USS Clara Dolson

USS Clara Dolsen (1862) was a large (939-ton) sidewheel paddleboat steamer built in 1861 at Cincinnati, Ohio. She was described as "a magnificent river steamer" at 273 feet long and 42 feet wide. She was powered by five boilers and 28-inch cylinder engines. Her paddlewheels were 36 feet in diameter with 14-foot buckets. The ship was acknowledged as “one of the largest, handsomest, and in every respect finest steamers on the river.”

Service: Initially, she was used in the service of the Confederate forces out of Memphis. She was captured on June 14, 1862 by the US Navy's gunboat USS Mound City and the tug USS Spitfire on the White River during the St. Charles expedition. After being converted to the US Navy's USS Clara Dolsen, she served primarily as a receiving ship at the US naval base at Cairo, Illinois. In July 1862, the USS Clara Dolson was fitted with four 12-pounder rifled cannon and 325 US soldiers, and she was sent up the Ohio River as part of a successful joint Army-Navy operation to reclaim Henderson, Kentucky (July 19-24, 1862). Following a lawsuit, USS Clara Dolsen was returned to her original owners in May 1864.

Two Williamson County men were on the USS Clara Dolson:

  • Peter Mason was briefly aboard the USS Clara Dolsen from Dec. 20-23, 1862. He then was sent to the USS Red Rover

  • Warren Cannon enlisted aboard the USS Clara Dolson on March 26, 1863 at Cairo, Illinois. The same day he enlisted, another man with the last name of Cannon - Jack Cannon - also enlisted. They were both noted to be a "slave."

This image is believed to depict the Embarkation of US troops from the USS Clara Dolson at Cairo on January 10, 1862.