USS New Berne

USS New Berne (1862)

USS New Berne (1862) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

She served the Navy primarily as a supply ship but, as a Union ship of the blockade of the waterways of the Confederate States of American, she was also responsible to take on the role of a gunship when the opportunity presented itself.

Built as a steamer at New York City in 1862

Screw steamer, United States, built at New York City in 1862 was purchased by the Navy at New York City 27 June 1863 from Wakeman, Dimon & Co.; and commissioned at New York Navy Yard 15 August 1863, Acting Vol. Lt. Thomas A. Harris in command.

Civil War service

Assigned to the North Atlantic blockade

Designated a supply ship, New Berne departed New York 1 September 1863 to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. For the remainder of the war, she carried mail, supplies, officers, and seamen from Northern ports to and from the ships and stations of her squadron.

In pursuit of Confederate blockade runners

From time to time her performance of this vital but unspectacular duty was enlivened by pursuit of a blockade runner. She departed Newport News, Virginia, before dawn 11 December hunting a “steamer burning soft coal” reportedly attempting to run the blockade near the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.

She did not catch this elusive steamer but had better luck the following spring when she chased steamer Pevensey aground near Beaufort, North Carolina, 9 June 1864. Shortly thereafter the blockade runner, carrying arms, lead, bacon, and uniforms for Robert E. Lee’s army, exploded. She scored again 16 December 1864 when, with Mount Vernon, she captured and burned schooner G. O. Bigelow in ballast at Bear Inlet, North Carolina.

Post-war service and decommissioning

After the war, New Berne continued service as a supply ship, but for two periods in ordinary, 5 December 1866 to 8 February 1867 and 5 April to 26 November 1867, until decommissioning 29 March 1868.

She was transferred to the U.S. War Department at Washington, D.C. 1 December 1868.

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