The CSS Arkansas In Art




About the Crewmen

Crewmen Sorted by Regiment (pdf)

Notes on the Ram

Casualty Reports

Official Reports

"The Wind of Cannon Balls"



Friends of the Arkansas

The Arkansas in Art

The Arkansas in Poetry

Personal Letters




Federal Ships
at Vicksburg

Specifications of
the Arkansas

Notes on

Bibliograpy and


NOTE: Most of these photographs are from Naval History and Heritage Command at

The sketches by Milliken and Scales, who were both assigned to the Arkansas, seem to show the railroad rails applied horizontally to the gun box, and the presence of the men onboard the boat gives credence to that possibility. Other depictions show the siding of the gun box to be vertical.

The latest addition to the Arkansas in art is shown here in a painting by David Kleinman.


The construction of the Arkansas on the Yazoo River with the assistance of the workboat, the Capitol. Many of the workers lived on the Capitol and many others lived in the camps seen here on the river's edge. The smokestacks in the camps are probably the iron smiths, many of whom were residents of the area. Notice the name board on the Capitol.

Title: CSS Arkansas (1862-1862)
Line engraving after a drawing by J.O. Davidson, published in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume III, page 573, depicting the ship fitting out off Yazoo City, Mississippi, in June-July 1862. Assisting in the work is the CSS Capitol.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, C
atalog #: NH 73376)

This sketch is by Samuel Milliken of the Confederate States Navy, who was stationed onboard the
CS Steamer Ram Arkansas the summer of 1862. It clearly shows the vertical sides of the gun box.
He notes that the boat has "10 guns."

Title: CSS Arkansas (1862-1862)
19th Century photograph of a sketch by S. Milliken, CSN.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph,
Catalog #: NH 57272)


Sketch by Arkansas' crew member Dabney Scales with a caption, "The Rebel Rascale Str. Arkansas 10 Guns." Note the vertical sides of the gun box.  (Courtesy of the Old Court House Museum, Vicksburg)


The "Confederate States Ram Arkansas," depicted in the ORN I, Vol. 19. This and the next sketch appear to be sisters.


From www.missouridivision-scv-org/mounits/csssark.htm Note the First National Flag and the large smokestack. Once riddled with shot and shell in battle, the efficiency of the smokestack was severely decreased, causing draft problems in the power plant, and thus affecting the speed of the boat.

Title: CSS Arkansas (1862-1862)
CSS Arkansas (1862-1862) Sepia wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1904. (
(Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Catalog #: NH 61912-KN.)


A sketch of the Arkansas from the Confederate Veteran Magazine 6, pg. 61.


The Arkansas, lost in cannon smoke, is behind the Carondelet in the first battle of 15 Jul 1862 in the Yazoo River. The Carondelet had two funnels (the Arkansas, one funnel) and more guns than the Arkansas, which had ten, two of them in front. This line engraving was published in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume III, pg. 574. The Carondelet was "seriously damaged."
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Catalog #: NH 73377.)


Title: "Battle between the Carondelet and Arkansas"

Description: Photo #: NH 2039 Battle between the Carondelet and Arkansas Engraving published in Rear Admiral Henry Walke's Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War in the United States ... (1877), depicting USS Carondelet in action with CSS Arkansas on the Yazoo River, Mississippi, 15 July 1862. Walke commanded Carondelet at this time. Note that Arkansas is depicted with greatly exaggerated freeboard. [Perhaps to make it apparent behind the Carondelet? Or to draw attention to its ram?]
(U. S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Catalog #: NH 2039.)



Here, the Arkansas has left the Yazoo on its run to Vicksburg and is facing the Federal fleet stationed north of Vicksburg. Despite the witness of drawings by crewmen Milliken and Scales, artists tend to render the Arkansas with sloped sides. Rams built then and afterwards had sloping walls on the gun box to deflect incoming artillery fire. The advantages of the vertical sides were that they allowed more headroom and space inside and made a quicker job of construction of the boat and defensive packing of its inside walls.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Photo #: NH 79911, The Arkansas ran the Gauntlet of the Whole Fleet Artwork as published in Deeds of Valor, Volume II, pg 31, Perrien-Keydel Company, Detroit, 1907.)



From Battles and Leaders, Vol. III, pg. 556. Another view of the Arkansas passing through the hostile Federal fleet besieging Vicksburg. Note the variety of Federal ships -- a side-wheeler, an ocean-going ship with masts, and a ram. The date of the run is 15 Jul 1862.

Title: The CSS Ram Arkansas running through the Union fleet above Vicksburg, Mississippi, 15 July 1862

Description: Line engraving after a drawing by J.O. Davidson, published in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume III, pg. 556.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Catalog #: NH 73378.)



"The Rebel Ram 'Arkansas' [center] running through the Union fleet off Vicksburg."

Historians call this "running the gauntlet."

Description: Photo #: NH 58892 The Rebel Ram 'Arkansas' Running Through the Union Fleet off Vicksburg Line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, 1862, depicting the passage of CSS Arkansas through the Federal fleet above Vicksburg, Mississippi, on 15 July 1862.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.)




From pg. 202 from Myron J. Smith's book, The CSS Arkansas: A Confederate Ironclad on Western Waters. Note that this is described as a "contemporary photograph." However, as no contemporary photos of the Arkansas are known to exist, this is probably a most likely accurate sketch of the boat by artist Daniel Dowdey. Smith's book on the Arkansas is probably the most thorough study on the boat and its history thus far.



"Action Between the CSS Arkansas [right] and the USS Carondelet at the Mouth of the Yazoo River, July 15, 1862"

Contemporary line engraving published in The Soldier in the Civil War, Volume I.
(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph,
Catalog #: NH 59041)


Artwork by Currier and Ives entitled, "Destruction of the Rebel Ram 'Arkansas' by the United States Gunboat 'Essex,' on the Mississippi River, near Baton Rouge, August 4th 1862." The Arkansas was actually destroyed 6 August by its own crew and not by the Essex, as its commander claimed. Ample reports in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion (familiarly known as ORN) Series I, Vol. 19, tells that the Arkansas was fired by her own crew when her troublesome engines failed, to prevent the boat from falling into enemy hands. Note the Arkansas' crew at extreme right, escaping the burning boat. (Published by Currier and Ives)


"The Union Gun-boat 'Essex' (Commander Porter) Destroying the Rebel Iron-clad Ram 'Arkansas', in the Mississippi."

Description: Photo #: NH 59042 The Union Gun-boat 'Essex' (Commander William "Crazy Bill" Porter) Destroying the Rebel Iron-clad Ram 'Arkansas', in the Mississippi. Line engraving was published in Harper's Weekly, 1862. CSS Arkansas was run ashore and burned [by her crew] to prevent capture when her engines failed during this encounter with USS Essex, on 6 August 1862. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph, Catalog #: NH 59042.)




"The destruction of the Confederate Ram Arkansas" in Battles and Leaders, Vol. III, pg. 579. Once the fire set by the crew reached the powder and shells, the Arkansas was blown apart.

Photos by Bryan Skipworth
The engraving of the CSS Ram Arkansas on the right side of the Arkansas state monument in the Vicksburg National Military Park. The boat's name honored the state of Arkansas. The state monument for Arkansas in the Vicksburg National Military Park with the Arkansas on the right panel. Arkansas troops are honored on the on the left panel.

Photo by Bryan Skipworth

One of the murals on the city-side of the Vicksburg flood wall. This one shows the Arkansas (at right) after having run the gauntlet of enemy ships. One Federal ship is racing after her. It would turn back when fired upon by the cannon on the bluffs. The Arkansas' presence at the city's waterfront prevented the Federal fleet's troops from taking the city, and it tied up their resources.

The Arkansas' historic run is commemorated in this painting by Robert Dafford, who painted the city flood wall murals. Note the "Vicksburg columns" framing the painting. These decorative "pierced columns" can be found on porches throughout the city. The flood wall is atop the levee and is about fifteen feet high.

While this sketch is not exactly art, it is used here to give the reader an idea of the surprising depth of the Arkansas' hull. Note the faint lines indicating the "water line."

Her draft has been seen as 11-1/2 feet to 13 feet.

For more information on the Arkansas, see Notes on the Arkansas.

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