Mississippi River Squadron

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Mississippi River Squadron
Vessels of the Mississippi River Squadron in the Battle of Island Number Ten
Vessels of the Mississippi River Squadron in the Battle of Island Number Ten.
Active 1861 - 1865
Country  United States
Branch United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
Type naval squadron

The Mississippi River Squadron was the Union brown-water naval squadron that operated on the western rivers during the American Civil War. It was initially created as a part of the Union Army, although it was commanded by naval officers, and was then known as the Western Gunboat Flotilla and sometimes as the Mississippi Flotilla. It received its final designation when it was transferred to the Union Navy at the beginning of October 1862.

History[edit]

American Civil War[edit]

The squadron was created on May 16, 1861, and was controlled by the Union Army until September 30, 1862. John Rodgers was the first commander of the squadron and was responsible for the construction and organization of the fleet. Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote relieved Rodgers and encouraged the army commander in the west, Major General Henry W. Halleck, to authorize an expedition down the Tennessee River against Fort Henry. Operating in conjunction with Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the District of Cairo, Foote subdued Fort Henry before Grant's troops could take their positions.

Foote led the squadron in the attack on Fort Donelson and then joined with Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of the Mississippi for a joint attack on Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River. Charles H. Davis relieved Foote and proceeded to take Fort Pillow on the Mississippi. The U. S. Ram Fleet, commanded by Colonel Charles Ellet, Jr., accompanied the squadron during the Battle of Memphis. After the capture of Memphis the squadron was transferred to the control of the U.S. Navy. The transfer included the Ram Fleet, by then reconstituted as the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Davis aided Grant's first and unsuccessful campaign against Vicksburg. Rear Admiral David D. Porter relieved Davis in command and led the squadron at Arkansas Post and during the successful Vicksburg Campaign and siege of the city.

Red River Campaign[edit]

Porter led the squadron during the disastrous Red River Campaign and when the waters of the river dropped the fleet was almost lost. The engineering abilities of Colonel Joseph Bailey who supervised the construction of Bailey's Dam helped save the fleet. During the Red River Campaign, the Mississippi Squadron was composed of 10 ironclads, 3 monitors, 11 tin-clads, 1 timber-clad, 1 ram and various support vessels, including vessels in the following table:

Ship Type
USS Osage twin-turret river monitor
USS Neosho twin-turret river monitor
USS Ozark single-turret river monitor
USS Eastport casemate ironclad
USS Essex casemate ironclad
USS Benton casemate ironclad
USS Carondelet casemate ironclad
USS Cincinnati casemate ironclad
USS Louisville casemate ironclad
USS Mound City casemate ironclad
USS Pittsburgh casemate ironclad
USS Lexington timberclad
USS Ouachita sidewheeler steamer
USS Nyanza sidewheeler steamer

Command temporarily passed to Alexander Pennock before Samuel P. Lee assumed command. Lee was in command until the squadron was discontinued on August 14, 1865.

List of Commanding Officers[edit]

Squadron Commander From To Major Battles
Commander John Rodgers 16 May 1861 30 August 1861 construction of squadron
Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote 30 August 1861 9 May 1862 Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Island No. 10
Flag Officer Charles H. Davis 9 May 1862 15 October 1862 Fort Pillow, Memphis, Chickasaw Bayou
Rear Admiral David D. Porter 15 October 1862 July 1864 Arkansas Post, Vicksburg, Red River Campaign
Captain Alexander M. Pennock July 1864 1 November 1864 temporary
Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee 1 November 1864 14 August 1865

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Eicher, John H. and Eicher, David J. (2001) Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3
  • Nevin, David (1983) The Road to Shiloh: Early Battles in the West, The Civil War series, Alexandria, VA : Time-Life Books, ISBN 0-8094-4716-9