Monday, November 30, 2009

A Crew Member from the C.S.S. Chattahoochee


This is Lorenzo Coonrod, who served aboard the ill-fated warship C.S.S. Chattahoochee.

Commissioned on January 1, 1863, at the C.S. Navy Yard at Saffold, Early County, Georgia, the Chattahoochee was the most powerful Confederate warship ever to sail on Florida waters. She took nearly 18 months to construct and was captained by Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones, who had assumed command of the famed ironclad C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimac) during her epic battle with the U.S.S. Monitor. A number of her other officers and crewmen had also served aboard the Virginia during that engagement.

To come up with the more than 100 men needed to crew the ship, Confederate authorities assembled both individuals with prior sailing experience as well as green recruits who had been conscripted into the Confederate army. According to his service and pension records, Coonrod was one of the latter.

Assigned to the crew of the Chattahoochee on October 28, 1862, as the warship was being completed at Saffold, he was part of its crew when it becan its maiden voyage down the Chattahoochee River to Florida in January of 1863. He was also aboard the ship when her boiler exploded at Blountstown on the Apalachicola River during a hurricane in May of 1863, but was extremely fortunate to have been neither killed nor injured.

Later assigned to the C.S. Navy at Savannah, Coonrod became seriously ill and spent much of the last year of the war suffering from sickness. He lived in Jackson County after the war and is one of three former crew members of the Chattahoochee known to be buried there.

To see a photo of the wreck of the Chattahoochee as it appears today, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/navymuseum.

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