The complement of the Heliotrope is not known. It was 134 feet long with a 24.6 foot beam and, important for operating in shallow rivers, just a 6.8 draught.
March 6-8, 1865, the Heliotrope participated in a joint expedition up the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg where it destroyed railroad facilities, tracks and army supply depots.
After that the Heliotrope continued to patrol the Potomac River. On March 16, with other gunboats, it sent small boats with about 60 men up Mattox Creek and captured three schooners and various types of supplies were taken or destroyed.
The ship continued its work until mid-April when it steamed top New York City and arrived April 20, 1865. This is probably how black crewman Thomas Jefferson Davis ended up in the New York City area.
It was decommissioned on January 12, 1866, and was sold 17 June to the Department of the Treasury for use in the Lighthouse Service.