Chicora was one of two Richmond class ironclads built at Charleston. She was considered to be the weakest of the four completed Charleston ironclads, but rendered very respectable service, and joined CSS Palmetto State in engaging the US Blockade Fleet on a number of occasions. She was built to a fairly standard Richmond class design, and is said by some to be closer to the original Porter design than Richmond herself. She may have initially built with two pilot houses, but by the time the first images of her emerge, there appear to be two open hatches in their place, perhaps uncovered pilot or command positions. Like most of the Richmond class, her gunports were unevenly pierced port and starboard.
Chicora was painted in what is described as a "Robins Egg Blue;" but later appears to have been tan or lead grey in color, possibly a result of weathering or bleaching in the house paint utilized for her livery. Like most Confederate ironclads, she was likely red at the waterline.