CSS Calhoun

CSS Calhoun

Type: Wood
Propulsion: Side Wheel; Steam
Area of Operation: Mississippi River

USS Calhoun , an 508-ton side-wheel gunboat, was built in 1851 at New York City as the civilian steamer Calhoun . She became a Confederate privateer in May 1861 and operated successfully over the next five months, taking six prizes. The Confederate Navy took her over later in the year for service as a gunboat in the lower Mississippi River area. CSS Calhoun took part in the attack on Federal warships at the Mississippi River’s Head of Passes on 12 October 1861. Three months later, on 23 January 1862, she was captured by USS Samuel Rotan off the river’s Southwest Pass.

The U.S. Navy soon acquired the steamer for its own purposes, placing her in commission as USS Calhoun in March 1862. She initially served as a blockader, capturing several vessels off the Mississippi and in inland waters. Beginning in November 1862, she participated in several engagements with Confederate warships and forces ashore, helping to destroy the steamer J.A. Cotton on 14 January 1863 and the ram Queen of the West on 14 April 1863. She operated in the Mississippi Sound area from mid-1863 and in February 1864 was Rear Admiral Farragut’s flagship during a series of bombardments of Fort Powell, at the western entrance of Mobile Bay.

Decommissioned in May 1864, Calhoun was turned over to the U.S. Army in early June. She served as the Army steamer General Sedgewick for the rest of the Civil War. Sold in 1865, she regained her old name and had a long subsequent career as the SS Calhoun

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