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This Month in Naval History



(ScGbt: dp. 1,375 Ibp. 185'0"; b. 35'0", dr. 16'4"; s. 11 k., cpl. 190; a.; 11", 4 9", 1 60-par. blr.; cl. Adams)

The second Alliance was laid down as Huron—a screw gunboat of the third rate—in 1873 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and launched on 8 March 1875. She was sponsored by Miss Eulalie Boush, whose father, Naval Constructor George R. Boush, was superintending the warship's construction. However, prior to the time when Huron was to join the active fleet, she was renamed Alliance—to honor the Revolutionary War frigate. Ultimately, Alliance was commissioned on 18 January 1877, Comdr. Theordore F. Kane in command.

Fitting out at Norfolk until mid-February 1877, Alliance shifted thence to Hampton Roads, and remained in the Tidewater area until 9 March, when she sailed to join the European Squadron which, at that time, was commanded by Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden, best known for his role in the engage- between Monitor and CSS Virginia during the Civil War. For the next two years, Alliance would be a part of this squadron, into whose hands had been entrusted the mission of protecting American lives and property and "showing the flag"— much like the Sixth Fleet of today. Alliance based at Villefranche, France, where the United States government maintained a "depot," with the permission of the French government.

Occasional outbreaks of armed conflict in the lands which bordered on the Mediterranean Sea gave the ships of the European Squadron ample opportunities to stand ready to protect American lives and property. The Russo-Turkish War, begun by the Russians (champions of Pan-Slavism)-in response to Turkish oppression in territory bordering hers, in the spring of 1877 affected Alliance's itinerary within a few months of her arrival on the station. Her orders dated 20 August 1877 clearly stated her reason for being there: ['Upon your arrival at Constantinople," they began, "you will inform the minister (the United States minister to Turkey) that you are ordered there for a time in consequence of the disturbed condition of affairs thereabouts and that your ship may afford assistance and asylum in case of disorders threatening the safety of the Representatives or citizens of the United States." Enjoining Alliance's captain to observe "strict neutrality," Admiral Worden gave him the latitude to act at his own discretion, in actions which required "energy as well as prudence . . ."

The following day, however Alliance's orders were changed— the ship being directed to Salonika, on the Greek coast, and thence to Smyrna. Within a month the success of the Turks— delaying the Russian offensives that summer by their gallant defense of the city of Plevna—had lessened concern for the lives of foreigners.

On 25 August, Alliance sailed from Smyrna for SaJonika in company with Rear Admiral Worden's flagship, Trenton, and reached that port five days later. She returned to Smyrna, and then again visited Constantinople, where she remained into December. She sailed thence back to Smyrna, the new year 1878 finding, her in that port. Having spent eight months in the eastern Mediterranean, Alliance sailed for Villefranche in early January 1878, but returned to Smyrna on 24 February, bringing with her quantities of stores to be distributed among the ships of the squadron.

Once more back in the eastern Mediterranean, Alliance became flagship for Rear Admiral William E. Le Roy (who had relieved Worden as commander of the European Squadron), in early March, the admiral transferring his flag from Trenton.

Alliance then sailed for the Pireaus, Greece—the port for Athens—but violent gales compelled her to seek anchorage in Vourlah Bay for 36 hours before she proceeded to sea again on the morning of the 7th. Heavy gales again slowed the ship's passage, but the gunboat reached her destination on the 8th.

A few hours after Alliance's arrival, Varulalia arrived at the Pireaus bearing the former chief executive, General Ulysses S. Grant, on his world tour. During ax-President Grant's stay Alliance rendered honors to him on 13 March. Less than two weeks later, while she lay at the Pireaus, the ship received the King and Queen of Greece, who, after inspecting the flagship "remained a considerable time on board" Alliance, their departure "honored with the usual ceremonies as upon their arrival" on 26 March.

Alliance sailed for Messina and Naples, Italy, on the 28th, bound, ultimately, for Villefranche. She arrived there on 10 April and remained in port through mid-May, departing for a cruise to the westward on the 18th. She then visited Marseilles, where on the 26th, the French government steamer Cvromandel fouled the gunboat's jib boom carrying, it away and causing some dam- ge to Alliance's "head gear:" After repairs, Alliance sailed for spanish ports on the 28th, visiting Barcelona, Port Mahon, and Malaga before reaching the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar on 17 June. She then visited Cadiz and Tangiers, and paid a return call to Cadiz en route to Lisbon, Portugal, and Havre, France.

Sailing from Havre on 6 August, Alliance reached Cherbourg France, on the 7th, and remained there for a day, before pushing on for Gibraltar on the 9th. She proceeded thence to Villefranche arriving there on the 19th. After returning to the eastern Mediterranean, visiting Leghorn, Italy, between 20 and 27 September, she sailed on a cruise "in eastern waters, making Smyrna her headquarters." Alliance later visited Messina, Italy and Volo, Turkey; after "finding affairs there (at Volo) quiet,"the gunboat sailed for Smyrna, arriving there on 11 October. Alliance remained there into December.

During 1879, Alliance carried out much the same routine as in her previous time with the European Squadron, ultimately returnmg home to the United States late in the year. Reaching Boston on S December 1879, Alliance sailed for Norfolk the following day, arriving there on the 14th. For the next five months, the ship lay under repairs at Norfolk, before she received orders at the end of April, 1880, to proceed to the Newfoundland Banks, to "search for and establish positions (if found) of the rocks and shoals" reported by shipping in that area.

After compensating her compasses in Lynnhaven Roads Alliance sailed on 29 May 1880. She reached St. Pierre, a sparsely populated rocky isle off the south coast of Newfoundland, on 11 June, after a 12-day passage from Hampton Roads. She remained there for ten days, investigated the banks, and then divided a fortnight between St. John's, Newfoundland, and Halifax.

Proceeding thence to the Portsmouth, (N.H.) Navy Yard, and arriving there on 29 August, Alliance underwent repairs to her engines during the month of September. She then dropped down the eastern seaboard to Hampton Roads, making arrival on 4 October. The gunboat then sailed south, visiting Savannah, Gal, from 20 to 28 November. Taking on coal at Port Royal, S.C. Alliance then touched at Key West, Fla., again topping off her bunkers, before she set course for Mexican waters. Over succeeding weeks, Alliance visited the ports of Veracruz, Tuxpan, and Tampico, working her way along the eastern coast of Mexico, her sailing orders having directed her commanding officer to keep himself informed "regarding the commercial interests of the United States at the ports visited and render all assistance demanded by the interests of the United States to her citizens and commerce."

Reaching the Pensacola (Fla.) Navy Yard three days into the new year, 1881, Alliance then visited the Cuban ports of Matanzas, Cardenas and Havana before calling at Key West on 4 and 5 February. The gunboat then sailed for the Mississippi River, and visited New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Natchez over the succeeding weeks. During the ship's visit to New Orleans, a boy named John A. Leieune visited her. He saw Alliance's marine officer, Captain of Marines George F. Elliott (a future commandant of the Corps), resplendent in his dress umform, and, impressed by the sight, resolved to become a marine. He did, and eventually became Commandant himself.

Alliance returned to Hampton Roads, via Key West, and arrived there on 16 April. Later that same day, she proceeded up the Potomac River and anchored off Alexandria, Va., where on 25 April, officers and men from the ship participated in the ceremonies attendant to the unveiling of a statue memorializing the accomplishments of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. Upon completion of her participation in these festivities, Alliance returned to Hampton Roads.

While Alliance had been operating in the Gulf of Mexico, a board had met in Washington to discuss an expedition to ascertain the whereabouts of the ship Jeannette, that had not been heard from in some time while on an exploration cruise to the Arctic. An Act of Congress approved on 3 March 1881 provided for, among other "sundry civil expenses of the government" the chartering, equipping, and supplying a vessel "for the prosecution of a search for the steamer Jeannette, of the Arctic exploring expedition." One suitable ship, Mary and Helen, a steam whaler was taken over and refitted at the Mare Island Navy Yard renamed Rodgers, she sailed from San Francisco on 16 June.

The Navy, having determined to send a naval vessel "to search for the missing ship between Greenland, Iceland, and the coast of Norway and Spitzbergen . . ." chose Alliance for the mission and ordered her to the Norfolk Navy Yard to be fitted out for the task at hand. There, the gunboat underwent the necessary alterations to equip her for what lay ahead in the inhospitable northern regions. Her bow was sheathed with live oak, and a strong Iron guard fitted to her stem to protect it against drift ice. In audition, she took on board extra provisions, and "warm winter-service clothing" for officers and men. Ultimately, with full instructions having been given and sailing directions furnished, Alliance, Comdr. George H. Wadleigh in command, departed Hampton Roads on 16 June.

After an eight-day passage' Alliance reached St. John's, Newfoundland. She sailed thence for Reykjavik, Iceland, and reached that port on 9 July. There, Comdr. Wadleigh distributed Icelandic-language descriptions of the missing Jeannette and offered a reward to anyone producing "reliable information" regarding the ship they were seeking. Alliance then proceeded to Hammerfest Norway, via Seidisifjord

On 29 July, Alliance got underway once more on her search, proceeding to Bel Sound and Green Harbor, Spitzbergen thence heading north and east. With pack ice barring her way, Alliance then followed the edge of the ice for a time and succeeded in penetrating the floes to a point ten miles northwest of Welcome Point. To mark her northern voyage, Alliance left behind a copper plate, marked with her name, spiked to a boulder in the middle of a small bight, west of Hakluyt s Headland, Amsterdam Island, as well as a copper plate spiked to a nearby cliff to commemorate the ship's visit to that region.

Alliance pressed onward in late August, departing Spitzbergen on the 27th, and cruised under sail until 11 September, when she returned to Hammerfest. Clearing that port five days later the ship returned to Spitzbergen in an attempt to push further north. abandon the effort later in the month, Alliance departed Spitzbergen on 25 September. She reached Reykiavik on 10 October, Halifax on 1 November, and New York on the 11th, her northern voyage at an end.

Near land or ice, Alliance had kept watch for "anything promising to throw light on the object of the cruise," and communicated with fishing vessels, furnishing all with a description of the missing Jeanrzette. While Alliance had not met with success, the cruise had not been for naught. At the outset, the Navy Department had reminded Comdr. Wadleigh that Alliance was "fitted for Aretic explorations . . ." but nevertheless instructed him to "make such observations as opportunity permitted for the benefit of navigators and in aid of science. " Although she had not located Jeannette, Alliance had obtained samples of the bottom of the waters they traversed; made floral and geological collec- as well as brought on board samples of birds and animals that populated the region. The future Marine Corps commandant, Capt. Elliott, was specifically commended for his part in bagging species of fauna of the area. The hydrographic data on the coasts and waters of Iceland, which Alliance's men collected, proved important.

From New York, Alliance proceeded to Boston, where the ship underwent voyage repairs into 1882. Attached to the North Atlantic Station, Alliance departed Boston on 9 February, and reached Norfolk on the 13th. For the first few months of 1882, the ship cruised in the West Indies visiting St. Lucia, Samana Bay; Kingston, Jamaica, Aspinwali, Veracruz, and Key West before she returned to Hampton Roads at the end of the year. For the remainder of 1882, the ships of the North Atlantic Station operated in company, "for the instruction of officers and men in fleet tactics." They operated off the Virginia capes from 10 to 30 May, after which time they cruised in company off the eastern seaboard, visiting New York City, Provincetown, Boston, Mount Desert Island, Bangor, Yonkers and Philadelphia, returning to Hampton Roads at the end of October. While at Philadelphia, the snips participated in the bicentennial celebration of the association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Alliance returned to the West Indies later that winter, in January and February of 1883, before she put into New Orleans on 16 March. At the end of the month, she proceeded to the Pensacola Navy Yard to coal, sailing thence for the Gulf of Mexico. After surveying the waters of Tampico, Mexico Alliance returned to Hampton Roads—via Key West—an] remained in Norfolk until 2 July.

Her respite in port proved brief, however, for she was underway again on 3 July, for New York, reaching her destination on the 5th. The following day, she put to sea to commence that summer's cruise off the Grand Banks, and remained thus employed into the early autumn, returning to New York on 14 October. Shifting up the Hudson River to Newburgh, N.Y., Alliance took part m that city's centennial celebration on 18 October. She then resumed active operations, destroying a wreck off Shinnecock Light, on the south shore of Long Island, and then visited Boston before she headed for the West Indies.

Troubled conditions in revolution-plagued Haiti had prompted the dispatch of naval forces to that area to keep an eye on American interests. A revolution in late September, besides causing the usual unrest, quite naturally caused concern over the lives and property of Americans.

Alliance reached Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 6 December, and over the next three months, visited Santiago, Cuba; St. Nicholas Mole and Cape Haitien Haiti Puerto Plata San Domingo Salt and Grand Ke s Turk's Islands, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. John's Antigua, Guadaiupe, St. Pierre, Port Castries, St. Lucia, Kingston and St. Vincent, reaching the last-named port on 27 March. Departing Kingston on 1 April, the ship then visited the Tortugas, the Cuban ports of Matanzas, Cardenas, and Nuevitas before arriving at Nassau on 4 June.

Contmuing north, Alliance reached Norfolk on 12 September and New York City on the 16th. She operated with the North Atlantic Sauadron out of Narragansett Bay, on maneuvers and tactical drills that summer, ultimately putting back into New York on 22 September. She remained there until 11 December, when she again sailed for the West Indies.

Alliance's cruise soon took her to the familiar ports of St. John's, St. Pierre and Santiago, before she sailed for the isthmus of Panama. she reached Aspinwall (now Colon) on 16 January 1885, where, the following day, the ship's commanding officer Comdr. Lewis Clark, received a visit from the American consul Robert K. Wright, Jr. Wright reported the conditions as they prevailed in Aspinwall to the newly arrived Clark, and requested that a marine guard be landed to protect the property of the Panama Railroad Company. Clark soon directed 1st Lt. Louis J. Guliek, USMC, to piek a suitable number of men and prepare to go ashore.

On the 18th Clark telegraphed the Department of the Navy reporting a "revolution in progress," and that the President of Panama had announced his "inability to protect the property of the Panama Railroad Company." Clark further announced his intention to land his landing force "as soon as possible to protect American property . . ." and that he had "put Alliance alongside [the] doek to assist in ease [of a] demonstration." That same day Lt. Guliek and his marines landed.

However, the situation ashore improved rapidly; and Alliance's marine guard returned to the ship the following day. Alliance quit Aspinwall and sailed north, visiting Cienfuegos Cuba and New Orleans (between 17 February and 22 March) before sailing for Key West. Reaching that port on 27 March she had only been there four days when telegraphie crders direeted her Colon-ward "with all practicable dispatch." The quiet left behind when Alliance had sailed just a short time before had proved illusory.

Less than two months had elapsed, wrote Capt. Harry A. Ellsworth USMC, a marine historian, "before conditions on the isthmus necessitated the sending of other American warships to this land of seemingly perpetual revolution . . ." to protect American interests. Alliance departed Kev West on 31 March and reached Aspinwall on 8 April to fmd mueh of the eity in ruins, the place having been put to the torch by the warring factions during fighting there less than a week before.

The North Atlantie Squadron, under Rear Admiral James E. Jouett (whose flag flew in Tennessee), gathered at Aspinwall and expeditionary forces of sailors and marines arrived in two increments, the first on 10 April and the second on the 15th. The force was employed to ensure the "free transit" of the isthmus—a transit threatened by the warring Colombian factions—as guaranteed to the Colombian government in the 1846 treaty with "New Grenada".

On 11 April, Alliance stood out of Aspinwall harbor, accompa- the flagship Tennessee with Rear Admiral Jouett embarked. They sailed to Cartagena, Colombia, with three government commissioners and a representative of the State Department, arriving at their destination on the morning of the 13th. Upon arrival, Admiral Jouett learned that the insurgents had recently attacked the city, but had been repulsed with great loss, and were standing by in steamers ready to proceed to Baranquillas. Coneerned that the steamers had been eommandeered without just compensation Jouett detained them and sent for the insurgent leaders on board Tennessee. After learnmg in an interview with the generals that the ships were being properly used, the admiral consented to their leaving Cartagena adjuring them to seek a peaceful settlement of their differences.

Jouett subsequently sent envoys from one of the insurgent generals to the other insurgent leaders to Savanilla, a railhead from which they could travel to Baranquillas, on board Alliance. On the morning of the 17th, Alliance returned to Cartagena with a letter from an insurgent general, Felipe Perez, thanking the admiral courteously for his offer of mediation "but declining to take any steps in the matter until he should receive some information as to what steps the United States would take in the matter." Subsequently, Tennessee sailed for Aspinwall.

In the meantime, Rear Admiral Jouett had dispatched Alliance back to Cartagena to ascertain conditions there in his absence. While en route, on 24 April 1885, Alliance sighted a brigantine and showed her own colors. In response, the stranger hoisted the Haitian flag, but then abruptly ran up Colombian colors when Alliance altered course. His suspicions aroused at this puzzling behavior, Comdr. Clark ordered a blank cartridge fired. When this produced no effect, he had a shot fired across the shin's bow. This brought her to.

As the gunboat closed, she could make out a dozen or so men topside on the stranger's deck. Closing still further, alliance made out the ship's name, Ambrose Light, and her port of registry, Philadelphia. Clark sent a boat over, in command of Lt. M. Fisher Wright, to examine the ship's registry and her papers. Those on board told the boarding officer a number of eonflieting stories, "still more eonflieting than the effort to claim nationality by a display of flags," sueh as that the ship had been recently sold and transferred at some unknown port; and that she had been chartered to earry troops (she had 60 armed men on board at the time). Wright discovered, though, that the American register had been eut in two and a "rough, new commission as a man-of-war" drawn up by insurgent leader Pedro Lara (who styled himself as the "Governor of Baranquilia"). As Clark later reported to Admiral Jouett: "As Pedro Lara has no authority to commission either men-of-war, issue letters of marque, etc., I have seized her as a prize and turn her over to you for your decision."

Ambrose Light was sent to the United States as a prize under Lt. Wright's command assisted bv Naval cadet H. H. Whittlesey and a crew of nine men to be delivered to the United States Marshal in the port of New York, where she arrived on 1 June. Soon after the ship made port, a stowaway, a Spanish negro, was discovered hiding behind some easks below decks. Rather than surrender to Colombian authorities, the man had decided to ehanee starvation. He was immediately taken ashore and given medical care.

In the meantime, the situation on the isthmus permitting it the naval landing forces of sailors and marines were withdrawn on 25 May. Alliance sailed from Aspinwall for Key West on 4 June, and reached her destination on the 7th. Tragieally, her commanding offieer, Comdr. Clark, had been taken ill en route home, and died at half past five in the evening of the day of the ship's arrival. A veteran of the Battle of Mobile Bay, having served in the steam sloop Richmond in that engagement, Clark had compiled a record of "gallant and effieient service." The Navy, an obituary stated, mourned "the loss of a valuable officer and a worthy gentlemen." Command of the ship devolving upon the executive officer, Lt. Comdr. George R. Durand, Alliance sailed for New York bearing the remains of her late commander and arrived at that port on 26 June 1885.

After eruising thence to Bar Harbor and Eastport, Maine Alliance departed New York on 16 August and reached the Norfolk Navy Yard on the last day of August for extensive repairs. These lasted into the summer of the following year. Detached from the North Atlantie station on 2 July 1886, the ship departed the Norfolk Navy Yard nine days later for Newport. Steaming thence to New York on 12 August and arriving the following day, Alliance cleared that port on 14 November for the Mediterranean.

Possessing orders to "investigate . . . the reported fraudulent sale in 1884 of the American schooner Emma Jane by her master at the island of Johanna," and to inquire into reports that American flag vessels had been transporting slaves to Madagasear and adjacent islands from the east coast of Africa, Alliance reached Gibraltar on 15 December en route to the South Atlantic Station. Sailing from Gibraltar four days before Christmas of 1886, Alliance passed through the Mediterranean Sea, transited the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and ultimately reached Aden on 26 January 1887. She proceeded thence to Zanzibar, arriving on 23 February, before leaving that port on the 27th for Johanna Island, which she reached on 3 March. There she seized part of the outfit of the schooner Emma Jane.

After visiting Madagasear and Mozambique soon thereafter Alliance paid a return eall to the island of Johanna on 21 March before proceeding thence to the island of Mayotta, arriving three days later. She subsequently visited Madagascar again on 1 April.

next few years, but it was becoming obvious that her days as a steamer were numbered, as an Army and Navy Journal artiece noted early in 1898: "The old alliance appears to require a great deal of repairing. She was six months under repairs at New York last year, and over two months have already been expended upon her this year at Portsmouth, and the end is not yet. It is doubtful whether there is any economy in using for training ships a broken down vessel, half-rotten, leaky, constantly under repairs and completely collapsed in steam power. It will be remembered that it took the Alliance forty-six days to erawl from Madeira to St. Thomas ...."

During 1899's praetiee eruise, Alliance sailed from New London on 1 July 1899, and visited Plymouth, Southampton, Gibraltar, Tangier and Madeira before departing European waters on 23 September for the West Indies. Reaching St. Thomas on 26 October, the ship proceeded thence for San Juan, reaching her destination on 28 October; while at the latter port her crew carried out small-arms target praetiee ashore. Underway on 11 November, Alliance sailed for Hampton Roads, reaching there on 23 November.

After coaling at Lambert Point, she then proceeded north and disembarked a draft of apprentices at Tompkinsville, N.Y. before she steamed to Boston. There she embarked another draft of apprentices between 6 December 1899 to 3 January 1900 sailing on the latter date for her second training cruise of the year.

Alliance steamed to Newport before proceeding to a succession of ports and places on her training eruise: Barbados, St. Lueia, Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), the Gulf of Paria (twiec); La Brea, Trinidad, San Juan, Port Royal and Kingston, Jamaiea Guantanamo Bay and Key West, before arriving in Hampton Roads on 16 May, stopping there only briefly before pushing on for Tompkinsville and the New York Navy Yard.

Mooring at the yard on 26 May 1900 Alliance was placed out of commission on 2 June for extensive repairs which included the conversion of the ship to a sailing vessel. Completing her overhaul on 30 March, the shin was recommissioned on 22 April 1901 and left the yard on 17 May
Alliance resumed her aetivities,training landsmen, soon thereafter, attached to the Atlantie Training Squadron. During 1902, the ship visited Queenstown, Ireland; Lisbon, Portugal; Algiers, and Madeira before undergoing voyage repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard, subsequently, the ship sailed south to Trinidad, St. Kitts, San Juan and Jamaiea before arriving back in Hampton Roads on 13 June 1903. The following year, 1904 aAliance was among the ships reviewed by President Theodore Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, Long Island, on 17 August 1904.

The ship's last duty eommeneed soon thereafter, when she was dispatched to Culebra, Puerto Rico, to serve as station ship and store ship at the naval station there. Regarded as "unserviceable for war purposes, " she was decommissioned at San Juan on 7 July 1911, and her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 9 August 1911. Her hulk, however, remained in government hands until disposed of, subsequently.

Alliance (AMc-64) was renamed Aggressor (q.v.) on 23 May 1941.


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