Mississippi Marine Brigade

Mississippi Marine Brigade

Col. Ellet's ram USS Lioness approaching the city of Memphis, Tennessee, to demand its surrender
Active 1862-1865
Country United States
Branch Army
Role Mississippi river patrol
Nickname(s) Ellet Ram Fleet
Equipment River patrol gunboat
Engagements American Civil War
Charles Ellet, Jr.
Alfred W. Ellet

The Mississippi Marine Brigade was a Union Army unit raised during the American Civil War as part of the United States Ram Fleet. These soldiers acted as marines aboard United States Army rams patrolling the Mississippi River. The unit was commanded by members of the Ellet family and was organized as part of the Regular Army instead of a State unit.[1]


This unit was an army command operating under the direction of the U.S. Navy consisting of artillery, cavalry and infantry and a fleet of boats for transportation and was commanded by Brig. Gen. Alfred W. Ellett.[2]

Union Navy Memorial at Vicksburg

The unit was organized in early 1863 and consisted of about 350 officers and men, including boat crews which used nine small light-armored boats fitted as rams.

Vicksburg Campaign

The brigade reached the fleet above Vicksburg on 29 May 1863. On 14 June 1863, the unit joined Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Mower's expedition to Richmond, LA and skirmished with the Confederates, losing 3 wounded. On 20 June 1863, Admiral David Dixon Porter reported that two 10-pdr. Parrott rifles placed by the brigade on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River had much annoyed the Confederates for two or three days. Gen'l Ellett ordered work begun on a casemate fort on the point opposite the city of Vicksburg, MS on 19 June 1863. The fortification was completed in four days being covered with a thickness of railroad iron. A 20-pdr. Parrott gun was emplaced within and opened fire on the city the morning of 23 June 1863. The Confederates responded firing 17 rounds from 5 different guns. The fort was further strengthened by adding another thickness of railroad iron. Fire from the Parrott gun in the fort was maintained until the end of the siege with a total of 98 rounds being expended. Considerable damage to the Confederates was accomplished especially by stopping work at the foundry and machine shop. The fort was repeatedly struck but without material damage and without loss of life. The fort was erected and the gun put into position under the direction of Lt. Col. George E. Currie. The gun was commanded and sighted by Capt. Thomas C. Groshon in person. The brigade also placed a brass Dahlgren in a casemate near the 20-pdr. Parrott. On 25–30 June 1863, a detachment of the brigade on the steamer John Rains, formed a part of an expedition to Greenville, MS under the command of Lt. Col. Samuel J. Nasmith of the 25th Wisconsin Infantry. At Goodrich's Landing on 30 June 1863 the brigade lost 1 officer (Capt. Wright) KIA .

Transfer to Army jurisdiction

A ruling of the Judge-Advocate General, dated 11 Jun 1863, seems to make the brigade a "special contingent of the army and not the navy," but as late as 23 July 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant wrote: "They (the officers and men of the Marine Brigade) are not subject to my orders." By order of the Secretary of War the army assumed full jurisdiction over the brigade in October 1863.

See also


  1. Crandall, Warren D.; Isaac D. Newel (1907). History of the Ram Fleet and the Mississippi Marine Brigade in the War for the Union on the Mississippi and its tributaries : the story of the Ellets and their men. St. Louis: Buschart Bros.
  2. Refer to page 664, Volume 6 of the WPA Monumentation Books.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "United States Mississippi Marine Brigade".

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