The City Class Ironclads

From their first action at Forts Henry and Donelson in 1862, to the Red River Expedition of 1864, the formidable City-Class gunboats provided valuable assistance to the Union campaign on the Mississippi River. Despite an 880-ton displacement, the boats drafted a mere six-feet of water and it was said they "could navigate in a heavy dew." The USS Cairo is the only surviving example of the original seven city-class gunboats.
 
 Ironclads under construction
Eads' Shipyard built 4 ironclads in under 100 days

Seven Ironclads in 100 Days

Meet the deadline or pay $200 a day. James Eads had agreed to these terms for the construction of seven new ironclads. To speed production, a partner shipyard built three of the boats, including the USS Cairo. Eads' shipyard in Sait Louis built the other four. All seven were delivered within 100 days. Each boat cost $101,808, or just under 3 million dollars today.

 
Andrew H. Foote took command of the Mississippi River flotilla, including the seven sisters, in August of 1861. In cooperation with the ground forces of General Ulysses S. Grant, he led the successful assault on Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, and was wounded in the leg during the subsequent attack on Fort Donelson while in command of the USS Saint Louis.

On February 14, 1862 Foote's gunboat flotilla steamed-up the Cumberland River to exchange "iron valentines" with the Confederate water batteries near Fort Donelson. Foote maneuvered his gunboats very close, intending to shell the Confederate batteries into submission. The cumbersome vessels, however, moved so slowly that they became easy targets for the Confederate artillerymen, and were forced to withdraw.

From a total of just under 400 rounds fired, Confederate gunners hit the Saint Louis, Foote's flagship, 59 times, the Carondelet 54 times, the Louisville 36 times, and the Pittsburg 20 times.

For his successes, he was promoted to rear admiral in July 1862. For the remainder of the war, the seven sisters would see major combat all throughout the western waterways, and prove instrumental in wrestling control of the mighty Mississippi River from the Confederacy.

The USS Cairo is the only remaining city-class ironclad. It is on display at Vicksburg National Military Park.
 
USS Pittsburg in river
USS Pittsburg Underway

USS Pittsburg


Launched:
October 1861 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Actions:
-Attack on Fort Donelson, Feb 1862
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862
-Bombardment of Fort Pillow, April 1862.
-Yazoo and Steele's Bayou expeditions, November- December 1862.
-Ran past Vicksburg batteries, April 1863.
-Severely damaged at Grand Gulf, April 1863.
Red River expedition, March-May 1864.
Fate: Sold November 1865. Abandoned 1870.
 
uss cincinnati underway
USS Cincinnati Near Shore

USS Cincinnati


Launched:
October 1861 in Mound City, Illinois.
Actions:
-Attack on Fort Henry, Feb 1862
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862
-Bombardment of Fort Pillow, April 1862.
-Rammed and sunk during Fort Pillow. Raided and refitted.
-Attack on Fort Hindman, January 1863.
-Sunk by batteries at Vicksburg, May 1863.
- Raised and refitted, August 1863.
-Tombigbee River, Alabama May 1865.
Fate: Sold and sunk at moorings, 1866.
 
USS Saint Louis with crew aboard
USS Saint Louis and Crew

USS Saint Louis


Launched:
October 1861 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Actions:
-Hit 59 times and disabled during attack on Fort Donelson, Tenn. February 1862
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862
-Bombardment of Fort Pillow, April 1862.
-Battle of Memphis, June 1862
-Renamed Baron de Kalb , September 1862.
-Attack on Fort Hindman, January 1863.
-Yazoo and Steele's Bayou expeditions, November- December 1862.
-Attack on Fort Pemberton, March 1863.
-Capture of Haynes Bluff, MIssissippi May 1863.
-Yazoo River expedition, May 1863.
Fate: Sunk by torpedo in Yazoo River, May 1863.
 
USS Carondelet
USS Carondelet

USS Carondelet


Launched:
October 1861 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Actions:
-Attack on Fort Donelson, Tenn. February 1862
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862
-Bombardment of Fort Pillow, April 1862.
-Battle of Memphis, June 1862
-Bombardment of St. Charles, Ark. June 1862.
-Severely damaged in engagement with CSS Arkansas on Yazoo River, July 1862.
-Ran past Vicksburg batteries, April 1863.
-Bombardment of Grand Guld, April 1863.
-Red River expedition, March-May 1864.
Fate: Sold November 1865. Hull became a wharfboat.
 
uss mound city
USS Mound City

USS Mound City


Launched:
October 1861 in Mound City, Illinois.
Actions:
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862
-Bombardment of Fort Pillow, April 1862.
-Expedition up White River. BIoler hit resulting in death of 103 crewmen. June 1862.
-Yazoo River expedition, August 1862.
-Steele's Bayou expedition, March 1863.
-Ran past Vicksburg batteries, April 1863.
-Bombardment of Grand Gulf, April 1863.
-Bombardment of Vicksburg, May 1863.
-Red River expedition, March-May 1864.
Fate: Sold November 1865. Srapped 1866.
 
USS Louisville
USS Louisville

USS Louisville

Launched:
October 1861 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Actions:
-Attack on Fort Donelson, Tenn. Feb 1862.
-Siege of Island Number 10, March 1862.
-Battle of Memphis, June 1862.
-Engagement with CSS Arkansas above Vicksburg, July 1862.
-Drumgould's Bluff, Yazoo River, Dec 1862.
-Attack on Fort Hindman, Ark. Jan 1863.
-Ran past Vicksburg batteries, April 1863.
-Bombardment of Grand Gulf, April 1863.
-Bombardment of Vicksburg, May - June 1863.
-Red River expedition, March-May 1864.
Fate: Sold November 1865.
 

Last updated: December 11, 2017

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