U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA
Keel Laid: 1818 Philadelphia Naval Yard, Philadelphia, PA
Keel Laid: Brooklyn, NY
Decommissioned: Soon After War's End
VESSEL HISTORY: (North Carolina)
U.S.S. North Carolina was a 74 - gun ship of the line in the United States Navy. She was launched on 9/7/230. She was 196th feet long, 53.6 feet wide and carried a compliment of 820 officers and men.
While Nominally a 74 - gun ship, a popular size at the time, North Carolina was actually pierced (had gun ports) for 102 guns, and probably originally mounted 94 42-pounder and 32-pownder cannons. In 1845 she had fifty-six 42-pownders, twenty-six 32-pounders and 8 in (200 mm) cannons for a total of ninety.
Considered by many the most powerful naval vessel then afloat, North Carolina served in the Mediterranean as flagship of the American fleet from April, 1825 to May, 1827. During this period ports of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea were opened to American traders.
After a period of ordinary (being mothballed) North Carolina was fitted out for the Pacific Squadron. Again, in the Pacific she was flagship of her station.
In June, 1839 North Carolina returned to the New York Navy Yard. Her seafaring days ended, she served the Navy as a receiving ship (induction center) until 1866. She was sold on 10/1/67.
VESSEL HISTORY: (Bienville)
The U.S.S. Bienville (named after Jean Baptiste de Bienville 3 time colonial governor of French Louisiana) was built in Brooklyn, NY by the Lawrence & Foulks Co. of Williamsburg, NY. Launched in 1860, the 1,558 ton, 253 ft. x 16.2 ft. wooden, two-masked, side paddle sail-steamer was purchased by the U.S. Navy on 8/14/61. Armed with one 30 pounder rifle and eight 32 pounder smoothbore cannon, she was commissioned on 10/23/61. Soon thereafter she took part in the expedition that seized future U.S. Naval bases at Port Royal and Beaufort, SC.
As part of the South Atlantic blockade fleet Bienville operated off the Confederacy's coast for more than a year. During that period she took part in the capture of positions along the Georgia and Florida shores as well as ending the careers of several blockade runners among them the steamships Strettin (later U.S.S. Stettin) taken on 5/24/62 and Patras taken on 5/27/62.
In 1863 U.S.S. Bienville was transferred to the Gulf Of Mexico. There she continued her blockading work and aided in the capture of the entrances to Mobile Bay, AL.
By early 1865 Bienville was stationed off the coast of Texas blockading Galveston. On the night of 2/7/65 she and another gunship sent a boat party of twenty four into Galveston Bay to seize two schooners laden with cotton. The actual "prize" the party sought was the destruction of the vessel Wren along with sister ship the Lark.
The Wren had run aground on 2/6/65, but was freed narrowly escaping capture, and moored inside Galveston Harbor. The schooner Pet, with 256 bales of cotton on board and Annie Sophia, with 220 bales, were anchored near the main channel at Fort Point. The raiding party was successful in capturing the schooners, but not able to get to the Wren.
Bienville was decommissioned soon after the end of The War. After about two years in reserve (mothballs) she was sold in October, 1867. She then operated under the Bienville name as a commercial steamship until 8/15/72 when she was destroyed by fire at Watling Island in the Bahamas.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age:
Enlisted/Enrolled: 11/15/61 Brooklyn Navy Yard Brooklyn, NY Rank: Ordinary Seaman
Discharged: 12/31/62 Brooklyn Navy Yard Brooklyn, NY
Highest Rank: Ordinary Seaman
Rank At Discharge: Ordinary Seaman
James Baker was born in Ireland. His birthdate was 5/25/40. (GAR list says 5/24 but 25 is date used by vet himself on forms.) No information has been found regarding his parentage or the names of possible siblings. Also unknown is not known when he came to America.
In 1861 civil war erupted in America. On 11/15/61, James, at the time in New York, enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Initially assigned to the receiving ship U.S.S. North Carolina. He served the bulk of his one year enlistment aboard the steam U.S.S. Bienville.
James never married, so did not leave much of a footprint behind during his post-Civil War travels. The next we hear from him is in 1892 living in Seattle, King Co., Washington. What had drawn him to the Puget Sound Region of the Pacific Northwest and when he had arrived are not known. Seattle, however, is a seaport, so he might have arrived here crewing on a ship.
A single man with no kinship ties in America, James moved around a lot. In 1892 his Seattle address was Ward 4. In 1900 he was still in Seattle, but then residing in Ward 5. Interestingly his occupation at that time was not sailor, longshoreman or even water front-related. It was "miner." In 1910 he was residing in Ward 1. 6/19/14.
Around mid-decade James began the paperwork to obtain a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War naval service. Initiating the process he contacted government officials in search of his naval discharge papers. In response, on 1/27/06 he received a letter directed to 1807 7th Ave. Seattle from the Treasury Department informing him "Your certificate of discharge, which was inadvertently filed with your claim for prize money submitted to this office in September, 1863, is enclosed.*
James was subsequently granted a pension. Circa 1910 he was receiving a stipend of $12 per month. His pension certificate number was 34,271. Sadly, it appears that beyond his pension James had no other assets.
In May, 1910 James began petitioning the State of Washington to become a resident of the State Soldiers' Home located in Orting, Pierce County, south of Seattle near Tacoma. The home received his application on 6/16/10. He was approved for admission on 6/17 or 20/10, but did not enter the facility until 6/27/11.Grounds for the admission of the now (blank) year old were total blindness in his left eye and partial blindness in the right due to a cataracts, senile debility, an irregular heartbeat and Di(diarrhea). At least part of the admission delay may have been self-imposed. In the missive he thanked Tibbetts for admitting him to the home, but requested a "six month furlough" on the admission "as a little business transaction is detaining me here."
Did James take up residence in the Orting home? Without the availability of his pension records we do not know the answer to that question.
However, we do know that when, on 6/19/14 James died, his address was 1909 Boren Avenue in Seattle. Interment was/is in the Grand Army Of The Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery at the north end of Seattle's Capitol Hill.
*During the American Civil War sailors aboard U.S. Navy ships that captured Confederate blockade running vessels or those carrying Confederate goods, such as cotton, could petition the U.S. Government for a share of whatever monies might stem from the sale of the captured vessel and/or its cargo.
** Having served as comrades-in- arms during the ACW, post-War veterans referred to one another as comrade/comrades.
Seattle , WA
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