USS Tristram Shandy (1864)

USS Tristram Shandy (1864)

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USS Tristram Shandy (1864)

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USS Tristram Shandy (1864) was a 444-ton steamer captured by the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

With her Parrott rifle installed, she was used by the Navy as a gunboat to patrol navigable waterways of the Confederate States of America to prevent the South from trading with other countries.

Confederate Navy

Tristram Shandy took her name from the hero—and the shortened title—of the novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which was written by Laurence Sterne between the years 1759 and 1767. She was a schooner-rigged, iron-hulled sidewheel steamer completed in 1864 at Greenock, Scotland. She was originally owned by Matthew Isaac Wilson, a Liverpool, England, merchant. The ship subsequently sailed for the Bahamas, whence she took part in British efforts to continue trade with Southern states during the American Civil War.

On her first attempt to run the Federal blockade, Tristram Shandy outdistanced a Union pursuer by dumping cargo overboard to gain a few more knots of speed. After reaching Wilmington, North Carolina, she returned to Nassau, Bahamas, to pick up another cargo earmarked for the Confederate States of America.

Taken as a prize

Successfully slipping through the blockade, she unloaded at Wilmington and took on board a valuable cargo of cotton, turpentine, and tobacco. In addition, $50,000 in Confederate specie reposed in the ship's safe.

On 15 May 1864, the steamer attempted to slip to sea under the protective covering of a rain...
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