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Humpday History Highlight

By Wyatt Earp | July 15, 2009


July 15, 1862 – CSS Arkansas Attacks Union Ships

The CSS Arkansas, the most effective ironclad on the Mississippi River, battles with Union ships commanded by Admiral David Farragut, severely damaging three ships and sustaining heavy damage herself. The encounter changed the complexion of warfare on the Mississippi and helped to reverse Rebel fortunes on the river in the summer of 1862.

Setting sail with a crew of 100 sailors and 60 soldiers and commanded by Isaac Brown, the Arkansas steamed to Vicksburg, where Farragut’s gunboats were rapidly dominating the river from New Orleans northward. At the mouth of the Yazoo River on July 15, 1862, the Arkansas engaged in a sharp exchange with the three Union ships sent to intercept the ironclad. After fighting through these ships, the Arkansas headed for the bulk of Farragut’s fleet. It then sailed through the flotilla, damaging 16 ships.

Farragut was furious that a single boat wreaked such havoc on his force. The engagement temporarily shifted Confederate fortunes on the Mississippi, but not for long. The Arkansas, pursued by the Union ironclad Essex, fled down the river and experienced mechanical problems. On August 6, the ship ran aground, and the crew blew it up to keep it from falling into Yankee hands. (H/

The naval battles of the Civil War are not widely publicized, but as you can see, they are terribly interesting, nonetheless.

Topics: HHH | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Humpday History Highlight”

  1. Dan, Marysville WA Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I love the occasional history pieces, please keep them up!

  2. Sully Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    It’s amazing how much naval warfare changed in such a short period of time.

    Thanks for the history Wyatt.

  3. Old NFO Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Yes they are- If you get the chance, go see the Museum at Hampton Roads, VA.

  4. Morgan Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    The naval battles of the Civil War are not widely publicized, but as you can see, they are terribly interesting, nonetheless.

    Not only interesting, but revolutionary as well. With the ironclads, naval warfare changed forever, ushering in the age of the dreadnoughts, and with the Hunley, the age of the submarine.

    The Confederacy also had some fearsome vessels that caused nothing but trouble for the Union navy all over the Atlantic, such as the Alabama & the Shenandoah. Just as the Bismarck and the Tirpitz were trouble for the Allies in WWII, so were the Alabama & the Shenandoah for the Union.

  5. Rick Says:
    July 15th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Thanks for the on going history lesson.I had forgot much of the stuff you have written about.

  6. Doghouse Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    If you ever make it down this way, I know of some museums you’d absolutely love.

  7. Alan B Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    In this country, the Battle of Hampton Roads (March 1862) is better known. It seems to be regarded as the first battle between opposing ironclads (USS Monitor, CSS Virginia).

  8. Alan B Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 3:15 pm


    Talking about museums, if you are ever in portsmouth, UK you can see 3 great warships within walking distance:

    Mary Rose (Henry VIII)

    HMS Vistory (Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar)

    HMS Warrior (1860 – to avoid confusion with others of the same name).

    from Wiki:
    HMS Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built for the Royal Navy in response to the first ironclad warship, the French La Gloire, launched a year earlier.

    When completed in October 1861, Warrior was by far the largest, fastest, most heavily-armed and most heavily-armoured warship the world had ever seen. She was almost twice the size of La Gloire and thoroughly outclassed the French ship in speed, armour, and gunnery.

    Warrior did not introduce any radical new technology, but for the first time combined steam engines, rifled breech-loading guns, iron construction, iron armour, and propeller drive all in one ship, and built to unprecedented scale.

    In one vessel, Warrior made every other navy obsolete. It never had to fight but with 110 pounder rifled breach loading guns and 68 pounder muzzle loaders it out gunned everything else.

  9. Wyatt Earp Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Dan – Thank you. I try to do it every Wednesday, just to let out my history fix.

    Sully – Welcome. That ship was a monster for its time.

    Old NFO – Sounds like a blast.

    Morgan – Philly has the Olympia docked here, but it is a vet of the Spanish-American War and WWI. Great place to visit.

    Rick – And that’s why I post it.

    Doghouse – Probably a ton of history down there. And lots of folks laughing at my accent.

    Alan B – I would love to visit the Victory. A lot of history there.