Many of the naval vessels of the Civil War were named after people. Here are some of interest.
CSS Stonewall, obviously named after Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. It was an ironclad built in France in mid-1864 for the Confederacy, but due to political complications, the vessel didn’t reach the shores of the U.S. until the war was over. It was sold to the Imperial Japanese Navy and became their first ironclad. They renamed the ship Kotetsu which in Japenese means “ironclad”.
CSS Stonewall Jackson, also named after the Confederate general, was a cotton-clad sidewheel ram. The ship was part of the fleet sent to defend New Orleans. The vessel rammed and sank the USS Varuna on April 24, 1862 but was struck by the USS Oneida, driven ashore and burned.
CSS General Polk was named after Confederate General Leonidas Polk. This side-wheeler paddle steamer was used by the Confederates as a river gunboat. The vessel was burned near Yazoo City, Mississippi on June 26, 1862 to prevent its capture.
CSS Robert E. Lee, obviously named, was a schooner with an iron hull and a blockade runner. In twenty-one voyages, the ship carried over 7,000 bales of cotton and military supplies before being captured on Novermber 6, 1863 by the USS James Adger. The ship became the USS Fort Donelson and became part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
CSS Jefferson Davis, obviously named after the Confederate President was a privateer brig. It ran aground in mid-August of 1861.
USS George Washington Parke Custis was named for the adopted son of U.S. President George Washington and ironically the father-in-law of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The vessel was a barge used as a balloon launching platform for launching balloons of Thaddeus Lowe to make observations high above the Confederate forces.
USRC Harriett Lane was named after the first lady of the White House during President James Buchanan’s administration. Miss Land was the niece of her bachelor uncle. The vessel was a double ide paddler that acted as a revenue cutter. She was later captured by the Confederates and converted to a trade ship. The ship was then recaptured by the Union.
USS General Bragg was named for Union General Braxton Bragg. The ship was 1,043 ton steamer converted into cottonclad ram and used in the River Defense Fleet in Memphis in January 1862. The ship patrolled the lower Mississippi during most of the war.
USS Sam Houston was named for the Governor of Texas who refused to back secession when his state voted to secede from the Union and resigned instead. The ship carrying his name was a 66 ton schooner captured by the Union navy early in the war and transformed her into a ship’s tender and a dispatch ship. She served in the Blockade Squadron in the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel captured Confederate ships the Reindeer and the Solidad Cos during the war.
USS Ethan Allen was named for the Revolutionary War patriot. This ship was a 556 ton bark built in Boston, Massachusetts. During the war the vessel was part of the defense of the Gulf of Mexico where the ship captured eight vessels and destroyed important salt works along the Florida coast. She was also used as part of the South Atlantic Blockade Squadron.
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