USS Galena (1862)

Galena after being refitted as a wooden ship, 1864. US Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

At the start of the American Civil War, there was a great disparity in the capabilities of the Union and Confederate navies. The rebels began building ironclad warships, attempting to beat the Union with quality over quantity. The USS Galena was one of the first three designs the Union accepted in response. Laid down in 1861, Galena was commissioned 21 April, 1862, and deployed to Hampton Roads to reinforce the USS Monitor. Galena suffered from engine breakdowns, and during the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, 15 May, her armor proved to be inadequate to prevent Confederate shells from penetrating. In May, 1863, Galena was taken in hand at Philadelphia, and rebuilt as a wooden steam and sail sloop. She only retained armor around her engines. Back in service the following February, Galena was sent to the Gulf of Mexico, and participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay, where she was damaged by gunfire from Fort Morgan. After the Fort was silenced in August, Galena was sent to Florida, and then Philadelphia for repairs. Repairs were complete at the end of March, 1865, and Galena finished out the Civil War on Atlantic blockade duty. She decommissioned at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 17 June, and transferred back to Hampton Roads in 1869. She was broken up in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1870.

Bonus Photos

Watercolor of Galena as originally completed. Original by Oscar Parkes, c.1936, in the collection of the US Navy History & Heritage Command.