Largest Surviving Confederate Warship
Situated just on the fall line at the furthest navigable point on the Chattahoochee, Columbus, Georgia was the site of a Confederate Naval Shipyard during the War. The largest product of this facility was the CSS Jackson, one of the largest of the ironclads built in the South. The Jackson was nearly 225 feet long, 54 feet wide and weighed 2000 tons.
Sitting dockside when Union Cavalry under Gen. James Harrison Wilson (known as Wilson’s Raiders) captured Columbus in 1865, it was set on fire to prevent any later use by the Confederates. After drifting ablaze downriver for two weeks, the Jackson finally sank nearly 30 miles south of Columbus.
After resting in the Chattahoochee River for 95 years, it was raised in 1961 by local citizens during the Civil War Centennial. Columbus businessman J.W. Woodruff, led local efforts to raise money and actually conduct the excavation and recovery of the wreck which became the centerpiece of the naval museum in Columbus. The gallery in which the ship is displayed is named in honor of Mr. Woodruff (The James W. Woodruff Gallery).
In its current home at Port Columbus, visitors may view the Jackson from above the main deck, at deck level and from well under the water line. The wreck, weighing more than 500,000 pounds, is complemented by a “ghost” structure to allow visitors to see the original size and construction of the ironclad.