USS Varuna (1861)

USS Varuna (1861)

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USS Varuna (1861)

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USS Varuna (1861) was a heavy (1,300 ton) steam-powered ship acquired by the Union Navy during the early days of the American Civil War. She was outfitted with powerful 8-inch guns and assigned, as a gunboat, to the Union blockade of the waterways of the Confederate States of America.

Built in Connecticut

Varuna, the first U.S. Navy ship to bear the name, was originally intended for merchant service between New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana. She was laid down in late January or early February 1861 at the Mallory Yard, Mystic, Connecticut; launched there in the following September; and purchased by the Navy at New York City on 31 December of that same year.

Civil War service

Joining the Union blockade

On 10 February 1862, she was ordered to remain in New York until Monitor was ready for action so that she might escort the new ironclad from New York to Hampton Roads, Virginia, to protect the wooden-hulled Union blockaders there from the Southern armored ram, CSS Virginia.

However, these orders were revoked later that same day; and Varuna was assigned to the newly established West Gulf Blockading Squadron. En route south late in February, Varuna put into Port Royal, South Carolina, for repairs, where the ship's commanding officer, Commander Charles S. Boggs, assumed temporary command of the harbor on 24 February during Flag Officer Samuel F. Du Pont's absence. The gunboat finally joined Rear Admiral David G. Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron on 6...
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