USS Carondelet (1861)

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USS Carondelet
USS Carondelet
Career (US) Union Navy Jack 100x35px
Laid down: August, 1861
Launched: October, 1861, at St. Louis, Missouri
Commissioned: 15 January 1862
at Cairo, Illinois
Decommissioned: 20 June 1865
at Mound City, Illinois
Struck: 1865 (est.), sold, 29 November 1865
Fate: sunk in Ohio River, 1873, severely damaged during dredging, 1982
General characteristics
Displacement: 512 tons
Length: 175 ft (53 m)
Beam: 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m)
Draught: 6 ft (1.8 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 4 knots
Complement: 251 officers and men
Armament: (see section below)
Armour: Casemate:2.5 in (64 mm)
Pilothouse: 1.25 in (32 mm)

USS Carondelet (1861) was a City class ironclad gunboat constructed for the Union Navy by James B. Eads during the American Civil War.

Because of her shallow draft and her combination of heavy guns and a howitzer, she was suited for riverside bombardment and assigned to the Mississippi River area where she operated against forces of the Confederate States of America.

Built in Missouri in 1861

USS Carondelet, an ironclad river gunboat, was built in 1861 by James Eads and Co., St. Louis, Missouri, under contract to the United States Department of War. Carondelet was commissioned 15 January 1862, at Cairo, Illinois, naval Captain Henry A. Walke in command, and reported to Western Flotilla (Army), commanded by naval Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote.

Civil War service

Union Army service

Between January and October 1862, Carondelet operated almost constantly on river patrol and in the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February; the passing of Island No. 10 and the attack on and spiking of the shore batteries below New Madrid, Missouri, in April; the lengthy series of operations against Plum Point Bend, Fort Pillow, and Memphis, Tennessee, from April through June, and the engagement with CSS Arkansas on 15 July, during which Carondelet was heavily damaged and suffered 35 casualties. The Carondelet‘s coxswain, John G. Morrison, was awarded the Congessional Medal of Honor for heroism during the engagement with the Arkansas.[1]

Union Navy service

Transferred to United States Department of the Navy control with the other ships of her flotilla on 1 October 1862, Carondelet continued the rapid pace of her operations, taking part in the unsuccessful Steele's Bayou Expedition in March 1863.

One of those to pass the Vicksburg and Warrenton, Missouri batteries in April 1863, Carondelet took part on 29 April in the five and one-half hour engagement with the batteries at Grand Gulf. She remained on duty off Vicksburg, hurling fire at the city in its long siege from May to July. Without her and her sisters and other naval forces, the great operations on the rivers would not have been possible and the United States victory might not have been won.

From 7 March to 15 May 1864, she sailed with the Red River Expedition, and during operations in support of Union Army movements ashore, took part in the Bell's Mill engagement (part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign) of December 1864. For the remainder of the war, Carondelet patrolled in the Cumberland River.

Commanding Officers

The Carondelet had several commanding officers over the duration of her service.[2]

Commanding Officers and Ship Masters
U.S. Navy Rank Name (First, Last) Command Dates
• Captain
• Lieutenant Commander
• Lieutenant
• Acting Master
• Lieutenant
• Acting Master
• Lieutenant
• Lieutenant
Henry A. Walke
James A. Greer
• J. Mcleod Murphy
• James C. Gipson
• John G. Mitchell
• Charles W. Miller
• Charles P. Clark
• John Rodgers
• Jan. 1862-Jan. 1863
• Jan. 1863-Feb. 1863
• Mar. 1863-Oct. 1863
• Nov. 1863-Jan. 1864
• Feb. 1864-Nov. 1864
• Dec. 1864
• Jan. 1865
• Feb. 1865-Jun. 1865

Post-war decommissioning and sale

She was decommissioned at Mound City on 20 June 1865, and sold there on 29 November 1865.

Subsequent career and sinking

In 1873, shortly before she was to be scrapped, a flood swept the Carondelet from her moorings in Gallipolis, Ohio. She then drifted approximately 130 miles down the Ohio River, where she grounded near Manchester, Ohio. Her ultimate fate remained unknown until a May 1982 search operation by the National Underwater and Marine Agency pinpointed the location of the wreckage, two days after a dredge passed directly over the wreckage, demolishing most of the wrecked vessel.[3]


Like many of the Mississippi theatre ironclads, Carondelet had its armament changed multiple times over life of the vessel. To expedite the entrance of Carondelet into service, she and the other City-class ships were fitted with whatever weapons were available; then had their weapons upgraded as new pieces became available. Though the 8 in (200 mm) Dahlgren smoothbore cannons were fairly modern most of the other original armaments were antiquated; such as the 32-pounders, or modified; such as the 42-pounder "rifles" which were in fact, old smoothbores that had been gouged out to give them rifling. These 42-pounder weapons were of particular concern to military commanders because they were structurally weaker and more prone to exploding than purpose-built rifled cannons. Additionally, the close confines of riverine combat greatly increased the threat of boarding parties. The 12-pounder howitzer was equipped to address that concern and was not used in regular combat.[4]

Ordinance characteristics
January 1862 May 1863 January 1864
• 4 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 1 × 50-pounder rifle
• 1 × 42-pounder rifle
• 6 × 32-pounder rifles
• 1 × 30-pounder rifle
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle
• 3 × 9-inch smoothbores
• 4 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 1 × 50-pounder rifle
• 1 × 42-pounder rifle
• 1 × 32-pounder rifle
• 1 × 30-pounder rifle
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle
• 3 × 9-inch smoothbores
• 4 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 2 × 100-pounder rifles
• 1 × 50-pounder rifle
• 1 × 30-pounder rifle
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle

See also


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

  1. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History Division. 1963. 
  2. Angus Konstam, (2002), Union River Ironclad 1861-65, Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard 56, ISBN 978-1-84176-444-3
  3. Cussler, Clive (May 1982). "USS Carondelet: The hunt for the famous Union ironclad river gunboat, Carondelet in the Ohio River". National Underwater and Marine Agency. Retrieved 10 October 2006. 
  4. Angus Konstam, (2002), Union River Ironclad 1861-65, Osprey Publishing, New Vanguard 56, ISBN 978-1-84176-444-3

External links

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