USS Black Hawk

The USS Black Hawk was a side-wheel river steamer built in 1848 The US Navy purchased her at Cairo, Illinois, on November 24, 1862. She was commissioned as the USS Black Hawk on December 13, 1862. During most of her service, USS Black Hawk served as flagship - or lead ship - in the fleet serving as the Mississippi Squadron.She participated in the following operations:

  • Vicksburg (December 1862)

  • the capture of Fort Hindman (January 11, 1863)

  • attack on Haines Bluff (April 29–2 May)

  • siege of Vicksburg (May 19 – July 4)

  • Red River Expedition (March 12-May 29, 1864)

Thereafter she patrolled in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. On April 22, 1865 she accidentally burned and sank, three miles above Cairo, Illinois.

Louis Brown served on the USS Black Hawk during the Civil War as a 1st Class Boy. He was only 13 years old when he enlisted on January 10, 1863 at the Arkansas River. The Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect just 10 days earlier. Brown was born in Spring Hill, Tennessee and was described as a "mulatto" field hand. He was described as a "contraband", indicating he had been taken aboard after escaping from slavery. Brown served for two years and mustered out on January 10, 1865. Following his service, he moved to Mound City, Illinois where he worked in a sawmill. In 1870, he married Annie Warfield, a free Black woman from Kentucky. The couple moved to Pulaski County, Ohio to farm and raised a family. Around 1875, Lewis Brown returned to Tennessee where he located his mother Harriet and brought her to Ohio. In 1883, Louis Brown's wife died, and then on August 22, 1886, Brown was shot and killed. His children filed an application for a pension based on his service.

Photo #: NH 499, USS Black Hawk (1862-1865), Photographed in 1863, while she was Flagship of the Mississippi Squadron.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.