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Choctaw I (Ironclad Ram)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.


(Ironclad Ram: tonnage 1,004; length 260'0"; beam 45'0"; draft 8'0"; complement 106; speed 2 knots (upstream); armament 1 100-pounder rifle, 1 9-inch, 2 30-pounder rifles)

The first Choctaw, a side wheel steamer built for merchant service at New Albany, Indiana, in 1855, was purchased by the War Department in 1862 and converted into an ironclad ram. Transferred to the Navy, Choctaw was commissioned at St. Louis, Mo., on 23 March 1863, Lt.-Cmdr. Francis M. Ramsay in command.

From 23 April 1863 until the end of the Civil War Choctaw, iron plates fitted over India rubber armoring her first two casemates, operated in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Between 29 April and 1 May 1863, she stood up the Yazoo for a feigned attack on Haynes’ Bluff designed to prevent the Confederates from reinforcing Grand Gulf. During this action she was struck 53 times.

Remaining on the Yazoo, she took part in attacks with the Army which led to the destruction of Confederate works at Haynes’ Bluff and the burning of the navy yard and ships lying at Yazoo City between 18 and 23 May. On 6 and 7 June, she joined in repelling a Confederate attack in the Battle of Millikin’s Bend, La., after which she rescued a large number of Confederates from the river and sent them in as prisoners. Between 7 March and 15 May 1864, she took part in the operations leading to the capture of Fort DeRussy.

Choctaw arrived at Algiers, La., on 20 July 1865, and was placed out of commission there two days later. She was sold at New Orleans, La., on 28 March 1866.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

30 June 2022

Published: Thu Jun 30 18:47:34 EDT 2022