USS Mississippi (1841) A Virtual Cemetery created by: Rubbings
Description: USS Mississippi, a paddle frigate, was the first ship of the United States Navy to bear that name. She was named for the Mississippi River. Her sister ship was Missouri. Her keel was laid down by the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1839; built under the personal supervision of Commodore Matthew Perry. She was commissioned on December 22, 1841, with Captain W. D. Salter in command and launched several weeks later.Service history Mexican-American WarAfter several years of service in the Home Squadron, during which she performed experiments crucial to development of the steam Navy, Mississippi joined the West Indian Squadron in 1845 as flagship for Commodore Perry. During the Mexican-American War, she took part in expeditions against Alvarado, Tampico, Pánuco, and Laguna de los Términos, all successful in tightening American control of the Mexican coastline and interrupting coastwise commerce and military supply operations.She returned to Norfolk for repairs on January 1, 1847, then arrived at Veracruz on March 21, carrying Perry to take command of the American fleet. At once she and her men plunged into amphibious operations against Veracruz, supplying guns and their crews to be taken ashore for the battery which fought the city to surrender in four days. Through the remainder of the war, Mississippi contributed guns, men, and boats to a series of coastal raids on Mexico's east coast, taking part in the capture of Tabasco in June. Mission to JapanMississippi cruised the Mediterranean Sea during 1849–1851, picking up Louis Kossuth on his way into exile, before returning to the United States to prepare for service as the flagship of Commodore Perry's momentous voyage to Japan. The squadron cleared Hampton Roads on November 24, 1852, for Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, which was reached May 4, 1853.The squadron now approached Japan by calls in the Ryukyu Islands and Bonin Islands, and entered Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853. Commodore Perry proceeded, in one of the most difficult, skillful, and significant naval/diplomatic missions ever recorded, to negotiate a trade treaty with the Japanese, hitherto absolutely opposed to opening their country to Western trade and influence. After further cruising in the Far East, Mississippi and the squadron returned to Japan on February 12, 1854 and on March 31 the Convention of Kanagawa was signed.Mississippi returned to New York City on April 23, 1855, and again sailed for the Far East on August 19, 1857, to base at Shanghai and patrol in support of America's burgeoning trade with the Orient. As the flagship for Commodore Josiah Tattnall, she was present during the British and French attack on the Chinese forts at Taku in June 1859, and two months later, she landed a force at Shanghai when the American consul requested her aid in restoring order to the city, torn by civil strife. She returned to ordinary at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1860, but was reactivated when the American Civil War became inevitable. Civil WarShe arrived off Key West, Florida, to institute the blockade there on June 8, 1861, and five days later made her first capture, the schooner Forest King bound with coffee from Rio de Janeiro to New Orleans, Louisiana. On November 27, off Northeast Pass, Mississippi River, she joined Vincennes in capturing the British bark Empress, again carrying coffee from Rio to New Orleans. The following spring, she joined Farragut's squadron for the planned assault on New Orleans. After several attempts, on April 7, 1862, she and Pensacola successfully passed over the bar at Southwest Pass, the heaviest ships ever to enter the river to that time.As Farragut brought his fleet up the river, a key engagement was that with Fort Jackson and Fort Saint Philip on April 24, during which Mississippi ran the Confederate ram Manassas ashore, wrecking her with two mighty broadsides. The city was now doomed, and Mississippi, her heavy draft making her less suitable to river operations than lighter ships, remained off New Orleans for much of the next year.Ordered upriver for the operations against Port Hudson, Louisiana, Mississippi sailed with six other ships lashed in pairs, while she sailed alone. On March 14, 1863, she grounded while attempting to pass the forts guarding Port Hudson. Under enemy fire, every effort was made to refloat her by Captain Melancton Smith and his executive officer George Dewey (later to achieve fame as an admiral). At last, her machinery was destroyed, her battery spiked, and she was fired to prevent Confederate capture. When the flames reached her magazines, she blew up and sank. U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Pinkerston R. Vaughn was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the abandonment of Mississippi. She lost 64 men, with the accompanying ships saving 223 of her crew.