|An early defender of the Mississippi the Confederate gunboat “General Bragg” Early in the war, at the suggestion of two Mississippi River steamboat captains, J. E. Montgomery and J. H. Townsend, fourteen river-steamers were seized by the Confederate Government. Their bows were plated with one-inch iron, and pine bulwarks and cottonbales were used to protect their machinery. They were organized into the river-defense fleet. The “General Bragg,” side-wheel steamer, with seven others of these vessels, was stationed below Fort Pillow, under command of J. E. Montgomery, while Flag-Officer Foote was annoying Fort Pillow with his mortar boats. Seizing their opportunity on the hazy morning of May 10, 1862, the Confederate vessels moved up the river, bent on breaking up Foote's mortar-boat parties. The “General Bragg,” under command of William H. H. Leonard, steaming far in advance of her consorts, surprised the “Cincinnati” before the rest of the Federal fleet could come to her assistance. In the attack the “General Bragg” received a full broadside from the “Cincinnati,” which disabled her and put her out of the action, but not until she had rammed the Federal gunboat, tearing a great hole in her side and flooding her shell-room. She was towed to the shore and sank in eleven feet of water. The career of this Confederate river-defense flotilla was brief, however, for on the 6th of June, when Charles Ellet's rams had been added to the fleet of the Federals in the engagement off Memphis, the Confederate fleet was put out of commission. This picture of the “General Bragg” was taken after she had been raised and refitted by the Federals and added to Porter's fleet on the Mississippi, where she served creditably till the war's close.|
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