"Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost, to show the coming ages what liberty cost"  

MISSISSIPPI SQUADRON

(Operations on the Mississippi, Ohio, White and Yazoo Rivers)

(January 1 — December 31, 1863)

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THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CON-
FEDERATE NAVIES

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The  Ships, Men
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Thunder Along
The Mississippi


Legend:
UNION VESSEL NAMES   CONFEDERATE VESSEL NAMES
=Confederate Official Report =Union Official Report
=Image   =Letter   =Newspaper Account

[1861] [1862] [1863] [1864] [1865]

1863

January 1, 1863
General Sherman, now subject to the orders of recently-arrived Major General John McClernand, withdrew his army from Chickasaw Bluffs and returned to the transports on the Yazoo River.

January 2, 1863
In the morning the expedition left the Yazoo and returned to Milliken's Bend. Sherman and Porter, still smarting from their recent repulse, set about convincing General McClernand that Ft. Hindman (also known as "Arkansas Post"), on the Arkansas river was a threat to future Union operations against Vicksburg and could be taken with the forces at hand.
      Fort Hindman was on the first high land on the north bank of the Arkansas River after leaving the Mississippi. The Confederates had mounted 12 heavy guns, strongly fortified the position and named the main structure after the Arkansas general. Further, the position served as a base from which small Confederate parties were sent to attack Union transports on the Mississippi. McClernand was soon convinced and, after resting a short while at Milliken's Bend, the expedition began the trip north toward the Arkansas River.
      Under the immediate command of Admiral Porter, Sherman's infantry was accompanied by BARON DeKALB, LOUISVILLE, SIGNAL, LEXINGTON, RATTLER, GLIDE, CINCINNATI, BLACK HAWK, and the ram MONARCH headed for Montgomery Point, opposite the mouth of the White River.

January 6, 1863
The Union transport Jacob Musselman was captured near Memphis by Capt. J. H. McGehee's Arkansas Cavalry (CSA), acting under orders to reconnoiter the area, "burning cotton in that country and annoying the enemy on the Mississippi River" wherever possible. The Confederates ran the steamer in to Bradley's Landing and there destroyed her.

January 9, 1863
In an attempt to conceal the identity of their true destination for as long as possible, the gunboats of the Porter/McClernand expedition proceeded up the Mississippi River past the mouth of the Arkansas and entered the White River several miles above. When 15 miles above the Mississippi the fleet entered a canal which connected the White and Arkansas Rivers, arriving off Notrib's farm (three miles below Fort Hindman) in the afternoon, when preparations for a landing were made.

January 10, 1863
During the evening, Union troops arrived and disembarked, subsequently being exposed to enemy fire during their deployment.
      Testing the fort's defenses, the LOUISVILLE, BARON DeKALB and CINCINNATI moved on the fort slowly, shelling the Confederate soldiers back into the fort from their rifle pits. Once the fire of the Confederate cannons had been partially suppressed, Porter brought up the BLACK HAWK, LEXINGTON and the other light-draft gunboats to add rifle shells and shrapnel to the bombardment.
      The RATTLER was meanwhile sent upriver to enfilade the fort from above. In passing the fort, the plucky little tinclad had her cabin "knocked into a cocked hat" and shortly thereafter became entangled in snags, forcing her to return to the protection of the fleet.

January 11, 1863
At noon the infantry was finally ready for the main assault. The gunboats approached the fort in the same formation as on the previous day and opened fire at one o'clock. As the Confederate guns were silenced, several of the fleet passed upriver of the fort to cut off any retreat. Soon afterwards the brigades under McClernand began the land assault. By three o'clock the fort's guns had all been silenced and the Confederates raised the white flag at about 5 P.M. Sherman ordered a cease-fire, and rode forward to receive the surrender. However, the fort's commander, Colonel John Dunnington, insisted on surrendering to Admiral Porter (the Colonel had at one time been a U.S. Naval officer).
      Although the gunboats were struck many times by Confederate shot and shell, they suffered much less damage than in the battles with Forts Henry and Donnelson. This was because Porter had ordered their casemates coated with a thick layer of grease which helped deflect the enemy missiles.
 

January 30, 1863
Still looking for a means by which to place troops in the rear of Vicksburg, Admiral Porter presented a new plan to General Grant, who was now in command of the forces being gathered for the assault on Vicksburg. Porter's plan was to blow a hole in the levee north of Vicksburg which separated the Mississippi river from the Yazoo Pass which connected to the Coldwater river which flowed into the Tallahatchie river and thence into the Yazoo River. The gap in the levee would allow enough water to enter these waterways to make them navigable by the heavy Union ironclads.

February 2, 1863
Admiral Porter's "Yazoo Pass plan" was approved by General Grant and a gap in the levee between the Mississippi and the Pass was soon opened. However, the flow of water into the bayou was so rapid that the Union ships could not enter the gap in the levee for several days.

By this date in the war, the Union controlled the Mississippi above Vicksburg and below Baton Rouge. However, the eastern Confederate states were still being supplied by means of the Red River which flows from Texas through Louisiana joining the Mississippi River near the border between Mississippi and Louisiana. In hopes of cutting off this traffic, Admiral Porter, knowing that the Confederades had no gunboats below Vicksburg, ordered Col. Charles Ellet Jr. to run the ram QUEEN OF THE WEST downriver to attack VICKSBURG, which was then moored in front of the city of the same name. After destroying the Confederate gunboat, the QUEEN OF THE WEST was then to continue southward to blockade the mouth of the Red River.
      As she commenced her attack, QUEEN OF THE WEST was partially turned to make a better angle to deflect projectiles fired from the Vicksburg batteries. In so doing, however, speed was lost and the current took charge, robbing the ram of the momentum necessary to inflict heavy damage. But, with guns shotted with incendiary projectiles, Ellet directed his fire on VICKSBURG and rammed her regardless.
      "The VICKSBURG," reported Ellet, "was the largest and strongest steamer on this river, and I think they were preparing to use her against our transports, being very fleet." The next day, deserters reported a large hole knocked in the side of VICKSBURG and she was later discovered to be on fire and only held afloat by being buoyed up with coal barges. In addition to severely damaging the Confederate gunboat, QUEEN OF THE WEST had also proved that Union warships could pass the Vicksburg batteries with only minor damage.

Continuing her mission below the city, QUEEN OF THE WEST soon encountered A. W. Baker and ran her ashore allowing some of the officers to escape before burning her.

February 3, 1863
QUEEN OF THE WEST captured and destroyed Berwick Bay as the latter came out of the Red River heavily laden with supplies for Port Hudson.

February 4, 1863
The next day QUEEN OF THE WEST intercepted and captured Moro near the mouth of the Red River, with a large cargo of food supplies also intended for delivery to Port Hudson.

February 13, 1863
White Cloud was captured near Island No. 10 by NEW ERA.

On this same day, the recently-commissioned ironclad INDIANOLA left her temporary anchorage in the Yazoo River under orders to join QUEEN OF THE WEST in blockading the mouth of the Red River. Under cover of darkness, INDIANOLA moved slowly down stream until the first gun was fired at her from the Vicksburg cliffs slightly more than an hour later. She then raced ahead at full speed until out of range of the Confederate cannon and continued downriver unharmed.

February 14, 1863
As the steamer Era No. 5 rounded a sharp bend in the Red River 15 miles above its mouth, she suddenly came upon the upbound QUEEN OF THE WEST and was immediately captured.

Shortly thereafter, as the ram WEBB was lying in the Red River at Alexandria, LA, being fitted out for the purpose of attacking the QUEEN OF THE WEST, the latter appeared below Fort DeRussy, LA, with her prize in tow.
      During a brisk exchange of gunfire, QUEEN OF THE WEST grounded while under heavy fire from the Confederate shore batteries. Unable to refloat their ship, her surviving crew members transferred to the captured Era No. 5 on which they escaped to the Mississippi.

February 16, 1863
INDIANOLA encounters Era No. 5 steaming up the Mississipi carrying the crew of the recently-lost QUEEN OF THE WEST.

February 19, 1863
Upon learning of the arrival of INDIANOLA at the Red River, Major General Richard Taylor, CSA, dispatched the repaired and reinforced QUEEN OF THE WEST and WEBB to capture or destroy the Union blockader.

February 25, 1863
QUEEN OF THE WEST and WEBB supported by Confederate troops and sharpshooters Grand Era and Dr. Beatty, attacked and severely damaged INDIANOLA near New Carthage, MS. As INDIANOLA filled with water and sank, Grand Era took the Union crew aboard prisoners.

     The Confederates immediately set about raising the valuable INDIANOLA but, while crews from the Grand Era and Paul Jones were busily at their task, a clever Union ruse foiled the project. The Federals floated a barge, disguised as a gunboat, down near the site where work was proceeding and the working party at once abandoned the effort and departed. Before leaving, however, the Confederates made a half-hearted attempt to destroy their valuable prize which was later raised by the Union but not in time to be of further service.

The loss of the QUEEN OF THE WEST and INDIANOLA was deeply distressing to the Union forces. It ended Admiral Porter's efforts to blockade the Red River by detached vessels while keeping the body of his fleet above Vicksburg.

February 19, 1863 (appriximate)
After two weeks spent clearing obstructions in the Yazoo Pass, CHILLICOTHE, BARON DeKALB, RATTLER, FOREST ROSE, ROMEO, MARMORA, SIGNAL and PETREL, together with FULTON and another Army Ram embarked on the "Land Cruise of 1863" accompanied by several transports.

March 11, 1863
CHILLICOTHE and BARON DeKALB with the other ships of the Yazoo Pass Expedition behind, engaged Fort Pemberton, MS, near the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers. However, the river was so narrow that only two gunboats could attack at any one time and the area around the fort was so waterlogged that troops could not be landed. The expedition ultimately had to retire without achieving its purpose.




  Illustration


March 25, 1863
After his partially-successful passage of the Confederate batteries at Port Hudson, LA, Admiral Farragut had requested that Admiral Porter send two rams and an ironclad below Vicksburg to assist him in blockading the mouth of Red River. The ironclad was never furnished as Porter was away on the Deer Creek Expedition, but the rams SWITZERLAND and LANCASTER were ordered to pass under the guns of Vicksburg and report to Farragut.
     
During the passage of the Vicksburg shore batteries LANCASTER received a shot to her boilers and sank opposite the city. SWITZERLAND sustained minor damage while rescuing the crew of her stricken sister ship but managed to survive and was taken in tow by the ALBATROSS of Admiral Farragut's fleet.

 

Illustration
(Courtesy, NHC)


April 16, 1863
Having failed in several attempts to get his army behind Vicksburg from the north, General Grant determined to try a southern approach. However, since the Vicksburg batteries made it very risky to send the troops down the river from their staging area at Milliken's Bend, it was decided that they would march down the Louisiana side of the river to a point below Vicksburg where they could be ferried across the Mississippi by transports and the ships of Admiral Porter's fleet.
      As Grant's infantrymen wallowed their way south through Louisiana mud, swamps and bayous, laying "corduroy roads" (roads made by laying logs and fence posts side-by-side) and building bridges each step of the way, the Union fleet prepared to run by the batteries at Vicksburg. On this dark, moonless night, Porter's fleet which consisted of BENTON, CARONDELET, LOUISVILLE, MOUND CITY, PITTSBURG, TUSCUMBIA and LAFAYETTE, with a coal barge and the GENERAL PRICE lashed alongside, raised anchor and moved down river towards the Citadel of Vicksburg taking with them the transports Silver Wave, Forest Queen and Henry Clay.
      With engines muffled and running lights extinguished, Porter hoped to slip past the batteries undetected. Suddenly, the night sky was ablaze from bales of cotton soaked in turpentine which lined the river on both banks and barrels of tar set afire by the Confederates to illuminate the river and silhouette the fleet as it passed the batteries.
      For several minutes the fleet withstood the punishing fire which poured from Confederate batteries. Admiral Porter paid close attention to where the shot and shell were landing and noticed they were hitting his smoke stacks, the pilot house and hurricane deck. Some were even hitting the gun deck, but few were hitting any lower where the vital parts of the boats were: the engines, the boilers, the steam drums and mud filters. He reasoned that the Confederates were either poor gunners or else there was a fatal flaw in the placement of their batteries which prevented them from depressing their guns to direct an effective fire against the gunboats and transports.
      After two years of war, he knew the Confederates to be skilled artillerists and, therefore, quickly directed his vessels to move across the channel and hug the Mississippi shore. As they did so, the shot and shell began to fly harmlessly overhead. So close did the fleet approach Vicksburg, that sailors reported hearing Confederate Gun Captains giving commands. They also heard bricks tumbling in the city streets, the effect of their own gunfire.
      During the action, none of the gunboats were seriously hurt. When a shell passed through the steam drum of Forest Queen, disabling her, she was immediately taken in charge by one of the gunboats and safely towed down the river. Henry Clay, who had stopped to avoid a collision with Forest Queen, had her cotton bales set on fire by a shell from one of the enemy's guns. Henry Clay was abandoned by her crew, floated down the river and disappeared.

Acting Ensign Ambrose H. Edson of TUSCUMBIA would later describe the passage of Vicksburg; "...We started on the night of the 16th, eight gunboats, three transports and one tug, the Benton, which was the flag ship took the lead and our boat brough up the rear which was the post of honor as it was the post of greatest danger. The gunboats all passed in safety and two of the transports. The other two transports did not get through as safely, one of them was set on fire and burned up and the other was run aground and abandoned, both of which can be attributed to nothing but the drunkeness of the officers and crew on board them. Our boat was only struck twice by the rebel shots, neither of these shots penetrated or did any damage and not a person on board received even a scratch. Some of the other boats were not so fortunate, although no person was killed, several were severely injured. I believe however, only nine in all and this in connection with the terrible fire to which we were exposed almost seems a miracle. We were 50 minutes in passing the batteries, which extend a continuous distance of 5 miles, and this covering one of the most difficult elbows in the whole river. Of course our lights were all put out and the greatest difficulty we experienced was to keep from running into our own boats. No one can imagine until they have experienced it the horrible sound that some of these enormous projectiles made in passing over our heads...The whole line of batteries, 5 miles long, was one continuous blaze of flashes from the muzzles of some of the best cannon on the continent. And we were at one time so near that we could hear the voices of the men at the batteries (we could not have been more than 40 or 50 yards distant)...it was a grand, sublime sight and such a one as I never expect to see again..."

When the shelling stopped, Porter tallied the damage to his fleet and recorded the loss of one transport vessel. What was deemed impossible by many had been achieved. With Admiral Porter's fleet a mile below Vicksburg, General Grant now had the wherewithal to cross the Mississippi.

 
Illustration
(Courtesy, NHC)

April 29, 1863
BENTON, CARONDELET, LOUISVILLE, MOUND CITY, PITTSBURG and TUSCUMBIA attacked the fortifications and batteries at Grand Gulf, MS, with the intention of silencing the Confederate guns and then securing the area with troops under Major General McClernand who were on the accompanying transports and barges.
      During the five-hour attack, the seven ironclads moved to within 100 yards of the Confederate guns and silenced the lower batteries of Fort Wade. However, upper batteries at Fort Cobun remained out of reach and continued to fire. During the fight BENTON, Admiral Porter's flag ship for the operation, became unmanageable and was caught under heavy fire in a position where she could neither steer nor reply to the enemy guns. On seeing Porter's predicament, PITTSBURG slipped in between BENTON and the Confederate batteries to protect her by taking the fire herself. In the next 10 minutes this heroism cost PITTSBURG 6 men killed and 8 wounded, but the sacrifice allowed BENTON to extricate herself.
      The Union ironclads (one of which, the TUSCUMBIA, had been put out of action) and the transports drew off. After dark, however, the ironclads again engaged the Confederate guns while the transports and barges ran the gauntlet. Meanwhile, General Grant marched his men overland across Coffee Point to below the Gulf.

To ensure that Confederate troops were not sent to reinforce Grand Gulf, a combined Union army-navy force feigned an attack on Snyder's Bluff, MS, on the Yazoo River. After noon, Lt. Commander K. Randolph Breese, with eight gunboats, including CHOCTAW, BARON DE KALB, BLACK HAWK and TYLER convoying ten transports carrying Major General Francis Blair's division, inched up the Yazoo River to the mouth of Chickasaw Bayou where they spent the night.

April 30, 1863
After the transports below Vicksburg had passed Grand Gulf, they embarked General Grant's troops which had finally arrived at Disharoon's plantation and disembarked them on the Mississippi shore at Bruinsburg, below Grand Gulf. The men immediately began marching overland towards Port Gibson.

At 9:00 am the diversionary force, minus one gunboat, continued up the Yazoo to Drumgould's Bluff and engaged the enemy batteries. During the fighting, CHOCTAW suffered more than fifty hits, but no casualties occurred. Around 6:00 pm, the troops disembarked and marched along Blake's Levee toward the guns. As they neared Drumgould's Bluff, a battery opened on them, creating havoc and casualties. The Union advance halted and, after dark, the men reembarked on the transports.

May 1, 1863
Transports of the Yazoo expedition again disembarked their troops but the inundated terrain and heavy enemy artillery fire forced them to retire. The gunboats opened fire again about 3:00 pm, causing some damage. Later, the boats' fire slackened and stopped altogether after dark. Sherman had received orders to land his troops at Milliken's Bend, so the gunboats returned to their anchorages at the mouth of the Yazoo.

May 3, 1863
The Naval force and troops under Major General U. S. Grant forced the evacuation of Grand Gulf, MS, prompting Porter to report that "The Navy holds the door to Vicksburg."

May 4, 1863
Tugboat GEORGE STURGESS was sunk by Vicksburg shore batteries.

As Admiral Porter led a large force including PITTSBURG up the Red River, they met ARIZONA, ESTRELLA and ALBATROSS, of Farragut's Fleet, returning from an engagement the previous day with confederate land and naval forces at Fort De Russey, LA. Porter ordered ARIZONA and ESTRELLA to join him and allowed ALBATROSS to return to the Mississippi to report to Admiral Farragut.

May 5, 1863
Porter's force arrived at Fort DeRussy, LA, and found it abandoned. After partially destroying the fortifications, Porter continued on up stream to Alexandria which surrendered without resistance. Before Porter left the river, he sent ARIZONA on a reconnaissance of the Black River a tributary of the Red.

May 10, 1863
ARIZONA and PITTSBURG joined in an attack on Fort Beauregard at Harrisonburg, LA, on the Ouachita River.

May 13, 1863
First of her kind to be built for service in the Western Rivers, the river monitor NEOSHO was commissioned at St. Louis.

May 18, 1863
LINDEN drove off a masked Confederate artillery battery near Greenville, MS.

On this same day, Union infantry, supported by BARON DeKALB, finally succeeded in driving the Confederates from the bluffs along the Yazoo River, thereby securing the northern approaches to Vicksburg.

May 19, 1863
Having captured Port Gibson and Jackson, MS, lead elements of General Grant's 49,000-man army surround Vicksburg as the Naval mortars—now anchored in the Yazoo River—begin bombarding the city. The siege of Vicksburg had begun in earnest.

May 22, 1863
Porters mortar boats and gunboats, including MOUND CITY bombarded the Vicksburg batteries in preparation for Grant's assault. For forty-two days, the mortar boats threw shells into all parts of the city. Thirteen big guns from several of the ironclads were landed and mounted in the rear of Vicksburg. The tinclads and Mississippi Marine Brigade were kept busy clearing the banks of the Mississippi of guerrillas who attempted to prevent Union transports from bringing down supplies, reinforcements, and ammunition for the army. Gunboats below the city, with the army, constantly shelled the defenses of the City.

 
Illustration
(Courtesy, NHC)

MAY 27, 1863
Single-handedly engaging the northern-most batteries at Vicksburg, CINCINNATI was soon forced to close her forward gun ports against a virtual rain of Confederate grape-shot. As the ironclad attempted to withdraw, she was hit so many times that she barely made shoal water before sinking. The Confederates set fire to her a few days later but, after the surrender of Vicksburg, it was found that CINCINNATI was not as badly damaged as was thought and was later raised, repaired, and put back into action.

May 30, 1863
Three boats from LINDEN and FOREST ROSE captured and burned Emma Betts in Quiver Bayou, MS.

TYLER captured Lady Walton at the mouth of the White River.

June 7, 1863
Shelling from Union gunboats CHOCTAW and LEXINGTON saved the forces under Col. Hermann Lieb, from being overrun by a Confedrate attack at Millikens Bend.

July 4, 1863
Vicksburg surrendered after a lengthy bombardment and a 49-day siege by Union naval and land forces. During the entire siege, mortars, gunboats, and naval batteries threw some sixteen thousand shells into the city and its fortifications.

That same day, furious shelling from TYLER helped turn the tide in a Confederate attempt to re-capture Helena, AR.

July 9, 1863
Port Hudson, LA, surrenders after prolonged attack by Union naval and land forces. President Lincoln could finally write that "The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."

July 10, 1863
The river monitor OSAGE, sister-ship of NEOSHO was commissioned at St. Louis.

July 12, 1863
BARON DeKALB, KENWOOD, NEW NATIONAL and SIGNAL depart Vicksburg with Union infantry aboard, bound for Yazoo City.

July 13, 1863
Yazoo City, MS, was captured by the joint Army-Navy expedition during which BARON DeKALB struck a Confederate Torpedo and sank about 1 mile below the city.

Admiral Porter sent an expedition, under Lt. Commander T. O. Selfridge, inland from the juncture of the Black, Ouachita and Tensas Rivers in Louisiana. During the mission Elmira was seized by FOREST ROSE and PETREL on the Tensas River and Louisville was captured by MANITOU and RATTLER on the Little River. Dr. Beatty and Nelson later escaped capture by MANITOU and PETREL by running under the guns of Fort Beauregard at Harrisonburg, LA, in the Ouachita River.

July 26, 1863
En-route from Yazoo City to Cairo, IL, NEW NATIONAL, with the recently-captured Alonzo Child in tow, came across Sam Young hard aground above the mouth of the White River, "nearly high and dry" with some 350 captured Confederate soldiers and an armed guard on board. Alonzo Child embarked the prisoners and their guards and carried them to Helena, AR.

August 1, 1863
The lower half of the Mississippi is transferred to the control of the Mississippi Squadron and Admiral Porter assumes command of the River from New Orleans to the headwaters.

The waters of the Mississippi were now firmly under control of the Union Navy. However, with the exception of isolated installations thinly manned by Union troops, the country along the river was still very much in Confederate hands. Rear-Admiral Porter's fleet was now tasked with supporting the scattered Union outposts, clearing the smaller tributary rivers of Confederate vessels and conquering the Red River.

August 14, 1863
CRICKET, MARMORA and LEXINGTON thwarted the advance of a large Confederate force under General Sterling Price, by destroying pontoon bridges across the White River. CRICKET also captured Kaskaskia and Tom Sugg, the only other means of river transportation remaining to the Confederates on the White and Little Red Rivers.

September 6, 1863
A party from ARGOSY landed at Bruinsburg, MS, to destroy a ferry and found a large quantity of ordnance supplies described as a ". . wagonload consisting of 250,000 waterproof percussion caps, 1 box containing 5,000 friction primers . . ." and several other items.

October 7, 1863
The Robert Fulton was surprised and captured along with Argus near the mouth of the Red River by a boat crew dispatched from OSAGE. Robert Fulton was later burned with all her stores when her captors were unable to pass a shoal in taking her out of the Red River.

November 18, 1863
While the Union Navy was firmly in control of the Mississippi itself, the banks of the river were still mostly in the hands of the Confederates. After the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the Confederates increasingly resorted to the practice of using highly mobile masked batteries against unarmed transports plying the river. The Union Naval commanders considered this practice to be particularly onerous as the attacks were most often directed at unarmed vessels carrying non-military cargo, civilians and Union troops who had been parolled from Confederate Prisons and were returning to their homes. The Confederates had, by this time, learned that engaging the gunboats was a losing proposition and, therefore, would remain hidden or withdraw upon the approach of a Union vessel.

On this day, CARONDELET and CHOCTAW were lying off Hog Point, MS, blockading the mouth of the of the Red River when the sound of cannons was heard from below.
      Responding to the sound of gunfire, CHOCTAW discoverd the steamer Black Hawk on fire and under attack by masked Confederate batteries. After driving off the attackers, CHOCTAW towed the belagured steamer to the gunboat station for repairs.

November 25, 1863
The steamer,Volunteer, with Confederate troops aboard acting under orders to "procure and transport forage", was captured off Natchez, MS, by FORT HINDMAN.

December 8, 1863
When the steamer Henry Von Phul, enroute from New Orleans to St. Louis, was about 8 miles above Bayou Sara, LA, she was taken under fire by a Confederate masked battery. Two of the first shots entered the pilot house, killing the Captain and mortally wounded another crewman. The Pilot kept his wits and, as he steered the boat on a safer course, he called to the engine room for more speed. His order was not answered, however, as the Engineers had abandoned their exposed posts in favor of a more protected position. With the engines and boilers unmanned, the Von Phul would endure the shelling for some 15 minutes before getting safely out of range.
      Continuing upriver, the Von Phul came upon the river monitor NEOSHO at anchor off Morganza. The Union Commander immediately agreed to convoy the steamer up to the mouth of the Red River and, after waiting for the gunboat to get up steam, they continued northward with the Von Phul in the lead.
      The two boats had only been under way a half-hour when the Von Phul was again attacked—this time from several masked batteries. The Confederate gunners concentrated on the defenseless steamer and ignored the approaching NEOSHO. Within a few minutes, the Confederate fire had hit the Von Phul forty-two times, killing or wounding twelve persons and damaging her engines. By this time, the NEOSHO had come abreast of the Confederate position and opened a rapid fire on their positions.
      As the attackers retreated, the Von Phul tied up to the opposite bank and began tending to the wounded and making repairs. Shortly thereafter, the steamer Atlantic appeared and took the stricken Von Phul under tow, convoyed by the NEOSHO. That evening the three boats safely reached the mouth of the Red River where the Von Phul was left to complete her repairs under the protection of the several gunboats stationed at that point.

December 9, 1863
The NEOSHO and SIGNAL departed downriver in convoy of the Atlantic and several steamers. As the group of boats approached the point which the Von Phul had last been attacked, the two gunboats began shelling the shore and continued the bombardment until the steamers were safely past. However, the Confederates had apparently not returned to the position and the two gunboat captains were later reprimanded for violating "strict orders...not to fire without seeing an enemy."

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