New York Times tells Battle of Memphis’ strange history | News
(WMC-TV) – The New York Times has a fascinating piece on how an odd naval tactic helped Union sailors win the (relatively) short Civil War's Battle of Memphis.
Charles Ellet, a civil engineer with no military experience, led a small fleet of ram ships that smashed through the James Montgomery’s Confederate River Defense Fleet on the Mississippi River, according to the Times.
Yes, that’s right. Ellet and his crew aimed their specially designed steamboats at the rebel flotilla and rammed them.
The Queen and the Monarch moved directly at three of Montgomery’s gunboats – the flagship, Little Rebel, and the General Lovell and General Price. Underestimating the Union rams’ speed, the General Lovell began to retreat, exposing her side, which Ellet and the Queen slammed into, wrecking the rebel ship.
The rest of the day went about the same for the rest of Montgomery’s ships until Ellet’s own son hoisted the U.S. flag downtown.
Ellet sent his son Charlie to raise the Union flag over Memphis. The young man courageously went ashore and, wading through hundreds of humiliated Southern sympathizers, made his way to the tallest building in the city – the post office – where he raised the Stars and Stripes from the roof, dodging gunfire in the process.
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