Sunday, July 22, 2012

CSS Arkansas is Attacked at Vicksburg (Again!)

Vicksburg, Mississippi
On July 22, 1862 (150 years ago today), the Union fleet at Vicksburg made one more run at the famed Confederate ironclad, CSS Arkansas.
The Federals had been shelling the ironclad from long distance for days and, despite their reports of multiple hits, had done no real damage to the Arkansas. The railroad-iron sheathed gunboat intimidated the entire Federal fleet far more than the guns mounted on the bluffs of Vicksburg ever had or ever would.

They made one more attempt to destroy the Confederate warship on the morning of July 22, 1862, but things did not go well.

USS Essex (Civil War Photo)
Even though many of the men assigned to the Arkansas were ashore and there were only enough on board to man three guns, the ironclad made a formidable foe. The USS Essex, Queen of the West and General Sumter came in at full speed, planning to ram the Confederate vessel and send it to the bottom of the Mississippi River.

USS Queen of the West
(Civil War Water Color)

The Arkansas dodged the Essex, which missed its target and ran aground under heavy fire from the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg. The Union ironclad did succeed in sending a shot through the armor of the Arkansas at close range, killing 6 Confederates and wounding 6 others. Having lost 1 killed and 3 wounded, the Essex worked its way out of the mud and steamed downstream and away from the battle.

CSS Arkansas
The Queen of the West then came on, but missed as well. Turning around and coming back upstream, she succeeded in hitting the Arkansas but did little real damage. Pounded by cannon fire from both the Arkansas and the shore batteries, the Queen limped away back upstream.

The battle only succeeded to prove to Admiral David G. Farragut and other Union commanders that they would not be able to take Vicksburg using naval power alone. The CSS Arkansas, like the people of her namesake state, had proved herself to be strong, courageous and resilient. She had turned the tide of the first Battle of Vicksburg.

Farragut's attempt to end the city would end two days later.

To learn more about historic Vicksburg, please visit

No comments: