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the naval battle of memphis tn

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by jr baker, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. jr baker

    jr baker Private

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    The naval battle of memphis tn can anybody tell me where it was at on the river I am doing a speech on it and island no 10 and the battle of plum point I know where plum point and island no 10 was but I ain't sure where the battle of memphis was thanks
     
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  3. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 1st Lieutenant

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  4. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 1st Lieutenant

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  5. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    While you have probably already given your talk I have a book coming out on 1 October 2014 through the University of Tennessee Press entitled "To Retain Command of the Mississippi, The Civil War Campaign for Memphis". If you are interested in that battle I believe that you will find the book very interesting.
     
  6. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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  7. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    Mark, You did an excellent job creating the slides! I do have a couple of issues with your depiction based on my analysis of the battle. First, I believe that the Confederate boats were in two columns, not in two lines. I believe that Union observers thought that they were in two lines due to an optical illusion. Also, the main channel was too narrow for the deeper draft Confederate boats to be in two lines. Second, I believe that the Union ironclads were facing upriver when Ellet went through their formation. After both of the Union rams passed through their formation the rams turned around and faced down river. Obviously, there is more detail in my book than what I can post in a short message.
    By the way, I also used Walke's diagrams as a bases for the diagrams in my book. If you read my book I would be interested in hearing your comments.
     
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  8. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    I've gone back and forth over the years on my opinion of at which point Davis's boats ceased dropping downstream stern-first and turned to face downstream; most accounts seem to agree that this happened but appear contradictory as to exactly when it happened. I'm sure there's a lot more to be learned on the topic. Walke's diagrams are the best guide I've yet seen to the action, but even then there are a number of unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) questions...

    I've put your book on my Amazon Wish List and will be looking forward to it eagerly.
     
  9. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    My book on the Naval Battle of Memphis is now out and can be purchased through a variety of online stores. The title is "To Retain Command of the Mississippi".
     
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  10. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    My copy shipped two days ago, and, according to tracking, is in a warehouse in Obetz. :thumbsup: Looking forward to it!
     
  11. Kazziga

    Kazziga Corporal

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    Mine is also on the way, but since I live in Poland it may take at least two weeks before I get it. :sluggish:
     
  12. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    I won't tell you how it ends. :wink:
     
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  13. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    Please let me know what you think of the book. (P.S. It ends with a period - Sorry, but I could not resist the joke.)
     
  14. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    Ed ,my copy is on it's way too, I will be pleased to tell you what I think of it in due course.
     
  15. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    PS . joke forgiven !
     
  16. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    Received it. Nice quality hardback; going on my "to-read" list right after my current book (James Morris Morgan's Recollections of a Rebel Reefer).
     
  17. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    Started into it last night.

    First impressions: I like the way it begins, with an overview, and then it starts into the creation and composition of the Confederate River Defense Fleet. A refreshing change from the conventional start to the story, which almost always begins with the Union side and John Rodgers; and I already have learned things about the RDF that I did not know before.
     
  18. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    Mark, Thanks, will be interested in all of your thoughts.
     
  19. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    One item that I noted was the contention that no Confederate rams had bow guns at the time of Plum Point Bend. This caused me to go back and look at Walke's sketches preliminary to the NH 2049 image reproduced on p. 104, which itself was published in Walke's Naval Scenes and Reminiscences. Here is the wash drawing that (presumably) formed the basis for the later image:

    PlumPtBendWashDrawing.jpg
    (from the US Naval Academy collection)

    Both this and the finished image were produced years after the war, on the basis of sketches Walke made during the war.

    Going back a step further, it appears that Walke composed the image as a midpoint of the action he'd sketched midwar... sort of an "in-between" interposing between figures "No 8" and "No 9":

    PlumPtBend1Sketch.jpg
    PlumPtBend2Sketch.jpg

    Now, the Price's bow gun appears to be present on all of these sketches (I think; it's not perfectly clear in some cases), but even though the original top-down sketches were made during the war, they were done after the Battle of Memphis-- in fact, after Vicksburg, for that matter, but before Walke left for the command of Sacramento; I speculate they were done while he was on leave after leaving the Western Rivers in the late summer / fall of 1863.

    So it seems reasonable to me that Walke remembered the Price's bow gun from Memphis and likely assumed it had been present at Plum Point Bend-- where he wouldn't have actually been close enough for a clear view of her.

    Speculation, but interesting...

    (Odd random detail: some of the numbers in the "No. 8" sketch appear to be written backwards. But not all of them. I'm not sure what to make of that.)
     
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  20. Ed McCaul

    Ed McCaul Private

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    Walke did some great sketches and I used them as a bases for the maps in my book. However, as you noticed I did not take everything Walke drew as 100% correct. All of the information I found from the Confederate side states that the boats only had stern guns at Plum Point and did not get bow guns until Fort Pillow was being abandoned. I agree with you that Walke probably added the bow guns after he got an opportunity to closely examine the Confederate boats after the Battle of Memphis. Memory can play a lot of tricks on you. I believe that Walke drew and stated what he believed to be correct, but I believe that he was, unfortunately, mistaken in some details.

    I also noticed that Walke shows all of the Confederate boats bunched up, but based on Confederate accounts they were in a single column. I seriously doubt if they were bunched up as the channel was not wide enough there for all of them to be that bunched up and still be able to maneuver. Walke's view was very restricted beyond the limited visibility caused by the smoke and early morning sun shining in his eyes.

    It was quite interesting doing the research and trying to figure out what happened.
     
  21. Mark F. Jenkins

    Mark F. Jenkins Lt. Colonel Member of the Year

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    Oh yes; I didn't mean to imply that whatever Walke said was what happened. He's a generally reliable eyewitness, but there are some odd gaps, and there's the problem inherent to eyewitnesses: what they think they saw isn't necessarily what actually happened (as you note regarding the over-optimistic Union reports on the damage done to the Confederate boats).

    I find Walke's artistic process quite interesting, and this sequence illustrates many of the steps nicely (capped off with the 'finished' product* ...

    [​IMG]

    ... ). He did rapid pencil sketches at the time (or as soon after as he had the time), which he then turned into "plan" and "elevation" drawings (there's no example of the latter in this case, but I've seen it in others), and then he apparently used those to select a point of view from which to portray the action... it's nearly always a third-party viewpoint, rather than the view he actually had at the time. In this case, the viewer is standing on the right (Arkansas) bank of the river looking northward, whereas Walke of course was aboard the gunboat farthest from the viewer.

    The quick pencil sketches were probably done within days or even hours of the engagement (a journal of Carondelet coxswain John G. Morrison notes that Walke was sketching on deck soon after the surrender of Island No. 10, for instance); the top-view sketches above were probably done about fifteen months or so later, in the late summer or fall of 1863, and the wash drawing and final engraving were probably done in the mid 1870s after his retirement from the Navy.

    _______________
    * I wonder if he did any colored versions of the engraving. He occasionally did that sort of thing, though as he knew ahead of time that it would appear in monochrome when published, he may not have in this case.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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