|Ens Edward Winnemore|
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|USS Yantic (IX-32), a wooden-hulled screw gunboat built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, was launched on 19 March 1864 and commissioned on 12 August 1864, Lieutenant Commander Thomas C. Harris in command. She was named after the Yantic River.|
Civil War, 1864–1865
The day after her commissioning, 13 August, 1864, Yantic — in company with the tugs Aster and Moccasin — sailed in pursuit of the Confederate privateer CSS Tallahassee. The gunboat went to the northward and eastward of Nantucket during her cruise but, as her commanding officer reported, "obtained no information to justify a longer search for the piratical vessel." Consequently, after a week at sea, Yantic returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and commenced her post-trial repairs.
Meanwhile, CSS Tallahassee had left Halifax, Nova Scotia, at 13:00 on 20 August, before any Federal warships could arrive, setting in motion a search. Agitation in Washington over Tallahassee resulted in Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles' sending identical telegrams to the commandants of the navy yards at New York and Philadelphia on the 20th, each asking what vessels were ready for sea.
Yantic subsequently received orders directing her to proceed to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she was to await further orders. She arrived there at 10:00 on 13 September. Yantic later operated off the eastern seaboard between Hampton Roads and New York and, on 1 November, visited Halifax — a port swarming with "secessionists and other sympathizers" — to obtain information on the activities of CSS Olustee (as the Confederates had renamed Tallahassee).
After the Confederate ship had managed to elude her pursuers, Yantic joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Wilmington, North Carolina. During the Union's first attempt to take Fort Fisher, N.C., on Christmas Eve 1864, the screw gunboat suffered her first casualties. At 15:00 that afternoon, during the bombardment phase of the action, the ship's 100-pounder rifled gun burst, mortally wounding the division officer, the gun captain, and four men. On his own initiative, Commander Harris — thinking his ship "badly shattered" and not knowing the extent of the damage — ordered his ship hauled out of line. After obtaining medical assistance from the steamer Fort Jackson and reporting the assessed damage to the flagship Malvern, Harris took Yantic back into action, opening fire with his remaining effective guns, the 30-pounder rifle and a 9-inch Dahlgren gun.
On Christmas Day 1864, Yantic assisted in the debarking of the troops of General Benjamin Butler and covered the landing operations. At 1400, on the 25th, as Lieutenant Commander Harris later reported, the troops landed "amidst deafening and encouraging cheers from the men-of-war and from the troops still aboard the transports, cheers which were echoed by the fleet by a fire that elicited but a feeble response from the fort." General Butler, however, "to the surprise and mortification of all" (as Harris later recounted), recalled the troops; and the landing operation ceased.
The first Union attempt to reduce and take Fort Fisher thus proved to be a dismal failure; but, before another attempt was made, General Butler was replaced by a more dynamic and aggressive man, Major General Alfred Terry. Yantic provided a landing party and gunfire support for the second amphibious attack that commenced on 13 January 1865. In the action — a bloody one in which the sailors and marines of the naval landing force charged on the run into withering Confederate gunfire and suffered accordingly grievous casualties in the frontal assault — Fort Fisher was finally taken on 15 January. During the battle, Yantic lost three men — two on 15 January and one, who had been wounded mortally on the 15th, who died on the 20th.
The next month, Yantic participated in the capture of Fort Anderson, N.C., between 17 and 19 February, in her second major landing operation in a little over a month. For the remainder of the Civil War, Yantic served on blockade duties, as part of the successful Union interdiction operation, preventing trade by sea with the Confederacy.
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