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From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.

-- Thomas Jefferson

USS Tecumseh (1864-1864)

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USS Tecumseh, a 2100-ton Canonicus class monitor built at Jersey City, New Jersey, was commissioned in April 1864. She served on the James River, Virginia, during May-July 1864, supporting the operations of the Union army. While so occupied on 21 June, she took part in a gunfire action with Confederate fortifications and warships at Howlett's Farm.

Tecumseh was sent to join Rear Admiral Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron in July 1864, in order to participate in an attack on Mobile Bay, Alabama. In the morning of 5 August, she steamed slowly past Fort Morgan, at the mouth of Mobile Bay, leading a line of four monitors that were to cover the advance of the rest of the attacking squadron. While maneuvering to engage the Confederate ironclad ram Tennessee, Tecumseh struck an enemy mine, quickly rolled over and sank, with the loss of 92 of her crew.

During the mid-1960s, plans were made to raise the sunken monitor and place her on exhibit. Though Tecumseh's hull was partially explored and many small objects were recovered from her interior technical, legal and financial difficulties prevented full salvage. Upside down in relatively shallow water, she remains the best-preserved Civil War ironclad that is available to serve as an artifact of that great American conflict.

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