|Type and class||Casemate ironclad ram|
|Shipyard|| Nelson Brothers and Asa F. Tift's shipyard|
Jefferson City, Louisiana
|Keel laid||October 14, 1861|
|Launched||April 19, 1862|
|Fate||Destroyed, April 25, 1862|
|Draft||12 feet 6 inches (incomplete)|
|Propulsion|| Steam engine|
Three screw propellers
|Armament|| Two 7-inch Brooke rifles|
Four 6.4-inch Brooke rifles
Four 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores
Six 8-inch Dahlgren smoothbores.
|Compliment||Not fully manned at time of destruction|
CSS Mississippi was built by brothers Nelson and Asa F. Tift in a shipyard erected for the purpose in Jefferson City, Louisiana, just beyond the city limits of New Orleans. Construction was started on 14 October 1861 and she was launched prematurely on 19 April 1862 upon word of the Federal fleet entering the mouth of the Mississippi. A fast, triple-screw steamer, she was far from complete at that time of her launch, having neither her 20 guns nor ammunition on board. Machinery was fabricated by Jackson & Co. and by Patterson Foundry, locally. Schofield & Markham, Atlanta, rolled 1,000 tons of armor plate and the bolts alone weighed another 80 short tons; plating ranged from 1½" to 3½". Hull thickness was 2 feet at the sides, 3 at bow and stern.
It was only at the last minute that Commander Arthur Sinclair, CSN, designated as her commanding officer, attempted to take her up the river when the Federal fleet under Flag Officer David Farragut appeared from below Forts Jackson and St. Philip on 25 April, but his objective thwarted, he fired her to prevent capture.
"The celebrated ram," as Admiral Porter called Mississippi in his battle dispatch, was later described by Commander Sinclair as "a formidable ship—the finest of the sort I ever saw in my life; she would, in my opinion, not only have cleared the river of the enemy's vessels but have raised the blockade of every port in the South."
There took place in September following her loss a lengthy and intense investigation of Mississippi's builders and all officers and civilians responsible for her construction, premature launching and destruction; transcript of the hearings, readily accessible in libraries, is excellent background reading on the early Confederate Navy.
Mississippi was also the name proposed for one of the so-called Laird rams under construction in Great Britain.
Part of the text is incorporated from the United States Navy's Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.