SHARK S1821  
Two Masted Packet Type Schooner SHARK (1860),
Renamed GEARGE W. RODGERS and Commissioned January 17, 1865

(This rendering of a mid-1800 century schooner from the "Philadelphia Inquirer", December 11, 1839)
 
Class: Not Assigned
Design: Packet
Displacement: 67 tons
Dimensions: Length: 76 ft    Beam: 22 ft
Cannon Armament: None, two 20-pounder Dahlgren rifles
Built: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Copper clad over oak, Mystic, Connecticut, November 1860
Commanded by Owner G. Patterson of Galveston, Texas
Complement: Varied; 30-40 Men
 


      The second Shark, was a 67-ton two-masted schooner built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; then copper-clad over oak in Mystic, Connecticut, November 1860. Registry page 509, entry 4397 (9th from the top).
      Shark sailed to Galveston, Texas, by her captain and owner G. Patterson. Soon after the War between the States broke out she was one of six captured on July 4th, 1861, by the gunboat US South Carolina, (a Screw Steamer commanded Capt. James Alden), while running supplies and ammunition for the Confederacy off the coast of Galvaston, Texas. Once captured she was dispatched to New York or Boston for service in the Union (from a letter of Rodney Baxter dated July 31, 1861, and archieves at the Naval Historical Center).
      Arriving New York 24 August, she was sold to a private purchaser on November 5th, 1861, then later chartered by the Union Navy under a civilian master. Shark served during 1862 and 1863 as a dispatch ship with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron until taken over by the Union Navy at Charleston on September, 5th, 1863, by order of Admiral Dahlgren.
      Although Shark was purchased to be a part of the "Stone Fleet" of sunken obstructions at Charleston, she eventually sailed to Port Royal, South Caroline, for arming and repairs. There she was she was retained, renamed and commissioned as Union Ship US George W. Rodgers, on January, 17th, 1864, with Loring G. Emerson as Acting Master in command.
      During the remainder of the war, US George W. Rodgers, served as a picket boat along the coast of Georgia in Wassaw and Ossabaw Sounds and on the Vernon and Great Ogeechee Rivers. Occasionally used for special dispatch service, between February and May, 1865, she joined Coast Survey steamer Bibb on an important coastal survey in the sounds and rivers of the Georgia coast. She resumed picket duty May 2nd, 1865, and operated along the Georgia and Florida coasts until departing Ossabaw Sound for Boston July 25th.
      She arrived Boston Navy Yard August 7th; decommissioned August 16th; and was sold to C. H. Miller by public auction on Septemner 8th.



      George Washington Rodgers, born 20 October 1822 in Brooklyn, N.Y., was commissioned Midshipman 14 October 1839. Prior to the Civil War, he served in various ships in foreign squadrons and was Commandant of Midshipmen at Annapolis in 1861. Promoted to Commander 16 July 1862, he took command of Catskill, a single-turreted monitor, 24 February 1863 and joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron off the South Carolina coast. With Rear Admiral J. A. Dahlgren embarked, Catskill led a furious naval bombardment 10 July against Confederate defenses on Morris Island, Charleston harbor. During the attack, withering Confederate fire hit Catskill more than 60 times, piercing the deck in several places. Despite her "severe" damage, Rodgers renewed the attack the following day to "prevent reinforcements and ammunition" from reaching Fort Wagner. Appointed Fleet Captain 20 July, Rodgers resumed command of Catskill 17 August as Union forces continued the attack against Fort Wagner. Early in the bombardment, a Confederate shot struck the top of Catskill's pilot house, bursting the plates and killing Captain Rodgers instantly. The only officer during the Civil War to lose his life in a monitor as a result of enemy gunfire, "he fell." wrote Admiral Dahlgren, "as a brave man, at his post in battle, and for the flag to which he had devoted his whole life."



      There are various other references to Sharks of the 19th Century. One being sunk in 1865 with 17 souls lost. Another is about a Shark participating in the blockade of New Orleans during the War Between the States; but this may be confused by the USS Carolina's taking a Shark of British registry during the War of 1812 (1813, which may have been pressed into U.S. service).
      A Mr. Burr Osborn, having sailed on the preceding Shark of 1821 and shipwrecked on her in 1846, claims to have sailed on a subsequent Shark which he described it as "... a 300-ton schooner with three masts ..." in 1913, but at this time being 87 years old and his memory may have been flawed. This schooner would have appeared as on the right.

 
 
DISCOVERY MATERIALS ... SHARK, A Two Masted Packet Schooner of approximately 1861
Pictorial Rendering< Drawn 67-Ton Two Masted Schooner of Mid-19th Century (Maritime Texas)
Reference Material Image Shipbuilder's Registry page 509, entry 4397 (9th from the top)
Reference Material Text Name change and commissioning of the USS George W. Rodgers (Wikipedia)
Of Interest Material Site George W. Rodgers and US George W. Rodgers (DANFS *)
Of Interest Material Site George Washington Rodgers, Biography (Wikipedia)
Of Interest Material Site Union and Western Gulf Blockading (Wikipedia)
Of Interest Material Site The Western Gulf Blockade (Gulf of Mexico, War Between States)
Of Interest Material Site Civil War Book Review, Louisiana state University, Libraries Collection
Of Interest Material Book Under Two Flags: The Navy in the Civil War (1990) ISBN 1557502897
 
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