|The first Mississippi, a side-wheel steamer, was laid down by
Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1839; built under
the personal supervision of Commodore Matthew
C. Perry; commissioned 22 December 1841,
Capt. W. D. Salter in command; and launched
several weeks later.
|After several years of service in the Home
Squadron, during which she performed experiments
crucial to development of the steam Navy,
Mississippi joined the West Indian Squadron in 1845
as flagship for Commodore Perry. During the
Mexican War, she took part in expeditions
against Alvarado, Tampico, Panuco and Laguna
do los Terminos, all successful in tightening
American control of the Mexican coastline
and interrupting coastwise commerce and military
|She returned to Norfolk for repairs 1 January
1847, then arrived Vera Cruz 21 March carrying
Perry to take command of the American Fleet.
At once she and her men plunged into amphibious
operations against Vera Cruz, supplying guns
and their crews to be taken ashore for the
battery which fought the city to surrender
in 4 days. Through the remainder of the war,
Mississippi contributed guns, men and boats to a series
of coastal raids on Mexico's reads coast,
taking part in the capture of Tobacco in
|Mississippi cruised the Mediterranean during 1840-51,
then returned to the United States to prepare
for service as flagship in Commodore Perry's
momentous voyage to Japan. The squadron cleared
Hampton Roads 24 November 1852, for Madeira,
the Cape of Good Hope, Hong Kong, and Shanghai,
which was reached 4 May 1853.
|The squadron now approached Japan by calls
in the Ryukyus and Bonins, and entered Tokyo
Bay 8 July 1853. Commodore Perry proceeded,
in one of the most difficult, skillful, and
significant naval diplomatic missions ever
recorded, to negotiate a trade treaty with
the Japanese, hitherto absolutely opposed
to opening their country to Western trade
and influence. After further cruising in
the Far East, Mississippi and the squadron
returned to Japan 12 February 1854 and 31
March the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed.
|Mississippi returned to New York 23 April 1855, and
again sailed for the Far East 19 August 1857,
to base at Shanghai and patrol in support
of America's burgeoning trade with the Orient.
As flagship for Commodore Josiah Tatnall,
she was present during the British and French
attack on the Chinese forts at Taku in June
1859, and 2 months later she landed a force
at Shanghai when the American consul requested
her aid in restoring order to the city, torn
by civil strife. She returned to ordinary
at Boston in 1860, but was reactivated when
the Civil War became inevitable. She arrived
off Key West to institute the blockade there
8 June 1861, and 5 days later made her first
capture, schooner Forest King bound with coffee from Rio de Janeiro to
New Orleans. On 27 November, off Northeast
Pass, Mississippi River, she joined Vincennes in capturing British bark Empress, again carrying coffee from Rio to New Orleans.
The following spring she joined Farragut's
squadron for the planned assault on New Orleans.
After several attempts, on 7 April 1862 she
and Pensacola successfully passed over the bar at Southwest
Pass, the heaviest ships ever to enter the
river to that time.
|As Farragut brought his fleet up the river,
a key engagement was that with Forts Jackson
and St. Philip 24 April, during which Mississippi ran Confederate ram Manassas ashore, wrecking her with two mighty broadsides.
The city was now doomed, and Mississippi, her heavy draft making her less suitable
to river operations than lighter ships, remained
off New Orleans for much of the next year.
|Ordered upriver for the operations against
Port Hudson, Mississippi sailed with six other ships, lashed in pairs
while she sailed alone. On 14 March 1863,
she grounded while attempting to pass the
forts guarding Port Hudson. Under enemy fire,
every effort was made to refloat her by her
commanding officer Capt. Melancton Smith,
and his executive officer, later to be famed
as Admiral George Dewey. At last her machinery
was destroyed, her battery spiked, and she
was fired to prevent Confederate capture.
When the flames reached her magazines, she
blew up and sank. She had lost 64 killed,
the ships in company saving 223 of her crew.
Displacement, 3,220; Length, 229'; Beam, 40'; Draft, 19';
Armament (in 1841) two 10", eight 8"