The story of the Eastport—from packet steamer to Confederate gunboat to U.S. ironclad to shipwreck—is one of the most intriguing of any Civil War vessel.ter. Plagued by damages and under almost continuous repair, she had an undistinguished war career, despite early expectations. In March 1864, the Eastport struck a Confederate mine on Louisiana’s Red River, and the once-vaunted gunboat was abandoned and scuttled.1
The Eastport was a large sidewheel steamboat built in 1852 at New Albany, Indiana, on the Ohio River. Her wooden hull measured 230 feet, 10 inches long; 32 feet wide; and 8 feet deep. The New Albany Daily Ledger of 2 December 1852 reported that construction cost $45,000. The ship’s original owners were a group of businessmen and planters living along the upper Tennessee River in northern Alabama. The steamboat was named after the town of Eastport, Mississippi, located on the banks of the Tennessee in the northeast corner of the state.