Saturday, July 24, 2010
USS Fort Donelson (ex-Robert E. Lee)
Robert E. Lee/Fort Donelson is an excellent example of a Civil War blockade runner. Some of the best designed ships of the war were the blockade runners. Sleek in design, they had to achieve high speed while being able to carry a large amount of cotton (if going outbound) or ordnance and clothing (if coming inbound). Scottish and English shipbuilders were more than happy to accommodate Confederate and British outfits with ships that fit these needs. The result was some of the fastest ships in the world.
The U.S. Navy did work off the theory that the best way to capture a blockade runner was with another blockade runner, particularly one as well designed as Robert E. Lee. Thus, Robert E. Lee was refitted, reflagged, and recommissioned Fort Donelson (after the 1862 battle on the Cumberland River). She served with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and participated in the second Fort Fisher campaign.