Battle of Memphis
american civil war
The naval battle off Memphis, Tennessee, on June 6, 1862, won a Union victory almost as quickly as it was bloodless. Nine ships and five ironclads under Colonel Charles Henry Davis in an attempt to seize control of the Mississippi River from the Confederate River Defense Fleet of eight cotton-clad ships under James Edward Montgomery. , a combined fleet of four rams approached the city from the north.
Under the watchful eye of hundreds of civilians from Memphis, the battle lasted less than an hour.Chief of the Gunboat as described below by his engineer, William G. McFarland USS Cincinnati, Union rams crept in between the Confederates, disabling one while the gunboat’s heavy artillery blew up the rest. By the end of the engagement, four Cottonclad were sunk. Three fell into federal hands.and the only CSS Earl Van Dorn It escaped sinking or capture. Federal forces soon seized control of Memphis.
Today’s blog post will focus on two aspects of this engagement. In the first part, the engineer looks at the battle itself from his McFarland perspective. The second part focuses on what can be called the prize of war. These are his two captured Confederate battle flags recovered from captured cottonclad sent to Ohio by Lieutenant Seth Ledyard Phelps in June 1862.
gunboat Cincinnatioff Memphis, Tennessee
June 8, 1862
Here we are docked in the city of Memphis, a great hub for learning and the arts, but looking at it at the moment, there are no signs worthy of that claim.th At seven o’clock the battle began. It only lasted him 45 minutes he 3 hours. Our fleet was anchored just a mile above the main wharf.Captain Charles H. Davis, valiant successor to noble commander Andrew H. Foote, sent a letter of challenge to the Admiralty [James] Edward Montgomery of New Albany, Indiana, was to come a mile above town or, if he refused to do so, he, Davis, would go a mile below the city and fight him there. .
The purpose of this was to prevent danger from befalling the civilians on the shore, but the rebel commodore replied to the invitation that he, Davis, would not dare to descend another inch. Of the ironclads he had only five, and of the rams he had only four. The rebels had eight boats. Recall that the Rebels combined the properties of a steamship to act as both a battery and a ram, both of which could be requisitioned at once. They certainly outperformed us in this respect. Their steamboats are likewise dual-engine, each independent of the other, whereas ours are connected to a single wheel, which is always cumbersome, especially with very limited space. That’s true wherever you are.
However, Captain Davis ordered them to enter the battle line at once and get off as solidly as possible. The order was carried out quickly, ten minutes after it was issued, and the competing ships were actively engaged. Our gunboats continued to approach the left coast on the Tennessee side, and when the rebels crossed to meet them, they cleared the right side of the Arkansas coast. Our rams were then signaled to run down the right bank and under or to the rear of the rebel fleet to cut off their retreat. This was also achieved in a very nice way.
In this engagement, the rebel gunboats Colonel Ravel, general sterling priceand ball guard general sank, ball guard and Ravel I can’t see it at all.of General Bragg, General Sumter, and the little rebelis a large propeller manufactured in Pittsburgh about two years ago, RJ Watsonand the Van Dolan and Colonel M. Jeff Thompson made up the entire fleet.of little rebel She was the fastest of all, so she was used as Admiral Montgomery’s flagship. When the villains discovered the game’s progress, they promised to run their favorite skedaddling game, but now it’s too late.
of Van Dorn the only success.
with her Colonel Thompson and little rebelthe flagship launched a full jump, but a well-directed Parrot 22-pound shot from one of Galant’s guns Carondelet Sent through her, the flagship’s boiler, which soon stopped further progress.
Many of her crew, who had been so honored to be allowed to bask in the shadow of the fat Admiral Montgomery an hour earlier, were soon nearly all burned, but fat Ed and Few who might be counted escaped Those who witnessed the fun say the fat Admiral threw sand higher and faster than ever before, surpassing the famous “Arkansas Traveler.” Ed escapes but is quickly caught.
of General Bragg and Sumter Surrounded and captured by our rams and gunboats.
of General Bragg used to be a steamboat Mexico, New Orleans and Galveston packets.of Sumter Previously Mary Kingsland, a powerful towing vessel, the one I had engineering honors in during the Mexican War, chartered by the City Council of New Orleans down the Gulf and received the old “Rough and Ready” when it arrived in Belize It’s a boat. Returning from the battlefields of Mexico, he has been elevated to the highest gift, the power of the grateful people.
of monarchafter submerging Ravelchased the fleeing steamer Van Doran and Colonel Thompson At the foot of President Island.she overwhelmed Thompson and bring her back Van Dorn let her escapeof champion the current, general priceShe is a noble ship worth $150,000 when repaired.of Sumter Valued at $75,000.of General Bragg worth $150,000, little rebel Worth $10,000. So $385,000 was won in this fight and the same amount was destroyed.their entire fleet, except for Van Dornis gone and lost forever.
After the engagement, Lieutenant Seth Ledyard Phelps, captain of the gunboat USS Benton, collected the spoils of war.of benton played an important role in stopping the desertion CSS General Bragg, and when Federal troops boarded her, they cut a waving flag from her mainmast and presented it to Lieutenant Phelps. A native of Chardon, Ohio, Skipper decided to send her flag to Ohio Governor David Todd. On June 7, 1862, Phelps wrote to the governor, “Present to my country the flag which flew from the top of a rebel gunboat and charged General Bragg yesterday morning when he was captured in the naval battle off this city. I sent it to you to do,” he wrote. “I am very pleased to present to the State of Ohio this trophy for my disastrous actions on behalf of the Rebels.” 
Governor Todd replied on June 11thth, thanks to Phelps for the flag. “I am proud to have received your properly signed letter. 7th The three-bar and thirteen-star flag was taken from a Rebel gunboat that charged General Bragg.th Right out of Memphis,” wrote Todd. “Your flag with the enclosed inscription and letter will be placed in our Capitol Trophy Museum as a proud keepsake of your most successful achievements. We’ve just received news that you’ve cleared the traitorous roadblock from The Father of Water and have had a smashing success with intense joyful thrills. “
The flag has been in Columbus for years, but research conducted by the Columbus branch of the Confederate Daughters in the 1890s found that General Bragg Flags held by states. The unresolved issue is General Bragg The banner is now resident. Is it in private hands or in the hands of institutions?
Interestingly, a week later, Lieutenant Phelps sent another flag back to Ohio. This time, he sent his captured flag to his hometown of Chardon, County Jiouga. On June 14, 1862, Phelps wrote to the mayor of Chardon, writing, “Through you I wish to present to the village of Chardon the flag of the rebels captured in the latter part of the fighting at this place.
“In the confusion of the battle, this flag came into our possession without any markings to indicate which fleet of Rebels it had been taken from. , was changed to a rebel flag by stitching red and white stripes together to form a bar. I am now very happy to be able to send it to the village where all the warm and dear associations of children and boys are gathered.”
On Friday, June 20, 1862, a public dedication ceremony was held at the Courthouse in Chardon, presided over by Mayor CL Canfield, a close childhood friend of Lt. Phelps. Also in the audience were Lieutenant Phelps’ father, Judge Alfred Phelps, and the lieutenant’s wife. The resolution read by the Mayor of Canfield read, “This flag, with the proper inscription, signed by Captain Phelps, shall be deposited in the Town Recorder’s office and carefully treasured as a trophy won by a brave donor. , to the brave donor those under his command bestow the highest praise on a glorious endeavor that deserves and achieves success.”
JO Converse comments: It was made from the flag of the United States, transforming the Stars and Stripes into the infamous Stars and Stripes of a traitor government. “
The fate of this second flag is also unknown. The town registrar’s office was located in the Gauga County Courthouse, but in 1868 that building and most of Chardon’s Main His Street were destroyed by fire. Phelps’ flag may have been lost in the fire.
Written by Dan Masters
Dan Masters Civil War Chronicles (dan-masters-civil-war.blogspot.com)
 “From the Fleet” Clermont Courier, June 25, 1862, page. 1
 “Ohio Trophy” Cleveland Morning Reader, June 13, 1862, page. 2
 “Presentation of the rebel flag by the lieutenant. SL Phelps to his home village.” Jeffersonian Democrat (Chardon, Ohio), June 27, 1862, page. 3