Sunday, July 15

This Week in The Civil War: July 15, 1862

CSS Arkansas runs past Vicksburg

The CSS Arkansas, a famed Confederate ironclad of the Mississippi River, runs a gauntlet of U.S. Navy warships with its guns blazing on July 15, 1862, near Vicksburg, Miss. The ironclad, one of two authorized by the Confederate Congress a year earlier, would make it through only 23 days of sporadic river fighting before meeting its end. Built at Memphis, the CSS Arkansas steamed down toward the federal warships with its weapons firing. The CSS Arkansas heavily damaged two of the first Union ships it encountered.The ironclad then ran past 16 other Union vessels, damaging them, on its route to Vicksburg — despite receiving heavy damage itself. David Farragut, a celebrated Union commander, was so angered by the Arkansas’ damaging run that he sought to destroy the ironclad soon afterward at Vicksburg. But the Arkansas avoided further damage and would go on to more river skirmishing with two other Union ships later in the month before being scuttled. The ship headed south to Louisiana in early August 1862 to deliver firepower to Confederate military actions there. However, damage to a propeller forced it aground and the crew had to blow the ironclad up before federal forces could arrive. Elsewhere, The Associated Press reports on July 16, 1862, from Louisville, Ky., that the border state is rife with Confederate guerrilla activity this month 150 years ago in the Civil War. One band of rebels operating in the farming countryside has “cut the telegraph wire and tore up the railroad, and took everything convertible to his use.’’ The AP dispatch adds that supporters of the Union side in Kentucky are alarmed, particularly in Lexington. It locals were setting up defenses and “the people say they have ample force to protect the town, but not to take the offensive.’’

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