USS Ben Morgan

USS Ben Morgan

Union Hospital Ship

Ordered: as Mediator
Laid down:
Launched: 1826
Commissioned: 27 May 1861
Decommissioned: circa 1865
Fate: sold, 30 November 1865

General Characteristics
Type: Hospital ship
Area of Operation:
Displacement: 407 long tons (414 t)
Draft: 15 feet (4.6 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Speed: varied
Complement: 35 Officers and crew

Mediator — a ship rigged, sailing vessel launched at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1826 — was purchased at New York City by the Navy on 27 May 1861 and renamed Ben Morgan soon thereafter. No logs for this ship have survived, and no record of her commissioning ceremony — if any indeed occurred — has been found. Nevertheless, Ben Morgan was fitted out as a hospital ship and was sent to Hampton Roads, Virginia, to take over the role of the Norfolk Naval Hospital which had fallen into Confederate hands when Union forces evacuated Norfolk, Virginia, on 20 April 1861, three days after the Virginia convention had voted for secession.

Commanded by Acting Master James B. Gordon, the ship lay anchored in Hampton Roads as she cared for sick and wounded sailors from the Union warships blockading the Confederate coast. She also served concurrently as a collier and supply ship. Possibly the highlight of her medical service began on 8 March 1862 when she received on board men who had been wounded during the deadly foray into Hampton Roads of CSS Virginia, the former Federal screw frigate Merrimack which Union officers had put to the torch and scuttled just before abandoning the Norfolk Navy Yard almost a year before.

Raised, rebuilt, protected by a thick covering of iron plates, and armed with a sharp, strong prow, the Southern ironclad ram had proved to be almost impervious to shot and shell as she destroyed Union frigates Congress and Cumberland and damaged other Federal warships before withdrawing for the night.

Meanwhile, the buildup of the fleet to tighten the Union blockade of the South increased the Navy’s need for arms and ammunition in Hampton Roads, and the task of storing ordnance supplies was added to Ben Morgan’s duties. In June 1862, when the Navy occupied a vacant building near Fort Norfolk, Ben Morgan’s embarked medical team — headed by Assistant Surgeon James H. Macomber — went ashore to turn that structure into a temporary naval hospital. This freed the ship to devote herself exclusively to her logistical missions. From that time on, she lay anchored in Hampton Roads — some distance from other ships lying there — while laden with explosives and moored at Norfolk when carrying a less dangerous cargo.

List of Commanders/Crew
Acting Master James B. Gordon

3.Photo (just provide a link to the photo and we will get it)

4.Painting Information

5.Books/Articles and other resources

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