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USS St. Louis (1861)

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USS St. Louis (1861)

For other ships of the same name, see USS St. Louis.

USS Baron DeKalb
Career (US)
Ordered: as St. Louis
Builder: James B. Eads Yard, St. Louis, MO
Cost: $89,000 USD
Laid down: August 1861
Launched: 12 October 1861 at Carondelet, Missouri
Commissioned: 31 January 1862
Renamed: 8 September 1862 as Baron DeKalb
Struck: 13 July 1863
Identification: Yellow band on stacks
Fate: sunk by mine, 13 July 1863
General characteristics
Class & type: City-class
Type: River casemate ironclad
Displacement: 512 tons
Length: 175 ft (53 m)
Beam: 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m)
Draught: 6 ft (1.8 m)
Propulsion: steam engine - Center Wheel, 2 horizontal HP engines (22" X 6"), 5 boilers
Speed: 9 mph (14 km/h)
Complement: 251 officers and enlisted
Armament: (see section below)
Armour: 2.5" on the casemates,
1.25" on the pilothouse

USS Baron DeKalb (1861) was a City class ironclad gunboat constructed for the Union Navy by James B. Eads during the American Civil War.

The USS Baron DeKalb, named after General Baron DeKalb of Hüttendorf near Erlangen, in present-day Bavaria, was originally named Saint Louis, and was one of seven City class ironclads built at Carondelet, Missouri and Mound City, Illinois, for the Western Gunboat Flotilla[1]

These ironclads were shallow draft with a center driven paddle wheel. They were partially armored and slow and very hard to steer in the currents of rivers. This ironclad was also vulnerable to plunging fire and also by hits in their un-armored areas. Called "Pook Turtles" for the designer, they did yeoman service through 4 years of war and were present at almost every battle on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Built in Missouri in 1861

Originally built as the St. Louis, the stern wheel casemate gunboat was built by James B. Eads, at the Union Marine Works at Carondelet, Missouri, for the U.S. War Department. She was launched as St. Louis, Missouri, 12 October 1861 and joined the Western Gunboat Flotilla.

Civil War service

Assigned to Union Army operations

During 1862 St. Louis, under the command of Lieutenant Lieutenant L. Paulding USN, was attached to Rear Admiral Rear Admiral Andrew Hull Foote's squadron and participated in the Battle of Lucas Bend and the capture of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River (6 February 1862). She served as flagship for the squadron when it assisted the Union Army at the capture of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River (14–16 February 1862). Between April and June 1862, she operated against Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

St. Louis was renamed Baron De Kalb 8 September 1862. This change was apparently in anticipation of the vessel's transfer from the War Department to the Navy Department, there already being a USS St. Louis in commission with the Navy.

Reassigned to the Union Navy

On 1 October 1862 Baron De Kalb was transferred to the Navy Department. During 21–28 December she took part in the Yazoo Expedition and participated in the action at Drumgould's Bluff (28 December). Four of Baron De Kalb's sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in the expedition: Ordinary Seaman Peter Cotton, Captain of the Forecastle Pierre Leon, Boatswain's Mate John McDonald, and Boatswain's Mate Charles Robinson.[2][3]

During 1863 Baron De Kalb took part in the capture of Arkansas Post (10–11 January); expedition up the White River (12–14 January); Yazoo Pass Expedition (20 February-5 April); action at Fort Pemberton (11–13 March); action at Haines' Bluff (29 April-2 May, 18 May); action at Yazoo City, Mississippi (20–23 May); and the Yazoo River Expedition (24–31 May).

Sunk by mine

On 13 July 1863 Baron De Kalb was sunk by a mine (then called a "torpedo") in the Yazoo River, one mile below Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Chronology

Armament

Like many of the Mississippi theater ironclads, Baron Dekalb had its armament changed multiple times over life of the vessel. To expedite the entrance of Baron DeKalb into service, she and the other City-class ships were fitted with whatever weapons were available; then had their weapons upgraded as new pieces became available. Though the 8 in (200 mm) Dahlgren smoothbore cannons were fairly modern most of the other original armaments were antiquated; such as the 32-pounders, or modified; such as the 42-pounder "rifles" which were in fact, old smoothbores that had been gouged out to give them rifling. These 42-pounder weapons were of particular concern to military commanders because they were structurally weaker and more prone to exploding than purpose-built rifled cannons. Additionally, the close confines of riverine combat greatly increased the threat of boarding parties. The 12-pounder howitzer was equipped to address that concern and was not used in regular combat.[4]

Ordnance characteristics
January 1862 October 1862 December 1862 Early 1863
• 3 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 4 × 42-pounder rifles
• 6 × 32-pounder rifles
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle
• 3 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 2 × 42-pounder rifles
• 6 × 32-pounder rifles
• 2 × 30-pounder rifles
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle
• 2 × 10-inch smoothbores
• 3 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 2 × 42-pounder rifles
• 6 × 32-pounder rifles
• 2 × 30-pounder rifles
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle
• 1 × 10-inch smoothbore
• 2 × 9-inch smoothbores
• 2 × 8-inch smoothbores
• 6 × 32-pounder rifles
• 2 × 30-pounder rifles
• 1 × 12-pounder rifle

See also

References

  • This article incorporates text from the here.

External links

  • Building the City Class Ironclads Documentary

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