Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 458 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

This Rebel gun-boat, which was expected to do so much toward the destruction of our naval forces on the Mississippi, was constructed at Memphis, and hurried from there in a partially finished condition, just before the capture of the city.  She was towed to Yazoo City and there completed.  The Arkansas was a powerful iron-clad steamer, mounting ten guns, and carrying an iron beak, designed for penetrating the hulls of our gun-boats.  Her engines were powerful, though they could not be worked with facility at the time of her appearance.  Her model, construction, armament, and propelling force, made her equal to any boat of our upper flotilla, and her officers claimed to have full confidence in her abilities.

On the morning of the 15th of July, the Arkansas emerged from the Yazoo River, fifteen miles above Vicksburg.  A short distance up that stream she encountered two of our gun-boats, the Carondelet and Tyler, and fought them until she reached our fleet at anchor above Vicksburg.  The Carondelet was one of our mail-clad gun-boats, built at St. Louis in 1861.  The Tyler was a wooden gun-boat, altered from an old transport, and was totally unfit for entering into battle.  Both were perforated by the Rebel shell, the Tyler receiving the larger number.  The gallantry displayed by Captain Gwin, her commander, was worthy of special praise.

Our fleet was at anchor four or five miles above Vicksburg—­some of the vessels lying in midstream, while others were fastened to the banks.  The Arkansas fired to the right and left as she passed through the fleet.  Her shot disabled two of our boats, and slightly injured two or three others.  She did not herself escape without damage.  Many of our projectiles struck her sides, but glanced into the river.  Two shells perforated her plating, and another entered a port, exploding over one of the guns.  Ten men were killed and as many wounded.

The Arkansas was not actually disabled, but her commander declined to enter into another action until she had undergone repairs.  She reached a safe anchorage under protection of the Vicksburg batteries.

A few days later, a plan was arranged for her destruction.  Colonel Ellet, with the ram Queen of the West, was to run down and strike the Arkansas at her moorings.  The gun-boat Essex was to join in this effort, while the upper flotilla, assisted by the vessels of Admiral Farragut’s fleet, would shell the Rebel batteries.

The Essex started first, but ran directly past the Arkansas, instead of stopping to engage her, as was expected.  The Essex fired three guns at the Arkansas while in range, from one of which a shell crashed through the armor of the Rebel boat, disabling an entire gun-crew.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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