USS Queen of the West (1854)

USS "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 USS "Queen of the West"

Commanded by Colonel Charles Rivers Ellet (the Fleet commander's son), "Queen of the West", ram USS|Monarch|1862|6, 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|1861|2, and USS|Tyler|1857|2 engaged Confederate ironclad ram warship|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|1856|2 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, but not sinking Confederate steamer CSS "City of Vicksburg" under the fortress’s guns, "Queen of the West" fought fires in the bow and near her starboard wheel and retired down stream. 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 night Southern batteries fired oil the ship. 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 Gordon’s Landing. Taken under heavy fire by shore batteries, she ran aground while attempting to back down river directly under Confederate guns, which pounded her until Ellet ordered "abandon ship," and the formidable vessel fell into Confederate hands.

As CSS "Queen of the West"

"Queen of the West" operated thereafter under the Confederate Army. In conjunction with another Confederate ram, warship|CSS|Webb, she forced the surrender of USS|Indianola|1862|6 off the Red River on February 24. On April 14, 1863 she was attacked on the Atchafalaya River, Louisiana by Union ships USS|Estrella|1862|6, USS|Calhoun|1851|2, and USS|Arizona|1858|2. 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.

ee also

*Mississippi Marine Brigade
*Louisiana in the American Civil War

External links

* [ U.S. Ram "Queen of the West" (1862-1863)]
* [ 1863 Newspaper Article on the "Queen of the West"]


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