USS Nita (1856)

Last updated
History
US Naval Jack 36 stars.svg US flag 34 stars.svgUnited States
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: date unknown
Acquired: 10 September 1863
Commissioned: 8 January 1864
Decommissioned: 3 May 1865
Struck: 1865 (est.)
Captured:
  • by Union Navy forces,
  • 17 August 1863
Fate: sold, 3 May 1865
General characteristics
Displacement: 210 tons
Length: 146 ft (45 m)
Beam: 22 ft 4 in (6.81 m)
Draft: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft (2.1 m)
Propulsion:
Speed: not known
Complement: 46
Armament:
  • one 12-pounder howitzer
  • two heavy 12-pounder smoothbore guns

USS Nita (1856) was a captured Confederate steamer acquired by the Union Navy from the prize court during the American Civil War. She was put into service by the Union Navy to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederacy to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

Union Navy United States Navy during the American Civil War

The Union Navy was the United States Navy (USN) during the American Civil War, when it fought the Confederate States Navy (CSN). The term is sometimes used carelessly to include vessels of war used on the rivers of the interior while they were under the control of the United States Army, also called the Union Army.

Prize court

A prize court is a court authorized to consider whether prizes have been lawfully captured, typically whether a ship has been lawfully captured or seized in time of war or under the terms of the seizing ship's letters of marque and reprisal. A prize court may order the sale or destruction of the seized ship, and the distribution of any proceeds to the captain and crew of the seizing ship. A prize court may also order the return of a seized ship to its owners if the seizure was unlawful, such as if seized from a country which had proclaimed its neutrality.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Contents

From blockade runner to Union Navy schooner

Nita, a wooden sidewheel steamer built in 1856 at Mobile, Alabama, was captured while carrying food and medicine from Havana, Cuba, toward Mobile, Alabama, by Union blockading schooner USS De Soto 17 August 1863. Taken to Key West, Florida, under a prize crew, Nita was condemned by a prize court; transferred to the Navy 10 September 1863; and commissioned 8 January 1864, Actg. Vol. Lt. Robert B. Smith in command.

Steamboat smaller than a steamship; boat in which the primary method of marine propulsion is steam power

A steamboat is a boat that is propelled primarily by steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels. Steamboats sometimes use the prefix designation SS, S.S. or S/S or PS, however these designations are most often used for steamships.

Mobile, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Mobile is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the third most populous city in Alabama, the most populous in Mobile County, and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. The most common type has two masts, the foremast being shorter than the main. While the schooner was originally gaff-rigged, modern schooners typically carry a Bermuda rig.

Assigned to the East Gulf Blockade

Assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, Nita patrolled the west coast of Florida for the remainder of the Civil War, operating primarily between the mouth of the Suwannee River and the Anclote Keys. On the morning of 24 February, Lt. Smith, alerted by Union intelligence agents in Cuba, spotted steamer Nan Nan, laden with cotton, attempting to slip to sea through the east pass of the Suwannee River. Nita at once gave chase. Twice she ran aground in the shallow coastal waters, but forced Nan Nan to throw her cotton overboard in attempting to escape. The blockade runner then stranded on the beach where her crew burned her to prevent capture.

Florida State of the United States of America

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

Suwannee River 396km (246mi) river in Florida and Georgia, USA

The Suwannee River is a major river that runs through South Georgia southward into Florida in the southern United States. It is a wild blackwater river, about 246 miles (396 km) long. The Suwannee River is the site of the prehistoric Suwanee Straits which separated peninsular Florida from the panhandle.

Anclote Key island in the United States of America

Anclote Key is an island off the Gulf Coast of the U.S. state of Florida, the largest island in the Anclote Keys, located at 28°11′16″N82°50′44″W near Tarpon Springs. Its name originates from the Spanish term for "anchor." The island is accessible only by boat and is split between Anclote Key Preserve State Park and Anclote National Wildlife Reserve. The island contains mangrove wetlands, coastal pine flatwoods, and beaches. A large number of shorebirds nest and breed on Anclote Key and the surrounding islands. Sand Key is located nearby. Most of the island is located within Pasco County, while its southernmost section is in Pinellas County. The island is home to the Anclote Keys Light.

Boats from Nita took her next prize, schooner Three Brothers, 11 April, at the mouth of the Homosassa River after a chase of three hours. The schooner had been attempting to slip into the river laden with supplies from Havana. Nita took her final ship on the morning of 24 October when two of her boats boarded abandoned and burning schooner Unknown off Clearwater Harbor. They promptly put out the fire and sent the prize to Key West, Florida, for adjudication.

Homosassa River river in the United States of America

Homosassa River is a 7.7-mile-long (12.4 km) river in Citrus County, Florida, in the western part of the state. Its headwaters are the Homosassa Springs, and from there it flows west into the Gulf of Mexico. The river is home to common bottlenose dolphins, West Indian manatees, alligator snapping turtles, nine-banded armadillos, snakes, birds, eastern box turtles, oysters, raccoons, American alligators, Virginia opossums, North American river otters and many species of both freshwater and saltwater fish. The Homosassa River is an estuary, which means that as it moves inland, it changes from salt water to fresh very gradually, and the river is brackish. The river is good for canoeing and kayaking.

Havana Capital city in La Habana, Cuba

Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.

Destroying the salt works near Tampa, Florida

On 12 November Nita and USS Hendrick Hudson steamed to Tampa Bay on a reconnaissance mission and landed a party to destroy Confederate salt works near Rocky Point, Florida. However, the sailors were driven back by Southern cavalry. Early on 3 December, Nita and four other Union ships returned and destroyed the salt works.

Tampa Bay Estuary and natural harbor in Florida, off the Gulf of Mexico

Tampa Bay is a large natural harbor and shallow estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida, comprising Hillsborough Bay, McKay Bay, Old Tampa Bay, Middle Tampa Bay, and Lower Tampa Bay. The largest freshwater inflow into the bay is the Hillsborough River, which flows into Hillsborough Bay in downtown Tampa. Many other smaller rivers and streams also flow into Tampa Bay, resulting in a large watershed area.

Nita’s final days at war and final decommissioning

The efficiency of the Union Navy throughout the war made prizes scarce during the conflict’s final months. Nita continued patrolling along the coast until she decommissioned at Key West 3 May 1865, and was sold at public auction the same day.

See also

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References

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships .The entry can be found here.