Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
  • Civil War 1861-1865
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Mobile I (Sidewheel Gunboat)


A city in the southwestern part of the state of Alabama, located at the mouth of the Mobile River and at the head of Mobile Bay.


(Sidewheel Gunboat: tonnage 1,275; length 210'; beam 33'; draft 16'6"; armament 2 32‑pounder, 1 30‑pounder Parrott rifle, 1 12‑pounder [1863])

The first Mobile, a side wheel steamer built as Tennessee at Baltimore in 1854 for Charles Morgan's Texas Line, was seized by Maj. Gen. M. Lovell, CSA, at New Orleans, La., on 15 January 1862, and put into service as a Confederate government‑operated blockade runner. Captured by U.S. forces at New Orleans on 25 April 1862, hpowever. she was commissioned as Tennessee on 8 May 1862, Acting Master John D. Childs in command.

Assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, Tennessee took part in the capture of Port Hudson, La.,on  9 July 1863, and of Forts Morgan, and Gaines in August 1864. Able to vie in speed with the faster blockade runners, she captured or assisted in the capture of seven Confederate vessels: Alabama, Friendship, and Jane in 1863, and Allison, Annie Verden, Louisiana, and Emily in 1864. Her speed also brought numerous assignments as a dispatch boat for the squadron, taking her from Pensacola to gulf coast points as far away as the mouth of the Rio Grande.

On 1 September 1864, following the capture of the Cponfederate ironclad Tennessee and her commissioning as a ship of the U.S. Navy, the side‑wheel gunboat was renamed Mobile. Heavily damaged soon after in a gale off the Rio Grande, Mobile was sent to New York for repairs.

Sold to Russell Sturgis on 30 March 1865, the ship was redocumented as Republic on 12 May 1865. Ultimately,, she foundered at sea off Savannah, Ga., on 25 October 1865.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

8 December 2020

Published: Wed Dec 09 16:18:19 EST 2020