Civil War Steamboat Models by John Bowman USS Signal No. 8 Tin Clad


USS Signal No. 8 Civil War Tin Clad

USS Signal No. 8
A.J. Sweeney & Son for Capt. Campbell Sweeney built USS Signal No. 8, a 190-ton stern-wheel steam-powered packet “tinclad” river gunboat, in 1862 at Wheeling, Virginia. A Federal officer of the U.S. Navy requisitioned Signal-reaching Cairo, Illinois on her maiden trip. Campbell sold her to the U.S. Navy for the sum of twenty-two thousand dollars September 22, 1862. She was converted and commissioned a tinclad: USS Signal No. 8. Tinclads got their name from the iron plating, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick that protected the power plant and pilothouse from small-arms fire. Much of this plating came from the Top Mill in Wheeling, Virginia. Tinclads provided the naval presence that kept the western waterways under Union control. Signal No. 8 was fitted with ten 24-pounder howitzers. During November and December 1862, Signal took part in expeditions up the Yazoo River, including pioneering mine clearance operations. She was a participant in the capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas, in January 1863. For much of the first half of that year, she operated on the Yazoo River in support of the campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. She was once torpedoed at the siege of Vicksburg. Signal patrolled the Mississippi during the remainder of 1863 and into the next year. On May 5, 1864, she was disabled by Confederate artillery fire at Dunn’s Bayou on the Red River, Louisiana, and was destroyed to prevent capture.  Mr. Perry Aberli tells us the following “Perry Wilkes, Signal’s Pilot, received the ‘Medal of Honor’ for actions during the attack. The citation says that he “stood by his wheel until it was disabled in his hands by a bursting enemy shell.” Many of the crew was imprisoned at Camp Ford.”

This model of the stern-wheel steam-powered tinclad Signal No. 8 by John Bowman is displayed at West Virginia’s Point Pleasant River Museum

Point Pleasant River Museum John Bowman’s Steamboat Models are Displayed here

4 Responsesso far.

  1. Jude Bordelon says:

    Mr. Bowman my name is Jude Bordelon from Louisiana. I was looking for pictures of the Uss Signal and I ran across ur site Wow. I am so excited to see a model of this boat. I am a Civil War nerd and I live right where the signal was sunk. I do metal detecting and have found lots of things pertaining to the battle on the red river. Just last week I found a 30 lb parrot shell that was shot off the signal. Anyway my question is do you have other models of the signal or do you sale any model of the signal. This would go so great with one of the shells that I found.
    Thanks for your time
    Jude Bordelon

  2. JohnBowman says:

    Mr. Jude Bordelon,
    I am glad you found my model of USS Signal No. 8. The model is in West Virginia’s River Museum, the Point Pleasant River Museum. It sounds exciting that you have found a parrot shell shot from Signal. I have built several Civil War models, and the best way to see them all is to check this out on YouTube “Steamboat Models by John Bowman”. My Great Grandfather was in the 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and three of his brothers were Civil War Veterans. My wife’s Great-Great Grandfather and six of her Great-Great Uncles served in Confederate States of America regiments, she is from Meridian. You may be interested in one of my books “Steamboats on the Western Rivers in the Civil War” see all about this book on my website.
    Thanks, John Bowman

  3. Perry Aberli says:

    Mr. Bowman,
    Thanks so much for posting your model of the USS Signal. My great great grandfather, Perry Wilkes, was the pilot for the Signal. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack on the Signal on the Red River. The citation says that he “stood by his wheel until it was disabled in his hands by a bursting enemy shell.” He and many of the crew were imprisoned at Camp Ford after the Signal’s destruction.

    Does your book have any more details on the actions of the Signal before its destruction.

  4. JohnBowman says:

    Mr. Aberli,
    I have added your information to the post. Thank you, as I do not have any more information about Signal No. 8.
    John Bowman

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