The CSS Palmetto State was an ironclad ram built by the Cameron and Company of Charleston, South Carolina and under the command of Confederate Lieutenant Commander John Rutledge. The CSS Chicora was her sister ram, also an ironclad was under Commander John Randolph Tucker.
The two Confederate ships slipped through a pre-dawn haze on January 31st 1863 to make a surprise attack on the Union blockading force located off Charleston, South Carolina. The ships sat low in the water, which allowed the Palmetto to ride under the guns of the USS Mercedita. The Palmetto rammed the Union ship and fired into her, disabling the Mercedita. The Confederate ram then went for the USS Keystone State. The Keystone was hit by shells, puncturing her steam chests, putting her out of power and needing a tow. As this was going on a long range gun battle ensued between the Chicora and the other Union blockaders, with little damage being done to either side.
The Palmetto and Chicora moved safely back into Charleston Harbor. The battle caused a temporary lifting of the blockade of Charleston.