previous next

[303] evening, to be the ram Arkansas, was observed moving rapidly down the river toward the bend just above this place. It stopped about a mile above the bend and remained there, sometimes apparently moving up a little, then down again, during the day and night.

Late in the afternoon, she was joined apparently by two other steamers, (judging by smoke,) which separated from her this morning, moving up the river. The Essex, accompanied by the Cayuga and Sumter, then moved up toward the bend. Finally a general signal was made by the former, agreeably to which the Kineo and Katahdin followed. Upon drawing near to the bend, however, some lines of white smoke having been observed in the rear of the city, it was deemed advisable for the two latter to return to their station for the protection of the troops.

By this time it had been discovered that the Arkansas was on fire; subsequently it had been ascertained, I believe, that she had suddenly become helpless there, by some failure of her engines; and seeing our approach, so formidable to her in her crippled condition, doubtless they set her on fire and abandoned her. At about one o'clock her magazine exploded, and the ram Arkansas was extinct.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George M. Ransom, Lieutenant Commanding. Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.

Flag-officer Farragut's reports.

The following despatches detail the operations of the navy in the destruction of the rebel ram Arkansas, and in cooperation with the army at Baton Rouge:

flag-ship Hartford, Baton Rouge, August 7, 1862.
sir: It is one of the happiest moments of my life that I am enabled to inform the Department of the destruction of the ram Arkansas, not because I held the iron-clad in such terror, but because the community did.

On the fourth instant I sent the Tennessee up to Baton Rouge with provisions for Commodore Porter and the gunboats stationed at that place. On the night of the fifth, she returned with information that the enemy had made a combined attack upon Baton Rouge by the ram and two gunboats, Webb and Music, and calling for assistance. At daylight the Hartford was under weigh for this place with orders for the other vessels to follow me as fast as ready.

I arrived here to-day at twelve M., in company with the Brooklyn, Westfield, Clinton, Jackson, and Sciota. I had sent the Cayuga up before me, agreeable to a request of Gen. Butler, in consequence of the guerrillas firing into some of his transports. On my arrival I was informed by Commodore W. D. Porter that yesterday morning at two o'clock, the enemy's forces under Gen. Breckinridge attacked Gen. Williams, drove in his pickets, etc. General Williams, having had ample warning, was all prepared for him. The fight was continued with great energy on both sides until ten A. M., by which time the enemy had been driven back two or three miles, but unfortunately the gallant General Williams, while cheering on his men, received a Minie-ball through the heart.

Gen. Williams had informed Lieut. Commanding Ransom the evening before of his plans, and requested him not to fire a gun until he notified him, and when he did so, our gunboats, the Kineo and Katahdin, opened with fine effect, throwing their shells directly in the midst of the enemy, producing great dismay and confusion among them. Lieut. Ransom had an officer on the StateHouse, which overlooks the adjacent country, and could direct the fire of every shell.

As soon as the enemy was repulsed, Commodore Porter with the gunboats went up-stream after the ram Arkansas, which was lying about five miles above, apparently afraid to take her share in the conflict, according to the preconcerted plan. As he came within gunshot, he opened on her, and probably soon disabled some of her machinery or steering apparatus, for she became unmanageable, continuing, however, to fire her guns at the Essex.

Commodore Porter says he took advantage of her, presenting a weak point toward him, and loaded with incendiary shells. After his first discharge of this projectile, a gush of fire came out of her side, and from that moment it was discovered that she was on fire, which he continued his exertions to prevent from being extinguished. They backed her ashore and made a line fast, which soon burnt, and she swung off into the river, where she continued to burn until she blew up, with a tremendous explosion, thus ending the career of the last iron-clad ram of the Mississippi. There were many persons on the banks of the river witnessing the fight, in which they anticipated a triumph for “Secessia;” but on the return of the Essex not a soul was to be seen.

I will leave a sufficient force of gunboats here to support the army, and will return to-morrow to New-Orleans, and depart immediately for Ship Island with a light heart that I have left no bugbear to torment the communities of the Mississippi in my absence.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-Officer Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

flag-ship Hartford, New-Orleans, August 10, 1862.
sir: Since forwarding the reports of Lieutenants Fairfax, Ransom, and Roe, we have picked up a number of prisoners from the ram Arkansas, all of whom I have catechised very closely. They agree very well respecting her exit from the Yazoo and her passing the fleets; they also agree as to the number of killed and wounded on each of these occasions, making in all eighteen killed

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 10th, 1862 AD (1)
August 7th, 1862 AD (1)
5th (1)
4th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: