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Palmetto State


(IrcRam: l. 150'; b. 34'; dph. 14'; dr. 12'; s. 6 k.; a. 2 7" r., 2 9" sb.; type Richmond)


CSS Palmetto State, an ironclad ram, was built by Cameron and Co., Charleston, January 1862, under the supervision of Flag Officer D. N. Ingraham, CSN. She was readied for service by September 1862 when Lt. Comdr. J. Rutledge, CSN, was placed in command. Her armor was 4" thick on the shield, backed by 22" of wood, 2" of iron elsewhere. Her pilothouse was located abaft the stack.


Before dawn on 31 January 1863, Palmetto State and her sister ram CSS Chicora crept through thick haze to surprise the Union blockading force off Charleston. Taking full advantage of her low silhouette, the ironclad stole in under the guns of Mercedita, ramming as well as firing into her. Completely disabled, with no guns that would depress enough to fire at Palmetto State, the Union ship surrendered. The ram then turned her attention to Keystone State and put several shells into that blockader. Her steam chests punctured, Keystone State lost all power and had to be towed to safety. A long-range gun action between the Confederate rams and other Federal blockaders then took place, but little damage was inflicted by either side before Palmetto State and Chicora withdrew to safety within Charleston Harbor. The attack of the Confederate rams caused the temporary withdrawal of the blockaders from their inshore positions and led to the claim by the Confederate Government, unsuccessfully advanced, that the blockade of Charleston had been raised.


Palmetto State also joined in the defense of Charleston during Adm. S. F. Du Pont's unsuccessful attack on the harbor forts, 1-7 April 1863. Her officers and men were cited for valuable services rendered during the removal of troops from Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg on the night of 6-7 September 1863.


Palmetto State was burned by the Confederates upon the evacuation of Charleston on 18 February 1865.