USS Thomas Freeborn (1861-1865) Some of the ship's officers and men demonstrate how her late Commanding Officer, Commander James H. Ward, was sighting her bow gun when he was mortally wounded on 27 June 1861, during an action with Confederate forces at Mathias Point, Virginia. The gun is a 32 pounder smoothbore, of 60 hundredweight, on a "Novelty Carriage". This mounting was developed by Commander Ward before the Civil War. Location appears to be the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.
Admiral David Farragut brought schooners armed with mortars to the lower Mississippi River, to use them against the forts defending New Orleans. Far upstream, Flag Officer Andrew Foote used similar mortars mounted on rafts to bombard Island No. 10 and later Fort Pillow. It’s those river mortar boats – the mortar on a raft – that I’ll look at first.
USS Commodore Perry, a ferryboat converted to a gunboat, Pamunkey River, Virginia, USA – circa 1863. Commodore Perry — an armed, side-wheel ferry — was built in 1859 by Stack and Joyce, Williamsburg, New York; purchased by the Navy on 2 October 1861; and commissioned later in the month, Acting Master F. J. Thomas in command.
USS Peosta: Tinclad Gunboat #36. This 233-ton steamer, her lower deck armored with ½" iron plate and bristling with cannon, was one of the less glamorous warriors of the Civil War backwaters. Built in 1857 as a merchant vessel, she was acquired by Adm. Porter in 1861 for patrol duty on the Tennessee River, based out of Paducah, Kentucky, where she spent the entire war. Commissioned in late 1863, Her moment of truth came on March 25, 1864 when she helped stop a Confederate advance on Paducah.
CSS SELMA The CSS Selma was a Confederate warship built in 1856 in Mobile. The vessel was captured by the Confederacy in 1861 and converted to a gunship and in 1862 was renamed Selma. The ship fought in the Battle of Mobile Bay and was surrendered to Union forces on August 5, 1864.