CSS Baltic was born in 1860 as a tug / "pusher" boat and flat-bottomed, twin side-wheel barge steamer before being enlisted into the ranks of the Confederate cause during the American Civil War (1861-1865). She was bought in her original state by Alabama authorities during December 1861 to prep her for war in an ironclad form. The vessel was formally commissioned into service with the Confederate Navy during May of 1862 and managed a sailing existence into July 1864 before being given up to capture and subsequently being sold off in December 1865.
Following conversion into her wartime role, CSS Baltic became a "casemate ironclad". She displaced 625 tons and held a running length of 186 feet, a bream of 38 feet, and a draught no deeper than 7 feet. The shallow draught would allow the ship to take paths down rivers where other deep-hulled vessels were prohibited from going. It was soon found that the hull of the ship was very prone to leakages which plagued her throughout her sailing career with the Confederacy.
Internally, she carried 4 x Horizontal return-flue boiler units feeding 2 x Steam engines driving the vessel to speeds of 5 to 6 knots under ideal conditions. Officer-level personnel were given sleeping bunks / quarters below deck though enlisted / volunteers were forced to sleep on-deck.
Aboard was a crew of about 85-86 personnel and she was outfitted with 2 x Dahlgren guns, 2 x 32-pounder cannon, and a pair of smaller-caliber guns or a single 42-pounder unit (some sources detail a 4 x Rifled gun arrangement). Armor protection (plate front with wood backing) reached 2.5 inches at the thickest facings (incidentally, her iron plating armor would be reused on CSS Nashville following Baltic's decommissioning).
On the whole, the revised warship exhibited a completely new appearance: angled sides were used for basic ballistics deflection with cutouts enacted to serve as openings for armament. The smoke funnel sat towards the bow and the original ship's paddlewheels were easily identified under rounded metal enclosures towards the stern.
Upon her commissioning, she was assigned to defend Mobile Bay, Alabama and its river sections from Union assault and captained by Lieutenant James Johnston. Her station was of great importance for she represented the only ironclad available to the Confederacy in the region until the arrival of CSS Tennessee, but this was not to be until 1864. Due to her general ineffectiveness, the vessel sat out the famous Battle of Mobile Bay taking place between August 2nd and August 23rd, 1864.
Even by the time of 1863, the warship's future was already in doubt to the point that the hull was stripped of its war-making usefulness. By July of 1864, the work had been completed on the reducing the value of Baltic in an effort to reinforce CSS Nashville. Baltic's story in the war came to an end when the hull was captured by Union forces at Hubba Bluff along the Tombigbee River (Alabama) on May 10th, 1865.
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