Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gun from the C.S.S. Tennessee - Selma, Alabama

One of the most interesting naval artifacts in the South can be found not by the ocean, but far inland on the city hall lawn in Selma, Alabama.

Displayed there, through the courtesty of the Naval Historical Center, is one of the original 7-inch Brooke Rifles from the famed Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Tennessee. The gun weighs 15,300 pounds and had an effective range of 4 1/2 miles. It was one of the most powerful and advanced weapons of its day.

The gun on display in Selma was the stern pivot gun of the Tennessee. It was a critical part of the ironclad's armament during the Battle of Mobile Bay and it was at this gun that Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan was wounded.

The Tennessee was actually built in Selma, which was also the place where its guns were manufactured. Launched in February of 1863, it was commissioned one year later. On August 5, 1864, with only a few small wooden gunboats to help, the ironclad tackled the entire Union fleet that was storming its way into Mobile Bay. By the end of the battle, the Tennessee's steering chains had been shot away and the ironclad was surrounded by the ships of the Union fleet as they pounded it over and over with cannonballs. Unable to maneuver it surrendered after one of the most heroic fights ever waged by the Confederate navy.

Although the Tennessee was scrapped after the war, several of its cannon still survive. The one on display in Selma was returned to the city where it was cast in 1981. To learn more, please visit

No comments: