CSS Texas

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CSS Texas cross-section
One of the few pictures of CSS Texas in existence; a cross-section drawing through the boiler area.
Career Confederate Navy Jack Confederate Navy Jack
Name: CSS Texas
Namesake: State of Texas
Launched: January 1865
Struck: 15 October 1867
Fate: sold
General characteristics
Length: 217 ft (66 m)
Beam: 48.5 ft (14.8 m)
Draft: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)
Propulsion: steam
Complement: 50 officers and men
Armament: four pivots, two broadside guns

The CSS Texas (Confederate States Ship Texas), was a twin propeller casement ironclad ram of the Confederate Navy, named for the state of Texas. She was sister ship to CSS Columbia. Since the ship was built so late in the American Civil War, it saw no action before being captured by Union forces.


The keel for the CSS Texas was laid down at Richmond, Virginia. She was launched in January 1865. At the time of Robert E. Lee's evacuation of Richmond on 3 April 1865, she was left unfinished but intact in an outfitting berth at the Richmond Navy Yard, one of only two vessels which escaped destruction by the departing Confederate forces. Captured when the city fell the following day, the ironclad was taken into the United States Navy, but saw no service. Texas was laid up at Norfolk until 15 October 1867 when she was sold to J.N. Leonard & Co.[1] of New Haven, Connecticut.


From a technological view, the CSS Texas was one of a series of three 'Tennessee class' ironclads (the other two being the CSS Tennessee II and CSS Columbia) which embodied the latest developments in Confederate shipbuilding technology. Her casemate was diamond-shaped rather than being a sloped box as on earlier ships and fitted snugly around the front, aft and side cannon placement. Instead of bolted on, the pilot house almost formed a seamless natural extension of the side armor. Details of her armament are sketchy, but her sister ship, the CSS Tennessee II carried four 6.4 in. Brooke rifles, two 7 in. Brooke rifles and a bolted-on spar torpedo. Also for the Tennessee II, armor was given as 3 layers of 2 in., top speed as 5 knots and crew as 133 men. It is unclear however in how far the CSS Texas resembled the Tennessee II as other sources give her a (projected) speed of no less than 10 knots and note that both the Tennessee II and the Texas differed from the original design due to availability of key materials (in particular guns and engines) and due to improvements made during construction from lessons learned in combat.[2]

File:NH 76389 Brooke Single-Banded Rifled Gun.jpg
Plan of a gun and mounting intended for the Confederate ironclad CSS Texas.

CSS Texas in fiction

  • In the 1992 novel Sahara by adventure writer Clive Cussler, President Abraham Lincoln is kidnapped by a group that impersonated a Union cavalry detachment and overpowered his military escort in early April 1865 as the Civil War was drawing to a close. Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, took the lead in arranging a cover-up supposedly employing John Wilkes Booth as a patriot who quickly brought the situation to an abrupt conclusion - supported by Stanton then destroying documentation and concealing the accused conspirators under heavy hoods so no one really knew who they were, but of importance here is that the real Lincoln was supposedly spirited out of the country on the CSS Texas. Casting off at night after loading Confederate gold and government files, they initially ran dark down the river but eventually got caught in a running gun battle, suffering some damage but avoiding a pounding and probably sinking by Union batteries at the mouth of the river when the captain of the boat raised a white flag and exposed Lincoln on top of the pilot house as they escaped into a fog bank. The story resumes in modern times with the ship discovered in the sand of the Sahara having gotten grounded up a branch of the Niger River. Evidence - including the dead bodies of fifty men plus the captain and Lincoln - preserved in the dry heat, it transpires that after grounding the natives realized there was gold on board and essentially blockaded the boat, starving the crew to death with a single man of initially four in his group escaping in a small boat and being saved by English traders.
  • In the 2005 film Sahara based on Cussler's novel, the fictional CSS Texas more actively figures in the action sequences of the movie as opposed to the book.

See also


  1. Price & Lee Directory (1899)
  2. Angus Constam: The Confederate Ironclad, Osprey Publishing, 2001

External links

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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