USS Choctaw (1856)

For other ships with the same name, see USS Choctaw.
USS Choctaw off Vicksburg
United States
Laid down: 1853, at New Albany, Indiana
Launched: 1856
Commissioned: 23 March 1863, at St. Louis, Missouri
Decommissioned: 22 July 1865, at Algiers, Louisiana
Struck: 1866 (est.)
Fate: sold, 28 March 1866
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,004 long tons (1,020 t)
Length: 260 ft (79 m)
Beam: 45 ft (14 m)
Draft: 8 ft (2.4 m)
Speed: 2 knots (4 km/h) upstream
Complement: 106 officers and men
  • ram
  • 1 × 100 pounder (45 kg) rifle
  • 3 × 9 in (229 mm) smoothbore cannon
  • 2 × 30 pounder (14 kg) rifles
Armor: ironclad

USS Choctaw (1856) was a large (1,004-ton) steamer built for the merchant service, but acquired by the Union Navy during the second year of the American Civil War.

Choctaw, with her crew of 106, was outfitted by the Navy as a ram with heavy rifled guns and was used both as a gunboat and as a ram on the rivers of the Confederate States of America.

Built in New Albany, Indiana in 1853, launched in 1856

Choctaw, a sidewheel steamer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Choctaw Indian tribe, formerly of Alabama and Mississippi, now resident in Oklahoma.

She was built for the merchant service; her keel was laid down at New Albany, Indiana, in 1853. She was launched in 1856. She was purchased by the United States Army on 27 September 1862 and converted into an ironclad ram, then transferred to commissioned into the United States Navy at St. Louis, Missouri on 23 March 1863 with Lieutenant Commander Francis M. Ramsay in command.

Civil War operations

From 23 April 1863, until the end of the war, Choctaw operated in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Between 29 April and 1 May 1863, she stood up the Yazoo River for a feigned attack on Haynes' Bluff, Mississippi, designed to prevent the Confederates from reinforcing Grand Gulf. During this action, she was struck 53 times.

Remaining in the Yazoo, she took part in attacks with the Union Army which led to the destruction of Confederate works at Haynes' Bluff and the burning of the navy yard and ships lying there, at Yazoo City, between 18 and 23 May.

On 6 and 7 June, she joined in repelling a Confederate attack at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, after which she rescued a large number of Confederates from the river and sent them in as prisoners.

Between 7 March and 15 May 1864, she took part in the operations leading to the capture of Fort DeRussy.

Post-war decommissioning

Choctaw arrived at Algiers, Louisiana, on 20 July 1865, and was placed out of commission on 22 July 1865. She was sold at New Orleans, Louisiana on 28 March 1866.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

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