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Naval Warfare

CSS Selma

Steam-Powered Coastal Gunboat [ 1856 ]

CSS Selma began life in civilian service, found for both flags of the American Civil War, and ended her days back in civilian service.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/02/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

CSS Selma originated as the steam-powered, mail-carrying coastal boat out of Mobile, Alabama and was launched into service in 1856 to serve the Mobile Mail Line. When the Confederacy committed to war against the Union, the vessel was confiscated by the Confederate States Navy (CSN) to serve as CSS Florida in June of 1861 before a name change set her to officially become CSS Selma. Following this, the boat was reworked from mail carrier to gunboat in Lake Pontchartrain waters near New Orleans (Louisiana).

The converted vessel displaced 590 tons under load and had a running length of 252 feet with a beam of 30 feet, and a draught down to 6 feet - the last quality making her an ideal river platform. With its boiler-fed, steam-based propulsion scheme, the vessel could make headway at speeds of up to 9 knots under ideal conditions. Aboard was a crew of up to 99 personnel. Armor protection reached up to 9.5 inches of iron plating at the deck.

The profile of the boat centered the superstructure at midships and this was furthered reinforced through installation of "hog framing" to either side. A single smoke funnel emanated from the center of the boat. A single cannon emplacement was set over the forecastle while two additional guns overlooked the stern section. The pilot house was seated at the forward-most part of the superstructure, giving a commanding view to the crew and commander.

Armament included 2 x 9" (230mm) smoothbore cannons backed by 1 x 8" (200mm) smoothbore cannon. A single 6.4" (160mm) rifled gun was also carried, rounding out the gun battery of this warship.

The ship was largely limited in its participation against Union forces mainly due to the Union blockade. She attacked Union ships in October and December of 1861 and then joined CSN ships Morgan and Gaines during the Union assault on Mobile Bay in August of 1864 but, by this time, desertion was the heavy price paid by the ships - leaving vessels like Selma more or less managed by skeleton crews. The gunboats attempted to slow down Admiral David Farragut's advanced with Selma hitting USS Hartford but then Farragut sent the gunboat Metacomet against the Confederate trio, forcing their withdrawal. During her own attempt at escaping, the damaged Selma - with now-wounded crew - was eventually run down and taken over by Union forces.

After her time in the Confederate Navy, Selma served with the United States Navy and was used against Confederate holdouts at Fort Morgan in August 1864. From then on, she was in Mobile Bay until January of 1865 to which point the boat was relocated to New Orleans waters to continue her service.

Decommissioning followed on July 16th, 1865 as she returned (via auction) to merchant service for a time longer. The vessel was given up for good on June 24th, 1868 when she was sunk after foundering outside of Galveston, Texas near the Brazos River.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Confederate States national flag graphic
Confederate States

Destroyed, Scrapped.

State Shipyards - Mobile, Alabama, Confederate States
(View other Ship-Related Manufacturers)
CSS Selma

CSS Selma

National flag of the Confederate States of America National flag of the United States Confederate States; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore Operation
Activities conducted near shorelines in support of allied activities.

252.0 ft
76.81 m
30.0 ft
9.14 m
6.0 ft
1.83 m

Installed Power: Boiler arrangement feeding steam-based propulsion scheme.
Surface Speed
9.0 kts
(10.4 mph)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
2 x 9" (230mm) smoothbore cannons.
1 x 8" (200mm) smoothbore cannon.
1 x 6.4" (160mm) rifled cannon.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a cannonball cannon/gun armament

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)

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Image of the CSS Selma
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