USS Montauk (1862)

For other ships with the same name, see USS Montauk.
USS Montauk (left) alongside USS Lehigh in Philadelphia Navy Yard, circa 1902.
Name: USS Montauk
Namesake: Montauk, New York
Builder: Continental Iron Works
Launched: 9 October 1862
Commissioned: 14 December 1862
Decommissioned: March 1899
Fate: sold, 14 April 1904
General characteristics
Class and type: Passaic-class monitor
Displacement: 750 long tons (760 t)
Length: 200 ft (61 m) o/a
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Draft: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Installed power: 320 ihp (240 kW)
Speed: 7 kn (8.1 mph; 13 km/h)
Complement: 75 officers and enlisted
Armament: 1 × 15 in (380 mm) smoothbore, 1 × 11 in (280 mm) smoothbore
  • Side: 3–5 in (7.6–12.7 cm)
  • Turret: 11 in (28 cm)
  • Pilothouse: 8 in (20 cm)
  • Deck: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Notes: Armor is iron.

The first USS Montauk was a single-turreted Passaic-class monitor in the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

It saw action throughout the war. It was used as the floating prison for the conspirators in the Abraham Lincoln assassination and was the site of the autopsy and identification of assassin John Wilkes Booth.


Montauk was built by John Ericsson at Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; launched on 9 October 1862; and commissioned at New York on 14 December 1862, Commander John L. Worden in command.


Montauk destroys Rattlesnake

A principal ironclad in the naval attack on Charleston, South Carolina, Montauk departed New York on 24 December 1862, arriving Port Royal, South Carolina on 19 January 1863 to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Taking advantage of the opportunity to test the XV-inch Dahlgren gun and armor of the Passaic-class ironclad for the first time, on 27 January, Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont sent Montauk, with the gunboats USS Seneca, USS Wissahickon, USS Dawn and mortar schooner USS C. P. Williams to bombard Fort McAllister, Georgia. Although hit 13 times, Montauk was undamaged. The ironclad made a second attack on 1 February, badly battering the fort; but Montauk was hit 48 times. She destroyed the blockade runner Rattlesnake on 28 February in Ogeechee River but while descending the river was herself damaged by a torpedo (mine) which exploded under her.

Montauk steamed into the North Fork of the Edisto River on 1 April in preparation for the attack on Charleston. At midafternoon on the 7th, Admiral Du Pont’s ironclads attacked Fort Sumter. The Union ships braved intense fire from Confederates coast artillery, and kept their own guns operating effectively until withdrawing toward evening. Damage to the monitors prevented Du Pont from resuming the attack the next day with the Montauk taking 20 hits.[1]

The ironclads launched an attack on Fort Wagner, Morris Island on 10 July. Capturing this island was important as it would permit access to the interior defenses of Charleston Harbor. Assuming command of the naval forces, John Dahlgren boarded Montauk on 16 July and after consultation with the captains, renewed the attack on Fort Wagner and bombarded it daily until it was evacuated by the Confederates on 6 September. The ships then turned their attention to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie operating for the rest of the year against these fortifications which guarded the Cradle of the Rebellion. However, the Confederate works would never be taken by sea.

Montauk remained off Charleston until July 1864, when she shifted operations to the Stono River. In February 1865, she transferred to the Cape Fear River. Proceeding to the Washington Navy Yard after the end of the conflict, she served as a floating bier for assassin John Wilkes Booth on 27 April and a floating prison for six accomplices.

She was decommissioned at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1865. She remained there until sold to Frank Samuel on 14 April 1904, except for a stint from May 1898 – March 1899, when she served with a crew primarily consisting of local naval reservists to protect the harbor of Portland, Maine during the Spanish–American War.

See also



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