Fought Like Devils: The Confederate Gunboat McRae

AuthorHouse, 2014

An often overlooked aspect of the US Civil War was the effort by the Confederate Navy to defend the Mississippi River in 1861 and 1862. Confederate officials struggled to build  navy from nothing, converting steamers into gunboats while working to build several ironclad warships from the keel up along the banks of the Mississippi River. The CSS McRae, originally a Mexican ship involved in the Reform War, was among the vessels acquired by the Confederacy at the start of the war. The McRae was originally intended to roam the seas as one of the first commerce raiders with a secret mission to travel to England and gather much-needed supplies for the new Confederacy. Instead, circumstances kept her on the Mississippi River, where she fought from the river's mouth to the banks of Kentucky. Most notably, the McRae participated in the defense of New Orleans in April of 1862.

Fought Like Devils shows how the Confederacy worked to build a navy and defend the most important waterway in North America. Drawing on government records, newspapers, personal letters, diaries, and reminiscences; Neil P. Chatelain tells the story of the CSS McRae and its crew in their struggle to defend the Mississippi River for the Confederacy.

"...stands apart as a researcher and author."
Michael J. Mizell-Nelson, Ph.D., University of New Orleans

"There has been relatively little written about the Confederate's River Defense Fleet and its role in the Defense of New Orleans"
Terry L. Jones, Ph.D., University of Louisiana-Monroe

"I could certainly relate to the small ship experience."
CDR John Calloway, USN (ret.), Commanding Officer, USS Elrod FFG 55

Presentation given to the Civil War Round Table of Central Louisiana in February 2023 about Fought Like Devils.