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Steamer, length 132 feet, beam 23 feet, draft 10.2 feet. In service 1905-1921 in the Philippine Islands. Named for the island, Romblon, which is located south of Luzon in the central Philippine Islands.


Steam launch, length 121 feet, beam 23.5 feet, draft 7.5 feet. On loan from the Navy specifically for the party of Ferdinand Gerdes. The SACHEM was given as a replacement for the UNCAS which had started on its way from New York to the Gulf of Mexico but which had encountered mechanical difficulties necessitating a switch of vessels at Hampton Roads. The ship worked with David Dixon Porter and David Farragut on the lower Mississippi River prior to the taking of New Orleans. Used as transportation and hotel services for Gerdes, Sub-Assistant Joseph Harris, Sub-Assistant John Oltmanns, and Aid T. C. Bowie. These men established survey control on the banks of the Mississippi River for placement of Porter’s mortar schooners such that they could use indirect artillery fire into Forts Jackson and St. Philip. By knowing the coordinates of the mortars on the schooners and the coordinates of the forts (having been surveyed in previous years), the naval officer Porter may have been the first person in the history of warfare to use computed coordinates, azimuths and distances to direct artillery fire at an unseen target. Following passage of the forts, the SACHEM was used as a ferry vessel for bringing the wounded down-river to safety. A few weeks later, on an expedition up the Pearl River the SACHEM was fired upon by Confederate infantry and John Oltmanns was wounded by a shot through the chest. He recovered to serve as a scout and topographer with Generals William Franklin and Phil Sheridan for many campaigns during the remainder of the war. On about June 30, 1862, the SACHEM returned to Navy control and, for a little ship, was heavily involved in many actions, until disabled and captured at Sabine Pass, Texas, by Confederate forces. Name means Chief in Algonquin.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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