The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 150
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
knew little of naval tactics and cared even less about naval strategy.
Both of these factors would prove fatal to the Arkansas.
Van Dorn ordered Brown to take his ship down the Mississippi River
to attack the Union fleet above Vicksburg, engage another Union fleet
below Vicksburg, run past the Union forces at New Orleans, sail into
the Gulf of Mexico, and lift the blockade of Mobile. A tall order indeed!
On July 15, 1862, as she sailed down the Yazoo River, the Arkansas
met the Union ram Carondelet and two wooden gunboats. She sank the
Carondelet and sent the Queen of the West and the Tyler fleeing back to the
Mississippi. The Arkansas continued on into the Mississippi and headed
downstream where she ran through the thirty-three vessels of the com-
bined fleets of Flag Officers Davis and Farragut, damaging several
Union ships in the ninety-minute action. Despite several temporary en-
gine breakdowns and the loss of twenty-five men dead or wounded, the
Arkansas reached the safety of Vicksburg's guns. Three separate Union
attempts to sink the Arkansas at Vicksburg failed. Pursuant to orders
from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, Farragut sailed downstream
to New Orleans and Davis sailed upstream to Memphis leaving the
Confederates in possession of several hundred miles of the Mississippi.
Lieutenant Brown received an immediate promotion to the rank of
commander and went on sick leave.
On August 2, 1862, Van Dorn ordered the Arkansas to sail to Baton
Rouge to support Gen. John C. Breckinridge's ultimately futile assault
on that city. Missing from this voyage were Commander Brown, the
chief engineer, and many crew members who were unable to rejoin the
ship because Van Dorn insisted on the Arkansas' immediate departure.
On the three-day trip the engines failed several times. At Baton Rouge
the Arkansas attempted to ram the U.S.S. Essex but her engine failed
again and she ran aground. Four Union ships poured shot into the
Arkansas. The Confederates abandoned ship after setting fire to the
Arkansas' interior and the ship blew up.
Tom Z. Parrish has written an excellent book. His fast-paced nar-
rative grippingly describes the career of the Arkansas and skillfully
places it within the larger framework of Confederate efforts in the
western theater. His thumbnail biographical sketches of the partici-
pants, both of primary and secondary rank, are particularly effective. A
fine selection of maps and illustrations further enhances the value of
this well-produced volume. Without a doubt, this book will be the stan-
dard treatment of the Confederates' "hard luck ironclad," the C.S.S.
Arkansas, and it represents a significant contribution to the naval litera-
ture of the Civil War.
University of Texas at Austin
ALLAN R. PURCELL
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/174/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.