Our focus is Gadsden County, Florida, its history, historic sites, folklore and legends. This blog is posted by Dale Cox, author of "The Early History of Gadsden County."
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Explosion on the C.S.S. Chattahoochee - May 27, 1863
I've launched a new web page that might be of interest to Gadsden County history buffs. It focuses on the tragic explosion aboard the C.S.S. Chattahoochee on May 27, 1863.
Based from a home port at Chattahoochee Landing, the Confederate warship was the most powerful Civil War vessel ever to operate on the Apalachicola River. It had been built from green timber in Early County, Georgia, and was commissioned far behind schedule on January 1, 1863.
Although the original plan seems to have been for the Chattahoochee to steam down the river and break the blockade at Apalachicola Bay, it took so long to complete her that by the time she was ready for action, the Confederate army had already obstructed the Apalachicola River. The obstructions near today's Wewahitchka were designed to keep Union warships from coming up the river, but they also prevented the Chattahoochee from making it down to the bay. As a result, she spent her career steaming up and down the river while her crew participated in artillery drills.
On May 26, 1863, however, the Chattahoochee went into action after news reached Chattahoochee Landing of a Union raid into the lower Apalachicola River. Steaming down to Blountstown, the ship was unable to continue due to shallow water. The next day as she prepared to head back up to Chattahoochee, a massive explosion rocked the warship and 16 men were scalded to death where they stood by super-heated steam. It was the deadliest naval accident in Florida during the Civil War.