Revenue Cutter Service, Precursor of U.S. Coast Guard, Fired First Naval Shot of Civil War 158 Years Ago

By  //  April 14, 2019

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fired the first naval shot of the Civil War while guarding the Charleston Harbor

In April 1861, it was Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane who fired the first naval shot of the Civil War while guarding the Charleston Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard image)

The U.S. Coast Guard has been involved in every U.S. military war since its inception as the legacy Revenue Cutter Service in 1790.

In April 1861, it was Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane who fired the first naval shot of the Civil War while guarding the Charleston Harbor.

Harriet Lane measured 177.5 feet long, 30.5 feet wide and 12 feet from the bottom of the hull to the main deck.

Her propulsion was a double-right-angled marine engine with two side paddles, supported by two masts; the entire ship was sheathed and fastened with copper.

From stern to bow, the captain’s cabin and stateroom sat above an aft magazine, forward of which was a second magazine with the officer quarters above.

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Forward of this, in the midships was the engine machinery and coal supply, and beyond this the quarters and galley for the non-commissioned ranks which sat above a third magazine.

Her initial armaments were described as “light guns.” After joining the West Gulf Squadron, her firepower was upgraded to one four-inch rifled Parrott gun to the forecastle, one nine-inch Dahlgren gun before the first mast, two eight-inch Dahlgren Columbiads and two twenty-four-pound brass howitzers.

Her crew of 95 were also given small arms.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been involved in every U.S. military war since its inception as the legacy Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. In April 1861, it was Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane who fired the first naval shot of the Civil War while guarding the Charleston Harbor. (U.S. Coast Guard image)

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