:

Mount Washington (1861-1865)

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The 359 ton (burden) side-wheel steamship Mount Vernon was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1846 and operated in commercial service prior to the Civil War. She was seized by the War Department in April 1861 and turned over to the Navy, which placed her in commission as USS Mount Vernon. She was renamed Mount Washington in November 1861 to avoid confusion with another USS Mount Vernon. During her Navy service, she was employed on the Potomac River and other tributaries to Chesapeake Bay, watching Confederate activities in Virginia, towing other vessels and transporting troops and supplies.

In April and May 1863, Mount Washington actively engaged enemy forces on the Nansemond River, receiving serious damage on two occasions. She was used to transport troops during combat operations on the James River in August 1864. Mount Washington acted as a supply ship as the war approached its end in the spring of 1865, and, with the fighting over and the Navy reducing its forces, was sold in June of that year. She was thereafter the merchant steamer Mount Washington. The old ship was broken up in 1885.

This page features the only view we have related to USS Mount Washington, which was originally named Mount Vernon.

Photo #: NH 45740

"The U.S. Steamer Mount Vernon Reconnoitreing the Unfinished Rebel Batteries on Mathias Point, on the Virginia Bank of the Potomac, Sixty Miles below Washington."


Line engraving published in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", 1861, depicting a scene on the foredeck of USS Mount Vernon (later renamed Mount Washington) during her operations on the Potomac River in mid-1861. Note the 32-pounder smoothbore gun.



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