The USS Shawsheen was a steam sidewheel tug launched in New York City in 1855 as the Young American and acquired by the U.S. Navy 21 September 1861: 180 tons, 40 crew and mounting two 20-pdr. Parrott rifles.
It was initially ordered to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron but was too damaged to do so so based out of Newport News, Virginia where it helped guard the USS Congress and Cumberland. On December 2, 1861, it engaged the CSS Patrick Henry.
On 5 February 1862 it helped capture Roanoke Island, NC, and later the Union victory at Elizabeth City. On 12 December 1862, it and other Union ships were to assist the Union attack on the railroad bridge at Goldsboro, NC, but low water in the Neuse River prevented them from getting farther than 12 miles upstream.
On March 23 and 14, 1863, it helped drive off a Confederate attack on Fort Anderson and then was sent to Hampton Roads for much needed repairs and overhaul.
On May 1, 1864, it operated in the Pamunkey River, Virginia as the Union troops occupied West Point. On May 8th it was ordered to drag the James River for torpedoes when it was captured.