U.S.S. Gloucester

 Gunship U.S.S. Gloucester, Gloucester Harbor, 1898 Anonymous/©Fredrik D. Bodin
U.S.S. Gloucester, with forward 6 pounder gun Naval Historical Center
As the Spanish American War (April 25  August 12, 1898) loomed, the United States Navy started beefing up the Atlantic Fleet. One vessel they purchased was financier J.P. Morgan’s former yacht Corsair II, for $225,000.Corsair, built in 1891, was steel hulled, 204 feet long and cruised at 17 knots (20 mph). The ship was not armored, but the Navy outfitted her with four 6 pounder guns, four  3 pounder guns, and two Gatling machine guns. In just over two months, Gloucester saw action fighting in the decisive Battle of Santiago, Cuba and helped capture the ports of Guanica, Ponce, and Arroyo in Puerto Rico. She received a Navy commendation and world wide fame for fighting these battles.
Among the volunteers on the Gloucester was writer and poet Carl Sandburg, who wrote in his diary: “July 25, 1898 – Sighted Porto Rico early in morning (Exciting stuff) while Gloucester entered harbor at Guanica and threw shells around vicinity. We could see regulars advance across field, cut down wire fence with machetes.” After the war with Spain, the U.S.S. Gloucester cruised the Eastern seaboard, calling on many ports, including Gloucester, Massachusetts.
U.S.S. Gloucester in Gloucester Harbor printed from the original 4×5 inch glass negative in my darkroom. Image #9145-380

U.S.S. Gloucester at anchor from a Naval Historical Center stereograph card.

Fred Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
82 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930

3 thoughts on “U.S.S. Gloucester

  1. Thanks for a fascinating lesson of history. I have seen and admired many pictures of Corsair, but never knew of the Gloucester connection. Any idea where she wound up? As scrap? How great it would be if she were still in Gloucester, as an exhibit!

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  2. The USS Gloucester was struck from the Navy list 12 August 1919, sold 21 November 1919, and then wrecked in a hurricane in 1919 at Pensacola, FL. A few years ago a woman came into the gallery with a crew photo with her grandfather, who served on the Gloucester.

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