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USS Octorara (1862-1866)

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USS Octorara, a 981-ton "Double-Ender" side-wheel gunboat built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, was commissioned in February 1862. After brief service in the Atlantic, she was sent to the Gulf of Mexico, serving as flagship of Commander David Dixon Porter's mortar schooner flotilla during operations on the Mississippi River. Damaged on 28 June 1862, while attempting to steam upriver past the Confederate fortress at Vicksburg, Octorara was en route to Baltimore, Maryland, for repairs when, on 24 July she captured the blockade runner Tubal Cain.

In September 1862, Octorara, began operations in search of the enemy cruisers and blockade runners, taking several of the latter by May 1863. Beginning in October 1863, the gunboat served in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. She participated in the blockade of Mobile Bay, Alabama, including a bombardment of Fort Powell in February 1864, the 5 August Battle of Mobile Bay, in which she was damaged, and the subsequent bombardment and capture of Fort Morgan. Octorara spent the rest of the Civil War in the Mobile Bay area. On 28 January 1865, she was the target of an unsuccessful attack by the Confederate torpedo boat St. Patrick. In April, Octorara took part in the capture of the city of Mobile. She went to New York in July 1865 and was decommissioned there in August. USS Octorara was sold in November 1866.

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This Day in History
1785: An order to sell the last ship remaining in the Contintental Navy, the frigate Alliance, is signed.

1861: Union troops defeat Confederate forces at Philippi, in western Virginia.

1864: Union General Ulysses S. Grant makes what he later recognizes to be his greatest mistake by ordering a frontal assault on entrenched Confederates at Cold Harbor. The result was some 7,000 Union casualties in less than an hour of fighting.

1915: The British take the trenches at Givenchy.

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1938: The German Third Reich votes to confiscate so-called "degenerate art."

1940: The German air force bombs Paris, killing 254 people, most of them civilians.