Thursday, July 26, 2012

150-years-ago - CSS Arkansas blasts its way into Vicksburg.

CSS Arkansas blasts USS Carondelet while  running the gauntlet of
Federal gunboats to reach Vicksburg, Miss. on July 15, 1862.
(U.S. Navy Naval Historical Center)
The Richmond Daily  Dispatch
July 26, 1862

Cairo, July 21
          The dispatch boat, which arrived at Memphis on Saturday, brings the following:
The reported escape of the rebel plated battery Arkansas is correct. The affair took place on the morning of the 15th. That morning, in consequence of reports brought by refugees that the Arkansas was about to attempt to run by the Union fleet, the ship gunboats Carondelet and Tyler and ship ram Lancaster started up the Yazoo to reconnoitre.--When eight miles from the month they came suddenly upon the Arkansas, lying under the bank.
         As our boats rounded the bend she opened upon them with sixty-eight-pounders. Our gunboats returned the fire, and for a short time a fierce engagement ensued. Finding that the channel of the river prevented successful maneuvering, they gradually dropped downward toward the mouth. The Arkansas followed closely. Just as the latter was passing over the bar, the Carondelet: closed with her, intending to board. She succeeded in throwing a grapple aboard and getting out a plank, when the Arkansas opened her steam pipe, throwing hot water across the plank. The Carondelet replied in the same manner.
            While thus engaged both vessels grounded, and the shock separated them. The Arkansas succeeded in getting off, and the Carondelet remained faster nearly an hour. The Arkansas immediately passed down the river, the Taylor proceeding her, and maintaining a running fight with her greatly superior adversary.
           None of our gunboats with the fleet had steam up, and the entire fleet was so scattered that few could fire at the Arkansas as she passed without danger of hitting our own boats. As she approached, such boats as could safely do so opened upon her, but her plating resisted most of the shots. A solid shot from Farragut's gunboat No. 6 struck her larboard bow, passing through and under her plating, ripping it off for a considerable distance. What further damage was done is not ascertained.
           The injuries to our fleet are light. The Benton received a shot near the edge of the after part of the larboard sid, killing one man. The Tyler, which engaged the Arkansas nearly an hour and a half, had seven killed and nine wounded. Among the latter were the pilots Messrs. Sebastian and Hiner, and Engineer Davis. The
ship ram
          Lancaster received a shot under her boilers, causing an escape of hot water, scalding six men, three of them fatally.
          The entire Union loss is twelve killed and fifteen wounded, five or six of whom will die. The rebel loss is not known, but believed to be considerable, as the hot water streams of the Carondelet, at the time they attempted to board, were thrown directly into her.

Lt. Isaac Newton Brown
(U.S. Navy/Naval Historical Center)
U.S. Navy
Naval Historical Center

           Isaac Newton Brown was born in Caldwell County, Kentucky, on 27 May 1817. He became a Midshipmen in the U.S. Navy in March 1834 and attained the rank of Lieutenant in 1846. Leaving the service on the outbreak of the Civil War, he accepted an appointment as a Lieutenant in the Confederate States Navy in June 1861 and served in the Mississippi River region during the next two years. In May 1862, he was assigned to the incomplete ironclad CSS Arkansas, finishing her outfitting and serving as commanding officer during her dramatic breakout through the Federal fleet to Vicksburg on 15 July 1862. He was promoted in August 1862 in recognition of this bold action. In 1863-65, Commander Brown was captain of the ironclad CSS Charleston, which operated in defense of Charleston, South Carolina. After the end of the Civil War, he farmed in Mississippi and later moved to Texas. Commander Isaac Newton Brown died at Corsicana, Texas, on 1 September 1889.

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