Combat at Yazoo River

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“Desperate naval combat between the Confederate iron-plated ram Arkansas and the Federal gunboat Carondelet, at the mouth of the Yazoo River, Tuesday, July 15th, 1862. Next to the ever-memorable combat between the Merrimac and the Monitor, that of the Carondelet and the Arkansas was the most exciting. Like the former engagement, it ended in a drawn battle. On July 14th, 1862, the gunboats Carondelet and Tyler were sent by Commodore Farragut to survey the Yazoo River and ascertain the exact condition of the Confederate iron-plated ram Arkansas, about which there were various reports. They arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo, fifteen miles above Vicksburg, at seven o’clock in the evening, and anchored for the night. Next morning at daylight they tipped anchor and slowly steamed up the Yazoo, the Tyler considerably in advance. About two miles up the river smoke was seen across a little point of land, which, as Captain Gwin of the Tyler surmised, proceeded from the Confederate ram, now rapidly steaming toward the Tyler. In another moment a heavy report was heard from the enigmatical gunboat, and a huge round shot went howling over the deck of the Tyler. Captain Walke of the Carondelet ordered the Tyler to proceed with all speed to alarm the fleet and advise it to prepare for her approach while he engaged the Confederate monster. In ten minutes afterward the Carondelet and Arkansas were alongside each other, and the conflict commenced in earnest. The Carondelet commenced with her bow guns, striking her opponent with a rapidity and precision which the enormous strength of the iron plating alone prevented taking immediate effect. The Arkansas used in return her rifled and guns with terrible effect, some of the shots going right through the Carondelet. Seeing her inability to cope with her antagonist, Captain Walke ran the Carondelet alongside the Arkansas and grappled her. The order “Boarders away!” was instantly passed, and the crew of the Federal gunboat speedily mounted the deck of its adversary. When there they found no foe to engage. The crew of the Arkansas had retired below, and the iron hatches were closed, so that it was uttlerly impossible to go down and continue the action.” —Leslie, 1896


Frank Leslie Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War (New York, NY: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)


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