Harman Patil (Editor)

USS Cactus (1863)

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Ordered  as Polar Star
Acquired  9 December 1863
Decommissioned  8 June 1865
Launched  1863
Weight  178.8 tons
Draft  2.1 m
Laid down  date unknown
Commissioned  4 May 1864
Struck  1865 (est.)
Length  34 m
Displacement  159,700 kg

USS Cactus (1863) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War for service with the Union blockade of the ports and waterways of the Confederate States of America.


She was used by the Union Navy primarily as a supply ship and as a ship's tender, but she was also equipped with heavy guns to be used as a gunship if the need occurred.

Built in Brooklyn in 1863

Cactus, an armed side-wheel steamer, was built during 1863 in Brooklyn, New York, as Polar Star; purchased at New York City 9 December 1863; and commissioned 4 May 1864, Acting Master N. Graham in command.

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockade

Assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron with its task of isolating the Confederacy from overseas sources of supply, Cactus served as a supply ship and tender in Hampton Roads until 28 May 1864. She was then ordered up the York River to guard the Union Army's lines of communication.

On 20 June, with USS Morse, she fought an engagement with Confederate batteries along the Pamunkey River. After assisting in covering the withdrawal of the Army from White House, Virginia, the steamer returned to Hampton Roads 23 June.

Assigned towing duties in the Chesapeake Bay area

Until April 1865, Cactus operated in Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay towing launches and supply schooners.

Final operations and decommissioning

She then served in the Potomac Flotilla until placed out of commission at the Washington Navy Yard 8 June 1865. Cactus was transferred to the Light House Board 20 June 1865.


USS Cactus (1863) Wikipedia