USS Abraham (1858)
Early in the Civil War, Victoria—a side-wheel steamer built at Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, in 1858 and based at St. Louis—was acquired by the Confederate Government for service as a troop transport on the waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In the spring of 1862, Union warships of the Western Flotilla— commanded at first by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and then by Flag Officer Charles H. Davis—relentlessly fought their way downstream from Cairo, 111. On 6 June, they met Southern river forces in the Battle of Memphis and won a decisive victory which gave the North control of the Mississippi above Vicksburg. Later that day, the Union gunboats found and took possession of several Confederate vessels moored at the wharf at Memphis. Victoria was one of these prizes.
Davis used the riverboat as a storeship and an inspection vessel for his flotilla until that organization—an Army outfit commanded by naval officers—was transferred to the Navy on 1 October and renamed the Mississippi Squadron. A fortnight later, on the 15th, Victoria was renamed Abraham and, under the command of Acting Ensign William Wagner, continued to serve the Union cause in the same capacity. While not exposed to the hazards of combat, the ship constantly suffered the perils of life on the upper Mississippi and, on several occasions, was threatened by fires on nearby vessels. For example, on the night of 7 February 1863, she moored astern of Glide when that gunboat caught fire; and Abraham only escaped when Glide was cut adrift, pushed out into the current by the tug Dahlia, and allowed to drift downstream.
On 9 May 1864, Abraham moved from Cairo to Mound City, 111., where she served through the end of the Civil War. After the collapse of the Confederacy, Abraham was taken out of service and laid up at Mound City until sold there on 30 September to L. C. and R. N. Alexander. Redocumented Lexington on 16 March 1866, the side-wheeler served private interests on the Mississippi until she caught fire at Algiers, La., on 3 February 1869 and burned until she was a total loss.
- Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships