The CSS Calhoun started life in 1851 as the Cuba, and was built in New York City. She was commissioned by the Confederate Navy May 15th 1861 for use as a blockade runner. She was captured off the coast of Southwest Pass, Louisiana on January 23rd 1862 by the USS Colorado.
She was commissioned into Union service as the USS Calhoun under the command of Lieutenant J E DeHaven. She became a part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron March 19th 1862.