At the start of the American Civil War, the Union possessed all of the advantages in new warship construction due to the facts that it had almost all the shipyards and a
far greater industrial infrastructure. The Confederates were sadly lacking in assets for construction of warships, although hold the Norfolk, Virginia naval base initially.
Most of the naval yards that developed in the south were on rivers. In the west Memphis had a yard that started work on two ironclads, the first
CSS Tennessee and
CSS Arkansas and New Orleans had a yard that started on CSS Louisiana and CSS Mississippi. However, in 1862 both cities fell to Union troops and only the
Arkansas was saved, as the incomplete ironclad was taken up the Yazoo River in Mississippi for completion. Probably the two most productive construction yards for
the Confederacy were at Richmond on the James River and Charleston, New facilities for warship construction were developed far inland. At Selma, Alabama one was
started and in Columbus, Georgia one was developed on the Chattahoochee River.

In 1853 the Columbus Iron Works was established to construct farm equipment but when war broke out, it was an ideal candidate for conversion into a armaments
factory and later into a naval yard. Located on a major railroad, the works at Columbus became a significant producer of armaments and ammunition for the south. It
also became the administration center for satellite operations. A private company in Saffold, Georgia was contracted by the Columbus Naval Yard in 1862 to build a
gunboat. Saffold is also on the Chattahoochee and is 175 miles (280km) south of Columbus and 140 miles (224km) north of Apalachicola, Florida on the Gulf of
Mexico. The Chattahoochee joins the Flint River on the Georgia/Florida border to become the Apalachicola River for a short run to the sea.
At the yard in Saffold the gunboat CSS Chattahoochee was started. She was 130-feet (39m) in length, 25-feet (7.6m) in beam, with a draft of 8-feet (2.4m). She had a
rather formidable armament with four 32-pdr smoothbore cannons in broadside fire, one 32-pdr centerline rifle pivot cannon and one 9-inch (228mm)  centerline pivot
smoothbore. There were 120 in her complement. She had two screws for a theoretical top speed of 12-knots but also was equipped with three masts, certainly not
needed for river operations and there were no Union craft on the Chattahoochee. The masts were present because the gunboat was also built to break the blockade at
Apalachicola and break out into the Gulf of Mexico. She was launched in February 1863.

CSS Chattahoochee certainly had a star-crossed life. The day after launching Chattahoochee ran aground causing significant damage to the hull. While under repair the
Confederates emplaced obstructions in the Apalachicola River that prevented an ascent of the river by Union naval forces but also preventing the
Chattahoochee from
getting to the Gulf of Mexico. After repairs and completion, the gunboat traveled to Florida. The Union was blockading the port of Apalachicola and part of the
blockading squadron was the gunboat
USS Port Royal. On May 24, 1863 the Port Royal sent a landing party to capture the sloop Fashion, which was anchored above
the river obstruction. The landing party captured the
Fashion and burned her. After the capture but before the burning of Fashion, the CSS Chattahoochee got ready
at Blountstown, Florida to sortie to recapture the sloop. The lack of training of the crew resulted in a boiler explosion in the
Chattahoochee, killing 18. This explosion
immobilized the gunboat and essentially rendered her into a hulk. More than a year would pass before the Confederates did anything to restore any combat value to the
ship. On June 10, 1864 she was towed to Columbus for repairs and installation of new machinery. With no ship to man, 61 of the
Chattahoochee’s crew remained at
Apalachicola. They were dispatched to repay the loss of the
Fashion the year before by capturing the Union ship Adela. Seven boats were used to move the raiding
party and this adventure was a spectacular failure with the Union capturing six of the seven boats, Most of the Confederates took to the water but four of the
Chattahoochee’s crew were captured. As Union forces approached Columbus the gunboat CSS Chattahoochee was burned and sank in the river. In 1964 a 30-feet
(9m) section of the stern of
Chattahoochee was raised and is on display at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Columbus.
Flagship Models CSS Chattahoochee Gunboat - We all know that Flagship Models has an extensive line of American Civil War warships in 1:192 scale. Most of
the ironclads are present in the lineup but also quite a number of lesser known ships. The
CSS Chattahoochee certainly qualifies as one of those lesser known ships.
As with other
Flagship releases, the Chattahoochee is a multiple media model with resin parts, brass photo-etch fret, metal anchor chain, wooden masts/yards and
flag decal. This is the newest of the
Flagship releases.

The
Chattahoochee hull is a one-piece full hull casting. The casting quality is fair. There were no voids in the hull casting except for a small one in on a propeller shaft
skeg but there is a moderate amount of cleanup needed to remove excess resin. The cleanup comes in the form of removal of chunks of resin that clung to the hull
when it was removed from the mold. On my copy there was significant portion on the starboard lower hull. However, it is easily removed by a sander and the lower
hull hand sanded to restore a smooth finish. Other resin overcasting is found is found on both sides of the forward keel, at the above water rudder post, at the lower
hull rudder attachment position and on both sides of where the bowsprit enters the deck. The removal of this resin poses no problem with the most time consuming the
resin splash on the bowsprit base. There is also a seam on both sides of the hull, approximately along the waterline, that will be need sanded to give a smooth hull.
Exterior hull detail is limited. There is a faint wood pattern to both the above water and below water portions of the hull. A prominent keel runs from the beak of the
forecastle to the rudder. At the stern are the two propeller shaft skegs and the above water rudder post. At the bow are anchor chain scuttles and cathead openings. At
the top of the bulkheads are double horizontal strakes extending outward with openings in the bulkheads for the guns. The deck has planking detail but there is no butt
end detail. Most of the other deck detail lies on the centerline. The bowsprit base and support block are nice. The deck is dominated by the circular bases of the two
pivot guns. Between the two bases are two singular coamings, a skylight and the bases for the foremast and main mast. Aft of the rear base plate is a double coaming
and the base of the mizzen mast. On each side of the deck are deck openings for the anchor chain, and raised coal scuttles.

There are nine resin runners of smaller resin parts for the
Chattahoochee, which is quite a lot for a small gunboat. There is small amount of flash and of course the
attachment points of the parts with the runner will needed to be sanded once the part is removed from the runner. The largest of these parts is the funnel, which is
hollow to a very good depth, with nicely done steam pipe with whistle and horizontal reinforcing band. Also on the runner are eight more parts. These are four ratline
attachment boards that go on the exterior of the hull for the foremast and main mast, two curved boards of the same type for the mizzen mast and two strakes for the
gun openings of the forward pivot gun. Each part is numbered on the runner (1 through 9) with the part matching the part number in the instruction. This greatly eases
the attachment location for each part. There are two runners with multiple part 10, which are block and tackle for the masts’ ratlines. There are 28 of these parts with
16 on one runner and 12 on the other. Parts 11 to 19 share a runner and are composed of the 9-inch Dahlgren pivot gun barrel, the Dahlgren’s carriage, binnacle, ship’
s wheel post, two anchors, galley stack with conical top, anchor windlass, three mast bottom reinforcing bands and rudder. A small runner has three part #20, which
are the three mast primary platforms. Parts 21 and 22 are on a runner with four boat davits with eyeholes (21) and six mast upper supports and bowsprit supports
(22). Parts 23, two ship’s boats with bottom ribbing and deck detail, and two parts 24, the propellers are on a runner. The last large runner has three part numbers,
#25 for the five 32-pdr guns, #26 for their carriages and #27 for three mast boom brackets. There are two small runners with unnumbered parts, which are the deck
twin bollard fittings, the attachment location of which is clearly shown in the plan view of the instructions.
Flagship provides a nice moderate sized brass fret. All brass parts are numbered. The six ratlines are the largest brass parts and have very nice sagging foot rungs.
The three coaming covers are relief-etched with the exterior frames raised above the lower interior grates. The pivot guns get large block and tackle while the
broadside guns get smaller block and tackle. The two ship’s boats get a lot of brass detail including thwarts, seating planks, oars, coils of rope, oar brackets and gaff.
Other brass parts are anchor davits. Additional parts are nine wooden rods for the masts, booms and yards, two plastic rods, one brass rod and metal anchor chain. A
late war battle flag is provided on a paper insert.

The instructions are one back-printed page and are easy to follow. Each part is numbered both resin and brass, while the wooden and plastic parts are identified by
diameter. The only error that I found was numbering the primary mast platforms #40 instead of #20 in the subassembly inset, although #20 shows in the parts
laydown and on the resin runner. Page one of the instructions is the primary source of assembly and has a profile and plan drawing with insets for the ship’s wheel
and providing fluttering for the flag. Page two has ten subassembly drawings and a parts laydown at the bottom. The subassembly inset provide detail for assembling
the mast platforms, mast bottoms, davits, ship’s boats, broadside guns, 32-pdr pivot gun, Dahlgren pivot gun, tapering masts and yards, propeller shafts and deadeyes
(ratline block and tackle).
The Flagship Models 1:192 scale multimedia kit provides an intriguing model on an esoteric subject, the gunboat CSS Chattahoochee. Built far up her namesake river,
the Confederacy had grand plans for the
Chattahoochee, giving her three masts and a bowsprit as well as an engine for clearing the Gulf of Mexico of Yankee
predators. As usual, Confederate plans proved far more grand than subsequent reality.
Steve Backer
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