CSS Chicora was built under contract at Charleston, South Carolina in 1862, by James M. Eason to J. L. Porter's plans, using most of a $300,000 State appropriation for construction of marine batteries, and Eason receiving a bonus for "skill and promptitude." Her iron shield was 4" thick, backed by 22" of oak and pine, with 2-inch armor at her ends. Keeled in March, she was commissioned in November, Comdr. John R. Tucker, CSN, assuming command.
In thick, predawn haze on 31 January 1863, Chicora and CSS Palmetto State raided the Federal blockading force of unarmored ships lying just outside the entrance to Charleston Harbor. With ram and gun, Palmetto State forced Mercedita to surrender, then disabled Keystone State, who had to be towed to safety. Chicora meanwhile engaged other Union ships in a long-range gun duel, from which she emerged unscathed to withdraw victoriously to shelter inside the harbor.
She took part in the defense of the forts at Charleston on 7 April when they were attacked by a squadron of ironclad monitors under Rear Admiral Samuel Du Pont, USN. The Federal ships were forced to retire for repairs and did not resume the action.
Chicora was actively employed in the fighting around Charleston during 1863 and 1864. Her valuable services included the transporting of troops during the evacuation of Morris Island, and the bombardment of Forts Sumter, Gregg, and Wagner. In August 1863 she had the distinction of furnishing the first volunteer officer and crew for the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley.
She was destroyed by the Confederates when Charleston was evacuated on 18 February 1865.
Part of the text is incorporated from the United States Navy's Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.