Friday, December 21, 2012

Trapped By Their Own Torpedo

The CSS Savannah was burned December 21st 1864 by the Confederates when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s force threatened the city of Savannah, Georgia.

The CSS Savannah was an ironclad ram built by H F Willink at the Savannah Shipyard in 1863.  It was 172.5 feet long with a 34 foot beam and 12.5 foot draft.  The four inch thick iron armor covering her wooden haul was made in Atlanta.  The Savannah was armed with among other guns, two 7 inch rifled cannon and two 6.4 inch Brook guns.  Her top speed was about 6 knots and she carried a crew of 180.

The Savannah was launched February 4th 1863, and by June was in the Savannah River under Flag Officer William Hunter.  She wasn’t engaged in battle until Union General William T Sherman moved on the city of Savannah, Georgia at the end of his March to the Sea in December 1864.  She was unable to stop Sherman’s capturing the city.  The Savannah stayed there on the river covering Confederate General William Joseph Hardee’s retreat from the city on a pontoon bridge.

The Savannah engaged in an artillery duel December 20th 1864 with Union guns.  When she tried to escape the river she wound up trapped by one the Confederacies own torpedo mines.  On December 21st 1864 in order to keep the Savannah from being captured her commander had her run aground on the South Carolina side of the river, and set afire.

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