Today in History:

Calhoun (1862-1864)

USS Calhoun, an 508-ton side-wheel gunboat, was built in 1851 at New York City as the civilian steamer Calhoun. She became a Confederate privateer in May 1861 and operated successfully over the next five months, taking six prizes. The Confederate Navy took her over later in the year for service as a gunboat in the lower Mississippi River area. CSS Calhoun took part in the attack on Federal warships at the Mississippi River's Head of Passes on 12 October 1861. Three months later, on 23 January 1862, she was captured by USS Samuel Rotan off the river's Southwest Pass.

The U.S. Navy soon acquired the steamer for its own purposes, placing her in commission as USS Calhoun in March 1862. She initially served as a blockader, capturing several vessels off the Mississippi and in inland waters. Beginning in November 1862, she participated in several engagements with Confederate warships and forces ashore, helping to destroy the steamer J.A. Cotton on 14 January 1863 and the ram Queen of the West on 14 April 1863. She operated in the Mississippi Sound area from mid-1863 and in February 1864 was Rear Admiral Farragut's flagship during a series of bombardments of Fort Powell, at the western entrance of Mobile Bay.

Decommissioned in May 1864, Calhoun was turned over to the U.S. Army in early June. She served as the Army steamer General Sedgewick for the rest of the Civil War. Sold in 1865, she regained her old name and had a long subsequent career as the SS Calhoun.

This page features, or provides links to, all the views we have related to USS Calhoun.

For a view of Calhoun as a civilian steamer prior to the Civil War, see:

  • Steamship Calhoun (1851-1883).

    Photo #: NH 55004-KN (color)

    USS Calhoun (1862-1864)

    Artwork by Assistant Engineer John Everding, USN, circa 1862-64.

    Photo #: NH 66952

    USS Calhoun

    Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1963, prepared for use in his book "Early American Steamers", Volume III.
    Originally built in 1851, Calhoun was a Confederate warship in 1861-62 and became the the U.S. Army steamer General Sedgewick in 1864.

    Courtesy of Erik Heyl.

    Photo #: NH 58767

    "The Fight at Corney's Bridge, Bayou Teche, Louisiana, and Destruction of the Rebel Gun-boat 'Cotton,', January 14, 1863."

    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1863, showing the Confederate gunboat J.A. Cotton engaging Federal gunboats, as Confederate troops fire from the shore. U.S. Navy ships in this engagement were Kinsman, Estrella, Diana and Calhoun.

    Photo #: NH 58759

    "Destruction of the 'Queen of the West' by Union Gun-Boats"

    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1863, depicting CSS Queen of the West being destroyed in Grand Lake, Louisiana, during an attack by USS Estrella (extreme left), Calhoun (extreme right) and Arizona (second from right), 14 April 1863.

    Photo #: NH 59095

    "Engagement at Butte la Rose"

    Line engraving after a sketch by H. Holtz, published in "Harper's Weekly", 1863, depicting the U.S. Navy gunboats Estrella, Calhoun, Arizona and Clifton (listed clockwise from lower right) engaging the Confederate gunboat J.A. Cotton off Butte a la Rose, Louisiana, on 20 April 1863. Confederate Fort Burton (shown at left) was captured on the same day.

    Photo #: NH 59144

    "Bombardment of Fort Powell by Admiral Farragut's Fleet, on February 24, 1864."

    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1864, depicting the bombardment of Fort Powell, in Grant's Pass between Mississippi Sound and Mobile Bay, Alabama. The steamer at right is USS Calhoun, flagship during this operation.

    For a view of Calhoun as a civilian steamer prior to the Civil War, see:

  • Steamship Calhoun (1851-1883).