The largest city of Kentucky.
(CwStGbt: t. 468; a. (January 1862) 6 32‑pdrs., 3 VIII‑in., 4 42‑pdrs., 1 12‑pdr.)
The first Louisville, an ironclad centerwheel steamer, was built at St. Louis, Mo., by J. B. Eads in 1861, under contract with the War Department; was accepted 15 January 1862; and commissioned 16 January 1862, Comdr. Benjamin H. Dove in command.
Part of the War Department’s flotilla on the western rivers, Louisville assisted the Army in the capture of Port Donelson on the Cumberland River 14 to 16 February 1862. From 1 to 5 March, she aided in the occupation of Columbus, Ky., the “Gibraltar of the West.” Departing Cairo, Ill., 14 March, she served in the capture of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Mo., through 7 April, and helped to prevent southern ships from ascending the river.
In May, Louisville was ordered to Fort Pillow and participated in the Battle of Memphis 6 June. Commanded by Rear Adm. Charles H. Davis, her squadron captured and sank the Confederate Mississippi flotilla. On 15 June, she attacked the upper batteries at Vicksburg, before shifting efforts to the White River, departing Helena, Ark., 5 August. Escorting Benton and Bragg to the mouth of the river, she met little resistance. On 1 October, she was transferred to the Navy.
After escorting transport Meteor, disembarking troops at Bledsoe’s and Hamblen’s landings 21 October, Louisville returned to Helena to join the gunboat fleet, Mississippi Squadron.
She joined Baron. De Kalb, Cincinnati, Lexington, Signal, New Era, Romeo, Rattler, and Glide later in the month on an expedition up the White River in support of General Sherman’s army. Louisville captured the steamer Evansville near Island No. 36 on 1 November.
Louisville aided in the capture of Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, 4 to 11 January 1863, and formed part of the expedition through Steele’s Bayou, 14 to 28 January. She was ordered to the Yazoo River the 31st and moved to stop Confederates felling trees across the bayou on 21 March. She then turned her attention to the batteries on the river, running past those at Vicksburg on 16 April, and engaging the lower ones on the 29th. She joined Pittsburg, Mound City. and Carondolet on that date, silencing the guns of the fort on Grand Gulf and helping to establish the siege which forced Vicksburg’s surrender 4 July 1863.
From 12 March to 22 May 1864, Louisville joined in the expedition up the Red River, La. On 2 June she engaged Confederate batteries 7 miles below Columbia, Ark., silencing the guns. She landed Union troops at Sunnyside 6 June and anchored off Shipwith’s Landing the 20th, to learn that Confederates were traveling upriver with a heavy force, and had crossed Cypress Creek and Bartholomew’s Bayou 20 June with cavalry, infantry, and artillery. On learning that Parsson’s brigade was 10 miles back of Gaines’ Landing, providing reinforcements, Louisville departed immediately for that point, and helped break up the Confederate attack.
Louisville continued service on the Mississippi until decommissioning 21 July 1865. She was sold at public auction at Mound City 29 November 1865.