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USS Onondaga

River Monitor

United States | 1864

"The USS Onondaga served throughout the latter half of the American Civil War as part of the James River Flotilla."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for USS Onondaga.
4 x Boilers with 2 x Horizontal back-acting steam engines developing 642 horsepower and driving 2 x propellers.
7.0 kts
8.1 mph
Surface Speed
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of USS Onondaga.
226.0 ft
68.88 meters
O/A Length
51.4 ft
15.67 meters
12.9 ft
3.93 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of USS Onondaga.
As USS Onondaga:
2 x 15" (381mm) Dahlgren smoothbore guns
2 x 150-pdr Parrott rifled guns

French Navy:
2 x 9.4" rifled main guns
Ships-in-Class (1)
Notable series variants as part of the USS Onondaga family line as relating to the USS Onondaga group.
USS Onondaga

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/18/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

With the outbreak of war between the states in the American Civil War (1861-1865), Union warplanners moved quickly to strengthen their position on inland waterways and commissioned many vessels for the task. USS Onondaga was ordered on May 26th, 1862 for this purpose and was designed as a river monitor - a large river-going warship featuring heavy guns and shallow draughts. Onondaga, described as a double-turreted river monitor, was laid down (by Continental Iron Works) that same year and launched on July 29th, 1863. She was commissioned for service on March 24th, 1864 and survived the whole of the war in service with the North. Decommissioned on June 8th, 1865, she was sold off to France where, rather interestingly, she continued under the same name. Her hulk was sold for scrap in 1904.

As built, USS Onondaga displaced 2,635 tons (short) and held a length of 226 feet with a beam of 51.5 feet and draught of 12.9 feet. Her power came from 4 x boilers feeding 2 x Horizontal back-acting steam engines driving 2 x propellers. The crew complement numbered 130 and armament centered on 2 x 15" Dahlgren smoothbore guns as a primary battery. The secondary battery was made up of 2 x 150-pounder Parrott rifled guns. The ship's profile involved a continuous flat main deck with a forward and afterward turret emplacement straddling a central smoke funnel. Armor protection ranged from 11.75" at the turrets to 5.5" at the waterline and 1" at the deck.

USS Onondaga's notable action of the war was as part of the James River Flotilla, participating in General Grant's march on Richmond, the Confederate capital. From there came a forgettable action against a Confederate river squadron which resulted in Onondaga's commanding officer facing court martial for "neglect of duty" following the decision to move the vessel further downstream. In the months after the war ended, the warship traveled back north where she ultimately faced decommissioning in New York waters.

In French service, she was given 9.4" rifled main guns, these supplanting the existing gun batteries of the original design. She was acquired on March 7th, 1867 and commissioned into the French Navy on June 15th, 1869, operating until the end of the century before being given up.

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Global operator(s) of the USS Onondaga. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.
National flag of France National flag of the United States

[ France (post-war, same name); United States ]
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Image of the USS Onondaga
Image courtesy of the United States Navy.

Going Further...
USS Onondaga River Monitor appears in the following collections:
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