SS Yorktown (1859)

Drawing of Yorktown as CSS Patrick Henry, c.1898. Original by Clary Ray, now in the public domain.


Launched in 1859, Yorktown was a side-wheel steamer, with a brigantine rig. She was used to haul passengers and freight between Richmond and New York City, until she was commandeered by the Confederacy in 1861. Yorktown was converted to a gunboat, and renamed CSS Patrick Henry. Attached to the James River Squadron, Patrick Henry became the units first flagship, though she was still commonly called by her original name. She was used to support the Confederate Army operating near the James River, and tried to provoke the Union gunboats in Hampton Roads on several occasions, but with no success. On 8 and 9 March, 1862, Patrick Henry escorted the ironclad ram CSS Virginia on her attacks into Hampton Roads. She lost four men and all steam power when a Union shell hit her while she tried to accept the surrender of the USS Congress, but was back in action shortly. On the 9th, she fired on the USS Monitor from long range, leaving the main fighting to the Virginia. In May, 1862, she was evacuated to Drewry's Bluff, and designated an academy ship, housing the Confederate Naval Academy from October, 1863. Patrick Henry was burned to prevent capture 3 April, 1865.