Battle of Saint Charles
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The Battle of St. Charles was a naval engagement and infantry battle during the American Civil War. It was fought on June 17, 1862, between eight Union ships, including the USS Mound City, and several Confederate shore guns. A Confederate gun hit the Mound City's steam drum, causing an explosion which resulted in heavy casualties : 105 of the 175-man crew were killed. The USS Mound City was then towed back to Memphis, Tennessee, and repaired.
On the morning of June 17, 1862, USS Mound City, St. Louis, Lexington, Conestoga, and transports, under the command of Cdr. Augustus Kilty, proceeded up White River towards St. Charles, Arkansas, attempting to resupply Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis's army near Jacksonport. A few miles below Saint Charles, the 46th Indiana Infantry, under the command of Col. Graham N. Fitch, disembarked, formed a skirmish line, and proceeded upriver towards the Rebel batteries on Saint Charles' bluffs, under the command of Capt. Joseph Fry, C.S.N. At the same time, the Union gunboats went upriver to engage the Rebel batteries; Mound City was hit and her steam drum exploded scalding most of the crew to death. More than 125 sailors from the Mound City were killed, but the other ship was towed to safety. Col. Fitch halted the gunboat activities to prevent further loss and then undertook an attack on the Confederate batteries with his infantry. The 46th Indiana turned the Rebel flank which ended the firing from the batteries and left Saint Charles open to Federal occupation.
The site of the land portion of the battle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the St. Charles Battle Site, and the battle is memorialized by the St. Charles Battle Monument in downtown St. Charles.