Sloop, Class Boston, Length 127’ 4”, Breadth 34’
6” Draft 16’ 6”
Armament: 24 – medium 24 pound long guns; later reduced to 18 32-pounder carronades and two 24-pound long guns
Vandalia was laid down in 1825 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and launched in 1828.
After the war of 1812, the Naval Board recognized the need for additional sloops of war. The war had demonstrated their usefulness, the nation was expanding into the Pacific and needed to project naval power there, and the Board wished to take advantage of the advances in gunnery, specifically the 24 pound long gun. Perhaps the loss of the Essex was still on their mind; but certainly, the intent was to arm the new sloops with long guns for their role as commerce raiders.
The design of this class of sloops (Boston class) was largely derived from a design by Samuel Humphreys. The Naval Board approved the design with some modifications including a round stern instead of the original transom design. (2) The original plan called for 24 gun ports plus bridle ports and gun ports in the round stern, but this was modified among the various ships built to the plan, as the builders at the six yards where the ships were built altered the plans. The Vandalia, in particular, had a compromise of a stern, which might be termed “half round”, with the cant frames extending further ‘round, but still having a transom, albeit narrower than the traditional transom. The addition of quarter galleries further camouflaged her design. Most of the ships in the class ended up with false quarter galleries, a nod to tradition.
The ships were, in general, less than successful. One problem was the insistence that they carry 24 guns in a hull better suited for 18 – 20 guns. Also, the hulls were somewhat barrel-shaped with full bows and stern, so, with the additional weight of the guns, they floated low and lacked the agility expected of a sloop.
Vandalia served in the Brazil squadron (1828-31) and after major repairs (1832 – 34) in the West Indies Squadron 1835-38). She was decommissioned 1839 – 41, returning to duty with the Home Squadron 1842-45. While laid up, in 1847, she was lengthened by 13 feet and rearmed with 4 8” shell guns and 16 32-pounder carronades. She joined the Pacific Squadron in 1849, serving until 1852. In 1853, she joined Commodore Perry’s East Indies Squadron, and was present at Perry’s entrance into Tokyo Bay in 1854. Briefly decommissioned in 1856, she returned to the Pacific Squadron in 1857. In 1859, she rescued survivors of the wrecked American clipper “Wild Wave”. In 1861, with the start of the Civil War, she was recalled home and assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, serving in the Charleston area. She captured the schooner “Henry Middleton” and assisted in the capture of the ship “Thomas Watson” that same year. She supported the amphibious assault on Roanoke Island and resumed blockade duty through the end of 1862. Early in 1863, she was decommissioned and spend her last days in Portsmouth, NH, as a receiving and guard ship until broken up sometime between 1870 and 1870 (1)
Other ships in the class:
Boston 1825 built Boston Navy Yard – wrecked in Bahamas 1846
Concord 1828 built Portsmouth, NH, Navy Yard – lost at sea 1843
Fairfield 1828 built New York Navy Yard – sold off 1852 in Norfolk, VA
Falmouth 1827 built Boston Navy Yard – sold off 1863 in Panama
John Adams 1830 built Norfolk Navy Yard – sold off 1867 in Boston
Lexington 1825 built New York Navy Yard – sold off 1860
Natchez 1825 built Norfolk Navy Yard - broken up 1840 in New York
St. Louis 1827 build Washington Navy Yard – sold off after Civil War
Vincennes 1826 built New York Navy Yard – sold off 1867 at Boston
Warren 1826 built Boston Navy Yard – sold off 1863 in Panama