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The U.S.S. Hartford–Pride of the Union Navy

Background (cont'd from page 3)
Admiral Farragut sent a boat to rescue the Tecumseh's 21 survivors. A total of 93 men had gone down with her. A shell ripped a hole in the Hartford just above the waterline as she continued northward. After fierce fighting, a Confederate ship was captured, one beached itself to avoid deadly ram against the Hartford, returned to the fort. Now the Union fleet anchored in the open waters of Mobile Bay.

Within minutes, lookouts on the Hartford spotted the mighty Tennessee steaming toward them. Her commander, Admiral Buchanan, was using what little coat he had left in a last attempt to save Mobile Bay for the South. Two Union ships rammed the Tennessee with no effect on her ironclad sides. She headed for the Hartford. Farragut hoped only that the ironclad's bow would bite into the Hartford so deeply it could not back off and both ships would sink.

At the last moment the Tennessee swerved, hitting one of the Hartford's anchors, bending it out of shape. The ships passed just a few feet apart. The Hartford blasted away with heavy charges, severely damaging the Tennessee. The Tennessee kept firing, resulting in man casualties on the Hartford. Backing off to attack again, the Hartford collided with one of her own ships. Now the Union monitors arrived. At a range of 30 feet these agile, flatdecked ironclad warships hammered at the Tennessee's armor plate, crushing the timbers underneath. They destroyed the huge ship's steering chain, knocked over the smokestack, and jammed the gunport shutters. The Tennessee could not longer steer, could not fire her guns, her power plant was useless, her hull was losing chunks of iron plates, and she was leaking.

A white flag appeared from the grating of a gun battery. All firing ceased. However, one Union ship, the Ossipee, set for another ramming attempt, could not stop in time. She struck one final blow. It was 10 a.m., August 5, 1864. The Battle of Mobile Bay was over.

With failing health, Rear Admiral Farragut turned the squadron over to his next in command. In November he took the U.S.S. Hartford to New York where he was greeted with a reception, celebrations, and a gift from the merchants of the city of over $51,000 in government bonds. On December 20, 1864, the Hartford arrived at the New York Navy Yard for repairs. On that day Rear Admiral Farragut walked off her deck for the last time.

In July, 1866, David Glasgow Farragut was commissioned the first full admiral in the U.S. Navy. On the same day, Ulysses S. Grant was made full general. Admiral Farragut's final navy command was that of the European Squadron with the Franklin as his flagship. From 1867 to 1887, the U.S.S. Hartford continued as a fighting ship in the U.S. Navy. She sailed to the Far East, to the East Indies, and to the West Indies, protecting American interests. For three years she served as flagship of the South Atlantic Station.

In December, 1879, she was in Boston for repairs, with new engines and new guns and cannons. By July, 1882, she was back in commission to become flagship of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron. While here, she carried members of an expedition to the Caroline Islands to view a solar eclipse.

In 1887, the Hartford was dry-docked at the Mare Island Navy Yard in San Francisco to be rebuilt as a training ship at a cost of $600,000, $100,000 more than her original cost. In 1901 she cruised to Scotland, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium. Then for five years she took enlisted personnel on training cruises, covering the seven seas. After that she became a practice ship for the midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy. From 1916 to 1926 she served as station ship at Charleston, SC. In 1926 she was taken out of commission and laid up in the Navy Yard.

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