CSS Governor Moore
Displacement: 1215 tons.
Armament: Two 32-pdr rifled guns.
This vessel was formerly named Charles Morgan, after the founder of the Southern SS Company who owned her. The wooden sidewheel steamer was built at New York in 1854 as a schooner-rigged vessel fitted with a lowpressure, walking-beam engine.
In mid-January 1862 she was seized at New Orleans by Confederate Brigadier General Mansfield Lovell. Renamed after the Louisiana state governor, she was given a reinforced bow for ramming by adding two strips of railroad iron along her length. Pine timber and a large number of cotton bales were added to protect the boilers, which stood well above the waterline.
She was the larger of two cottonclads owned by the state of Louisiana, who also operated them. She was captained by Lt. Beverly Kennon, who was serving without pay as a commander in the Louisiana Navy.
Governor Moore was part of the force that fought against the Union fleet attacking New Orleans. As she approached the oncoming enemy fleet, the cottonclad first had to free the disabled tug Belle Alterine before she could move on. However, she was hampered by lack of room in which to build up headway for ramming, so was forced to move along the east bank to the bend above the forts and then turn downstream. As she turned, the telegraph steamer Star and the Quitma were set on fire at their berths by the passing Union vessels.
Once clear of the crossfire of the forts Governor Moore encountered the USS Oneida and Cayuga, who fired at the Confederate vessel from only a few feet away. A large frigate then loomed out of the haze of battle and fired a hail of shells from the howitzers in her tops, killing many men at the guns. Next came the Pinola on the part quarter, delivering a deadly broadside that killed five more of the crew.
Governor Moore had broken away from her antagonists and now sighted a large steamer Varuna - pulling ahead of the Union fleet. Taking advantage of the dark background behind the vessels, Governor Moore bore down on the speeding craft. Eventually at close quarters, the two vessels poured deadly fire into each other and Governor Moore was able to ram Varuna twice near the gangway amidships, forcing the vessel aground. At that moment Varuna was rammed by the Stonewall Jackson.
As Governor Moore turned round to head back downstream, her decks were swept with gunfire from Oneida, forcing the Confederates to run their vessels aground just before the beached Varuna.
Source: "Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War" By Tony Gibbons
This Page last updated 11/16/04
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