USS Prairie Bird (1863-1865)
Description: Photographed off Vicksburg, Mississippi, circa 1864-65. Note: identification number 11 painted on Prairie Bird's pilothouse; Vicksburg courthouse on the hilltop in left center. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.
Jerry Johnson from Williamson County served on this ship.
(StwStr: t. 171; l. 159-10-; b. 29-3-; dph. 4-2-; dr. 5-; s. 6 k.; a. 8 24-pdrs.)
Prairie Bird, a "tinclad" wooden steamer purchased as Mary Miller at Cincinnati, Oh., 19 December 1862, was fitted out at Cairo, III., renamed Prairie Bird and commissioned in January 1863, Acting Master J. C. Moore in command.
Prairie Bird steamed down the Mississippi in mid-February 1863, to assist Juliet, grounded 20 miles below Island No. 10. She then continued on to Memphis, whence she escorted a provision ship to the Yazoo, where she joined the Mississippi Squadron. At the end of the month she took up station above the White River to protect a coal depot. In mid-March she shifted to Greenville; in April, she operated at the mouth of the White River; and in May, she returned to Memphis.
Remaining in the Arkansas-White River area into the following spring, she reconnoitered the Sunflower River, as far as Lake George and Silver Creek, with Petrel in March 1864. In April she steamed with Petrel and Freestone up the Yazoo to fire on and pass Yazoo City in support of an Army operation against that city. On the 22nd Prairie Bird, having received engine damage, rescued survivors from Petrel, then retired to Vicksburg for repairs.
Assigned to the 6th District, Mississippi Squadron, for most of the remainder of the war, Prairie Bird operated between Vicksburg and the Arkansas. On 21 July she seized the steamer Union for violation of revenue laws and giving "aid and comfort to the enemy." On the 23rd she rescued 350 of 500 passengers aboard B. M. Runyan, sunk off Skipwith's Landing, and on 11 August she engaged the enemy battery at Gaines Landing, Ark., in support of operations there.
During an expedition up the Yazoo River, another ship Vindicator and Prairie Bird transported and covered Union cavalry forces in an attack on Confederate communications in western Mississippi on the 27th of November. The Federals destroyed the railroad bridge over the Big Black River and tore up tracks for a distance of 30 miles around. Major General Napoleon J. T. Dana praised the performance of the two gunboats, saying: "The assistance of the vessels of the Sixth Division Mississippi Squadron rendered the expedition a complete success." www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/da...
The following December she joined with other vessels and Army units to cut the rebel communications in Mississippi and on the 31st assisted blowing the railway bridge over the Big Black River. Prairie Bird remained in the 6th District until March 1865. Then sent to Mound City, she remained a unit of the Mississippi Squadron until ordered decommissioned in July. On 17 August 1865 she was sold by public auction to Henry Morton.
Published:Mon Aug 24 12:03:57 EDT 2015