CSS McRae


CSS McRae


Career
Area of Operation: Mississippi River
Christened: as Marqués de la Habana
Commissioned: March 1861
Fate: Sank due to battle damage in 1862

General Characteristics
Displacement: Approx. 680 tons
Armament: One 9-inch rifle
Armor: None

The CSS McRae was a Confederate gunboat that saw service during the American Civil War. Displacing around 680 tons, she was armed with one 9-inch and six 33-pound guns.

Originally Mexican-flagged (under the name of Marqués de la Habana), the wooden bark-rigged vessel was captured as a pirate ship by the United States Navy in March, 1860. She was purchased by the Confederate States Navy at New Orleans on 17 March 1861, and duly fitted out as the CSS McRae.

Placed under the command of Lieutenant Thomas B. Huger, the McRae served as part of Flag Officer G. N. Rollins’ defense of the lower reaches of the Mississippi River, and provided cover for blockade-runners. This led to the McRae seeing combat with the Union blockading fleet on 12 October 1861.

The McRae again saw action on 24 April 1862 as the Union fleet attempted to pass Fort Jackson and Fort Saint Philip and reach New Orleans. The officers and crew fought hard in this latter engagement but suffered severe casualties (Huger being amongst those mortally wounded), and the McRae itself was severely damaged. Allowed to return to New Orleans on 27 April under a flag of truce, she was then left to sink alongside the city’s wharfs once her wounded had been landed.

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