USS Hartford (1858)

Painting of the deck of USS Hartford with crewmembers manning their cannon. A Confederate ironclad is immediately upon the ship's broadside to the right. Admiral Farragut stands on a rope shroud overlooking the carnage.
"An August morning with Farragut; the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864" by William Heysham Overend

Courtesy Wadsworth Atheneum Musuem of Art

Photograph of USS Hartford sailing with full rigging.

The Fighting Flagship of Admiral Farragut

One of the most famous vessels constructed by the Navy Yard, the screw sloop USS Hartford served as the flagship of Adm. David Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay. Her reputation was such that she was routinely exempted from Congressional limitations on repairs on wooden-hulled ships after 1883, and she served as a training ship into the early 20th century. She is seen here under full sail in Long Island Sound on August 10, 1905. Neglect finally set in, however, and the ship sank at her berth at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in November 1956. She was refloated and dismantled shortly thereafter.

Photograph of USS Hartford with her masts fitted out. She is in a harbor with a waterfront area in th background.
USS Hartford, Ca. 1861-1865

Library of Congress

Construction of Hartford

Navy Yard workers laid the keel of USS Hartford on January 1, 1858 on the shipwways under Shiphouse H. The wooden vessel took shape over the ensuing months. After eleven months of work in the Shiphouse, Hartford was launched on November 22, 1858. Hundreds of people turned out to watch the launch. People packed Shiphouse H and the adjacent piers to see the spectacle of Hartford siding into the sea for the first time. Following launch, Hartford entered Dry Dock 1 for caulking of her hull while workers and engineers completed and installed her two steam boilers and the engine. The machinery was built and installed by the Boston firm Harrison Loring, as the yard did not yet have the capabilities to machine and cast their own boilers and engines. Completed and fully outfitted, Hartford entered commission on May 27, 1859 and left for her first cruise by the next month.

Hartford was built in just over fifteen months. Though from the outside she still took the form of sailing ship, steam power played a considerable role in her design and inner-workings. Though she could only steam for 13 days without resupplying with coal, she could carry provisions for a crew of 266 for up to eighty days and had a water distilling plant on board to produce freshwater out at sea. This meant that under sail she could operate virtually independently while crossing vast oceans, and when under steam she could attain speeds that could outmaneuver an enemy. In a sense, screw sloops like USS Hartford featured the original hybrid technology.

Last updated: December 18, 2016

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