Originally a 413-ton side-wheel towboat, built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1854, and the USS Switzerland was converted to a ram in June 1862 and operated by the US Army during the American Civil War. These ships had light protection for their boilers, engines and upper works (upper works were protected with wood and cotton). They were originally given no artillery, later they were fitted with several guns. A line engraving, after a sketch by Theodore R. Davis, published in "Harper's Weekly,” 1863 depicts the Switzerland in operation.
By August 1864 the Ram Fleet had cleared rivers of Confederate vessels and their mission was complete. The Switzerland was sold in October 1865 and was employed as a merchant steamer until 1870.