USS Catskill was launched 16 December 1862 by Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, New York; outfitted at New York Navy Yard; commissioned 24 February 1863, Commander G. W. Rodgers in command; and reported to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Catskill reported for duty at Port Royal, South Carolina, on 5 March 1863, and for the remainder of the war operated intensively on the blockade off Charleston. In the lengthy series of operations against the strongly fortified and stoutly defended harbor, Catskill repeatedly took part in attacks on the batteries and forts protecting Charleston from the sea. She also cruised on picket duty, guarding other ships of the squadron from the determined and ingenious attacks launched against them, and patrolling constantly against blockade runners.
Commander Rodgers was killed in action 17 August 1863 while directing the fire of his ship against Charleston's forts. The ship was hit by Confederate gunfire on several occasions, but skillful work by her crew returned her to action without returning for repairs. When Charleston was evacuated, on 18 February 1865, Catskill boarded and took possession of the grounded blockade runner Deer, and later in that day raised the flag over another grounded steamer, Celt.
Relieved from duty, Catskill cleared Charleston 13 July 1865, and sailed to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was decommissioned 26 July 1865. Here she remained in ordinary until 1873. During that time she was briefly renamed Goliath (15 June-10 August 1869). Repaired at New York during 1874 and 1875, Catskill joined the North Atlantic Squadron, with whom she cruised along the northeast coast between 4 March 1876 and 5 November 1877. From 1878 to 1895, Catskill was in ordinary at various anchorages in Virginia, and from 1895 to 1898, in ordinary at Philadelphia's League Island Navy Yard.
Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Catskill was one of the craft recommissioned for patrol duty in New England waters, thus releasing more modern ships for active fighting. This period of commission lasted from 16 April 1898 to 22 September 1898, after which Catskill returned to League Island until sold 4 December 1901.
This article incorporates text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.