Courtesy of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society
On August 12, 1864, the USS YANTIC was commissioned. Named for a river in Connecticut, YANTIC was a wooden-hull steamer built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Launched as a gunboat, some claim she was originally designed as a presidential yacht for Abraham Lincoln. YANTIC was 180 feet long with a beam of 30 feet. She saw action late in the Civil War and then served in the ocean fleet from 1865 to 1897. While YANTIC was steam powered, she was configured as a three-masted bark and relied more on her sails while cruising.
In 1897, the navy removed YANTIC from the active fleet and loaned her to the state of Michigan for use as a training ship by the naval militia. For freshwater service her rigging was changed substantially leaving only the foremast, and she received new engines. YANTIC was based at Detroit until 1907 when she moved to Hancock, Michigan.
In addition to training local units in Michigan, YANTIC also took part in maneuvers with other state naval militias on the lower lakes. YANTIC visited Milwaukee and then Green Bay in August 1913 as part of a centennial celebration commemorating Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory over a British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
When the United States entered World War I, YANTIC was brought back into the navy fleet and moved to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station north of Chicago. After the armistice, YANTIC was assigned to the Ohio Naval Reserve based in Cleveland.
In 1926, YANTIC was again decommissioned and loaned to the state of Michigan. YANTIC sank at her dock in 1929 due to “structural weakening caused by natural deterioration” (old age). For many years her anchor was on display in front of the Detroit Naval Armory.
Wisconsin Marine Historical Society
814 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
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