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Built: Selma, Alabama

Commissioned: February 16th, 1864

Service: Mobile Squadron, 1864. USN, 1864-1865.

Home Port: Mobile, Alabama

Dimensions: 209' Length, 48' Beam, 14' Draft

Armor: 6" iron with wood backing.

Armament: 2x7" Brooke Rifles, 4x6.4" Brooke Rifles

Engines: Single Screw

Speed: 5 Knots

Crew: 133

Fate: Surrendered August, 1864, to Union forces. Used by USN, 1864-1865. Sold and scrapped, 1867.


CSS Tennessee II was a "diamond casemate" design typical of late war Confederate ironclads. She was completed at Selma, but later transferred to Mobile, where her hull was slightly modified.

At the time of her completion, Tennesee was one of the two largest and strongest Ironclads then in Confederate service (the other was the extremely unlucky CSS Columbia.) As flagship of the Mobile Squadron, Tennessee was the personal command of Admiral Franklin Buchanan, who often took a direct hand in her operations and day to day command. The main strategy employed by Buchanan during most of the period was to harass Union shipping in the area in order to keep sea lanes open for blockade runners, and in this, Tennessee was quite successful. The ship is often referred to in contemporary records as Tennesee II, owing to the fact that an earlier vessel, a sister ship of CSS Arkansas, had also borne the name briefly before being destroyed to prevent her capture.

On August 5th, 1864, Tennesee was the leading and most modern ship of the Confederate Mobile Squadron defending Mobile, Alabama. Although she could have played a passive role in defense of the forts in Mobile Bay, or escaped to the upper bay with the other ironclads in the squadron, Buchanan chose to once again take direct command of the vessel and challenge the Union fleet, escorted by only two wooden vessels - CSS Gaines and CSS Selma. Despite the overwhelming odds against her, Tennesee's design proved sound. She inflicted heavy damage and casualties on the opposing Union force of wooden ships and ironclads, and surrendered only after return shots had jammed most of her gun shutters closed, cut her anchor chain and finally, disabled her rudder. Unable to maneuver, to escape, or to return fire effectively, the ship surrendered. Union boarding parties were amazed at the relatively small amount of damage to her essential machinery and armament, and she was quickly pressed into service, helping to bombard Fort Morgan within days of her surrender. Later, Tennesee was assigned to the USN's Mississippi Squadron, and served in that capacity throughout the war, and for a short period after, before being placed in the ordinary. She was sold and scrapped in 1867.