Monday, January 5, 2009

U.S.S. Isonomia - Blockader of the Florida Coast

This is a wartime photograph from the U.S. Navy collection of the U.S.S. Isonomia, one of the vessels assigned to the blockade of the Florida Coast.
Built in 1864 in New York as a civilian vessel, the ship was purchased by the U.S. Navy upon her completion. A 593-ton sidewheel vessel, the was armed with heavy artillery and commissioned as a Union warship in August of 1864. After operating for a brief time off the coast of North Carolina, she was attached to the command of Admiral C.K. Stribling in Key West.

By January of 1865, the Isonomia had steamed up the Gulf and was assigned to the blockade of the section of coast between St. Marks and Cedar Key.

In March of 1865, she was part of the large Union flotilla that assembled off the mouth of St. Marks River during the Natural Bridge Campaign. She did not fire a shot during the fighting, but many of her sailors comprised part of a landing force of nearly 1,000 men that the Navy expected to put ashore at Port Leon on the lower St. Marks River to assist the Union army command of General John Newton. The vessels, however, failed to get into position for the landing before Newton had been defeated at Natural Bridge and the sailors were never put ashore.

The Isonomia remained off St. Marks until early April when she was ordered to the Bahamas. In May of 1865 she made one of the last blockade runner captures of the war.

Decommissioned the following month, she was sold and became the civilian vessel City of Providence. Sold by her owners to foreign interests in 1867, she left the United States for good and her eventual fate is unknown.

If you are interested in learning more about the Natural Bridge Campaign, please visit

1 comment:

RoadDog said...

Another little-known Union vessel. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.