USS Fort Jackson was one of the many warships featured in the fighting of the American Civil War (1861-1865), a conflict which was decided as much on water as it was on land. The vessel was based in a sidewheel steam-driven wooden ship which originally carried the names of "Kentucky" and "Union" before evolving to become a United States Navy component. The ship was launched in 1862 but not acquired until July 20th, 1863 (via purchase). She served throughout the remainder of the war and was formally decommissioned on August 7th, 1865. She was sold off on September 27th, 1865.
As operated, the vessel had a displacement of 1,880 tons and dimensions including a running length of 250 feet, a beam of 38.5 feet, and a draught down to 18 feet. Power was through a steam propulsion scheme used to drive a sidewheel paddle at a steady pace of about 14 knots - farily fast for a ship of this size and displacement.
Armament included 8 x 9" (230mm) smoothbore Dahlgren guns along with a single 100-pounder rifled Parrott gun and a twin 30-pounder rifled guns.
The profile of the ship included a forward and aft mast while, at midships, was located the wheelhouse and single smoke funnel. Each side of the hull housed a paddlewheel.
USS Fort Jackson was quickly assigned to the Naval Blockade of the South once in action when she arrived at Fort Monroe (Hampton, Virginia) during September 1863. The ship kept arms arriving from Britain from reaching North Carolina shores later that month but a boiler failure soon meant that she needed to be returned to New York waters for repair. In December of 1863, she took up her post as part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
In January of 1864, she took over "Bendigo", a "blockade runner" which had run aground at the Folly Inlet. That April, her crew successfully attacked salt stores at Masonboro Sound. In June, the blockade runner "Thistle" was captured while the "Boston" followed in July. A cotton-laden blockade runner, the "Wando", was captured in October. Her guns were then used in anger against both offensives at Fort Fisher (the Battle of Fort Fisher south of Wilmington, South Carolina). While a Union victory, the second battle was costly - forcing USS Fort Jackson to serve as a floating morgue in the return trip to Beaufort with a stop to unload wounded made at Hampton Roads.
On February 1st, 1865, the ship was operating as part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and operated off the Texas coast. With USS Columbia, she captured the schooner "Chaos" near Galveston. On June 2nd, 1865, the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi signed their surrender aboard the ship while it berthed at Galveston Bay.
Following the conclusion of the war, and her services no longer needed, USS Ford Jackson was decommissioned in August 1865. She operated under civilian colors as the "North America" until given up for good in 1879.