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Monarchs of the flotilla

Below appears the Federal ironclad “Benton.” As James B. Eads went on constructing gunboats for the Mississippi squadron, he kept improving on his own ideas. The “Benton” was his masterpiece. She was finished soon after the original seven ironclads ordered by the army. Though her engines were slow, she proved to be the most powerful fighting vessel in the Federal Mississippi squadron. She held that distinction till late in 1864, when the river monitors began to appear. The “Benton” was Foote's flagship in the operations around Island No.10; and when the gallant old officer retired, it was on her deck that he bade good-bye to his officers and men. The “Benton” then became the flagship of Captain Charles Henry Davis, who in her directed the famous battle off Memphis where the Ellet rams proved their prowess. The first commander of the “Benton” was Lieutenant S. Ledyard Phelps. He fought the gunboat in both of the above engagements. The “Benton” was hit twenty-five times while supporting Sherman's unsuccessful assault on Vicksburg from the north, and she was Admiral Porter's flagship when he ran by the batteries at the beginning of the maneuver by which Grant approached and invested Vicksburg from the southward, thus accomplishing the fall of “the key to the Mississippi.”

The “Louisville,” one of the original Eads ironclads

U S. GunboatBenton,” tug “Fern


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