Notes on the

CSS Ram Arkansas

 

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The Arkansas battles of 15 Jul 1862

The Arkansas fought three battles on 15 July.

1st Battle --  The battle of the Arkansas with the Carondelet, Queen of the West, and the Tyler in the Yazoo River at Old River.

2nd Battle – Running the gauntlet of the two Union fleets (Davis' and Farragut's) on the Mississippi.

3rd Battle – Evening attack of passing Union ships around sunset while the Arkansas was tied up at Vicksburg.

 

 

The Arkansas battle of 22 Jul 1862

4th Battle -- This was the fourth and last battle between the Arkansas and the fleet. After this, the fleet passed south to Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

 

 

Remarks on the Crew of the CSS Ram Arkansas

Myron Smith, The CSS Arkansas, pg 138, states that the crew was made up of river men from the Yazoo [River], soldiers from Vicksburg, men from Pinkney’s sunken boats, and the Missourians. Many of the Arkansas crew members appear to have ridden to Yazoo City on the CSS Capitol, the steamer that brought the partially built Arkansas from Memphis, along with its barge of building materials, the boat's engines, and a makeshift workshop. The crew names are listed on the table titled “Cabin and wardroom mess of the C. S. S. Capitol” (see below). (ORN Series I, Vol. 23, pg 698)

 

Many of the Arkansas crew members lived temporarily onboard the CSS Capitol. This would have been in keeping with the temporary purpose of the steamer as a work boat. More workers hired to work on the Arkansas were living ashore.

 

 

Note the familiar names of the CSN men in the right hand column. These men had been in Memphis, assigned to the Arkansas as she was being built. Those unfamiliar names may have been associated with the Capitol, a hired civilian boat. Still researching that.

 

Brig. General Thompson detailed 50-60 men from his refugee regiments willing to serve: Missouri Vols – Three Missouri State Guard 1st Div Arty Units; McDowell Batt, Co. A. (Smith, The CSS Arkansas, pg 135)

 

 

Specifications of the Arkansas

 

From the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies

 

 

 

This sketch is from a northern newspaper. Note the surprising depth of the Arkansas' hull under the indicators showing the "water line." The gun box is the structure on the deck -- the cannon are seen at the ports. The New York Tribune wrote of 15 Jul 1862, "She ran very slowly by our fleet, but made better time when pursuing the Tyler and Queen in the Yazoo."

 

Her iron ram (her beak) does not show here. It could be seen above the water line but also extended underwater.

She ran "very slowly" through the Federal fleet because her smoke stack was so perforated by shot and shell in the Yazoo River fight that she could build up very little steam. The holes in the stack greatly affected the draft of the air from the boiler fire. Most of the Arkansas' little speed in passing through the Federal fleet was due to the current in the river, flowing her way.

 

A Curiosity

George S. Waterman, a contemporary, wrote in the Confederate Veteran that the Federal ironclad Essex had "nautical shorthand letters upon her two chimneys" -- S and X painted on her funnels for "Ess-ex."

 

 

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