The American Civil War At Sea Wiki

Uss Puritan 1864.jpg

USS PURITAN (Incomplete)

Built: Greenpoint, New York

Commissioned: Never Commissioned

Service: Never Commissioned

Home Port: Greenpoint, New York

Dimensions: 340' Length, 50' Beam, 20' Draft

Armor: 2-6" iron Hull, 15" iron Turret, 2" iron Deck

Armament: 2x20" Smoothebores (never delivered)

Engines: Dual Screws

Speed: 11 Knots

Crew: 175

Fate: Never Commissioned; "rebuilt" in 1874, with 99% new components, essentially a different ship.


Often described as a sister ship or counterpart to the USS Dictator, Puritan was an ocean going monitor designed for use in a coastal attack and defense role. She was ordered in 1862, but nearly two years elapsed before work began in earnest. She was very near completion at the end of 1864, but could not be commissioned until the delivery of her twin 20" smoothebore Dahlgren guns. The guns had still not been delivered as of May, 1865, at which point her construction was "idefinitely suspended" with the conclusion of major combat operations in the American Civil War.

In 1874, Secretary of the Navy James Robeson saw the growing deterioration of the United States Navy, and determined to attempt to modernize the fleet. Unfortunately, he could not obtain the necessary funding and permits from Congress. An obscure loophole in the law, however, provided continued funds for the refit/reconstruction and rebuilding of ships held in reserve or otherwise declared to be obsolete but still needed by the service. Under this scheme, Robeson ordered the "reconstruction" of Puritan and four Milwaukee class monitors. The scheme was nearly successful, and discovered only after the fact, causing an uproar in Congress. Nevertheless, the construction did actually follow the letter of the law, since every rebuilt ship retained at least 1% of the original material used in the construction of the ships being refit - in the case of Puritan (and most of the others) this was the ship's bell. Everything else was completely new from the keel up. Nevertheless, the Navy continued to call the ship "Puritan" as the new ship was, due to this legality, still technically the same ship that had been in existence since 1864.