The USS Kearsarge, a 1500-ton Mohican class Union warship, was constructed in Maine in 1861. This ship was built with funds from the Civil War Emergency Shipbuilding Program under the supervision of Admiral Selver. What the Union needed was a Confederate raider hunter, what they got was one of the finest naval vessels of the entire war.
If not for the courage of the crew aboard the Kearsarge, many more millions of dollars worth of ship and supply, would have found its way to the bottom of the ocean.
Commissioned in 1862, the Kearsarge was first sent to European waters. She was sent there in order to find the Confederate raider, the CSS Alabama.
The Alabama was wrecking havoc on the Union’s merchant marine trade and it needed to be found. The Wolf of the Deep was found at Cherbourg, France and after an epic sea battle, the Wolf was laid to rest.
This prompted the Union to issue a Certificate of Merit honoring the vessel for gallantry in a wartime situation. The Kearsarge was a hero; the north was once again safe to resume its massive influx of supplies and other wartime necessities in the Atlantic.
USS Kearsarge in 1861
After the sinking of the Alabama, the Kearsarge was sent back to the United States to continue searching for Confederate ship killers. This went on until the end of the war and the ship was sent to Europe for repairs. Never again would the Kearsarge be involved in a major naval battle, she had done enough for her country.
The Kearsarge would be used as a sentry vessel and to show military naval superiority when needed for the rest of her sailing career. She was decommissioned in 1866 but returned to service in 1869 and sent to The Pacific coast of South America. Sailing across the world then returning, the Kearsarge would wind up in California in 1870.
She was once again decommissioned and put in dry status. This would not stop her and once again, the Kearsarge would find herself lapping waves in the waters of the world. The US Navy needed to show some military might after the end of The Civil War so off the cruiser went to Asia.
The Kearsarge started the United States Navy off as the navy to be wary of in the world. Before that, Great Britain was the major naval power with France and Spain a close third and fourth, respectively. Ships like the Kearsarge and even the Monitor and Merrimac, defined the tenacity of the naval forces of the Americans.