Northumberland Strait Steamer Lady Le Marchant became US revenue cutter

Advertisement in Haszards Gazette 12 July 1854

Advertisement in Haszards Gazette 12 July 1854

Several recent postings have dealt with steamers serving Charlottetown which had come onto the service after having been on one side or the other in the American Civil War. These include the blockade runners Minna (Oriental) and Greyhound and the US Navy vessels which were later named the Worcester, Carroll and Somerset.  But for other boats the war service followed a period of shuttling back and forth across Northumberland Strait.

One of these vessels was the Lady Le Marchant. The Lady Le Marchant was built at the Rue End Yard in Greenock, Scotland by Robert Steele & Co. Launched on 21 July 1852 she was named for Margaret Ann Le Marchant, wife of Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant who had been named Governor of Newfoundland in 1847.  Registered in Liverpool and owned by “a company in Newfoundland” she was intended for coastal service in Newfoundland.  She was scheduled to sail from Greenock to Harbour Grace Newfoundland in September 1852.  The vessel was returned to the United Kingdom after two years as “too expensive for the purpose for which she was employed in Conception Bay.”

She was purchased in Liverpool by Lestock Peach Wilson DesBrisay of Richibucto, New Brunswick who was related to the prominent DesBrisay family of Prince Edward Island. The vessel was re-registered in Miramichi, New Brunswick in 1854  and she began service the same year between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick calling at ports such as Charlottetown, Bedeque, Shediac and Miramichi. Lestock’s cousin Theophilus DesBrisay was the P.E.I. agent for the line. The following year the Lady Le Marchant was contracted to carry the mails between the Island and the mainland with service between Charlottetown and Pictou, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown and Shediac, New Brunswick.

Advertisement  Haszards Gazette 24 October 1855

Advertisement Haszards Gazette 24 October 1855

In December of 1855 the ship was advertised to sail from Charlottetown to Liverpool. In 1856 she was once again the mail steamer on the inter-colonial route. Throughout the period Phillips F. Irving is identified as the captain. By 1858 however, another steamer, the Westmoreland, appears to have secured the mail contract and the Lady Le Marchant does not appear to have been on regular service to the Island.  In 1859 the vessel was chartered for use in the hydrological survey of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland under the direction of Capt. John Orlebar.

At this point the activities and ownership of the vessel become clouded. Although the Lloyd’s Registers through 1865 show DesBrisay continuing as owner, the America Lloyd’s Register of American and Foreign Shipping shows Sanford & Co. as owners. However, in January 1862 the Lady Le Marchant had been purchased from an Arthur Lear by the U.S. Government for the revenue cutter service and she was commissioned on 11 March 1862 as the USRC Miami.  Named for the Indian Tribe of the same name she should not be confused with the USS Miami which was a paddle wheel gunboat.

The Coast Guard sources describe the USRC Miami as “a 115-foot schooner-rigged steamer with a hull of teak planks over oak frames.”  After her purchase she was fitted out at New York and sailed for Washington, D.C. In April, 1862, she carried President Abraham Lincoln and other VIP guests to Hampton Roads, Virginia, soon after the famous battle between the ironclads CSS Virginia and USS Monitor. She then served out of New York. In March of 1864 she was ordered to convoy the Confederate steamer Chesapeake from Halifax to New York. On 14 November 1864 she was transferred to Newport, Rhode Island. She underwent repairs there in October of 1865. She was laid up at Staten Island from 8 June to 19 November 1867 and was repaired at a cost of $1,200. She then saw service out of Wilmington, Delaware, before being sold to Mason, Hobbs & Company of Philadelphia for $2,149 in 1871.   Her final disposal is unknown but she does not appear in the American Lloyd’s Register after 1869.

MiamiNo photographs have been found but the adjacent painting is found on the U.S. Coast Guard site captioned as follows: “Revenue Cutter Miami supporting the landing of Union troops on the beach at Ocean View, Virginia for the invasion of Norfolk on 10 May 1862. Painted by Charles Mazoujian.”  The artist however was active in the late 20th century and it is unlikely that the vessel is accurately depicted.

12 thoughts on “Northumberland Strait Steamer Lady Le Marchant became US revenue cutter

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  7. Robert Richard

    Hello, I’m currently researching and developing a short biography on Lestock P. W. DesBrisay. It contains a comment on the Lady Le Marchant.

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  9. Bill Wells

    You are probably right about the artist and his depiction of Miami. The vessel in the painting has an eerie similarity to the Revenue Cutter Mahoning that appears on page 31 of Donald Canney’s U. S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790 – 1935. (USNI Press)

    The period press stated Lady Le Marchant had been the yacht of Lord Palmerston, First Load of the Treasury 1859-1865.

    I enjoyed your article.

    1. sailstrait Post author

      Your comment regarding the vessel as having been Lord Palmerston’s yacht raises the question as to whether there might have been two vessels with the same name. Certainly the subject of this posting was not Palmerston’s yacht so either the press report is in error or it referred to another vessel.

      1. Bill Wells

        Thanks. The press accounts use “Le Marchant” that became the revenue cutter. I have no idea where the obtained the information about Lord Palmerston. Of course, the press then, as now, copies reports of from other journals. I would like to see the original contract. It should exist. Maybe the National Archives will reopen soon.

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