Monday, May 25, 2009

The USS Kansas

The first Kansas was named for the Kansas River, which is formed by the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers at Junction City and northeastern Kansas, and flows some 200 miles before emptying into the Missouri River at Kansas City...

The first Kansas was built at Philadelphia Navy Yard with machinery taken from prize steamer Princess Royal; launced 29 September 1863; sponsered by Miss Annie McClellan; and commissioned at Philadelphia 21 December 1863...

She departed New York Harbor 29 November (1871) for Cuba and arrived Havana in December. The gunboat left that port 25 February 1872 to obtain supplies and await Comdr. A. F. Grossman who headed another Nicaragua-surveying expedition. She was employed gathering data on potential interoceanic canal routes until returning to Key West 13 July...

 Her final year of active service was devoted to cruising in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, at the time a region of considerable unrest. She sailed from Pensacola 8 July 1875, and arrived Portsmouth, N.H., on the 21st. She decommissioned there 10 August and laid up until sold at Rockland, Maine, to Captain Israel L. Snow 27 September 1883.
-Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

I won't pretend that I know anything about the Civil War era navy but that is one rickety looking boat.  I had a hard time imagining how Alex Crosman either fell off his ship and drowned or (according to the better story) got eaten by sharks while trying to save two of his sailors who had gone overboard.  But looking at the above picture of the Kansas, I can see how it happened.

Sadly, there was no picture of the Commodore McDonough, Crosman's other known command, at the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships but there was a nice entry on the ship: 

Commodore McDonough, an armed side wheel ferry, was purchased 5 August 1862 in New York; fitted out at New York Navy Yard; and commissioned 24 November 1862, Lieutenant Commander G. Bacon in command.

Commodore McDonough joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Port Royal, S.C., 11 December 1862. Throughout her service, she operated in South Carolina waters, primarily off Charleston, but often cruising up the many rivers of that coast to bombard shore installations, cover the landing of troops, engage Confederate batteries, and perform reconnaissance. In the continuing operations in Charleston Harbor, she frequently bombarded the forts protecting the city.

At the close of the war, she assisted in harbor clearance at Port Royal, and on 23 August 1865, while under tow for New York, she foundered. 

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this but now's as good a time as any.  Alexander F. Crosman's last name is variously spelled Crossman or Grossman and his middle initial is sometimes given as "T."  So sometimes, in a given source, you might come across an Alexander T. Grossman who is actually Alex Crosman, former Cyclone Club member.  Trust me when I tell you that it took me awhile to figure that out and that it took me a longer while to run everything down to make sure I wasn't dealing with multiple people.   

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