Page Header 28th Wisconsin Homepage Company Rosters Regimental History Soldier's Biographies Stories from Camp & Field Post-War Reunions Descendants of the 28th

The USS Baron DeKalb
City-class Ironclad Gunboat

USS Baron DeKalb

USS Saint Louis, later re-named the USS Baron DeKalb, was a 512-ton Cairo class ironclad river gunboat, and one of seven city-class gunboats built at Saint Louis, Missouri, for the U.S. Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla. They were shallow draft, driven by a centered paddle wheel, and only partially armored. They were slow, hard to handle in the currents of the rivers, and vulnerable to plunging fire and hits in their un-armored areas, but they did yeoman service through 4 years of war. Also called "Pook Turtles" for the man who designed them,they were present at nearly every battle on the Mississippi and it's tributaries. St. Louis under construction

Her specs, like her sisters were:

Tonnage: 512
Dimensions: 175' X 51.2' X 6'
Machinery: Center Wheel, 2 horizontal HP engines (22" X 6"), 5 boilers.
Complement: 251
Armament: On the day she sank, Baron De Kalb was armed with 1 10" SB, 2 8" rifles, 2 9" SB, 6 32 pounder SB, 2 30 pounder rifles.
Armor: 2.5" on the casemates, 1.25" on the pilothouse.

Christened as USS St. Louis, the vessel first saw action 11 January, 1862 with CSN vessels near Lucas Bend, Missouri. She participated in the 6 February, 1862 attack on Fort Henry, Tennessee, as well as the 14 February attack on Fort Donelson. In the latter engagement she was struck 59 times and critically damaged. After being repaired St. Louis she saw Action at Columbus, KY, 23 February, 1862, and Island #10, 15 March to 7 April, 1862. She bombarded Fort Pillow on 13 April, 1862, and participated in the battle off Fort Pillow, 10 May, 1862. At the Battle of Memphis, 6 June, 1862, St. Louis and her sisters, along with several "Ellet Rams" destroyed the Confederate Mississippi river fleet in less than an hour of fighting. She then participated in the expedition up the White river, Arkansas and bombarded the batteries at St. Charles, 17 June, 1862.

Gun deck of a city class gunboat

On 8 September, 1862 the St. Louis was re-christened USS Baron De Kalb. Her first operation under the new name was the Expedition up the Yazoo river, 21 November to 11 December, 1862 (USS Cairo was sunk 12 December, 1862 near Haynes Bluff on the Yazoo). She bombarded the batteries at Drumgold's Bluff, 28 December, 1862. The De Kalb participated in the attack on Fort Hindman, Arkansas, 10 - 11 January, 1863, and during the Yazoo Pass expedition attacked Fort Pemberton, Tallahatchie River, 11 - 23 March, 1863. she participated in the capture of Haynes Bluff on 18 May, 1863. She helped destroy the Yazoo City Navy Yard on 20 - 23 May, 1863, and made an expedition up the Yazoo 24 - 31 May, 1863. She was sunk by a torpedo about one mile below Yazoo City on 13 July, 1863. During her career St. Louis/Baron De Kalb captured two prizes: The steamer Lottie, on 5 December, 1862, and the steamer Alonzo Child, 19 May, 1863.