The USS Althea was a screw tug purchased by the Navy on 9 December 1863. DANFS reports that her commissioning date is unknown due to the loss of her early deck logs. However from reading through Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the New York Evening Post articles regarding activity in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, she would have been commissioned sometime between 21 April 1864 when she was reported as ready to go into commission and 28 April 1864 when the Evening Post reported that she was in commission. She departed the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 2 May 1864, per the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Due to fears that the Confederates may descend the James River from Richmond, the Althea was temporarily ordered to Hampton Roads to re-enforce the James River Flotilla. After the situation stabilized on the James River, the Althea was ordered to continue on to the Gulf of Mexico on 26 July 1864 and arrived off Mobile on 5 August.
Arriving too late to participate in Farragut's victory, the Althea was used as a fleet tug and minesweeping Mobile Bay. On 12 April 1865, the same day the city of Mobile finally surrendered, while removing mines from the Blakeley River, she struck one and sank. The Althea's's CO's report of her loss:
Mobile, April 19, 1865.
SIR: I have the honor to report the loss of the U.S.S. Althea.
On the 12th ultimo I was ordered by Captain Low to drag the channel with a chain attached to spars laid across the stern; Pilot J. Dinton was ordered on board to instruct me where to go. I proceeded to drag and when abreast of Battery Huger, the chain getting afoul of an old wreck, I tried to pull it out and failed, and as it was found impossible to clear the chain I ordered it to be slipped. After this was done I attempted to return to the Octorara, but the vessel ran afoul of a torpedo, which exploded near the after part of the pilot house, a little to starboard; the vessel sunk immediately in 10 or 12 feet of water, and I regret to state that 2 men were killed, 2 others badly wounded and that I am badly injured in the left leg and foot.
Killed - G. D. Andrews, first-class boy (colored); J. Glen, landsman (colored).
Wounded - Acting Ensign F. A. G. Bacon; John Griswold, ordinary seaman, Patrick Manning, first-class fireman.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
F. A. G. Bacon
Acting Ensign, late Commanding U.S.S. Althea.
|Name||Rate/Rank||Date of Death||Age|
|ø||G. D. Andrews||First Class Boy||12 April 1865|
|ø||J. Glen||Landsman||12 April 1865|
|✚ ⋂||John Griswold||Landsman||20 October 1865||32|