Portsmouth Marine Society

Famous Portsmouth Ships

The USS Kearsarge - Piscataqua-built

Brave Old Kearsarge Oil on canvas, 29 x 40 inches
Joseph G. Sawtelle gift to the Portsmouth Athenæum

"On June 19, 1864, one of the most famous sea battles in United States naval history took place off the coast of Cherbourg, France. In an engagement lasting about one and a half hours, the sloop of war USS Kearsarge sent to the bottom of the sea the renowned Confederate raider CSS Alabama, which in the previous two years had destroyed or captured sixty-five Union merchantmen. The battle made a hero of the Kearsarge captain, John A. Winslow, and the Kearsarge one of the most famous ships of the Civil War.

"Named for an eponymous mountain in New Hampshire (there are two of that name; which one was referenced has never been resolved), the USS Kearsarge was built at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. The three-masted vessel, whose speed was bolstered by two steam engines, was commissioned in 1862."

from Maritime Portsmouth: The Sawtelle Collection edited by Richard M. Candee, with appreciation and chapter introductions by J. Dennis Robinson

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