CSS Mississippi was one of a pair of "super ironclads" under construction at New Orleans beginning in the summer of 1861 (her 'partner' was CSS Louisiana). Mississippi was designed and built by the Tift Brothers, who gained their reputation building hurricane proof houses in Key West Florida, and were childhood friends of Stephen Mallory, Confederate Secretary of the Navy. Mallory had asked the Tifts to look into ways to apply their "rapid, yet strong" construction methods to the problem of quickly assembling an ironclad fleet. At the time, the Confederacy was still actively seeking to break the blockade with large ironclads like Virginia (still under construction when Mississippi was laid down). The Tifts were commissioned to build the first of these ships at New Orleans, to be named for Jefferson Davis' home state, Mississippi. In terms of height and mass it was the largest ironclad laid down by the Confederacy, though CSS Louisiana and CSS Yazoo were both larger. Unfortunately, there were labor disputes, local graft and corruption (more than usual, and that's saying a lot for New Orleans), material shortages,etc. such that very little progress had been made by early 1862. The Tifts finally made a deal with the crews working on Louisiana. They would donate their own labor to help finish Louisiana, if those responsible for Louisiana would do the same for Mississippi, prioritizing Louisiana but doing work on Mississippi whenever there was a halt in construction or a break in the work on Louisiana.
By April, 1862, both ships were much further along, though Louisiana was judged to be further along. Louisiana, as such, was hastily commissioned and pressed into service as a floating battery just in time to meet, and be sunk by, the Federal fleet under Admiral Porter. Meanwhile, Mississippi was still building, but complete enough to be launched and towed up river. The Tifts rushed to do so, securing the aid of a local tug. Just as the towing process began, the tow lines broke, and the tug's engines sputtered out. They struggled for the next several hours to find and available tow, but every ship that hadn't been sunk by the Federals was being hastily evacuated up river. Finally, it was decided to scuttle Mississippi,against the wishes of both the Tifts and the men who'd worked hard to complete her. Her loss was seen as a huge blow to the Confederacy, though her uninstalled guns and machinery was promptly evacuated to Yazoo City, Mississippi and used to begin work on Isaac N. Brown's new project: the Yazoo Monster...
Mississippi and Louisiana were both painted as soon as possible during construction to provide some protection for the workers and crew from the heat. In Mississippi's case, she was painted a chocolate brown color.