CSS Tennessee (1862)
CSS Tennessee was begun by John T. Shirley and Co., at Memphis, Tenn., under fixed price contract for $76,920. Chief constructor of the twin-screw ironclad was a Mr. Prime Emerson.
In correspondence with Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk, CSA, throughout January 1862, seeking Army workmen from Columbus, Ky., Secretary Mallory promised for Tennessee and her sister, Arkansas, building at Shirley's yard, that "with such aid as mechanics under your command can afford, they may be completed, I am assured, in 60 days." The desired "shipwrights, carpenters and joiners in the Army" were refused—"on furlough or otherwise" —although the general was reminded that, "One of them at Columbus would have enabled you to complete the annihilation of the enemy . . . Mr. Shirley," Mallory prophesied correctly, "will fail in completing them within the stipulated time entirely from the difficulty of obtaining workmen", although they "would be worth many regiments in defending the river."
Little more is known of this first ironclad ram Tennessee, which was never completed; she was burned on the stocks by order of the provost marshal, 5 June 1862, to escape capture. Her name was given over to an even more powerful ironclad soon to be constructed at Mobile, Alabama.
Part of the text is incorporated from the United States Navy's Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.