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Huntsville was one of two :"sister" ships, originally ordered to two identical plans, initially as floating batteries for the defense of Mobile Bay. While they were undergoing construction, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa underwent several changes: both were modified to be built as fully functional, self-propelled ironclad rams, and Tuscaloosa's plan was altered to such an extent that she bore little resemblance to her sister. Unfortunately, powerful engines were not available for either ironclad at the time, and the engines they were provided with were further weakened by the addition of their near-useless rams, meaning that neither could steam greater than around 3 knots.
Huntsville and Tuscaloosa nevertheless did play an active role in defense of Mobile Bay, first assisting Baltic, and later supporting Tennessee (II). Unfortunately (for him, anyway,), Admiral Buchanan's demand that they join him in the defense of the lower bay during the climactic naval engagement therein was countermanded by local officials, and while they did provide long range gunfire support, they were both prevented from entering the Lower Bay. Whether by choice, by, order, or by an inability to stem the greater currents in the lower bay is a matter of some debate.
After Mobile Bay, they remained in the upper Bay until Mobile fell, at which point they steamed up the Tombigbee River, and were eventually scuttled to prevent capture in April, 1865.
Records indicate that Huntsville may have been lead grey or white during her service in Mobile Bay.