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The published literature on the famous schooner America has emphasized her yachting achievements and racing honors. * Although this article will take the America from the builder’s yard to the breaker’s yard, it will emphasize some significant details regarding her naval service. , .
During her varied and eventful naval career, the America symbolized American skill >n ship construction and seamanship; served specifically as a blockade runner, a Pampered pet, a practice ship for midshipmen, and, last but not least, she took an active part in the tedious and often hazardous task of blockading Southern ports thus keeping supplies from reaching the Confederacy. This last duty was considered one of ^e most effective weapons employed by the Union during the War Between the States. The America’s survival for many years under such trying conditions is a P ibute to the skill of her shipbuilders.
The America was financed by a group of six New York Yacht Club members; ^ommodore John Cox Stevens, Edwin A. Stevens, George L. Schuyler, Colonel James A. Hamilton, Hamilton Wilkes, and John K. Beekman Finlay. Commodore Stevens chose his friend, George Steers, to design and build her. It was Steers who hudt the pilot boat Mary Taylor for Captain Richard Brown, a noted New \ ork pilot. The Mary Taylor had a radically different form from the then existing pilot fleet, which enabled her to be a very fast vessel, and it is said that the America was a further
impr°vement Qn jler jjnes
The America was built at William H. Brown’s shipyard at the foot of East 1-th Street in New York City. Her stipulated building price was $30,000. Her delivery hate was to have been 1 April 1851, but due to inclement weather she was not launched "ntil 3 May. Not being outfitted for sailing when launched, it was not until 17 May ‘hat she went on a trial run against the sloop Maria, a famous yacht owned by the Sevens brothers. During these trials, the America lost her main gaff and foremast, and it became evident that her spars were too light, but her builders were confident ‘hat with heavier spars she would live up to expectations. In the meanwhile, time was n'nning out for the proper season to send her to England to race, so the backers made an offer to the shipyard of $20,000 in cash and a release from further trials. This offer "’as accepted, and, after the necessary alterations were completed, she was delivered
0 her owners, on 18 June. „
°n the morning of 21 June 1851, the America, under Captain Richard Brown, a Part-owner of the Mary Taylor, and a crew of 12, was towed down to Sandy Hook and °°k her departure, bound for Le Havre, France, which she reached after a good passage of 20 days. She spent about three weeks refitting and on 31 July sailed for P'°wes, England. On her arrival, a formal challenge was sent to the Royal Yacht Club ^ match her against any of the English schooners, but there were no takers, so the challenge was modified to include yachts of any rig. The stake was any sum from ’U0° to 10,000 guineas, the only stipulation being that the breeze had to be six knots °r more. There was no response to this challenge either, although Robert Stephenson ater agreed to pit his schooner, Tllama, against the America for a 20-mile race to wind- Vard ar>d return, for 100 pounds. This offer was accepted and the date set for the atch was 28 August. In the meantime, Commodore Stevens was notified by the t, °yal Yacht Squadron that on 22 August there would be an open regatta around ^ Isle of Wight, without restrictions as to rig or otherwise, and that the America d be welcomed as a competitor. The trophy was the Hundred Guinea Cup, to lc the America was to give her name.
4mJ aitiCUlarly helPfu* in this summary of the yachting career of the America have been The Yacht son ? by Thompson, Stevens, and Swan; and History oj the America’s Cup, by Lawson and Thomp- ee also the Professional Reading listing on page 129.
The invitation was accepted, and on the day appointed, the America was at the line waiting for the starting signal. There were 15 starters: 7 schooners and 8 cutters. At 1000, the starting gun was fired and the yachts got underway. The America was in last place. It was customary in those days to start a race from “at anchor,” instead of using a sailing start. The America overran her anchor and slewed around; her sails had to be lowered. But having on deck 21 people, consisting of her owners, her regular crew, a Cowes pilot, and some seamen who had been lent her by the yacht Surprise, the sails were again set with little loss of time. By 1130, she had the entire squadron behind her. It will be noted that the America was rigged pilot boat fashion; that is, without fore topmast and jib-boom. Just before the race, however, it was decided that she might do better with a flying jib, so a flying jib and a jib-boom were obtained. Both the sail and the spar were made by Michael Ratsey of Cowes.
During the race, this spar carried away, but even with the time it took to clear the wreckage, together with the loss of the flying jib’s area in the light airs that followed, her opponents could not catch her, for when the breeze freshened, she was still in the lead. She held the lead until the finish. Second place went to the 47-ton cutter, Aurora. Next was the 80-ton cutter, Bacchante, followed by the 50-ton cutter, Eclipse. Fifth place went to the 392-ton, three-masted schooner, Brilliant. These were the only yachts in the regatta which were timed.
The event was so important and aroused so much interest that Queen Victoria witnessed it from the royal yacht, Victoria & Albert. The Queen was impressed with the America and on the following day, with the Prince Consort and her suite, she visited the America. After a thorough inspection, she complimented the owners and crew on the cleanliness on board.
Six days after the Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta, there occurred the race between the America and the Titania. There was a strong breeze from the NNW in the morning, which increased to a fresh gale in the afternoon. This made it an ideal day, as both vessels looked forward to just such weather. The America beat her opponent by 52 minutes on a course that took them to a point 20 miles from Nab Light and return, the sail back being a thrash to windward.
The America’s Cup.
After this event, the America was offered for sale. She was purchased for $25,000 by ord John de Blaquiere, who started to fit her out at once for a long cruise across the Mediterranean. In the latter part of November 1851, she sailed from Plymouth, manned by an English crew. While in the Mediterranean, she encountered a violent gale which she rode out undamaged. A letter from the owner from Malta, written on 6 February 1852, has this to say of her performance:
She is a vessel of remarkable speed and buoyancy. She will lie within four points of the wind and do her fifteen knots an hour with ease. [!] Since leaving England, she has had her share of heavy weather, and if there is any truth in the prognostics of her detractors that her masts would carry away in heavy weather—there was every possible opportunity of their being realized; but the pretty craft nobly did her duty, doing her fourteen knots, and running with her jib set, and setting all bad weather at defiance.
ftcr the America returned to England in the early summer of 1852, Lord de Blaquiere Entered her in the Queen’s Cup race, held on 22 July. There were six starters, of which (,)'1 r' finished in the following order: Arrow, cutter, 102 tons; Mosquito, cutter, 50 tons, ‘}m.erica^ schooner, 170 tons; Zephretta, schooner, 180 tons. In the next race, which was neld in October, the America was matched against the Swedish schooner, Sverige, a I’^sel of 280 tons, considerably larger than the America, but similar in rig. In this race, America regained her prestige, beating her opponent by 26 minutes.
After this race, the America's log is very vague until 1856, when she was sold to Henry Upton, Viscount Templetown, who listed her in the Royal Yacht Squadron J the Camilla. While under this burgee, she did not have a very active career. Most of of H time she was laid UP on the Cowes mud flats, where she succumbed to the ravages ry rot. By 1858, her condition called for extensive repairs, p. H^r next owner was Henry S. Pitcher, a member of the shipbuilding firm of George pitcher & Son of Northfleet, who seemed to have done an excellent job of rebuilding Bhout changing her original form. It was at this time that the spread eagle which aCpd her stern was removed. For many years it adorned a hotel at Ryde. In 1912, e 0yal Yacht Squadron presented the eagle to the New York Yacht Club, where ^ presently reposes. In July of 1860, the Camilla was sold to Henry Decie of North- au'ptonshire, a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club-
In the fall of 1860, the Camilla was fitted out for an extended cruise to the West Indies. She was next heard of in Savannah, Georgia, where Captain Decie continued to live on board while mingling with the influential people of the city, who were at that time mustering their forces in support of the new Confederate States of America. The Camilla was an ideal dispatch boat, and as such she appears to have sailed from Savannah for England with Confederate agents who were on a mission to purchase war supplies. The following is a letter (in part) from the Secretary of the Navy to Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont, U. S. Navy:
Navy Department October 2, 1861
Sir: The following is a copy of a letter, without name, addressed to the Secretary of War, and by him referred to this department. Although the name is withheld, the facts stated are interesting and valuable.
“Edward Anderson, formerly in the Navy, went to Europe some months since in the English yacht (formerly the America), as said, partly to buy two ironplated steam war vessels. Commodore Tattnall, with a fleet of gunboats, made from the river towboats and steamers, armed with heavy guns, has been for sometime waiting their arrival to assist in driving off any United States vessel or vessels that may be off the bar at that time.”
She apparently arrived safely in England, because she was entered in a regatta given by the Queenstown Yacht Club, of Queenstown, Ireland on 28 June 1861. There were four contestants and they finished in the following order: Camilla, La Traviata, Urania, and Echo. Her last race in British waters was on 5 August against the schooner Alarm. Camilla was defeated in this contest.
There do not seem to be any records of her movements after this until March 1862, when she was found scuttled in Dunn’s Creek, 70 miles above Jacksonville, Florida. It was rumored that Captain Decie sold the Camilla to the Confederacy in the latter part of 1861 for $60,000. She was renamed the Memphis and was to be fitted out as a cruiser, but being blockaded in the St. John’s River by Federal ships, she was scuttled by the Confederates. Apparently she never saw service under the name of Memphis, as records fail to show her in the Confederate roster under that name.
During the months of March and April 1862, after the occupation of Jacksonville by Federal troops, Lieutenant T. H. Stevens went in command of the first expedition up the St. John’s River, and it was he who discovered the hiding place of the America. The circumstances involved in the discovery are best explained in the following official correspondence:
U. S. Gunboat Ottawa Off Jacksonville, Fla., March 17, 1862
Sir: I go up this evening in the Ellen with the two armed boats from the Wabash, in com
pany with the Darlington, which latter vessel is now here to capture, if possible, the yacht America and steamer St. Mary’s. When the objects in view have been fully accomplished,
I shall make a full report of what has transpired since separating from the flagship.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. H. Stevens
Lieutenant, Commanding, and Senior Officer Present
Flag-Officer S. F. DuPont, Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Expedition in St.John's River, Florida, March 18-25, 1862, and discovery and raising °f C. S. Yacht America
U. S. Gunboat Ottawa Off Jacksonville, March 28, 1862
S*r: I returned this morning with the launch and cutter of the Wabash and the steamers
Darlington and Ellen from Dunn’s Creek with the yacht America, which, after a week’s hard labor and valuable assistance of Lt. Irwin, Acting Master Budd, and First Assistant Engineer Dungan, I succeeded in raising and bring to this place where I shall keep her awaiting your instructions.
She is without ground tackle or sails and almost everything else but her lower masts, bowsprit, gaffs, and some light spars.
Lieutenant T. H. Stevens
Additional report of Lieutenant Stevens commanding USS Ottawa
U. S. Gunboat Ottawa, Port Royal, April 23, 1862
Sir: As you intimated it would be interesting to know more of the circumstances con
nected with the recovery of the yacht America than was contained in my official ieport, 1 have to inform you that the day after the occupation of Jacksonville I proceeded up the river as far as Palatka, and there met a person who informed me in general terms as to her whereabouts and that of the steamer St. Mary’s. On my way down on board the Ellen, a boat was discovered with two persons in it, to which we gave chase, when as we neared 'he shore the boat was abandoned. Upon searching the boat a letter was discovered from a Mr- Hemming, the person who was employed to sink the yacht and the steamer, giving all 'he information desired I reached Jacksonville the same evening, and the next morning 1 started in the Darlington, with the Ellen and the launches of the Wabash, for Dunn’s Creek "'here I found the yacht sunk in about 3 fathoms of water, only her port rail being above 'va'er. Leaving the Ellen to protect her from any further injury, I proceeded on in the Darlington, with the two boats of the Wabash, through Dunn’s Lake into Haw Creek, a distance of about 140 miles from Palatka, and there found the St. Mary's, a fine and valuable steamer, also sunk. . .
As we had no suitable purchases to raise the vessels, 1 returned to Jacksonville in the Darlington for them, leaving the Ellen with the boats named, alongside of the yacht to make preparations for raising her. Finally, after procuring such imperfect means as I c°uld find, and after a week’s hard and laborious effort on the part of all the command, °ur efforts were successful in raising the America, and I have to report hei safe arrival in 'his place, where she was towed by the Ottawa, and where she awaits your orders.
T he America was brought to Jacksonville by a Lord Dacy, and, I am well infoimed, was sold to the Confederate Government some four months ago (at which time she ran the blockade) for the sum of $60,000. It is asserted and generally believed she was bought by 'he rebels for the purpose of carrying Slidell and Mason to England.
T. H. Stevens Lieutenant, Commanding Ottawa
Elag Officer, S. F. DuPont
Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
^he details of the raising of the America are best recounted in The 1 acht America, by 0l"pson, Stevens, and Swan:
. About two miles up a creek running into Dunn Lake and some 70 miles above Jackson- Vl jf ■ • • 'he champion America was found.
he was scuttled and sunk close in under the bank, in a bend of the creek, and but for er "lasts would have been well concealed, as there was about four feet of water above her deck.
Passing her and running into Dunn Lake, the party found the river steamer St. Mary's S1111 k in Indian Creek; but it was decided to return to the America and try to raise her.
b Pon reaching the yacht, pickets were thrown out, and a few men despatched on the
Darlington to Jacksonville for implements. They returned in the morning with plenty of tackle and two large jackscrews.
But for the next seven days the attempts to raise the yacht met with poor success, and the following may be taken as “Hints on Yacht Raising.”
The Darlington was run just outside the sunken yacht and made fast. Three platforms were built upon the Darlington’s deck—one forward, one amidships and one aft, and three were built, at corresponding distances apart on shore.
Three black gum trees, about three feet in diameter, were cut down and laid across the sunken yacht from the platforms on the shore to the platforms on the Darlington. Three stout iron cables were, with the aid of divers, worked under the keel of the yacht and the ends made fast to the gum trees crossing the platforms, so that the America, if she had not been embedded in the mud, would have hung suspended from the gum trees in three loops formed by the chain cables.
Hoisting tackles were rigged on some of the tallest trees on shore and made fast to the yacht wherever hold could be obtained. The jackscrews were worked on the platforms under the end of each tree, and the men gained all they could on the tackles.
Some progress was made, apparendy, and the platforms were built higher and higher. But it was found, subsequendy, that the America refused to rise an inch, and that all gained was from the gende bending of the trees, which cracked one after the other and finally broke. Others were tried, but at the end of seven days the plan was abandoned in disgust.
Just as it looked as if the yacht must be abandoned, one of the pickets brought in a lengthy specimen of Florida back-woodsman, who said he was present when the yacht was sunk, and that she was scutded by three two inch auger holes bored forward and two aft.
Upon this information a mate from the Wabash and another mechanic made three rough pumps from pine boards, 13 feet long, and flumed the two square hatches on the after deck of the America until they were six inches above the water of the creek.
They then placed a hogshead in the scutde hatch on her after deck for a third flume, with four men to each pump, water was thrown out so much quicker than the yacht would make it through the five auger holes that she commenced rising at once, and in two hours there was not more than six feet of water in her.
A man with a maul and plugs, after diving several times, managed to stop three of the auger holes, when she was pumped almost dry. The other two holes were plugged, and, it being low water in the creek, and the America drawing eight feet then, her iron ballast was transferred to the Darlington, which drew only three and a half feet, and with “three times three” after hoisting the Stars and Stripes, the America was taken in tow.
Upon the yacht reaching Jacksonville, a man offered to point out where her spars and rigging were secreted and they were soon secured and taken on board.
The yacht sustained but little damage from her immersion. Her elegant cabin fitting and mouldings, silk, satin and velvet curtains and cushions, after becoming dry, looked fresh and bright.
Except for a little injury to paint work and the auger holes . . . she was perfect.
W. G. Wood
A sketch of the America being towed to Port Royal, S. C., by the Ottawa in 1862 after being raised in Dunn’s Creek, based on an official drawing of the Ottawa and a description of the America’s condition at the time of her salving.
Flagship Wabash Port Royal Harbor, S. C., April 5, 1862
Letter of commendation to Lieutenant T. H. Stevens
Sir: I have not had an opportunity to write to you since the receipt of your communica
tion of 28th ultimo, informing me of your recovery of the yacht America.
I beg you to receive my commendations and congratulations on this interesting service m the performance of which you have shown so much untiring determination and skill. I have received from Lt. Irwin, of whom you have spoken so favorably in your report, a full account of the event.
Please convey my thanks to Acting Master Budd, and First Assistant Engineer Dungan, whose valuable assistance is also referred to by you.
The historic interest which attaches to this vessel and the incidents attending her career UP to the time of your remarkable capture and recovery of her, make me very anxious to get her safely to Port Royal, where I propose to refit her and send her North.
You will, therefore, use your best judgment in getting her towed up by the first Army transport that may, with the approval of General Wright, undertake the service, recommending great caution to the captain in the performance of it. If you think any other mode be preferable, please suggest it.
S. F. DuPont Flag-Officer
Report of Lieutenant Ammen, U. S. Navy, commanding USS Seneca
U. S. Gunboat Seneca Mayport Mills, St. John’s River, Fla.
May 3, 1862
‘^ir: I found the Ottawa, Pembina, and Ellen inside the bar, and on communicating with
-t. Commanding Stevens learned that on a personal inspection of the Ellen he deemed c*_return to Port Royal a necessity.
Daniel Ammen Lieutenant, Commanding
Flag-Officer, S. F. DuPont
On the 19th, the Ottawa, towing the yacht America and accompanied by the Ellen, went to sea, followed by three or four schooners that had remained ten days for a fair wind.
Letter from Flag-Officer DuPont to Naval Constructor Lenthall
Port Royal Harbor, S. C., May 17, 1862
lr- I had written to ask the Department to express some wish as to the disposition of the yacht America, but not having a reply, I find I can make her very useful here as a blockadIng vessel.
. May I ask the Bureau to allow her a suit of sails, and enclose a draft of the same; also e card of the sailmaker who made her original set, though I presume they can be made m the yards quite as well.
J- Lenthall, Esq.
Aft • •
12 Cr recc*v*ng her sails and her armament, which was three guns, consisting of one fjrs^°lln<^er *hhe and two 24-pounder smooth bores, the America was ready for her assignment as a government vessel. Following are her orders:
Sir: You will proceed with the yacht America under your command off St. John’s Bar,
and communicate with Lieutenant Commanding Nicholson, or the senior officer present, delivering to him all mails and express matter for the vessels in that river. Judge Burritt, who goes with you as a passenger, you will land at the same time.
You will then proceed off Mosquito Inlet and communicate with the Wyandotte, Lieutenant Commanding Whiting, delivering to him all mails and packages addressed to that vessel.
On your return you will run into Fernandina and communicate with Lieutenant Commanding Clary, of the Dawn, delivering the mails and express matter to him.
You will then repair to this anchorage without delay.
S. F. DuPont,
Acting Master Jonathan Baker Commanding yacht America
After carrying out her first mission, the America received orders to proceed to North Edisto with mails for the Mohawk and Planter and receive mails for the Paul Jones. If the mails for the Paul Jones were not at North Edisto, she was to proceed to Charleston and report to Commander E. G. Parrott, of the Augusta, to relieve the Blunt in blockading duty. Apparently the mail was not there, because in a dispatch dated 23 July, the America was listed as one of the vessels blockading Charleston, and judging by the following report, it did not take her long to get into action.
USS Augusta Off Charleston, S. C., July 24, 1862
Sir: ... I regret to state that a rather large three-masted propeller succeeded in running
the blockade this morning.
A steamer, whether the same one or not, I do not know, was seen about midnight inside the America, then stationed between the Rattlesnake Shoal and Dewees Inlet, going slowly. The America fired three shots at her, when she quickened her speed, and was soon out of sight, passing to the northward of the Rattlesnake, as the commander of the America thinks, but is not sure. We chased her for some time, the wind being very light, and then anchored on account of the shoalness of the water.
The guns were heard by the vessel at the northern end of the line, which put her on the lookout.
At daylight, we being about a mile and a half northeast of the bell buoy of the main Ship Channel, saw the steamer standing in, as appeared to us, by Maffitt’s Channel. On board some of the vessels it is thought she went in by the South Channel.
She hoisted what appeared to be English colors.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. G. Parrott, Commander and Senior Officer present
Flag-Officer S. F. DuPont,
Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
The area in which the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron operated was known for its rough seas and dangerous shoals. The America was stationed nearer shore than the heavier vessels, which by no means lessened the danger of her patrolling. She remained on station throughout the summer and winter of 1862, with the exception of November and December, when she was sent to New York. On her return in early January, she resumed blockade duty until May of 1863. That there were many difficulties and disappointments involved in blockading is evidenced by the following:
Sir: I regret to report the escape of a steamer from Charleston on the night of the 28th
ultimo through Maffitt’s Channel. .
At 8 o’clock in the evening, Commander Mullany, of the Bienville, sent his launch to guard the entrance of that channel, in charge of Acting Master Rogers, who anchored his boat only three-fourths of a mile E.S.E. from Fort Moultrie.
Near ten o’clock he saw a steam propeller passing outward close along the beach,
moving silently and swiftly.
He immediately fired a rocket and burned a blue light—the signals agreed upon -and the Bienville at once slipped her cable, alarmed the rest of the fleet, and gave chase, but was unable to see anything of the escaping vessel. , ,
Shortly afterwards guns were fired from the America, which with the blag, guards t e NE entrance to Maffitt’s Channel, but on the Bienville reaching them the steamer had succeeded to escape in the darkness.
Acting Master Rogers, in charge of the launch, reports that though the steamer passed within 300 yards of him, when the land behind was higher than the hull he could see nothing of her, and it was only when she passed a low opening in the beach that she was in s‘ght at all. . , „ r L
I refer to this particularly that the Department may be apprised of one of the great difficulties of the blockade of this port of Charleston. .
The above is the substance of detailed reports from Commander Mullany and Acting Master Rogers, presuming that the Department would prefer to have a condensed statement rather than copies of the reports themselves.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. DuPont
Rear Admiral, Comdg South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Hon. Gideon Welles Secretary of the Navy, Washington
In a report submitted by Commander Charles Steedman of the USS Paul Jones to Rear Admiral S. F. DuPont on 3 September 1862, the steamer discovered and fired at bV the America on the 28th of August, was stated probably to have been the Leopard.
Evidently the America went to Port Royal for repairs, because the records show that °n 10 September, Acting Master J. Baker received orders from Admiral DuPont to ‘/Proceed with the America under your command off Charleston and report for blockad-
lng duty to Captain S. W. Godon, senior officer.”
°n the night of 13 October, the America participated in a chase that proved to be les* frustrating than some of her previous ones. The detailed information follows:
U. S. Schooner America Off Charleston, October 14th, 1862
Sir: On Monday night, October 13th, 1862 at 11 p.m., while lying at anchor off the
raouth of Dewees Inlet in 4 fathoms of water, wind west, weather cloudy, I discovered a sail trying to run the blockade out from Charleston. I commenced firing, and sent a boat with six men in charge of Acting Master’s Mate G. H. Wood to cut him off from the shore.
After firing three shots at him he came to. I boarded him and found the vessel to be the schooner David Crockett, from Charleston for Bermuda, with a cargo of spirits turpentine and rosin.
The crew consisted of six men and two passengers, whom I sent on board the L SS Flag, Commander J. H. Strong, which came to me after I commenced firing.
Respectfully, your obedient servant.
Acting Master, Commanding,
Rear Admiral S. F. DuPont
Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron
Off Charleston, October 14, 1862
Sir: I have the honor to report to you that last evening at 11:05 p.m., I discovered a
sail under the land bearing about N.W. by N. At 11:15 the U. S. schooner America fired two guns, burned a blue light, and sent up a rocket. Immediately called all hands, went to quarters, slipped the port chain, and stood in for the America (about three-fourths of i mile distant). As we approached, the America fired two more guns, when the vessel anchored and lowered her sails. I sent a boat to the America for the crew, who had been taken on board from the prize and had them brought on board this vessel, viz. captain, mate, four seamen, and two passengers.
She proved to be the schooner David Crockett, of and from Charleston, bound for Bermuda, with a cargo of 175 barrels of spirits of turpentine and ten barrels rosin.
The captain of the vessel, William Thompson, admits having run the blockade several times during this rebellion.
I herewith inclose the muster rolls of the officers and crew of this ship at date of said capture.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. J. Strong, Commander
Hon. Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
On 26 October, Rear Admiral DuPont ordered the America, under Acting Master Baker, to sail for New York and report to Rear Admiral H. Paulding, Commandant of the Yard, for an overhaul. To try to expedite matters, Rear Admiral DuPont in a private letter, dated 22 December, to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Gustavus V. Fox, added, “Please think of the America, too; they miss her much inside the Rattlesnake.” How extensive an overhaul she received is a moot question, because Acting Master Baker received the following orders in January:
Flagship Wabash Port Royal Harbor, S. C., Jan. 3, 1863
Sir: You will please proceed with the America under your command, without delay, off
Charleston, and report for blockading duty to Captain S. W. Godon, senior officer present.
S. F. DuPont Rear Admiral
Acting Master Baker
U. S. Schooner America, Port Royal
On 29 January 1863, the America’s boat crew assisted in the salvaging of the Confederate screw steamer, Princess Royal, which was driven ashore by her crew to escape capture by the U. S. gunboat, Unadilla. The following official correspondence will explain the importance of this event:
Report of Rear Admiral DuPont, U. S. Navy.
Port Royal Harbor, S. C., January 31, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to report the capture, on the morning of the 29th instant, of the
screw steamer Princess Royal, whilst attempting to run the blockade into Charleston. The following are the circumstances connected with her capture:
At 3:15 a.m., a blue light was observed on the U. S. gunboat Unadilla, Lieutenant- Commander S. P. Quackenbush, in an easterly direction, supposed to be from the schooner Blunt. The Unadilla slipped cable and stood inshore in a northwesterly direction, guided by a rocket thrown up in the direction in which the strange steamer was steering; this rocket also appeared to come from the Blunt. After standing in a mile and a half,
Lieutenant Commander Quackenbush observed a steamer standing along the land, in the direction of Charleston. He fired two shots at her, when her course was altered toward the beach, and she was run ashore. Two officers and an armed boat s crew were immediately sent to take possession. She proved to be the iron steamer Princess Royal last from Bermuda, four days out, and laden, as far as he could learn, with rifled guns, arms, ammunition, steam engines for the iron clads, and an assorted cargo. . . . ^
By the active exertions of Acting Master E. Van Sice and Acting Ensign R. M. Cornell, of the Unadilla, assisted by the boats’ crews from the U. S. steamers Housatonic and Augusta and schooners Blunt and America, aided by two of the engineers of the prize, she was got off without sustaining any injury. ... .
I desire to call the attention of the Department to the fact that in this prize are two complete engines said to be of great power, and intended for ironclads, and respectfully submit whether an early use could not be made of them in two new ironclads built to receive them?
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. DuPont
Rear-Admiral, Comdg. South Adantic
Hon. Gideon Welles
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
The importance of this capture was substantiated by a report in the Charleston Daily °uner of 30 January 1863: •
. • • • Valuable dispatches, which were on board, from Captain Maury, C. S. Navy, now in Europe, to the Confederate Government, have been saved and brought to the city. The Princess Royal had on board a cargo of great value to us, consisting of machinery for gunboats, Whitworth guns, rifles, powder, and some workmen who were to instruct Parties here in reference to the manufacture of new projectiles. The bulk of her freight Was about 900 tons weight measurement. ...”
The next noteworthy achievement of the America occurred on 18 March, when she discovered the English steamer Georgiana, and gave the alarm which resulted in her CaPture and destruction:
Flagship Wabash Port Royal Harbor, S. C., March 21, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to report to the Department that about midnight of the 18th in
fant, the English iron steamer Georgiana attempted to run into Charleston through hfaffitt’s Channel.
The alarm had been given by the U. S. yacht America, Acting Master J. Baker, who afso fired into her, and the USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander J. L. Davis, soon after perceiving her, opened so heavy a fire upon her that her commander hailed to say that he surrendered. Upon this, the Wissahickon ceased fire, but the captain of the ship, taking advantage thereof, pointed his vessel toward the shore, which was quite near, and succeeded in running her aground, and, with all on board of her, escaped on the land side.
Captain Davis being of the opinion that the vessel could not be saved, determined to destroy her, which he did by setting her afire.
The cargo was a very valuable one, and according to late statements in the papers, the vessel itself was pierced for fourteen guns, but as I have not received any report as yet rom Lieutenant Commander Davis, I am not certain that this was the case.
1 shall be able to give further particulars by the next mail.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. F. DuPont
Rear Admiral, Comdg. South Atlantic
Hon. Gideon Welles
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
The America as a Naval Academy school ship in 1863. She is anchored bow and stern off the Boston Navy Yard in company with the Marion. Note the brailed-up foresail, the man sighting with a long glass, and the boat watch in the gig astern.
The America carried two 21*-pounders amidships and a 12-pounder forward. Shown here are two views of a scale model of one of her 21*s on display at the U. S. Naval Academy Museum. The solid bronze guns were designed by John A. Dahlgren and cast and bored at the Washington Navy Yard. The bore was 5.75 inches, the weight 1,300 pounds, and the range at four degrees elevation about 1,11*0 yards. A naval manual of the time included the following question and answer: "Q: The guns being bronze, should they be brightened? A: By no means—it is prohibited to do so.” The reason for the regulation was to prevent the guns’ reflecting the sun for the eyes of a foe.
THE U. S. SCHOONER YACHT
DESIGNED BY GEORGE STEERS
Lines redrawn from originals made available by the New York Yacht Club, whose assistance is gratefully acknowledged. Sail and deck plans drawn from information in the files of the U. S. Naval Academy.
length on deck
length on water line
foresail fore staysail
On 25 March, Rear Admiral DuPont received orders from the Secretary of the Navy to send the America to Newport, Rhode Island, between the 10th and 20th of May, where she was to be used for midshipman training. In the meantime, Admiral DuPont ordered her, on 27 March while she was at Port Royal, to report to Captain T. Turner for blockading duty off Charleston where she participated in two more captures. The first was reported to then Commodore T. Turner by Lieutenant Commander P. G. Watmough of the USS Memphis on 31 March 1863:
The America was guarding the channel outside, and brought her to by a shot. She proved to be the Antelope, under English colors, with regular clearance from London to Nassau, New Providence. She has a cargo of salt. Enclosed I send her papers. The Captain admits his intention of breaking the blockade.
The America’s next engagement occurred on 12 April; following is the pertinent correspondence regarding this action:
U. S. Steam sloop Canandaigua Off Charleston, April 12, 1863
Sir: I have respectfully to report that last night, between 11 and 12 o’clock a steamer,
bound in, succeeded in passing the steamers Flag and Huron and schooners America and Blunt, stationed in and off the Rattlesnake Channel. Each of the blockading vessels named fired at her repeatedly, and at daylight this morning the steamer was discovered abandoned, on fire, and fast aground about one half of a mile from the beach and one and one-half miles from the Breach Inlet batteries. .
She was probably struck and set on fire by the shell fired at her, and is apparently a complete wreck.
She is an iron side-wheel steamer of 600 or 700 tons.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. Green Captain
Rear Admiral S. F. DuPont,
Comdg. South Atlantic Blockdg. Squadron, off Charleston, S. C.
Headquarters Army of Potomac, April 14, 1863 The following dispatches are found in Richmond Dispatch of today:
Charleston, April 13
Last night the steamer Stonewall Jackson, formerly the Leopard, while attempting to run into this harbor was hotly chased by a half-dozen blockaders, which fired at the Stonewall, and she received several shots through her hull. Captain Black, finding it impossible to escape, ran the steamer on the beach and burned her. The crew and passengers took to the boats and have reached here. Very litde was saved excepting the mails and the passengers’ effects. The steamer burned to the water’s edge in sight of the Yankees. Her cargo consisted of several pieces of field artillery, 200 barrels of saltpeter, 40,000 army shoes, and a large assortment of merchandise. . . .
Danl. Butterfield Major General, Chief of Staff
Captain G. V. Fox Assistant Secretary of Navy
rhe America's duty with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron was terminated when she received the following orders:
Flagship Wabash Port Royal Harbor, S. C., May 1, 1863
Sir: Enclosed is an order to Acting Master Baker to proceed at once with the yacht America to Newport. This is done in accordance with a peremptory order of the Navy Department.
You will please send the Blunt to Port Royal. I shall dispatch shordy to you the Para.
S. F. DuPont Rear Admiral.
Commodore T. Turner,
USS Ironsides, Senior Officer off Charleston
That Admiral DuPont missed the America is best expressed by his own words, in a report he sent to the Secretary of the Navy dated 12 May 1863, and that reads in part as follows: “The withdrawal of the America and the necessity of sending the Blunt north have been seriously felt, as those two vessels from their draft were able to take up effective positions which the other ships could not assume.”
She sailed to Newport to take up new duties as practice ship for the midshipmen of the Naval Academy. The Academy had been disbanded on 27 April 1861 due to disturbed conditions in Maryland. The faculty and equipment were transferred to Fort Adams at Newport and the Naval Academy had reopened on 13 May.
The America was formally purchased by the Navy Department in a New York prize court on 19 May 1863 for $700.
After going north, the America did not have much time to rest on her laurels. She was reported at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when the accounts of the depredations of the Confederate privateer Tacony were coming in, causing the Commandant of the yard, Rear Admiral Paulding, to send the following telegram to the Secretary of the Navy:
New York, June 14, 1863-7 p.m.
(Received at Washington, 7:30 p.m..)
The yacht America is here with twelve midshipmen on board. May I give her a suitable crew and send her in pursuit of the Tacony? Also the Marion is here and might cruise for a week. May I send her? The Sabine, with some addition to her crew, might go for a week on this service. The Virginia is just leaving.
H. Paulding Commandant
Hon. Gideon Welles Secretary Navy
Navy Department, June 14, 1863
Your dispatch with regard to the Sabine, America, and Marion received and approved. Send all of them off at once. The Tacony was in ballast and must be short of provisions. She has no cannon, the pirates having left the only one they had on board the Clarence when she was abandoned and burned.
Gideon Welles Secretary of the Navy
Rear Adm. H. Paulding Commandant, Navy Yard, New York
Instructions of the Commandant, Navy Yard, New York, to Lieutenant Theodore F.
, a?e’_^' Nayy> Commanding U. S. yacht America, relative to search for the C. S. bark Tacony. •
Navy Yard, New York, June 15, 1863
■‘hr. You will proceed to sea in the U. S. schooner yacht America, under your command.
teer to the westward [?], keeping a safe distance from the land, examining all vessels 1 at you may fall in with, and obtain what information you can of the pirate Tacony.
c governed by the information you may obtain in shaping your course, and in the a sence of information that may guide you, steer southward when you arrive off the capes of Delaware, sighting the coast of North Carolina, crossing the Gulf Stream in or ■ 6 vr ^a*^u<le Cape Hatteras, there traversing it as may suit your judgment, arriving in New York in ten days from the time of your departure.
Respectfully your obedient servant,
H. Paulding Commandant
Report of Lieutenant T. F. Kane, U. S. Navy, commanding U. S. yacht America, of the return of that vessel from a search for the C. S. bark Tacony.
U. S. yacht America New York Harbor, June 25, 1863
Sir: I have the honor to report the return of the U. S. schooner yacht America to this
Port, after an unsuccessful search for the privateer Tacony and others.
In obedience to your orders, we left the anchorage off the Navy Yard on the afternoon ° June 15th, and, after discharging our pilot at the lightship, shaped our course to the t e southward and westward. We have during the cruise sighted the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia, and have overhauled and boarded all square rigged vessels we have met with and spoken all fore-and-afters, but have not had the good fortune to learn anything of the whereabouts of the privateers.
We have been very unfortunate in regard to weather. For the first five days of the cruise we encountered stormy, wet, foggy [weather] and easterly winds, and the remaining days we have met with light southerly airs and calms. On the afternoon of the third ay out the shackle of the jib stay carried away at the cutwater, and, as there was quite a eavy sea running at the time, with a strong northeast wind, I had some fears for our foremast (the jib stay being its only fore-and-after support), having no heavy tackles or ropes in the ship. Secured the stay with a tackle to the stem. The next day our bobstay went which we also secured temporarily.
Being in this crippled condition, and fearing that we may encounter some more heavy weather, I deemed it not prudent to venture far to the eastward, so, after gaining the atitude of the capes of the Chesapeake, we turned our heads to the northward, stretching more out to the eastward than on our downward run.
Enclosed you will find a list of the vessels boarded and spoken during the cruise.
I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Theo. F. Kane, Lieutenant, Commanding
Rear Admiral H. Paulding Commandant, Navy Yard (New York)
1 -o'" followin§ excerpts are from a memorandum forwarded to the Naval Academy y ear Admiral E. H. Leutze, U. S. Navy, (Retired), in November of 1921:
Recollections of I'ourth Class Midshipmen’s Practice Cruise, Summer of 1863, On Board 1 le USS Marion and Her Tender, The Yacht America.
I he yacht America arrived Newport, R. Island in the spring of 1863. Several of my classmates and I saw her arrive from Goat Island, alongside of which the school ships Constitution and Santee, containing the Fourth Class of Midshipmen, were moored. She made a great impression on us, as we had only entered in February and March of that year, and were utterly ignorant of anything “Naval,” and we were greatly astonished at the vessel arriving and wondered what she was. We were told that it was the celebrated yacht America—to be used as a practice ship.
During the summer of 1863 she was assigned to the practice ship Marion, midshipmen from the latter being detailed for periods of about a month on board the America. . . .
I was only fifteen years old at the time, but I stood duty as watch officer in port. I remember a quartermaster named Sam Bowles, a middle-aged Gloucester fisherman, who was our coast pilot and really about the only one on board who could handle the America well, especially in a gale. ...
She had three howitzers as battery—twenty four-pounders, I think. A large Number 4 was painted on the mainsail to make the vessel look like a New York Pilot Boat. We cruised on the Maine coast, looking for a rebel privateer called the Tacony. _
During the summer we rendered real war service on these vessels. We boarded all sailing vessels we came across, and this is strongly impressed upon my memory, as I went as interpreter in the boarding boat in case the vessel should prove French or German, and sometimes in rough water in the Gulf Stream I was pretty badly scared. ...
We had a pretty rough time on the America as there were very poor accommodations and no toilet arrangements, and also suffered a good deal of seasickness, especially in a gale off Portland, Maine, in which we had to lay to three days. We were all glad when our detail ended and we went back to the Marion, who was anything but comfortable herself, as she was very low between decks so that an average sized lad of fifteen could not stand anywhere near straight on the berth deck. . . .
The America's next assignment came while she was at the Portsmouth Navy Yard for repairs. Her orders comprised a report, sent by the Commandant of the yard to the Secretary of the Navy.
Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N. H.
Aurrust 31. 1863
Sir: I have the honor to report that yesterday (Sunday) afternoon the master of an east
ern schooner loaded with lumber requested aid in order to pursue his vessel, which had been run away with from this harbor by her mate, and probably with the intention of going South. I immediately directed Lieutenant Commander Matthews, of the school ship Marion, to send her tender, the America, in pursuit, and furnished him with ten additional men from the bark Fernandina. Lt. Kane went in command of the America, with orders to stay out three days if necessary. She left at about 4 p.m. yesterday, and the master of the schooner went in her.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. F. Pearson Commandant
Hon. Gideon Welles, Sec/Nav, Wash., DC
Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H.
Sept. 5, 1863
Sir: Referring to my letter of the 31st ultimo, I have the honor to report that the America
returned to this harbor after an unsuccessful cruise of two days in search of the schooner Medford, which vessel was run away with by her mate.
The school-ship Marion, together with the America, left here this morning for Newport.
I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. F. Pearson Commandant
Hon. Gideon Welles
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
It was during the summer cruise of 1864, while the squadron was in Gardiners Bay for another phase of training after cruising off the eastern end of Long Island Sound, that Commodore George S. Blake, at the Naval Academy at Newport, received the following telegram from the Secretary of the Navy.
Navy Department July 10, 1864
The Florida burned a vessel off Cape Henry last evening and has probably gone up the coast. She has only four guns. Let your vessels cover the Vineyard waters and send out the Marblehead in pursuit. She will probably go to your neighborhood.
Gideon Welles Secretary of the Navy
Commo. Geo. S. Blake Naval Academy, Newport, R. I.
Report of the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Newport, R. I. of the execution of the Department’s orders in view of the depredations of CSS Florida.
U. S. Naval Academy Newport R. I., July 14, 1864
Sir: I beg leave to report that on the receipt of the telegram of the department of the
10th instant, which reached me at 7 p.m. on the day of it’s date, I communicated by telegram with Edward Prentis, esq., collector of New London, who immediately forwarded by instructions by the revenue cutter Campbell to Commander Fairfax, at Gardiner’s Bay, and that they reached him by 4 o’clock in the morning of the 11 th instant.
Commander Fairfax, with the most commendable promptitude, was underway in a very few minutes, and the sailing vessels of the practice squadron were distributed as directed by the Department. The Marblehead was compelled to run over to New London . for coal, which she obtained in a few hours, and ran from thence to Provincetown, Cape Cod, and has proceeded from that point to the vicinity of the light-boat off Nantucket South Shoal, a point which I think should be carefully watched. . . .
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. S. Blake,
Commodore, and Supt, Naval Academy
Hon. Gideon Welles,
The summer cruise of 1864 was the first time the practice ships of the Naval Acad- einy sailed as a squadron, which was made up of the sloop Macedonian, the sloop Marion, the gunboat Marblehead, and the schooner America. Regarding the midshipmen in the crew of the America, the regulations read, “To afford all the classes the benefit of instruction in Steam Engineering, transfers in turn were made from the sailing ships and schooner America, to the steamer Marblehead.”
After cruising in company for about 80 miles off Block Island, overhauling and questioning all sailing vessels and searching in vain for the Florida, the Marion and the America returned to their base. This seems to have been the America's last wartime active duty, although she did accompany the school and practice ships when they returned to their old quarters at Annapolis from Newport, R. I. The only mention of her in the 1865 summer cruise is that of “Tender to squadron—Mate W. H. Harrison Thompson in charge.”
In 1866, the America, under the command of Midshipman Samuel N. Kane, who stood at the head of the graduating class of 74 members, sailed with the practice squadron, which consisted of the sloops Macedonian, Savannah, and the steamers Saco, iVinnepec, and Marblehead. This was the America's last cruise in the service at the Naval Academy. After the cruise, the America was laid up for nearly three years.
In December 1869, the America was ordered to the Washington Navy Yard by Admiral David D. Porter, then Superintendent of the Academy, for necessary repairs. When the challenge came for the America's cup in the spring of 1870, however, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the America would be entered in the international race. When Admiral Porter ordered her to the New York Navy Yard to be
put in proper condition for the race, it was with the approbation of both the Navy and yachtsmen. The expenditures for these repairs amounted to $15,415.
The scheduled date for the race was 8 August 1870. The British challenger was the schooner yacht Cambria of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and the owner, James Ashbury. The America carried a Navy crew and was commanded by Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr.; her sailing master, however, was Charles Brown, son of her old skipper, Dick Brown. Of the 15 yachts to cross the finish line, the America was fourth. First place went to the schooner yacht Magic. The challenger, the Cambria, came in tenth. While some people were critical regarding the America’s failure to get better than fourth place, it is a tribute to both her designer and builder that after 19 years of the most strenuous duty for a vessel of this type, she made a splendid showing against a fleet of newer vessels and 19 years of shipbuilding progress. This was the first and last time on the windward side of the Atlantic that the America competed for the Cup that she brought to her country.
Three years later, the Secretary of the Navy, George M. Robeson, made a decision which saddened the heart of many a Navy man; he put the America up for sale. The vessel did not warrant the expenditures necessary to keep her on the active list. This reasoning, of course, was disputed by those who in any way were associated with the America. Nevertheless, she was put up for auction, and after much political intrigue and haggling, she was sold on 20 June 1873 to John Cassels, who represented General Benjamin F. Butler and his partner, Jonas H. French, both of Boston, for $5,000.
The America remained in the Butler family for 44 years. During the first 20 years, while General Butler sailed her, she was always given the best of care by the most competent shipyards available. She participated in many of the New England regattas, where she won her share of honors. In the spring of 1875, she was thoroughly overhauled and rerigged in the yard of Donald McKay, designer and builder of some of the famous clipper ships. This, incidentally, was Donald McKay’s last shipwright job, a fitting way to terminate an illustrious career.
Following the death of General Butler in 1893, the America was laid up for four years. Then Paul Butler, the surviving son of General Butler, turned the yacht over to Butler Ames, his nephew. Ames put her in the yard of George Lawley & Son, who fitted her out for the yachting season of 1897, a season in which she had another full schedule of cruising and racing.
There was little activity in yachting during 1898, but the America was in commission and was used to take out officers and men on convalescent trips from a camp at Montauk Point on Long Island. In 1899, she participated in the New York Yacht Club cruise; in the early part of October, she was sailing off Sandy Hook with Sir Thomas Lipton on board as a guest. A few days later, she was in the spectator fleet when Lipton’s challenger, Shamrock /, sailed against the defender Columbia for the America’s cup. After the races, the America returned to Boston where she was layed up until 1901, when she was again placed in commission, 50 years after her historic conquest. It would be her last time under sail. In July of 1901, she participated in her final race, which was the New York Yacht Club’s run from Vineyard Haven to Newport. Her only competitor was the schooner Corona, flagship of the New York Yacht Club fleet. This contest ended with the Corona finishing about 20 minutes ahead of the America. It was in the latter part of this season that the America again visited New York and played host to Sir Thomas Lipton and his challenger Shamrock II. After the 1901 cup races, the America returned to her home port of Boston, and in October went °ut of commission. Her owners, Paul Butler and Butler Ames, decided against fitting her out again, so she lay decommissioned for years. Finally the owners put her up for sale. In 1917, a group of Cape Verde merchants from New Bedford made an offer, intending to use her in the Cape Verde trade, a fate that had befallen the former cup defender, Puritan. When the news of this transaction became known, Charles hh W. Foster, a prominent and civic-minded sportsman of Boston, prevailed upon the parties concerned to consider a deal whereby the Cape Verde group would accept another vessel in lieu of the America. This was done for sentimental reasons, as Foster realized that without rebuilding, the America could not be put under sail. Thus, she lay idle for another four years.
Returning the America to the Naval Academy was an idea that was cherished for fears by many a group, both Navy and yachtsmen, but it did not materialize until the spring of 1921, when Elmer Jared Bliss, a Boston yachtsman, and William U. Swan, the yachting historian, got the ball rolling. Foster transferred the yacht to the Eastern Yacht Club, where a committee was appointed to receive subscriptions for a restoration fund which was needed for painting and repairs after the long lay-up and Preparatory for the trip to Annapolis. The project aroused so much interest that the restoration fund was oversubscribed in a short time.
On 24 August 1921, William U. Swan, Secretary of the America Restoration Fund, Wrote the following letter to the Honorable Edwin Denby, Secretary of the Navy:
Dear Mr. Secretary;
I take great pleasure in informing you that the schooner yacht America will be prepared to start for Annapolis about the middle of September.
You will recall that when I offered this historic craft to you in behalf of the Eastern Yacht Club last spring, I asked that the Department furnish a subchaser to do the towing, and you agreed.
The advisory board has found it inadvisable to step the masts owing to a “low bridge” at New Brunswick, N. J. The yacht will therefore make the trip with her spars on the deck and sails and rigging in the hold, with a pole jury rig to fly her homeward bound pennant and club burgee.
Will you kindly select some date between the first and tenth of October to formally accept the yacht and pay over the one dollar which we understand General Dawes has agreed to permit the Government to expend. We would be glad to have the President present at the time. . . .
The yacht is at Lawley’s yard in Boston, and I will notify you later regarding the exact time when she will be ready to start.
I expect to go in personal charge of the yacht, so that any order to the Commander of the subchaser should include a request that he consult with me as to ports of call, as there are numerous yacht clubs which have contributed to the outfitting fund which desire to receive a visit from the yacht.
Very truly yours,
William U. Swan, Secretary
Following this correspondence, the Chief of Naval Operations sent the following letter on 3 September 1921 to the Commandant, First Naval District:
The Navy Department has agreed to purchase from the owners of the yacht America, for the consideration of one dollar, the vessel to be taken to the U. S. Naval Academy and there preserved as a marine relic. You will perceive from the enclosure that the America is now at Lawley’s Ship Yard, Boston, Mass, and will be ready to start for Annapolis about the middle of September.
The Commandant, 1st. Naval District will please communicate direcdy with Mr. William U. Swan, and arrange with him and with the Commandants of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Naval Districts the itinerary of the America en route to Annapolis, including such ports of call desired by Mr. Swan, as may be practicable; and for suitable towing vessels from those available in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Naval Districts, to tow the America from Lawley’s Ship Yard, Boston Mass., to her destination at Annapolis, Md.
W. C. Cole Acting
On 10 September 1921, the America departed Lawley’s yard at Boston, towed by Subchaser No. 408, Ensign Donald M. Weaver commanding, bound for Annapolis, where she arrived 29 September, after an absence of 48 years. The last voyage of the America was replete with all the pomp and ceremony associated with royalty. When she stopped at the various ports en route, she was greeted by bands, whistles, and groups of enthusiasts from all walks of life.
Leaving Boston for Annapolis, 1921.
The America was turned over to the government at 1030 on Saturday, 1 October 1921. Charles Francis Adams made the presentation on behalf of the Eastern Yacht f lub, and Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Superintendent of the U. S. Naval Academy, accepted the vessel and paid the purchase price. The American yacht en- S1gn at the stern was lowered and the national flag raised, while the brigade of midshipmen stood at attention and the band played the national anthem. Later, a brass plaque was placed in the cabin of the America bearing this inscription:
TO COMMEMORATE THE RESTORATION OCT 1, 1921
AFTER 48 YEARS OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF THE
SCHOONER YACHT “AMERICA”
UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY BY THE
EASTERN YACHT CLUB ON BEHALF OF CHARLES H. W. FOSTER AND IN COOPERATION WITH
Charles Francis Adams, Elmer Jared Bliss, Harry F. Bradford, S. Parker Bremer,' William H. Brownson, Arthur H. Clark, Albert W. Finlay, Sydney A. Friede, James B. Ford, Louis A. Frothingham, John Good, Roger Griswold, James Jackson, Arthur Curtiss James, Demarest Lloyd, Frank B. McQuesten, Edgar Palmer, Thomas Nelson Perkins, Robert M. Thompson, Henry Walters, John W. Weeks, and the Cohasset Yacht Club, Corinthian Yacht Club of Marblehead, Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia, fall River Yacht Club, Larchmont Yacht Club, Manchester Yacht Club, Marine and Field Club, New Bedford Yacht Club, New Haven Yacht Club, New London Chamber of Commerce, Newport, R. I. Chamber of Commerce, Pleon Yacht Club, Quincy Yacht Club, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, Stamford Yacht Club.
America Restoration Committee, Charles Francis Adams, Chairman, James Jackson, Treasurer, William U. Swan, Secretary, T. Nelson Perkins, Charles K. Cummings.
Admiral Wilson paying C. F. Adams one dollar for the America, 1921.
The following spring, the America was towed to the Washington Navy Yard, where she had her bottom coppered and most of her cabin fixtures removed, giving her a clean sweep below deck. She was then returned to her permanent berth in Dewey Basin at the Naval Academy.
This final period of her career has been, and still is, a controversial subject. She died, some say because of neglect, some say a victim of circumstances.
In December 1940, the America assumed the role of an unwanted stepchild and was hauled out at the Annapolis Yacht Yard, where she was blocked up for storage. However, in the summer of 1941, Congress, at the suggestion of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, appropriated $100,000 to overhaul, repair, and restore the yacht with the idea that she would be eventually a part of the National Naval Museum, which the President was interested in having constructed in Washington, D. C. In October 1941, preliminary work was started on the yacht. So that work could continue during the winter, a shed was built over her, which all pointed to a propitious start. The fates willed otherwise, however, and at the opening of hostilities in December 1941, the Annapolis Yacht Yard was granted a delay with the reconstruction project, so that it might attend to some pressing priority requests. The final blow came on Palm Sunday, 29 March 1942, when Annapolis had one of its heaviest and wettest snowfalls, causing the shed to collapse, which nearly wrecked the already weakened hull of the America. In April 1942, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox announced that “No building project, large or small, should be undertaken unless it can be shown to be essential to the war effort.” Thus, the Bureau authorized another delay in the restoration of the yacht until such time as the task would not interfere with the essentials of war. They also specified that every effort should be made to preserve the vessel for an indefinite period, a difficult task to perform, considering the sad state of the hull.
After the war and numerous discussions in the Navy Department, the decision was made that the yacht America could not be restored properly with the funds at hand. A
survey showed that the hull was in such poor condition due to dry rot that to restore her, she would have to be rebuilt, using all new materials. So it was decided to scrap her. The Navy Department awarded the Annapolis Yacht Yard the contract for dismantling her, which was done during the winter of 1945-1946.
On 18 September 1945, the Chief of Naval Operations authorized a model of the America to be built. This was completed and presented to the Naval Academy Museum hy the Secretary of the Navy in 1948. The model is under sail, and built to a scale of a/8 inch equals one foot. The spars and deck fittings of the model were made of wood taken from the original vessel.
The America's fame is richly deserved, and it is plain that her reputation was achieved primarily as a racing yacht. Yet she performed excellently as a naval vessel, as well. Her naval record deserves to be remembered as a less glorious but perhaps equally valuable part of her remarkable career.
P Joseph C. Bruzek has long been one of the nation’s leading model makers.
He has been on the staff of the U. S. Naval Academy Museum since 1951 and is now the Curator. The schooner America has been of absorbing interest to him for many years.
ing, 21" X 26", for five dollars.
th.is article with Mr. Evers’ full color printing of the America on the cover, as reproduced on the uZa r thlS lSSue °‘ the Proceedings, are available from the U. S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis Mary- frn™ •T&r rAli° available from the Museum are full color prints of the Evers’ painting, suitable for
 Official correspondence is quoted from Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volumes 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, and 14 (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1896).
 See Truxtun Umsted, “The Dissolution of the Yacht America,” Yachting, April 1965.