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USS Cumberland (1842)

US Navy sailing frigate, 1842–1862 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The first USS Cumberland was a 50-gun sailing frigate of the United States Navy.[1] She was the first ship sunk by the ironclad CSS Virginia.

Quick facts: History, United States, General characteristi...
USS Cumberland
Flag_of_the_United_States_%281861-1863%29.svgUnited States
NameUSS Cumberland
Laid down1824
Launched24 May 1842
Commissioned9 November 1842
FateSunk 8 March 1862
General characteristics
Class and typeRaritan-class frigate
Length175 ft (53 m)
Beam45 ft (14 m)
Draft21.1 ft (6.4 m)
Complement400 officers and men
  • 1842: 40 × 32 pdr (15 kg) guns, 10 × 42 pdr (19 kg) carronades
  • 1843: 36 × 32 pdr (15 kg) guns, 10 × 42 pdr (19 kg) carronades, 4 × 8 in (200 mm) "shell" guns
  • 1857: 2 x X-inch Dahlgren gun smoothbores on spar deck pivots, 20 IX-inch Dahlgren gun smoothbores
  • 1861: 1 x X-inch Dahlgren smoothbore fore spar deck pivot, 1 × "70-pounder" rifle on aft spar deck pivot, 20 IX-inch Dahlgren smoothbores

Cumberland began in the pages of a Congressional Act. Congress passed in 1816 "An act for the gradual increase of the Navy of the United States." The act called for the U.S. to build several ships-of-the-line and several new frigates, of which Cumberland was to be one. Money issues, however, prevented Cumberland from being finished in a timely manner. It was not until Secretary of the Navy Abel Parker Upshur came to office that the ship was finished. A war scare with Britain led Upshur to order the completion of several wooden sailing ships and for the construction of new steam powered ships.

Designed by famed American designer William Doughty, Cumberland was one a series of frigates in a class called the Raritan-class. The design borrowed heavily from older American frigate designs such as Constitution and Chesapeake. Specifically, Doughty liked the idea of giving a frigate more guns than European designs called for. As a result, he called for Cumberland and her sister ships to have a fully armed spar deck, along with guns on the gun deck. The result was a heavily armed, 50-gun warship.