Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval History and Heritage Command homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

General Bragg

 

(SwRam: t. 1,043; l. 208'; b. 32'8"; dph. 15'; dr. 12'; s. 10 k.; a. 1 30-pdr. r., 1 32-pdr., 1 12-pdr. r.)

 

General Bragg, originally Mexico, was built at New York, N.Y., in 1851. She was owned by the Southern Steamship Co. before Maj. Gen. M. Lovell, CSA, under orders from Secretary of War J. Benjamin, impressed her for Confederate service at New Orleans, La., on 15 January 1862. Capt. J. E. Montgomery, a former river steamboat captain, selected her to be part of his River Defense Fleet [See Annex II] and on 25 January ordered her conversion to a cottonclad ram with a 4-inch oak sheath and a 1-inch iron covering on her bow, and double pine bulkheads filled with compressed cotton bales.

 

On 25 March 1862 General Bragg's conversion was completed and she was sent from New Orleans to Fort Pillow, Tenn., where she operated in defense of the river approaches to Memphis, Tenn. On 10 May 1862, off Fort Pillow, General Bragg, in company with seven other vessels under Captain Montgomery, attacked the ironclad gunboats of the Federal Mississippi Flotilla. In the engagement of Plum Point Bend General Bragg, Capt. W. H. H. Leonard, went into the lead and closed USS Cincinnati. The Union ship retreated to shallow water, but General Bragg pursued despite vicious fire from nearly the whole Union fleet and rammed Cincinnati, preventing her further retreat. General Bragg received Cincinnati's broadside, and, as her tiller rope was cut, drifted down river out of action leaving General Sterling Price and General Sumter to finish off the Union ship.

 

Later, Montgomery's force held off the Federals until Fort Pillow was evacuated on 1 June. The Confederate rams then fell back on Memphis to take on coal. Following the Union capture of Fort Pillow, Flag Officer C. H. Davis, USN, commanding the Mississippi Flotilla, pressed on without delay and appeared off Memphis with a superior force on 6 June. Montgomery, unable to retreat to Vicksburg, Miss., because of his shortage of fuel, and unwilling to destroy his boats, determined to fight against heavy odds. In the ensuing Battle of Memphis on 6 June 1862, General Bragg, called by Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson, CSA, "the best and fastest" of Montgomery's vessels, was fired by a Union rifle shot bursting in her cotton protection. In the ensuing Union victory against the small Confederate force, General Bragg grounded on a sand bar and was captured by Union forces, who, with great difficulty, managed to save her. She was taken into Federal service and sold after the war.