A river in central Illinois.
(Mon.: dp. 1,875; l. 200’; b. 46’; dph. 12’6"; dr. 10’6"; s. 7 k. (des.); cpl. 75; a. 1 15" D. sb, 1 11" D. sb.; cl. Passaic)
The first Sangamon, a Passaic-class monitor built by John Ericsson, was laid down under the name Conestoga in the summer of 1862; renamed Sangamon on 9 September 1862; launched on 27 October 1862; and commissioned on 9 February 1863 at Chester, Pa., Comdr. Pierce Crosby in command.
The monitor was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and soon began efficient but unspectacular operations in Hampton Roads and in the roughly parallel rivers which drain tidewater Virginia and empty into Chesapeake Bay. Sangamon was one of the vital ships in the Navy which guaranteed the Union Army control of the waters which border and penetrate the bitterly contested land which separated Washington and Richmond.
After repairs at Philadelphia on 21 February 1864, she was towed by Wachusetts to Port Royal, S.C. for duty with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. After blockade duty off Charleston, she returned to Hampton Roads in the summer to support Grant’s drive on Richmond.
Sangamon performed widely varied duties. She conducted reconnaissance expeditions up the river to obtain information, and often dueled Southern forces hidden along the banks. She guarded Union troop concentrations and served as part of the Union naval force which patrolled the upper James to prevent the Confederate flotilla from threatening Union transports.
Early in April 1865, during the final thrust on Richmond, she assisted in clearing the river of Confederate torpedoes so that Union shipping could proceed safely to the Confederate capital.
After the war ended, Sangamon was decommissioned at Philadelphia and placed in reserve. No record has been found of any subsequent active service until she was recommissioned on 13 May 1898 for service in the Spanish-American War. The old monitor was stationed at Fisher’s Island, Long Island. In 1899, she returned to reserve at League Island, Pa., and she remained there until she was sold in 1905.