Civil War Steamboat Models by John Bowman USS Conestoga Timber Clad
Civil War Steamboat Conestoga Model by John Bowman.
The steamboat Conestoga on display at West Virginia Independence Hall, Wheeling, West Virginia.
The side-wheel towboat Conestoga was built at Brownsville, Pennsylvania in 1859 using engines formerly on the packet J.M. Convers built in 1856. Conestoga was built for Daniel Bushnell and Jacob Jay Vandergrift and named for Pennsylvania’s Conestoga highway and the Conestoga wagons that plied them. May 7, 1861, Conestoga was sold to the United States Quarter Master Department for $16,000. The Dan Morton and Co. Yard of Cincinnati, Ohio converted Conestoga into a gunboat. Her boilers and steam pipes were lowered into the hold and all her superstructure above her boiler deck was removed. Conestoga’s main deck bulkheads were reinforced with 5 inch oak timbers and the boiler deck was strengthened enabling her to carry the weight of the heavy guns she would soon receive. The USS Conestoga initially received four 32-pounder guns. Her complement of guns would vary and Conestoga eventually carried thirteen guns. Conestoga, the first river steamboat purchased for conversion, the first gunboat in the Union fleet arrived for war service at Cairo, Illinois August 12, 1861. Her early Service Record: In Kentucky, Conestoga engaged CSS Jackson off Lucas Bend September 10, 1861 and broke up an enemy force at Eddyville October 27, 1861. Daybreak February 2, Flag Officer of the Union gunboat fleet, Commodore A. H. Foote sets out in a driving rainstorm with seven gunboats from Cairo, Illinois steaming to the battle of Fort Henry. February 5, General Grant boards Conestoga under the command of Lieutenant Commander S. Ledyard Phelps and sets forth on a reconnaissance mission to ascertain the enemy strength at Fort Henry. February 6, 1862 11:45 a.m., the battle of Fort Henry begins and Conestoga fires her first salvos into the fort. Fort Henry surrendered to the naval flotilla unassisted by land forces, something new in the annals of warfare.
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