CSS Colonel Lovell

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Career (CSA)
Name: Colonel Lovell
Launched: 1843
Acquired: 1861
Commissioned: 1861
Fate: Rammed and sunk, 6 June 1862
General characteristics
Type: Side-wheel cotton-clad ram
Tonnage: 521 long tons (529 t)
Length: 162 ft (49 m)
Beam: 30 ft 10 in (9.40 m)
Draft: 11 ft (3.4 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine, side paddle wheels

CSS Colonel Lovell was a cotton-clad ram of the Confederate States Navy during the American Civil War

Service history[edit]

The ship was built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1843, as Hercules, and was owned by the Ocean Towing Co. of New Orleans. She was taken over in 1861 by General Mansfield Lovell, commanding the New Orleans military district, and converted to a cottonclad ram by installation of double pine bulwarks filled with compressed cotton and one-inch iron plates on each bow. She operated under the direction of the Confederate War Department and was attached to the Mississippi River Defense Fleet, commanded by Commodore J. E. Montgomery, a former river steamboat captain.

Battle of Plum Point Bend[edit]

On 10 May 1862, while operating off Fort Pillow, Tennessee, in defense of the river approaches to Memphis, Colonel Lovell, in company with seven of Montgomery's vessels, attacked the ironclad gunboats of the Federal Mississippi Flotilla. The action of Plum Point Bend which followed witnessed successful ramming tactics by the Confederates, though each of their vessels mounted at least four 8-inch guns. The Federal gunboats USS Cincinnati and USS Mound City were run on the banks in sinking condition. Later, Montgomery's force held off the Federal rams and gunboats until Fort Pillow was successfully evacuated on 1 June, and the Confederate rams fell back on Memphis to take on coal.

Battle of Memphis[edit]

Following the Federal capture of Fort Pillow Flag Officer Charles Henry Davis, USN, commanding the Mississippi Flotilla, pressed on without delay and appeared off Memphis with superior force on 6 June 1862. Included in his force were two of the Federal Army's rams, commanded by Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr. Montgomery, unwilling to retreat to Vicksburg because of his shortage of fuel and unwilling to destroy his boats, determined to fight against heavy odds. In the engagement that followed, one of Colonel Lovell's engines malfunctioned and she became unmanageable. She was then rammed amidships by USS Queen of the West, and immediately struck again by USS Monarch, both of the Ellett fleet. Colonel Lovell sank in deep water in the middle of the river. Capt. J. C. Delancy and a number of his crew were able to swim ashore.

References[edit]