The Dreadnought was built for the fast cargo and passenger service between New York and Liverpool. She operated in the Red Cross Line under the command of Captain Samuel Samuels and for the first two years made twenty six passages between New York and Liverpool.

"With an ample supply of timber, Americans had excelled in constructing wooden sailing ships. Their clipper ships of the 1850s were the fastest sailing vessels afloat. American shipbuilders were on the cutting edge of wood and sail, but not of iron and steam.." (American History Online)




"One of the fastest and most famous ships built along the Seacoast region was the Dreadnought. Launched by Currier & Townsend in 1853 in Newburyport Mass, she was 212 feet long and displaced 1,414 tons. Put into service as a transatlantic packet she would make an average voyage of 19 days from New York to Liverpool England with cargoes of corn, cotton and other raw materials. The return voyage, with immigrants and manufactured goods, took an average of 26 days. Her fastest time, 10 days from New York City to Liverpool was a record time for crossing the Atlantic. In all, she made twenty trips between the two great ports, before she was nearly sunk in a great storm in 1863." (Hampton NH Public Library)

Historical Context

History of the Trans-Atlantic Packet Ships

"It was on the stormy Atlantic, called by sailormen the Western Ocean, that the packet ships won the first great contest for supremacy and knew no rivals until the coming of the age of steam made them obsolete. Their era antedated that of the clipper and was wholly distinct." (The Old Merchant Marine by Ralph D. Paine). Read more...

Important People in the Life of the Ship

Samuel Samuels

SAMUELS, Samuel, seaman, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 March, 1825. He shipped as cabin-boy on a coasting-vessel at the age of eleven, studied navigation on shipboard, and after many voyages became at twenty-one captain of a merchantman, he commanded for several years the " Dreadnaught," the fastest of the sailing-packets. In 1863-'4 he was captain of the United States steamship "John Rice." In 1864 he was general superintendent of the quarterinaster's department in New York city, having charge of the repairing, victualling, and despatching of vessels. In 1865 he corn-manded the "'McClellan" at the taking of FortFisher. He was captain of the "Fulton," the last of the American packet-steamers between New York and Havre in 1866, and in the winter commanded the " Itenrietta " yacht in her race from New York to Southampton, in 1870 the yacht " Dauntless" in her race with the "Cambria" from Queenstown to New York, making the roy-age in twenty-one days, and again in 1887 in her race across the Atlantic with the " Coronet." In 1872 he org'anized the Samana bay company of Santo Domingo with a quasi-understanding that the United States government should acquire a part of the bay as a naval station. He was granted a concession by the Dominican executive, which was confirmed by a plebiscite, and took possession in March, 1873, but in 1874 was expelled by the new government. In 1876 he organized the Rousseau electric signal company, and introduced the English system of interlocking switches and signals. He was general superintendent in 1878-'9 of the Pacific mail steamship company at San Francisco, California, and in 1881 he organized the United States steam heating and power company in New York city. Captain Samuels has published a narrative of his early life and adventures in the merchant set-vice under the title of "From Forecastle to Cabin" (New York, 1887). (Appleton's Cyclopedia)

Images of the Dreadnought

Read more about the Dreadnought:

Books in the OWHL collection:

The Dreadnought of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and some account of the old transatlantic packet-ships, By Francis B.C. Bradlee . At the Addison - 623.822 B72D
American clipper ships, 1833-1858 / by Octavius T. Howe and Frederick C. Matthews

Additional Resources

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Clipper Ships - American and English: Article from Scientific American of February 12, 1853