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CSS Missouri

Ironclad Warship

Confederate States | 1863

"The CSS Missouri became the last ironclad to see operational service under the Confederate Navy banner during the American Civil War."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/28/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Ironclad warships proved a critical component for both warring sides making up the American Civil War (1861-1865). Just as the Confederate South fielded their own Army service, they too fielded a naval force for control of the crucial Mississippi River and her many branching waterways. Such routes were important in the moving of goods, men, and material for both economies and land armies with access to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond by way of New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Confederate Navy managed their own building program which produced some vessels of all-new design as well as refurbishment of captured or purchased warships locally or abroad. The CSS Missouri was ordered by the Confederate government on November 1st, 1862 and laid down during December of that same year at Shreveport (in Northwest Louisiana). She was launched on April 14th, 1863 and saw her formal commissioning on September 12th, 1863.

As designed, CSS Missouri sported a single stern paddle-wheel for propulsion and a submerged rudder for steering. Her hull was of unseasoned timber while her casemate was constructed using well-angled surfaces covered over in railway iron. These strips were laid vertically, in two interlocking layers, to avoid as much cutting as possible and covered most of her exposed surface from enemy fire, extending some six feet below the waterline. Armor protection was 4.5 inches at its thickest. A smoke funnel sat over the forward section to exhaust the machinery within. The paddle-wheel's shape protruded some from the rear section of the casemate but was also armored over. Four boilers fed two poppet-valve steam engines which were taken from a junked riverboat. The original design called for six heavy-class guns to be fitted across the eight available gun ports though scarce availability of such weapons meant that a different battery was fitted - a single 11" (279mm) Dahlgren and 9" (228mm) Dahlgren gun were obtained for the vessel, the latter taken from the captured USS Indianola ironclad, and the Army spared a sole 32-pounder smoothbore cannon to round out CSS Missouri's armament suite. Her crew numbered about 100 and maximum speed reached 6 knots. Dimensions included a length of 183 feet with a beam of 53.7 feet and a draught of 8.5 feet - the latter a critical quality needed for river-going vessels.

With her construction complete, CSS Missouri was handed over to the Confederate Navy for formal service on September 12th, 1863. From then on, her service kept her limited to the Red River due to water levels - the river a branch of the Mighty Mississippi. In this region she served as a transport for the Southern mining operations along the route until water levels allowed her to leave Shreveport. She then relocated downriver at the crossroads town of Alexandria (in Central Louisiana) on April 8th, 1865. The rest of her wartime career would be spent anchored near the city as a defensive measure. One month later on May 9th, 1965, the surrender declaration came in the war and the last shot was recorded on June 22nd, 1865.

CSS Missouri ended up playing only a minor role in the war and was not a well-remembered warship. Her unseasoned timber and poor, hurried construction led to many leaks. Her single paddle-wheel propulsion was weak and her steering difficult. Her limited armament battery allowed her design to never be fully realized in the scope of combat - even in support of ground forces.

As such, the CSS Missouri was turned over to Union Naval authorities on June 3rd, 1865 and marked the last Confederate Navy ironclad warship to be given up to the enemy in home waters. Once stripped of her useful materials, Missouri was auctioned off on November 29th at Mound City, Illinois and scrapped.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for CSS Missouri.
4 x Boilers with 2 x Poppet-Valve Steam engines driving power to paddle wheel.
6.0 kts
6.9 mph
Surface Speed
Essentially Unlimited
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of CSS Missouri.
183.0 ft
55.78 meters
O/A Length
53.0 ft
16.15 meters
8.5 ft
2.59 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of CSS Missouri.
1 x 11" (281mm) Dahlgren smoothbore gun
1 x 9" (229mm) Dahlgren smoothbore gun
1 x 32-pdr smoothbore gun
Ships-in-Class (1)
Notable series variants as part of the CSS Missouri family line as relating to the CSS Missouri group.
CSS Missouri
Global operator(s) of the CSS Missouri. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.
National flag of the Confederate States of America

[ Confederate States ]
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Image of the CSS Missouri
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to seaborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
CSS Missouri Ironclad Warship appears in the following collections:
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