The USS Mississippi was the first steam frigate built by the Navy and the first ship to bear the name Mississippi. Her keel was laid down at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1839, commissioned 22 December 1841 and launched 1842.
She joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in early 1862 and participated in the Battle of Forts Jackson and St Phillip and the capture of New Orleans.
On 14 March 1863, the Mississippi was part of the fleet engaging the fort at Port Hudson, Mississippi. She ran aground while passing the fort and her crew was unable to refloat her. Orders were given to destroy her engines, spike the guns and set fire to her before abandoning ship to prevent her falling into the hands of the Confederates. When the fire finally reached the magazine, she blew up and sank. Many sources give 64 as the number of sailors and marines killed when the Mississippi's magazine blew up, however from comparing the names names on the Navy muster rolls for the Mississippi and the lists of missing to rendezvous index cards and pension applications and from the notes written on the USMC muster roll, only 18 actually died. Many of the names that were initially listed as missing or killed became prisoners of war when they swam ashore and were later paroled.
Two sailors and one Marine were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions that day: Seaman Andrew Brinn, Boatswain's Mate Peter Howard, and Sergeant Pinkerton R. Vaughn, USMC.
Two survivors of the sinking of the Mississippi were and would be historical names in Navy history. One earned his honors before the action before Port Hudson, Quartermaster William Conway and his act of defiance at the surrender of the Pensacola Navy Yard on 12 January 1861; and her Executive Officer, George Dewey, would make history at the Battle of Manila Bay on 27 April 1898.
|Name||Rate/Rank||Date of Death|
|⚔ ø||William H. Austin||Coal Heaver||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø ✎||Patrick Bannon||Private, USMC||14 March 1863|
|〰||Rudolph Brock||Ordinary Seaman||18 February 1862|
|⚔ ø||James H. Burns||Fireman 1st Class||14 March 1863|
|〰||Paul David||Seaman||15 August 1862|
|⚔ ø||Stephen Downey||Landsman||14 March 1863|
|✚||James H. Duffy||Fireman 2nd Class||23 September 1863|
|⚔ ø||John Eagan||Coal Heaver||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||George Henry||Ordinary Seaman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||George N. Howard||Ordinary Seaman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||George Jackson||Landsman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||Ephraim R. Jones||Officer's Steward||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||John Keating||1st Class Boy||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||David N. Kelly||Private, USMC||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||Robert L. Kelly||Acting Master||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||Andrew Matthew||Ordinary Seaman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||John McElroy||Ordinary Seaman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||Moses Oberton||Landsman||14 March 1863|
|⚔||George Sanderson||Corporal, USMC||24 April 1862|
|⚔ ø||Lewis Scott||Landsman||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||Joseph N. Sullivan||Paymaster's Steward||14 March 1863|
|⚔ ø||William Talbot||Private, USMC||14 March 1863|
|⚔||William H. Woods||Corporal, USMC||24 April 1862|