The Tragic End of a Civil War Veteran

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Brigadier General
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May 3, 2013
A few months ago while reading a thread concerning receiving ships I saw a post that @USS ALASKA posted concerning the USS Harftord. Hartford's career as Farragut's flagship on the Mississippi and at Mobile Bay are pretty well known. The ship remained on active duty until 1899 and subsequently served as a training ship and, as noted above, a receiving ship. Beginning in the mid-1920s efforts were made to preserve her, but they came to nought. This morning I came across this website which documented Hartford's history and final days. An excerpts follow:

On October 19, 1945, she was towed to the Norfolk (VA) Navy Yard and classified as a relic. In 1954 the city of Mobile would have accepted her as a national monument. But the estimated cost of putting her in condition was $2 million. Although a bill to appropriate the money passed the House of Representatives, Congress adjourned before the Senate acted. After that, Congress procrastinated on spending anything on her restoration. She had lost her masts, spars, and rigging. Many of her guns had been melted down for scrap metal. The Navy Department requested permission to scrap the ship.​

Unfortunately she was allowed to deteriorate. In June 1956, the House Armed Services Committee introduced a bill providing $1.25 million to restore the USS Hartford. While this bill was waiting consideration, the Hartford sank at her berth on November 20, 1956 – as a result of the the failure of the ship's pumps – into 27 feet of water and mud. She proved to be beyond salvage and was subsequently dismantled.​

Footnote #1: The Hartford was towed out to an abandoned wharf and ripped to pieces. By November, 1957, only her lower holds and keel remained. They were soaked with inflammables and burned. On that day, November 6, 1957, the USS Hartford met her ignominious death.​
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