A contract was awarded to the shipbuilding firm of Howard & Ellis by the Confederate Navy in October 1862 to build an ironclad gunboat. Soon called the CSS Neuse for the river where she was built, the ship was intended to help forces re-take Union controlled territories in the New Bern vicinity and protect other areas upriver.
Confederate forces were constantly concerned that Union troops might try to attack the ship while under construction and efforts were made to protect the area by land and water. The ship was launched in November 1863 although she still needed some work. She began working on the inland waters of the state in April 1864. She mostly served in the area around Kinston and was scuttled as Union forces advanced on the town in March 1865. Confederate forces planted explosives in her bow and fires set by the crew before evacuating the town. She burned to the water line and then sank in the mud.
Excavation of the remains of the Neuse began in 1863 and approximately 15,000 artifacts have been recovered, including the hull, which has been conserved and is on exhibit in a new facility in downtown Kinston.
For more information on the Neuse, and when you can visit: http://www.nchistoricsites.org/neuse/neuse.htm