Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Tuscumbia I (SwScGbt)

(SwScGbt: dp. 915; dr. 7'; a. 3 11" D. sb., 2 9" D. sb.)

A city in and county seat of Colbert County in northwest Alabama. Tuscumbia is located on the Tennessee River approximately 108 miles northwest of Birmingham. Tuscumbia was named in 1822 for a Cherokee Indian chief.


The first Tuscumbia was built in 1862 at Cincinnati, Ohio, by Joseph Brown; launched on 2 December; and commissioned at Cairo, Ill.; on 12 March 1963, Lt. Comdr. James W. Shirk in command.

Tuscumbia assisted in the recapture of Fort Heiman on the Tennesee River from 12 to 14 March 1863. The vessel destroyed Confederate watercraft used to ferry troops across the river and enfiladed Southern entrenchments situated behind the fort. At the end of the month, she entered.the Mississippi.

In the spring and early summer of 1863, Tuscumbia perfomed valuable service during amphibious operations against Vicksburg, Miss. On 1 April, she carried Admiral David D. Porter and Generals Grant and Sherman on a reconnaissance expedition up the Yazoo River to determine the practicality of landing a force above Vicksburg at Hayne's Bluff. Tuscumbia withdrew under heavy fire from shore batteries, prompting the decision to shift operations below Vicksburg to Grand Gulf. Tuscumbia participated in the run past the Vicksburg batteries to New Carthage on the night of 16 and 17 April 1863, towing the damaged transport Forest Queen to safety. On 20 April, General Sterling Price and Tuscumbia reconnoitered the Mississippi from New Carthage to Grand Gulf and took part in the attack on the Confederate works at Grand Gulf on 29 April. During the attack, Tuscumbia suffered five casualties and was put out of action after taking 81 hits.

Tuscumbia was quickly repaired and fired upon the Vicksburg batteries on 19 and 22 May. During the attack on the 22d, Benton, Mound City, Carondelet, and Tuscumbia silenced three water batteries and destroyed four guns. Tuscumbia returned to the naval station at Memphis, Tenn., for repairs in August but was laid up in November. She was repaired at Memphis in May 1864 and was assigned patrol duty between Cairo and the head of the Tennessee River. After further repairs at Mound City, Ill., in October, she was inactivated in February 1865.

Tuscumbia was sold at auction at Mound City to W. K. Adams on 29 November 1865.

Published: Mon Oct 19 13:01:36 EDT 2015