CSS Frederickburg (1862)

Union Navy Confederate Navy

CSS Fredericksburg
CSS Fredericksburg

Born in Richmond

The CSS Fredericksburg was born in Richmond, between 1862 and 1863, and was the second Ironclad laid up in this town for the Confederate states navy. It was launched in mid-1963, and declared completed and ready for service in November, 30, 1863. However, it was unarmed at that time, and had to wait before beeing fitting out, which occurred in march 1864 at Drewry’s bluff and later put under command of Thomas R. Rootes, CSN.

The Fredericksburg was constructed from scratch for servicing into the James River. She was 2500 tons Burthen, 188 ft (57m) long, 40 ft 8 in (12,27m) wide and with a 9 ft 6 in (2.90m) draft, built of wood and protected by metal plates. A steam engine with two shafts propelled her to 5 knots (9 kph), and has a 4160 nautical miles range (over 7000 km), with a complement of 150 men and officers.

It was armed by one 11 in (280mm) smoothbore cannon, one 8 in (203mm) and two 6.4 in (160mm), all rifled, with eight available portholes, one at the front, one rear, and three per side. There were two protruding bridges, at both end of the roof of the casemate, which itself was highly sloped and slightly shorter than in many Confederate ironclads of the time.

The CSS Fredericksburg career was relatively short. Being armed so late, it was only operational within the James River fleet (Commodore John K. Mitchell), successfully passed Drewry’s Bluff obstructions and assisted the operation of the fleet until the end of the war.

On june, 21, 1864, she engaged the USS Onondaga at Trent’s Reach, at large distance, a duel which ended in a draw. In August 1864 she also shelled US positions along the James river.

Battle of Trent's Reach
Battle of Trent’s Reach

Other inconclusive encounters with the US James river squadron followed at Trent and Verina Reaches, until the beginning of 1865, a duel with the same opponent, this time assisted by the CSS Virginia and Richmond (battle of Trent’s Reach, 23-24 jan 1865), and shore artillery.

However, in april 1865, receiving the news that Richmond has fallen, she sailed above Drewry’s Bluff and was blewed up with several other CSN ships, to prevent her capture, the 4 of April.

CSS Savannah (1863)
Unadilla class gunboats (1861)

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