I happened to see a photo of the Wheeling online and wondered what it was, as it looked a bit different than the other ships.
Turns out it was a little U.S. warship that was sent around the Pacific to intimidate locals.
In October 1897 it arrived in Hawaii and gave the Hawaiians quite a shock, until they learned that the President had sent it with important communications for Admiral Miller, in command of the naval forces at Honolulu and Mr. Sewall the U.S. Minister.
Six months late, in March of 1898, Governor Brady was on his annual inspection of the Alaska ports aboard the Wheeling.
After leaving Dyea they sailed to Hoonah and found the local community all inflamed about a recent homicide and subsequent intentions to make the mother of the 6 year old child who had supposedly committed the murder pay up in blankets. Governor Brady told the local tribe that they could not do that anymore. At Yakutat he found another case of a witch hunt that nearly killed three people. To reinforce his word, he had Captain Sebree practice the guns of the Wheeling as an object lesson.
Governor Brady said that the trip had “done much good for the Natives as they dreaded a gun boat more than anything else.”
Shortly thereafter on July 25, 1898 it was reported that Canadian sealers were raiding the rookeries of the islands of St. Paul and St. George. Stationed at Unalaska, the gunboat Wheeler certainly had her hands full patroling the entire Bering Sea.
On January 26, 1911 there was a report that the Wheeling had suffered an explosion while enroute from New York to Cuba. She must have survived that because in 1915 she was at the ready in Haiti when President Wilson was having some problems with Mexico. That article mentions that the entire Atlantic fleet of 21 warships was at the ready.
Seems the little Wheeling got around!
The Morning Herald March 23, 1898; Evening Post, January 26, 1911; Clinton Mirror, March 13, 1915; The Philadelphia Record, Sept 25, 1897.