On this day in Alabama history: CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa launched

On this day in Alabama history: CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa launched
The naval foundry in Selma played a key role producing ordnance for the Confederacy, including plate steel for ironclad ships, as well as shot, shell, cannons and the famous Brooke rifles. The foundry was burned, along with a number of other structures, during a raid by Union Gen. James H. Wilson and his troops. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Tourism Department)

February 7, 1863

The CSS Huntsville and the CSS Tuscaloosa were launched on this day at the Confederate Naval Works pier at Selma. The CSS Huntsville was a Confederate ironclad named for the city of Huntsville that served as a floating battery in Mobile Bay beginning in August 1863 and defended the Port City and provided gunnery support to Confederate forces during Union attacks on Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort in March and April 1865. The CSS Tuscaloosa (the second ship to carry the name) was a propeller-driven ironclad ram that served mainly as a floating battery in the waters around Mobile, blocking and protecting the river entrances of the upper bay. Confederate forces scuttled both the CSS Huntsville and the CSS Tuscaloosa in the Spanish River near Fort Blakely on April 12, 1865. In December 1983, Sydney Schell, a retired maritime lawyer, found the wrecks of the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa buried in 15 to 20 feet of mud within 200 feet of each other. He reported to the Mobile Press-Register, in an interview in February 1989, that both ships were in excellent condition, although the Tuscaloosa had split into two pieces. He estimated that it would cost between $15 million and $20 million to raise and preserve the ships and build an interpretive center to house them.

Read more about the CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200

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