- USS Key West (1862)
USS "Key West" (1862) was a steamer acquired by the
Union Navyduring the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a convoyand patrol vessel on Confederate waterways, only to be sunk, along with "Elfin" and "Tawah" by Confederate shore batteries.
"Key West" was built in
1862at California, Pennsylvania, as "Key West No. 8"; purchased by the Navy from W. S. Evans et al. at Cairo, Illinois, 16 April 1863; and commissioned 26 May, Acting Master E. M. King in command.
Assigned to operations on the Tennessee River
The wooden stern-wheel steamer departed Cairo that day for patrol duty in the
Tennessee River, supporting Union Armyefforts and protecting Federal positions in the Tennessee Valleyfrom Confederate Cavalry raids. Frequently, as she patrolled the river and escorted transports and supply ships, her guns engaged hit-and-run batteries and bands of riflemen.
Retiring downstream after being out-gunned
10 October 1864, as troops debarked at Eastport, Mississippi, from three transports "Key West" and "Undine" had escorted from Clifton, Tennessee, a hidden Confederate 6-gun battery at Eastport and a 3-gun battery near Chickasaw opened fire on the Union ships. After the Southern guns had set two of the transports on fire and damaged "Key West" with two rifle shots, the Union ships reluctantly retired downstream out-of-range.
"Tawah", "Key West" and "Elfin" lose a duel with superior Confederate batteries
2 Novemberat Johnsonville, Tennessee, "Key West" assisted "Tawah" in recapturing transport "Venus", taken along with "Undine" and "Cheeseman" by the Confederates there 30 October. On 4 November"Key West", "Tawah", and "Elfin" were caught in a narrow, shallow section of the river near Johnsonville by a Confederate force under General Nathan B. Forrest. After a vigorous action in which "Key West" was hit 19 times by rifled artillery, the 3 Union gunboats, riddled and almost out of ammunition, were set afire and scuttled.
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