One hundred and fifty years ago, the Mississippi River was the setting of many Confederate attacks on Union transport boats and gun boats. Though the U.S. Navy boasted of military superiority on the River since the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863, Confederate bands of irregulars continued harassing the enemy at every practicable opportunity.
According to a dispatch sent by Confederate Colonel Colten Green, “The first gun-boat I attacked was so disabled as to require the help of a tow-boat. She got to Napoleon yesterday, pierced in six places and badly damaged by shell in her cabins. My second attack on the transports riddled them and caused them to be burned. In the fourth attack the marine-boat Diana was seriously hurt, and some damage done to the mosquito gun-boat. In the third attack the large new transport (name forgotten) was so much injured that she filled and careened over and was hauled to the east bank. In the fifth and last fight the gun-boat Romeo, No. 3, was as roughly handled as the first. She was struck fifteen times. Quite an alarm extended to the upper river, and the enemy has assembled a formidable fleet, among which are the monitors Carondelet and Benton.”
Green also recounts, “I made a feint at Gaines’ Landing and near Columbia, which caused the enemy to assemble two fleets at those places, and then I moved up Clay Bayou and struck the river above, crossing Boggy Bayou. Four gun-boats (one the iron-clad Carondelet) shelled the landing for five hours.”
The Mississippi River was not the only region that saw fighting this week one hundred and fifty years ago. Other military actions include a skirmish in Pikeville and at Buck Horn on the May 25th; skirmishes at Leland’s Point and at Princeton on the 27th; skirmishes at Washington and near Little Rock on the 28th; and a skirmish at Salem on the 29th.