Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Baron De Kalb (Sternwheel Casemate Gunboat)

1862-1863

John Baron De Kalb was born in Huettendorf, Bavaria, on 29 June 1721. He accompanied the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1777 and received an appointment as a major general in the Continental Army. De Kalb was mortally wounded leading Maryland and Delaware troops in the Battle of Camden (16 August 1780) and died three days later. He is buried at Camden, N.J.

(Sternwheel Casemate Gunboat: tonnage 512; length 175'; beam 51'2"; draft 6'; speed 9 miles per hour; complement 251; armament 2 8-inch smoothbores, 4 42-pounder rifles, 7 32-pounder smoothbores; class Cairo)

St. Louis, a sternwheel casemate gunboat was built by James B. Eads, Carondelet, Mo., for the War Department. She was launched as St. Louis on 12 October 1861 and joined the Western Gunboat Fleet. During 1862 St. Louis, under the command of Lieutenant L. Paulding, was attached to Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote’s squadron and participated in the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River (6 February 1862). She served as flagship for the squadron when it assisted the Union Army at the capture of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River (14-16 February 1862). Between April and June 1862, she operated against Fort Pillow, Tenn.

Renamed Baron De Kalb on 8 September 1862, the ship, less than one month later, was transferred to the Navy Department on 1 October 1862. During 21-28 December she took part in the Yazoo Expedition and participated in the action at Drumgould’s Bluff (28 December). During 1863 Baron De Kalb took part in the capture of Arkansas Post (10-11 January); the expedition up the White River (12-14 January); the Yazoo Pass Expedition (20 February-5 April); the action at Fort Pemberton (11-13 March); the action at Haines’ Bluff (29 April-2 May, 18 May); the action at Yazoo City, Miss. (20-23 May); and the Yazoo River Expedition (24-31 May).

Ultimately, on 13 July 1863 Baron De Kalb was sunk by a torpedo [mine] in the Yazoo River, one mile below Yazoo City, Miss.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

3 August 2020

Published: Mon Aug 03 16:08:00 EDT 2020