Battle of St Charles

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archieclement

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A rather little known combined action at St Charles Ark, on the White River.

A union fleet was ordered up the white river to attempt to resupply Gen Curtis at Jacksonport, On June 17th the fleet consisting of 4 gunboats and some transports encountered Confederate batteries on the bluffs by St Charles. the transports disembarked infantry below and proceeded up river to engage the confederate battles, during the gunboat duel a confederate gun hit the USS Mound City in the boilers, instantly scalding and killing about 105 of the 175 man crew, wounding 44 others. Col Fitch orders the gunboats to withdraw to prevent further loss, and advances with the infantry, the 46th Indiana flanks the battery which forces them to withdraw and allows Union occupation of St Charles. Its a costly victory 160-177 Union causalities (accounts vary) to 7-26 confederates (accounts also vary) The majority of the losses are on the USS Mound City which ends up with more then 125 dying, the boat itself is able to be towed to back to Memphis and repaired

The attempt to resupply Curtis fails, as after securing St Charles the remaining boats minus the Mound City proceed upriver to Crooked Point cutoff then encounter low water preventing any further progress.
 

1stMS-Arty

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I think there is a historical marker for the battle in Arkansas that claims the shot fired at the Mound City was the single most destructive shot of the Civil War.....(I've also seen that claim made for one of the US steamers on the Red River during the 1864 campaign that was attacked by CS artillery).

Also....i need to check my sources....but I think the captain of the USS Cairo (Selfridge) placed the railroad iron armor on the forward front sides of the Cairo because the shot that struck the steam drum of the Mound City came through the unarmored front quarter....can't remember which side....but he also constructed a railroad iron casemate inside the Cairo around the exposed steam drum area....

I'll have to look all this stuff up again for exact references.
 
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A rather little known combined action at St Charles Ark, on the White River.

A union fleet was ordered up the white river to attempt to resupply Gen Curtis at Jacksonport, On June 17th the fleet consisting of 4 gunboats and some transports encountered Confederate batteries on the bluffs by St Charles. the transports disembarked infantry below and proceeded up river to engage the confederate battles, during the gunboat duel a confederate gun hit the USS Mound City in the boilers, instantly scalding and killing about 105 of the 175 man crew, wounding 44 others. Col Fitch orders the gunboats to withdraw to prevent further loss, and advances with the infantry, the 46th Indiana flanks the battery which forces them to withdraw and allows Union occupation of St Charles. Its a costly victory 160-177 Union causalities (accounts vary) to 7-26 confederates (accounts also vary) The majority of the losses are on the USS Mound City which ends up with more then 125 dying, the boat itself is able to be towed to back to Memphis and repaired

The attempt to resupply Curtis fails, as after securing St Charles the remaining boats minus the Mound City proceed upriver to Crooked Point cutoff then encounter low water preventing any further progress.
Wow, didn't know about this. Pretty costly engagment for a naval foray.
 
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Carronade

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A rather little known combined action at St Charles Ark, on the White River.

A union fleet was ordered up the white river to attempt to resupply Gen Curtis at Jacksonport, On June 17th the fleet consisting of 4 gunboats and some transports encountered Confederate batteries on the bluffs by St Charles. the transports disembarked infantry below and proceeded up river to engage the confederate battles, during the gunboat duel a confederate gun hit the USS Mound City in the boilers, instantly scalding and killing about 105 of the 175 man crew, wounding 44 others. Col Fitch orders the gunboats to withdraw to prevent further loss, and advances with the infantry, the 46th Indiana flanks the battery which forces them to withdraw and allows Union occupation of St Charles. Its a costly victory 160-177 Union causalities (accounts vary) to 7-26 confederates (accounts also vary) The majority of the losses are on the USS Mound City which ends up with more then 125 dying, the boat itself is able to be towed to back to Memphis and repaired

The attempt to resupply Curtis fails, as after securing St Charles the remaining boats minus the Mound City proceed upriver to Crooked Point cutoff then encounter low water preventing any further progress.
What ended up happening to Curtis and the Union garrison at Jacksonport?
 

Harvey Johnson

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Not sure, it's after pea ridge campaign, not sure if alternative supply was found, or they moved to a new source.
They went to Helena where they focused on making money as cotton traders for the next year. After the fall of Vicksburg, General Steele took over at Helena and captured Little Rock in September 1863. In the spring of 1864 Steele led the ill-fated Camden Expedition, a part of the Red River Campaign.
 
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Carronade

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I'm not at all familiar with the war in Arkansas, but this seems like an interesting situation. Curtis had won at Pea Ridge and was advancing southeast. Meanwhile the Union river fleet had defeated their Confederate counterparts at Memphis on June 6, 1862, enabling Union boats to go down the Mississippi and up the White River towards Curtis' position at Jacksonport. That is to say, Curtis' supplies were coming to him from in front, from the direction in which he was attacking. Union control of the rivers certainly did have some unusual results.

Someone on the Union side must have been thinking quickly to have a supply convoy enroute up the White in time to be stopped on June 17.

Curtis, unable to get supplies by water from the southeast, continued advancing southeast overland, ending up at Helena, on the Mississippi. He was thus simultaneously marching deeper into enemy territory and towards his supply base, rather a reversal of the usual concept of supply lines. Perhaps a precursor of the Grierson Raid or Sherman's March to the Sea.
 

Harvey Johnson

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I'm not at all familiar with the war in Arkansas, but this seems like an interesting situation. Curtis had won at Pea Ridge and was advancing southeast. Meanwhile the Union river fleet had defeated their Confederate counterparts at Memphis on June 6, 1862, enabling Union boats to go down the Mississippi and up the White River towards Curtis' position at Jacksonport. That is to say, Curtis' supplies were coming to him from in front, from the direction in which he was attacking. Union control of the rivers certainly did have some unusual results.

Someone on the Union side must have been thinking quickly to have a supply convoy enroute up the White in time to be stopped on June 17.

Curtis, unable to get supplies by water from the southeast, continued advancing southeast overland, ending up at Helena, on the Mississippi. He was thus simultaneously marching deeper into enemy territory and towards his supply base, rather a reversal of the usual concept of supply lines. Perhaps a precursor of the Grierson Raid or Sherman's March to the Sea.
After Pea Ridge, Curtis was to capture Little Rock thereby putting Union troops in a second state capital within the Confederate states. He could not approach from Pea Ridge due to the hilly terrain's impediments to an overland supply route from the railhead at Rolla, Missouri. Thus, he went to Jacksonport, Arkansas on the White River from whence he sent several small sorties toward Little Rock, which was almost defenseless. The closest approach was a skirmish at Searcy, which was 50 miles NE of Little Rock.

Jacksonport was also difficult to supply overland because it was subject to flooding, being in the Mississippi River Delta region. After St. Charles, Curtis went to Helena, Arkansas, which is on the Mississippi River where his army could be easily supplied. Soon after he arrived, however, he and some officers discovered they could make good money trading cotton. Therefore, instead of advancing on Little Rock, they concentrated on cotton trading. Curtis was eventually relieved.

When Grant and the USN put Vicksburg under siege, Grant drew troops from Helena, leaving it with a garrison of about 4,000, which the Confederates attacked on the day Vicksburg surrendered. The attack on Helena was repulsed with heavy losses.

After Prentiss won at Helena, General Frederick Steele took over and also got men from Grant's victorious army. Steele then captured Little Rock in September 1863 after a series of skirmishes. At Little Rock Steele was supplied via the Arkansas River.
 
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