The CSS Neuse was one of 22 ironclads commissioned by the Confederate navy. Having a wide, flat bottom, the vessel resembled a river barge. When completed, the twin-screw steamer was plated with iron armor and measured 158 feet long and 34 feet wide. Delays in construction, low water, and lack of ground support prevented the gunboat from entering combat below Kinston. When Union troops occupied Kinston in March 1865, the Neuse was burned by its crew, resulting in a large explosion in her port bow, which sank the vessel.
The muddy waters of the Neuse River preserved the gunboat for nearly 100 years. Private efforts to recover the ship began in 1961; but poor weather, lack of funds, and ownership controversies prevented the ship from being raised until 1963. A year later the hull was transported to the site where it now rests.
Amazingly, nearly 15,000 artifacts were recovered from the ship. The Neuse collection, one of the largest for a Confederate naval vessel, provides valuable insight into 19th-century shipbuilding and naval warfare. A portion of the collection is on display at the 100 N. Queen Street site, which is currently open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included is a beautiful scale model of the ship, constructed by Lt. Cmdr. John S. MacCormack. The model features a starboard cutaway section that reveals the gunboat’s intricate interior features and armament.
CSS Neuse: A Question of Iron and Time
by Leslie S. Bright, William H. Rowland, and James C. Bardon (NCDAH, 1981). 165 pp.; Plans and Drawings.
Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro Expedition: December 1862
Printed by W. W. Howe, New York, 1890. 104 pp.
History of the Forty-Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, First Division Eighteenth Army Corps, Department of North Carolina
by Albert W. Mann. n.p., 1908. 565 pp.
Richard H. Bacot Papers
Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, N.C.
(Bacot served aboard the Neuse)