USRC Harriet Lane; engraving; no caption; Image No. V4 L3/2; date/engraver unknown
Pressure from public and private sources from New York persuaded Congress that New York Harbor needed a modern, fast Revenue steamer. Of particular concern were the slave vessels illegally outfitting in New York. The result of this pressure and subsequent Congressional action was Harriet Lane, an elegant, 180-foot brigantine-rigged, 674-ton side paddlewheel steamer. She was designed by Samuel Pook and built by William Webb of New York for $140,000. She was named for bachelor-President James Buchanan's niece, who served as the "First Lady" of his administration. Harriet Lane had a remarkable career. She participated in the punitive expedition to Paraguay in 1858, transported dignitaries, including the young Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1860, and sailed with the expedition to resupply Fort Sumter in 1861. She is credited with firing the first "naval" shot of the Civil War. She was permanently transferred to the Navy in September, 1861, and was eventually captured by Confederate forces, converted into a blockade runner and renamed Lavinia. After the war, Revenue Captain John Faunce, her first commanding officer, found her in Cuba and returned her to New York. Here her engines were removed and she was converted to a barque-rigged sailing vessel. She was sold to a lumber merchant, Elliot Ritchie, who named her after himself. She was abandoned off Pernambuco, Brazil, "water-logged," in the spring of 1884.*

Photo by: na |  VIRIN: 240616-G-ZZ999-105.JPG