|A powerful reenforcement to the river fleet: the monster ironclad “Choctaw” This huge vessel was one of the first attempts to develop the Eads type of gunboat. She, with the “Tuscumbia,” the “Indianola,” the “Lafayette,” and the “Chillicothe,” was added to the Mississippi squadron after Admiral Porter took command, and all received their baptism in the operations of the Vicksburg campaign, the “Indianola” being captured and destroyed by the Confederates. They were flat-bottomed vessels with side-wheels three-quarters of the way aft, each wheel acting independently of the other so as to give facility in turning in narrow channels,which rendered the broadside guns more effective. They were designed as light-drafts, requiring from five to seven feet of water. The “Choctaw” and her sister-vessel, the “Lafayette,” required nine feet. The “Choctaw” mounted three 9-inch smooth-bores and a rifled 100-pounder in her forward casemate. She had a second casemate forward of the wheel where she mounted two 24-pounder howitzers, and a third casemate abaft the wheel containing two 30-pounder Parrott rifled guns. Under Lieutenant-Commander F. M. Ramsay, she was active in the flotilla cooperating with General W. T. Sherman against Haynes' Bluff and Drumgould's Bluff, Mississippi, to distract attention from Grant's famous movement to the south of Vicksburg. She accompanied the expedition that captured Yazoo City on May 21, 1863, and destroyed $2,000,000 worth of Confederate vessels, yards, mills, and other property. On June 7, 1863, she, with the little “Lexington,” drove off the Confederate attack on Milliken's Bend, Louisiana. In 1864, she accompanied Admiral Porter on the Red River expedition.|
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