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U.S.S. Rattler
Civil War Tinclad No. 1

Adapted from "Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War" by Tony Gibbons
"Photographic History of the Civil War -- The Navies", edited by Francis Miller

Displacement:165 tons
Armament: In 1863 had two 30-pdr Parrott rifles and four 24-pdr; armament then varied.

USS Rattler was one of sixty-odd mixed-bag riverboats purchased and armed by the U.S. Navy, called “tinclads” to distinguish their bullet-proof qualities from the heavier cannon-proof ironclads. Rattler was formerly the wooden river steamer Florence Miller, built in 1862 at Cincinnati, Ohio. She was purchased by the navy for $24,000 in November 1862 and commissioned the following month. Rattler took part in the attack on Fort Hindman in January 1863 and went on to serve on the Mississippi River. Here she acted as Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith's flagship to a flotilla of tinclads and transports conveying 6000 infantry in the Yazoo Pass expedition. The plan was to enter the Yazoo River through Moon Lake, the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers and attack Vicksburg from that side. Struggling against overhanging trees and masses of driftwood, pausing to remove great trees which the Confederates had felled in their way, the gunboats managed to pick a channel and approached Fort Pemberton on 11 March 1863. Many of the accompanying gunboats suffered severely from this bayou warfare. The Romeo had her stacks carried away, the Petrel lost her wheel, and the Chillicothe was damaged by a submerged stump. The soldiers grumbled at the constant labor of "digging the gunboats out of the woods". The channel was so narrow and obstructed that only one boat at a time could engage the Confederate batteries at Fort Pemberton.

U.S.S. Rattler

Rattler subsequently took part in the Red River campaign, and raids up the Black, Tensa, and Ovachita rivers. In September 1863 her commanding officer and sixteen crew were captured while ashore attending church. A heavy gale near Grand Gulf, Mississippi, on 30 December 1864 drove Rattler ashore, causing her to strike a snag and sink. After being abandoned by the U.S. Navy, she was burned by Confederate troops.