The Arkansas in Poetry




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Notes on the Ram

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"The Wind of Cannon Balls"



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The Arkansas in Art

The Arkansas in Poetry

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The 156th Anniversary of The Confederate Ironclad Ram "CSS ARKANSAS"

" Oh hark! do you hear the cannon's faint roar, As it rumbles and echoes from the far distant shore?"
With full steam raised will begin this trip, 75 miles down the Yazoo River to the Mighty Mississip.
This is a story about a few hundred men and a mighty gunboat, who would sacrifice it all just to keep her afloat.
Gallantry and Bravery are what come to mind, Hero’s are made of lesser men this day and time.
Let’s talk about the Officers Brown/Stevens/Grimball/Barbot/Wharton/Gift and Read,
they took 150 volunteers from the Army the Navy couldn't supply all they'd need.
July 15 62* / These men would man this warship like the most experienced of the day,
and after the first day of battles twelve men would find their grave.
It is estimated that 300 Federal cannons were waiting to sink the Arkansas this day,
and an estimated 20,000 had gathered on the Hills of Vicksburg to cheer Her along the way.
July 22 62*/ Just a week later Union Gunboats would attack in the early morning light,
and six more men from the Arkansas would be lost in this great fight.
While docked at Vicksburg resting and having repairs made, five more that had been wounded
would be laid in their grave.
There are too many brave men to name them all, but while serving the Confederacy in her Hull these
did fall.
*Gilmore,*Hodges,*Perry,*Harter,*Heaton and *Lang / *Cusick,*Thorhell,*Lewis,*Dunn,*Rankin and
*Johnson,*O'Sullivan,*Flores,*Thomure,*Minton and *Dills / *Snider,*Blankenship,*Woodward,
*Madden and *Shields
Now let’s talk about this mighty ship of war made of iron and wood,
her keel was laid in Memphis Oct 61* and in April 62* she was moved to Greenwood.
In May 62* Lt. Isaac Newton Brown took Command, and towed her to the Naval Yard at Yazoo City to
finish the Navy's plan.
In five short weeks the men had her fitted with iron, timbers and guns,
and had her ready to steam down river the Union Blockade to run.
She measured 165 feet long and 35 feet wide, Rusty Rail Iron covered Oak Timbers down both her
With her Cast Iron Beak she displaced 800 tons and drew 12 ft of water,
with twin screw propulsion each engines 900 HP pushed her at 8 knots per hour.
She was armed with 10 big cannons rifled and smoothbore, stopping this warship was proved to be a chore.
Her orders were to destroy all Union ships along the way, and steam quickly in defense of the Harbor
at Mobile Bay.
She ran the Gauntlet of Union fleet at Vicksburg inflicting heavy damage on the way,
but her orders were changed after that battle and she would not reach Mobile Bay.
Instead she was scuttled Aug 6 62* on the way to help defend Baton Rouge,
this Mighty Ironclad Ram had done all the damage she could do.
Now just as we began but before we are gone, we will end this short story with an Old Folk Song,
“Tis the Barque that has triumph’d single-handed, alone, and ran through the gauntlet, one hundred
to one!”
by B. Skipworth

A soldier at Vicksburg witnessed the famous battle between the Arkansas and the Federal fleet above the river. He described it thus:

Before daylight, we heared the distant boom of a single gun. We listened intently, and soon another followed, and then another, in rapid succession. We remarked "She's coming, boys," and immediately all hands rushed to their posts in our batteries, ready for action. We were not long in suspense; just at the dawn of day, although we could not see the vessels we could see the smoke of the battle curling and eddying over the place of the conflict. The roar of the cannon was like one continued roar of heavy thunder We know that the odds against the solitary vessel was almost overwhelming, and of course our excitement was intense.

At length the apparently little thing emerged from the smoke, rounded the point above the city, and hove in sight with her flag still flying As she neared the landing, our pent up enthusiasm burst forth; some jumped up and shouted, others rolled on the ground, while some sturdy veterans wept for joy.

We afterwards learned that the flag-staff had been shot in two, when a little boy crept through a port-hole and tied the flag to the stump. The gallant commander, when greeted and applauded for his wonderful achievement, modestly replied, "We owe our safety to a protecting Providence. Our escape was little less than a miracle."

The following lines are composed to commemorate the glorious achievement, and respectfully dedicated to Commander Brown and his gallant crew:

A Hundred To One
To the air of the "Star Spangled Banner"

Oh hark! do you hear the cannon's faint roar, 
As it rumbles and echoes from the far distant shore? 
Hark! again it burst forth, and the answering gun 
Tells us faintly " she's coming, " the gauntlet to run.                                                                                                                         
Now boom answers boom, and crash follows close, 
As she sweeps through the track beset with her foes; 
Tis the Barque which is coming, single-handed, alone,
Which throws down the gauntlet, one hundred to one.                  

Now see by the smoke, how aloft it is whirled, 
As the hail-storm of shot gainst her bulwarks are hurl'd                                                                                                                          
In vain do her foes pour sheets of live flame
Upon her rude sides, as she floats down the stream. 
Still from their rude throats, her war-dogs reply,  
" Never Surrender - tis better to die! "                                                                                                                                          
Tis the Barque that is dashing, single-handed, alone,
 And throws down the gauntlet, one hundred to one.

And now she emerges from the battle's dun shroud, 
As an eagle, triumphant, cleaves through the cloud; 
 On her fragment of staff her ensign still flows, 
Which kept the bright stars, and gave the stripes to her foes; 
And Vicksburg, beleaguered, as safe she draws near, 
Welcomes the heroes with cheer upon cheer. 
 Tis the Barque that has triumph'd, single-handed, alone, 
And ran through the gauntlet, one hundred to one.

We will weave for the brows of the glorious crew,
The chaplet of laurel, entwined with the yew;
Applause for the living, and tears for the dead,
Who, lifting their hearts when the conflict was o'er,
Gave praise to the God whom nations adore,
For the Barque has pass'd safely, single-handed, alone, 
And run through the gauntlet, one hundred to one.

from the Natchez Daily Courier, Friday November 21, 1862 (Vol. XI, No. 39 pg. 1)

Poem to the Confederate Dead on the monument to their memory in Soldiers Rest Cemetery where the dead of the Arkansas crew are buried.

We care not whence they came,

Dear in their lifeless clay,

Whether unknown or known to fame,

They died, and they wore the gray.


Here rest some few of those who, vainly brave,

Died for the land they loved, but could not save.


Our dead are mourned forever!

Through all the future ages, in history and in story,

Their fame shall shine, their name shall twine; they need no greater glory.

Tenderly fall our tears over their lifeless clay:

Here lie the dead who fought and bled and fell in garbs of gray.

Ours the fate of the vanished, whose heartaches never cease.

Ours regrets and tears; theirs the eternal peace.










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