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 of great energy and intelligence, they had been placed under his exclusive command. This independent position gave rise to many controversies with the navy, which the impracticable disposition of Ellet only tended to aggravate. But when the hour of trial came, he was always sure to be found in the front rank, ready to take upon himself the most dangerous task. These rams were far superior to the gun-boats; having but a single wheel at the stern, strongly built and covered with iron plates, they moved with great speed, and were easily steered. On the 6th of June, at break of day, Montgomery weighed anchor with his eight steamers, the Van Dorn, the General Bragg, the Little Rebel, the General Lovell, the General Beauregard, the General Price, the Sumter and the Jeff Thompson, each carrying two guns. He had resolved to risk everything rather than abandon Memphis without a fight. It was, indeed, the only important city on the borders of the Mississippi between Cairo and New Orleans. Its population, which in 1860 numbered twenty-three thousand souls, had espoused the cause of slavery with great zeal. Consequently, at the news of the approach of the Federals, and the sight of the Confederate flotilla getting under way, they rushed in crowds upon the bluffs overlooking the lists formed by the waters of the great river, where was to be fought the battle upon which their fate depended. A bright sun lighted up this exciting scene. The two flotillas were advancing toward each other. Finding soon that the gun-boats were moving too slowly, Ellet shot ahead of them with his rams; but one of them, the Switzerland, ran aground, broke her rudder, and remained disabled for the rest of the day; another, the Lancaster, being badly commanded, kept aloof from the action. Ellet therefore had only two ships left with which to engage in a close fight, while the gun-boats were discharging their guns as they steamed up. He led the Queen of the West against the General Lovell; and taking advantage of a mistaken manoeuvre on the part of the latter, he struck her and sunk her in the middle of the river. But just as the Federal ram was trying to get free from the wreck of her sinking adversary, she was herself struck and greatly damaged by a Confederate ship. Ellet was wounded, but succeeded, nevertheless, in getting his vessel clear. The arrival of the Monarch had drawn
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