Today in History:

Tennessee (1864-1864)

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CSS Tennessee, a 1273-ton ironclad ram, was built at Selma, Alabama. Launched in February 1863, her outfitting was completed at Mobile, where she was commissioned in February 1864. As flagship of Admiral Franklin Buchanan, she was by far the strongest unit of the naval part of the defenses of Mobile Bay. To counter her, the Federal Navy had to bring ironclad monitors to the Gulf of Mexico.

On 5 August 1864, Tennessee battled against Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut's fleet as it steamed past Forts Morgan and Gaines into Mobile Bay. Though she was able to inflict some damage on the Federal ships, Farragut successfully entered the Bay and anchored beyond the reach of the Confederate forts' guns. Admiral Buchanan then took his ship up toward the Union warships, engaging them in an intense battle that ended with Tennessee surrounded by her enemies and battered into surrender.

The former Confederate ironclad was promptly taken into the Union Navy as USS Tennessee. With her combat damage quickly repaired, she was employed during operations to capture Fort Morgan later in August. In the autumn of 1864, Tennessee was sent to New Orleans, Louisiana, for further repairs. She subsequently served with the U.S. Navy's Mississippi Squadron until after the end of the Civil War. Decommissioned in August 1865, USS Tennessee was sold for scrapping in November 1867.

This page features, or provides links to, all our views of the Confederate ironclad ram Tennessee, including those taken after she became a U.S. Navy ship.

For other views relating to CSS Tennessee, see:

  • CSS Tennessee -- in the Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864.

    The Online Library also contains pictures of the following officers who served on board CSS Tennessee:

  • Admiral Franklin Buchanan, CSN;
  • Commander James D. Johnston, CSN; and
  • Surgeon Daniel B. Conrad, CSN.

    Photo #: NH 83805-KN (Color)

    CSS Tennessee (1864-1864)

    Watercolor by F. Muller, circa 1900.

    Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.



    The following images depict Tennessee after she was captured in the Battle of Mobile Bay and taken into the U.S. Navy:

    Photo #: NH 60335

    USS Tennessee (1864-1867)


    Port quarter view, probably taken off New Orleans, Louisiana, circa 1865.
    She was formerly CSS Tennessee (1864-1864).



    Photo #: NH 51951

    USS Tennessee (1864-1867)


    Photographed circa 1865, probably off New Orleans, Louisiana.
    She was formerly CSS Tennessee (1864-1864).



    Photo #: NH 60336

    USS Tennessee (1864-1867)


    Port broadside view, probably taken off New Orleans, Louisiana, circa 1865.
    She was formerly CSS Tennessee (1864-1864).



    Photo #: NH 60337

    USS Tennessee (1864-1867)


    Starboard side view, probably taken in the Mississippi River, circa 1865.
    She was formerly CSS Tennessee (1864-1864).



    Photo #: NH 61434

    USS Tennessee (1864-1867, formerly CSS Tennessee)


    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 3 February 1866 as part of a group of engravings entitled "The Iron-Clad Navy of the United States".
    See Photo # NH 73986 for the entire group of engravings.



    The following image shows a gun that was captured with CSS Tennessee in 1864

    Photo #: KN-27603 (Color)

    Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

    Old weapons on exhibit in East Willard Park, circa Summer 1978. This area was rebuilt to another design in 1981-82, with the artifacts rearranged. Many of them, including all the missiles, were removed in or before the year 2000.
    The gun in the center is a 10-inch Brooke smoothbore from CSS Columbia. A Confederate 5-inch Whitworth rifle is at right, and a double-banded 7-inch Brooke rifle (captured on CSS Tennessee) is at left.
    A prototype launcher for "Terrier" missiles is behind these guns. In the center background is a "Regulus II" missile. Buildings 111 and 106 are in the distance.
    This photograph was received by the Naval Photographic Center in January 1979.

    Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

    Online Image: 143KB; 740 x 595 pixels

    Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system as Photo # 428-KN-27603

    For other views relating to CSS Tennessee, see:

  • CSS Tennessee -- in the Battle of Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864.

    The Online Library also contains pictures of the following officers who served on board CSS Tennessee:

  • Admiral Franklin Buchanan, CSN;
  • Commander James D. Johnston, CSN; and
  • Surgeon Daniel B. Conrad, CSN.

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