The hull and other woodwork of the Tennessee was done by Henry D Bassett in October 1862. The following February she was towed to Selma, Alabama where her engine and armor was installed. The armor on the Tennessee was made up of 2 foot by 10 foot plates in a triple thickness. When she was completed she weighed 1273 ton.
The CSS Tennessee was the flagship of Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan. She was commissioned February 16th 1864. The Tennessee was heavily engaged at the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5th 1864. When Union Admiral David G Farragut’s ships moved up the bay the CSS Tennessee pursued them. She rammed several Union ships before her steering was knocked out. The Tennessee was unable to maneuver, two men were killed and Admiral Buchanan and eight others were wounded. The CSS Tennessee was forced to surrender.
Following the surrender of the Tennessee, she was placed under the command of Union Volunteer Lieutenant Pierre Giraud. She would serve on the Mississippi River until the end of the Civil War. On November 27th 1867 the Tennessee was sold to J F Armstrong for scrap.