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At New Orleans, two large floating docks: Memphis and New Orleans, were selected for the process of conversion into "ironclad floating batteries," and were ready for defense of the city when the USN attacked in April of 1862. New Orleans was the more heavily armored of the two, and by the time of the USN attacked, was surrounded with an armored bulwark, and provided with armored bombproofs for her munitions and machinery. Her machinery was used to raise and lower her position in the waterline so that her angle of fire could be adjusted and her target profile reduced as necessary. While Memphis was sunk during the engagement, New Orleans survived, and was towed up river, where she eventually ended up as a guardship at Island Number 10, though she was also deployed at New Madrid. A possible conversion as a large ironclad was considered, but Union forces attacked before a serious decision could be made regarding the issue. She fought well, but ultimately had to be abandoned when Island Number 10 fell. Her last shots helped cover the retreat of Confederate troops from the island. Admiral Porter raised the scuttled wreck and considered converting her, but apparently gave up on the notion when the expense and time required by such a project was estimated.
At the city whose name she bore, CSS New Orleans was armed with 17 x 8" smoothebores, 1 x 9" smoothebore, and 2 32 pounder smoothebores. When she operated at Island Number 10, she was reportedly equipped with 5 x 8" smoothebores , 1 x 9" Dahlgren, and 1 x 32 pound banded rifle. She had no motive power of her own, but was often assisted by tenders and accomodations ships, including CSS Red Rover, later to become the famous USN Hospital Ship of the same name.
A period description of New Orleans says that she was "lead grey" above the water line and "red lead" below. Lead grey can come in a variety of shades, and tends to bleach white under the sun.