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The Famous Harriet Lane

Harriet Lane was the niece of US Senator and later President James Buchanan.  He being a batchelor designated this lovely woman as  First Lady during his presidency.

As was the custom, a US Revenue Cutter was christened in New York in 1859 and named the USRC Harriet Lane.  She was a proud side-wheel steam ship sheathed in copper.  Her crew of 95 Officers and men served a battery of seven guns which were later upgraded in size and firepower when she entered the Navy service in 1858 for diplomatic duty off Paraguay.    USS Harriet Lane returned to Revenue Service in 1859 and was assigned to carry the British Prince of Whales Edward Albert to Mount Vernon during the first visit of a member of a British Royal Family to America. 

On 30 March 1861 she was assigned to expedition to resupply Ft Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  During this duty Lt. W. D. Thompson USN fired a 32-pounder across the bow of a merchant vessel attempting to leave the harbor on 11 April  1861 without a flag flying identifying its allegience.  The vessel was the Mail Steamer Nashville and this firing is condidered the first naval cannon shot of the war. 

When the war started she was assigned to the US Navy North Atlantic Blockading Squadron participating in the fleet action around Ft Clark and Ft Hatteras which was the first large scale combined amphibious operation in the War 26 August 1861.  Harriet Lane participated in the naval attack on Fts. Jackson and St. Philip defending New Orleans.

She participated in the naval operations at Ft Pickens and the Pensacola Navy Yard.  She then was detailed to sail up the Mississipp River and assist on the bombardment of Vicksburg from the south with Admiral Farragut.

Participating in the Battle of Galveston she was captured by Confederate forces on 1 January 1863 and her Captain Jonathan M. Wainwright, grandfather of the WWII general of Corrigador fame, was killed.

She served with the Confederacy briefly as a blockade runner and was retaken at Havanna in March 1863.  Refitted as a merchant ship she was abandonned at sea in 1881  





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