Named for a mountain in New Hampshire, Monadnock, a twin‑screw, wooden‑hull, double-turreted, iron‑clad monitor, was laid down at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1862; launched 23 March 1863; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard 4 October 1864, Captain John M. Berrien in command.
The only monitor of her class to see action during the Civil War Monadnock steamed to Norfolk, Va., and there Commander. Enoch G. Parrott took command 20 November 1864. On 13 December she departed Norfolk for the assault against Fort Fisher. She joined Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s North Atlantic Blockading Squadron on the 15th, and 4 days later departed Beaufort, North Carolina to join the Federal Fleet massed to attack Confederate defenses on the Cape Fear River. On the morning of Christmas Eve she closed the entrance of the river, guarded by Fort Fisher. At less than 1,200 yards from shore she began bombarding the fortification and continued throughoutthe day. The following morning she resumed shelling as 2,000 Union troops under the command of Major General Benjamin F. Butler landed north of the fort. However, after coming close to the fort, the troops were pulled back and reembarked in the landing boats.
The attack was renewed 13 January 1865. Through the 15th, Monadnock again shelled the fort’s defenses, disabling many of the guns. Firing continued until the last gun on the sea face was silenced, well after the troops, under Major General Terry, and sailors and Marines had launched their final and successful assault. During the action, perhaps the largest amphibious operation in American history, prior to World War II, Monadnock was struck five times.
Having aided in the closing of the port of Wilmington, the South’s last important link in the overseas supply lifeline, Monadnock turned toward Charleston. She crossed over the Bar on the 20th, after its evacuation by Confederate troops. On the 19th February, while still in the Charleston area; she sent a volunteer crew to take possession of blockade runner Deer.
After a stay at Port Royal, she returned to Hampton Roads 15 March. On 2 April, she steamed up the James River to support the final assault on Richmond and then assisted in clearing the river of torpedoes to allow safe passage to the fallen Confederate capitol. Returning to Hampton Roads 7 April, she sailed out into the Atlantic on the 17th, en route to Havana, where she kept watch over CSS Stonewall. Back at Norfolk by 12 June, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the 20th to fit out for her cruise to the west coast.
Monadnock departed Philadelphia 5 October; with Vanderbilt, Tuscorora, and Powatan. After stops at numerous South American ports, she transited the Straits of Magellan and continued on to San Francisco, anchoring off that city 21 June 1866. On 26 June she proceeded to Vallejo and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard where she decommissioned 30 June. Monadnock was sold to Continental Iron Works of Vallejo, California for scrapping about 1874, as partial payment for a new monitor to bear the same name.
Part of the text is incorporated from the United States Navy's Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.