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USS Keokuk (1863)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Keokuk (1863)

Laid down as Moodna, the first USS Keokuk (1863) was launched at New York by Charles W. Whitney 6 December 1862; sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Whitney, wife of the builder; and commissioned March 1863; Comdr. Alexander C. Rhind in command.

USS Keokuk (1863) departed New York 11 March and steamed south to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron for the attack on Charleston and arrived Newport News 2 days later. USS Keokuk (1863) got underway again on the 17th but returned to Hampton Roads for repairs when her port propeller fouled a buoy. USS Keokuk (1863) stood out of Hampton Roads again 22 March and arrived Port Royal, S.C., the 26th.

As the day of attack on Charleston approached, USS Keokuk (1863) and USS Bibb were busy laying buoys to guide Rear Admiral Du Font's ironclad flotilla into the strongly fortified Confederate harbor. The Union ships crossed the Stono Bar 6 April but were prevented from attacking that day by hazy weather which obscured targets and blinded pilots.

The advance began at noon on the 7th, but difficulties in clearing torpedoes from the path of Du Font's ironclads slowed their progress. Shortly after three, they came within range of Forts Moultrie and Sumter; and the battle began. Southern obstruction and a strong flood tide made the ironclad virtually unmanageable, while accurate fire from the forts played upon them at will. With the Union formation scrambled, USS Keokuk (1863) was compelled to run ahead of crippled USS Nahant to avoid fouling her in the narrow channel. This brought her less than 600 yards from Fort Sumter, where she remained for half an hour receiving the "undivided attention" of the Confederate guns.

The game ironclad was riddled by 90 hits, one-fifth of which pierced her at or below the waterline. USS Keokuk (1863) was withdrawn from the action and anchored overnight beyond range of the forts while her crew struggled to keep her afloat. Next day, 8 April, when a breeze came up, USS Keokuk (1863) took on more water; filled rapidly; and sank off Morris Island.

For a complete history of USS Keokuk (1863) please see its DANFS page.