Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Apalachicola River, Part Seven


This is part seven of a continuing series on Civil War sites along Florida's Apalachicola River. To read the previous posts, please scroll down the page or look at the Archives area.
This is the memorial to the Confederate sailors killed when the boiler of the C.S.S. Chattahoochee exploded near Blountstown, Florida, on May 27, 1863.
The monument stands just off the shoulder of the street about one block south of the main entrance to the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee.
The warship was on its way down the Apalachicola River to counter a raid by the Union navy when it stopped for the night due to shallow water at the Blountstown sand bar. The next morning, as the Chattahoochee was preparing to resume its voyage, human error led to a boiler explosion that killed or severely scalded many of the sailors aboard the ship.
The dead from the explosion were carried by steamboat up to Chattahoochee, where they were buried not far from what was then the arsenal complex. The location of the cemetery was lost over time, but was accidentally discovered several decades ago during a construction project. The monument seen here was placed to mark the site and memorialize the men who died in the terrible accident.
The warship itself was raised by work crews and taken upriver to Columbus, Georgia, where she was refitted and was again ready for action by the end of the war. She was scuttled by her own crew in 1865 when Columbus fell to Union troops to prevent her capture. A portion of the wreck of the Chattahoochee has been salvaged and can be seen today at the Port Columbus National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus.
Our series will continue.

4 comments:

RoadDog said...

Interesting history of a little-known part of the war. Thanks.

I wonder why the Chattahoochee just wasn't based near the mouth of the Apalachicola River?

Dale said...

Thanks for the post! The primary reason, I think, was that the Confederate Army and Navy were working at cross purposes on the river.

The navy had visions of going out into Apalachicola Bay and taking on the blockade ships, but the army was more interested in obstructing the river to prevent Union forces from coming upstream.

As a result, the army put obstructions in the river near the Chipola Cut-off. They blocked the Union navy from coming upstream, but also kept the Chattahoochee from going downstream!

Murf said...

I had the opportunity to visit Chattahoochie last Sunday, 6/8. I looked all around for the marker but unfortunately was unable to find it. Since I live in the Florida Keys, I have not been in this part of the state for many years. I did drive around the grounds of the state hospital and was impressed by the size of the facility.

Dale said...

Murf,

I wish I had known you were in the area. My Florida place is only about 15 minutes from Chattahoochee. I would have been glad to show you around.

Dale