C.S.S. Tennessee
This original photograph
shows the famous Selma
ironclad after her capture at
the Battle of Mobile Bay.
(Please Click Photo to Enlarge).
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Gun from the C.S.S. Tennessee, Alabama
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Gun from the C.S.S. Tennessee, Alabama
7-inch Brooke Rifle from C.S.S. Tennessee
The stern pivot gun from the famed Confederate
ironclad Tennessee can be seen today in downtown
Selma, Alabama, where the ship was built.
A Selma Manufactured Gun
The massive naval cannon
was one of 39 such 7-inch
rifles shipped from Selma
during the Civil War.
Stern Gun of the Tennessee
Admiral Franklin Buchanan
was at this gun aboard the
Tennessee when he was
wounded at Mobile Bay.
A Prisoner Returned Home
The huge gun was returned
home to Selma in 1981 by the
Naval Historical Center, 175
years after it was captured at
the Battle of Mobile Bay.
Gun from the C.S.S. Tennessee - Selma, Alabama
Selma's Famed Ironclad Warship
On the lawn of city hall in historic Selma,
Alabama, can be seen one of the most
unique military artifacts in the United States -
the stern pivot gun of the famed C.S.S.

Tennessee gained undying fame in the
South when she tackled an entire Union fleet
during the
Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5,
1864. The gun now on display in Selma was
part of the armament she brought to bear
against the ships of Admiral David Farragut.

As the War Between the States dragged on
much longer than most people - North or
South - had expected, the importance of
Selma as a military manufacturing center
grew dramatically. The Union blockade of the
Confederate coast and the capture of such
key cities as Norfolk, Virginia, caused the
Southern navy to focus on such interior
locations as Selma.

Remote from the coast and protected by
geography from Union attack, yet with the
Alabama River providing access to Mobile
Bay, Selma developed as a major point for
naval construction. Using Alabama-produced
iron, the C.S. Navy's facilities at Selma
produced both ships and heavy artillery. The
most famous of the city's productions was
undoubtedly the C.S.S.

Launched at Selma in February of 1863, the
Tennessee was a 1,273 ton ironclad armed
with four 6.4-inch Brooke rifles mounted in
broadside and two 7-inch Brooke rifles on
pivots at her bow and stern so they could be
turned to fire in multiple directions. The ship
was plated with six inches of iron and had
additional defensive systems that could
spray scalding hot steam on any enemy
sailors who attempted to board her.

After being launched at Selma, the ironclad
was towed down to Mobile Bay by the ram
Baltic. Her outfitting was completed
there under the direct supervision of Admiral
Franklin Buchanan, one of the most noted
officers of the Confederate Navy. The ship
was commissioned as an active warship in
February of 1864.

On the morning of August 5, 1864, with
Admiral Buchanan in command, the C.S.S.
Tennessee steamed into action at the Battle
of Mobile Bay, accompanied by only three
smaller wooden gunboats. A massive fleet of
four ironclads and fourteen wooden ships
had stormed the entrance to the bay.

In the battle that followed, the
waged a remarkable fight against incredible
odds. With his wooden gunboats quickly
knocked out of commission, Buchanan
steamed the
Tennessee into the center of the
entire Union fleet.

As Confederate soldiers watched from the
walls of nearby
Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan,
the ships circled and maneuvered, blasting
and ramming each other from point blank
range. Admiral Buchanan was wounded,
along with eight others aboard the ship. Two
of the
Tennessee's sailors were killed.
The ship continued to fight even after her
steering chains were shot away, leaving her
dead in the water and subjected to the fire of
the entire Union fleet. Finally, with Union
cannonballs beginning to break through her
armor, the C.S.S.
Tennessee surrendered.
She had waged the greatest fight against the
longest odds of any Confederate warship
during the Civil War.

Tennessee was converted into a Union
warship, but was sold for scrap at the end of
the war. The massive gun now on display in
Selma remains to pay tribute to her
existence. The 7-inch rifle was manufactured
in Selma and served as the stern pivot gun of
the ironclad. It was at this gun that Admiral
Buchanan was wounded.

The massive gun weighs 15,300 pounds
and had a range of four and one-half miles. It
can be seen today at City Hall on Broad
Street in downtown Selma, Alabama. It is on
loan to the Selma-Dallas County Museum
and Archives from the Naval Historical Center
in Washington, D.C. It was returned to the city
where it was manufactured in 1981.

The rifle from the
Tennessee also serves as
a reminder of Selma's role in manufacturing
heavy cannon for the Confederacy. The
Selma Naval Ordnance Works shipped 39 of
these massive 7-inch rifles between 1863
and 1865. The facility also shipped fifteen 6.4
inch rifles during the war, but was destroyed
by Union troops following the
Battle of Selma
on April 2, 1865.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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