USS Queen of the West (1854)
US Ram Queen of the West
|Name:||US Ram Queen of the West|
|Fate:||Captured by Confederate States Army, 14 February 1863|
|Name:||CSS Queen of the West|
|Fate:||Attacked and destroyed, 11 April 1863|
|Length:||180 ft (55 m)|
|Beam:||37 ft 6 in (11.43 m)|
|Complement:||120 officers and men|
US Ram Queen of the West, a sidewheel steamer built at Cincinnati, Ohio in 1854, was purchased by the United States Department of War in 1862 and fitted out as a ram for Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr.'s Ram Fleet which operated on the Mississippi River in the U.S. Civil War in conjunction with the Western Flotilla.
As US Army Ram Queen of the West
Commanded by Colonel Charles Rivers Ellet (the Fleet commander's son), Queen of the West, ram USS Monarch, and five ironclad gunboats of the Western Flotilla engaged the Confederate States River Defense Fleet at Memphis, Tennessee on June 6, 1862. In the Battle of Memphis, Queen of the West was rammed and the elder Colonel Ellet was mortally wounded, but the Union ships destroyed the Southern flotilla and won for the Union control of the Mississippi as far south as Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On July 15, Queen of the West, USS Carondelet, and USS Tyler engaged Confederate ironclad ram CSS Arkansas in the Yazoo River. The Southern ram escaped into the Mississippi and, heavily damaged, found refuge under the Southern batteries at Vicksburg. On July 22, Queen of the West and USS Essex attacked Arkansas, despite the Southern guns. Essex steamed through a hail of shell past the shore batteries and joined Admiral David Farragut’s ships below Vicksburg, and Queen of the West rammed Arkansas before rejoining the Western Flotilla ships above the river fortress.
In ensuing months, Queen of the West continued to support operations against Vicksburg. On September 19, while escorting two troop transports, she had a short engagement with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Mississippi. As the year closed, she was busy clearing the Yazoo of torpedoes and engaging Confederate batteries at Drumgold's Bluff.
On February 2, 1863, after ramming and firing incendiary projectiles into the Confederate steamer CSS City of Vicksburg under the fortress’s guns, Queen of the West was caught in the conflagration and forced to withdraw down stream, fighting fires in the bow and near her starboard wheel. The next day she forced ashore and captured Confederate steamers O. W. Baker, Moro, and Berwick Bay. On February 12 she ascended the Red River and entered the Atchafalaya River where a landing party destroyed Confederate Army wagons. That evening, Southern planters fired into the ship, severely wounding the senior naval officer aboard. The next day, in reprisal, Ellet destroyed all nearby buildings.
On February 14, Queen of the West captured steamer Era No. 5 some 15 miles above the mouth of the Black River and continued on upstream seeking three vessels reported at Barbin’s Landing. Taken under heavy fire by the shore batteries of Fort DeRussy, she ran aground directly under Confederate guns, which pounded her until Ellet ordered "abandon ship," and the formidable vessel fell into Confederate hands. The Queen was not burned out of concern for the Captain of the ship who was wounded and could not be moved. In his official report, Ellet alleged the grounding was done purposely by the replacement pilot whom he accused in his report of being a rebel sympathizer. During their escape downstream, the pilot also grounded the captured Era running the paddles long after contact, whereupon the pilot was placed under arrest.
As CSS Queen of the West
Queen of the West operated thereafter under the Confederate Army. In conjunction with another Confederate ram, CSS Webb, she forced the surrender of USS Indianola in the Mississippi River below Vicksburg on February 24. On April 11, 1863 she was attacked on the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana by Union ships USS Estrella, Calhoun, and Arizona. A shell from Calhoun set fire to Queen of the West’s cotton, and her burning wreck drifted down the river for several hours before she grounded and exploded.
- Vicksburg: After ramming the City of Vicksburg, the Queen's forward guns fired combustible balls saturated with turpentine into the ship, but her own cotton cladding caught fire in the conflagration and was forced to withdraw.
- Under heavy fire by the shore batteries of Fort DeRussy, the Queen was captured by Confederates after allegedly being run aground purposely by a replacement pilot who was later accused of being a rebel sympathizer.
- The Queen's destruction at Grand Lake, after attack by USS Estrella (left), Arizona (center), and Calhoun (right).
Map of Events
- Anaconda Plan
- Union Navy
- United States Navy
- List of United States Navy ships
- Mississippi Marine Brigade
- Louisiana in the American Civil War
- Harper's Weekly, 28 February 1863, p. 139
- Charles R. Ellet (1863), Frank Moore, ed., Doc 105: Loss of the Queen of the West, The Rebellion Record, p. 385
- 11 April (not 14 April) is the reported destruction date by the Commander of the flotilla that engaged Queen of the West. Lt. Commander A.P. Cook, Extract of Official Report of Lieutenant-Commander Cooke to Commodore Morris, 7 (335), Harper's Weekly, p. 337
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