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Naval Warfare

USS Osage (1863)

River Monitor [ 1863 ]

USS Osage was a critical player for the Union during the American Civil War - she was lost to a mine in March of 1865.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/23/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

USS Osage was a river monitor of the American Civil War (1861-1865), built to the Neosho-class river monitor standard. The Neosho-class river monitors numbered just two hulls - USS Neosho herself and sister-ship USS Osage and both warships were completed by Union Iron Works of Carondelet, Missouri in the mid-1860s. Laid down in 1862, USS Osage was formally launched on January 13th, 1863 and commissioned into active service with the United States Navy on July 10th, 1863.

The warship was specifically built to patrol the shallowest sections of the Mississippi, a vital waterway for both the North and South. Once on water, the shallow draughts (allowing for close-to-shore operations) of these ships was found to be noticeably effective to the point that additional armoring could be taken on. As completed, USS Osage displaced 523 tons under load and carried a length of 180 feet with a beam of 45 feet and a draught down to 4.5 feet. Installed power included 4 x Coal-fired boiler units feeding a horizontal 2-cylinder steam engine arrangement developing 400 horsepower. This system was used to drive a single wheel at the stern. Maximum speed in ideal conditions was just 12 miles-per-hour.

Aboard was a complement of 100. Armor protection ranged from 6 inches in thickness at the gun turret to 2.5 inches at the hull and 1.25 inches on the deck. Installed armament was a powerful pairing of 2 x 11" (279mm) Dahlgren smoothbore guns held in a single, shared turret at front.

The vessel's profile was consistent with river monitors of the period. The hull portion over the waterline was very shallow which promoted inherent ballistics protection. Because of the stern-based propulsion system, the Ericsson-type turret over the forecastle was restricted to 300-degree traversal for the main guns and jamming of the weapons further limited their effectiveness for a time. A smoke funnel was seated just aft of the turret with lifeboats slung over the sides thereafter. The pilot house was just aft of midships and made of wood while the propulsion system was housed in a conical enclosure over the stern.

Osage's active participation in the Civil War began with general patrolling of the Mississippi River basin to protect targets from Confederate raiders and confiscate Confederate cotton supplies in transit. From March until May 1864, she took part in the Red River Campaign in the Trans-Mississippi Theater as part of a massive, strategic Union offensive. During the fighting, Osage helped to secure Fort DeRussey, took part in the capture of Alexandria, Louisiana (March), and successfully defended transports during the Battle of Blair's Landing (a Union victory in April). That May, she ran aground on a sandbar at Helena, Arkansas, only freed when waters eventually receded. Repairs were enacted where she lay before she could be refloated, this taking her into November 1864, and to her ultimate destination was Mound City for deeper repair work.

In February of 1865, she was assigned to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and took part in the assault on Mobile, Alabama, most notably in the Battle of Spanish Fort. Her fortunes changed on March 29th, 1865 when she struck a submerged mine at the bow, quickly taking on water and sinking - bringing about an end to her sailing days (the explosion claimed five of her crew and eleven were wounded). Her damaged, abandoned hulk was raised and sold off in November 1867.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

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United States

No Longer in Service.


USS Neosho; USS Osage

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

Vessel's hull design is such that it can operate in close-to-shore / shallow water environments.

180.0 ft
54.86 m
45.0 ft
13.72 m
4.5 ft
1.37 m

Installed Power: 4 x Coal-fired boiler units feeding 1 x 2-cylinder horizontal steam engine developing 400 horsepower driving 1 x Shaft astern.
Surface Speed
10.0 kts
(11.5 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 11" (279mm) Dahlgren smoothbore main guns in 300-degree traversing turret over the forecastle.

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Image of the USS Osage (1863)
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