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Ship Name and Designation History

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Laid down 1841 - Launched July 26 1842

    Commissioned January 4 1843 - Decommissioned December 10 1844
    Recommissioned March 15 1845 - Decommissioned January 9 1847
    Recommissioned 1847 - Decommissioned February 26 1848
    Recommissioned April 17 1848 - Decommissioned November 30 1849
    Recommissioned August 12 1850 - Decommissioned October 10 1854
    Recommissioned September 6 1855 - Placed in Ordinary 1858
    Decommissioned June 26 1860
    Recommissioned November 5 1860 - Decommissioned August 25 1861
    Recommissioned June 24 1863 - Decommissioned April 28 1865
    Recommissioned October 1 1867 - Decommissioned July 7 1869
    Recommissioned May 16 1871 - Decommissioned October 14 1871
    Reactivated May 1 1875 Gunnery Ship at Annapolis
    Placed in Ordinary May 7 1876
    Recommissioned May 19 1877 - Decommissioned October 8 1888
    Loaned to Pennsylvania between 1890 and 1907, as a state marine school ship at Philadelphia

    Sold August 14 1907 to Thomas Butler & Co. of Boston
    Fate unknown

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each name of the ship (for example, Bushnell AG-32 / Sumner AGS-5 are different names for the same ship so there should be one set of pages for Bushnell and one set for Sumner). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

  1. Covers Page 1     (DATE RANGE)



This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each name and/or commissioning period. Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


Postmark Type
Killer Bar Text

Thumbnail Link To
Postmark Image
Thumbnail Link To
Cover Image

1st Commissioning January 4 1843 to December 10 1844


CDS & Free

Portsmouth, NH


JohnGermann Saratoga Sloop-of-War 18430117 1a Postmark.jpg
JohnGermann Saratoga Sloop-of-War 18430117 1 Front.jpg

Posted two weeks after initial commissioning.

5th Commissioning August 12 1850 to October 10 1854


New Bedford MA CDS


JonBurdett saratoga c1850.jpg

No Image

Posted to USS SARATOGA at Panama - Forward to Maine


Orfordville NH


GregCiesielski Saratoga 18531124 1 Front.jpg
GregCiesielski Saratoga 18531124 1 Back.jpg

From the Gary Weiss collection.
Earliest United States Mail to Perry's Expedition in Japan. "ORFORD•VILLE, N.H." arc handstamp with manuscript "Nov. 24" (1853) date and "Paid 65" rate on buff cover addressed to "Mr. John Sewall, U.S. Ship Saratoga, East India Squadron, Hong Kong, China, via South Hampton", rate crossed out with matching magenta "44" credit, despite sender's route directive this was prepaid for the higher rate via Marseilles, red "Paid DD 8 DE 8 1853" London datestamp, "Hong-Kong 13 FE 1854" circular datestamp on back, significant receipt docketing "Recd Jeddo Bay, Japan, Per 'Supply' from Shanghai, March 19, 1854". VERY FINE. THE U.S.S. SUPPLY WAS THE FIRST VESSEL TO CARRY UNITED STATES MAIL TO MEMBERS OF COMMODORE PERRY'S 1854 RETURN EXPEDITION TO JAPAN, WHICH CULMINATED IN THE SIGNING OF THE TREATY OF KANAGAWA. THIS IS THE ONLY RECORDED COVER FROM THAT TRIP. After departing from Japan on July 17, 1853, Perry's squadron sailed to China. He had informed the Japanese government of his intention to return, and, on February 13, 1854, a squadron of 8 to 10 ships and 1,600 men sailed into Edo Bay. An agreement was reached to convene at Kanagawa (Yokohama). With Perry's "Black Ships" anchored off shore, gifts were exchanged and the group was entertained by Japanese Sumo wrestlers and American minstrel performers. On March 31, 1854, the Convention of Kanagawa was signed, the crowning achievement of Perry's expedition. This cover was mailed in November 1853 from the United States to John Sewall, a captain's clerk on the U.S.S. Saratoga, and reached Hong Kong on February 13, 1854. The U.S. storeship Supply had been ordered to join Perry's squadron in Edo Bay and, according to Sewall's diary, it reached them on March 19, 1854, the receipt date of the docketing on this cover. Therefore, this is the earliest mail carried to Perry's squadron while it was located in Japan, since no other vessel could have brought mail from the homeland any earlier. Illustrated in Frajola-Perlman-Scamp book (p. 27) and described as "carried on the first vessel to transport mail from Hong Kong to members of the second Perry expedition while stationed in Japan." (Siegel Auction description)


Orfordville NH


GregCiesielski Saratoga 18531124 1 Note.jpg
GregCiesielski Saratoga 18531124 1 Front.jpg

Manuscript notation on the cover. "Recd Jeddo Bay, Japan /Per "Supply" from Shanghai / March 19, 1854." From the Gary Weiss collection.


Ships SL Mark

Norfolk VA Duplex


GregCiesielski Saratoga 18860605 1 Marking.jpg
GregCiesielski Saratoga 18860605 1 Front.jpg

Courtesy of the Jim Myerson collection


Other Information

Assigned as Flagship Africa Squadron, Commodore Matthew C. Perry June 5 1843
Assigned to the squadron of Commodore Robert P. Stockton in the Gulf of Mexico
Reassigned to the Home Squadron, Commodore Connors July 3 1844, in the Gulf of Mexico
Reassigned to the Brazil Squadron December 4 1844 CDR. David G. Farragut in command
Assigned to the Home Squadron, Commodore Matthew Perry April 26 1847
Assigned to the West Coast of Africa 1861
Captured Slaver NIGHTENGALE off Kabinda, Angola April 21 1861
Assigned to guard duty off the Delaware breakwater 1863 protecting Union shipping approaching and departing Delaware Bay
Joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron January 13 1864



If you have images or information to add to this page, then either contact the Curator or edit this page yourself and add it. See Editing Ship Pages for detailed information on editing this page.


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