The USS Choctaw was built at New Albany, Indiana in 1856, originally as a merchant steamer for trade along the Mississippi River. She was purchased by the U.S. Army in 1862 and converted into an ironclad ram. In 1863 she entered service with the U.S. Navy for action against the Confederacy along the Mississippi and its tributaries. A very fine photograph given the era, note the crew’s laundry drying on the lines forward.
The Choctaw was large for a river steamer, with a length of 260 feet (79 meters) and displacing 1,004 tons. Propulsion was via a steam engine which drove two side wheels. This gave her an unusual profile and a blistering maximum speed of two knots.
Choctaw was given iron armor and a ram on her bow. She carried six guns – one 100 pound rifle, two 30 pound rifles, and three nine inch cannon. Some depictions show…
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