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General Sterling Price

 

(SwRam: t. 633 [483]; l. 182'; b. 30'; dph. 9'3")

 

General Sterling Price, often referred to as General Price, or Price, was built as Laurent Millaudon, L. Millandon, or Milledon, at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1856. She was acquired for Confederate service and fitted out at New Orleans, La., for the River Defense Fleet under Capt. J. E. Montgomery. [See Annex II] On 25 January 1862 Captain Montgomery began to convert her into a cottonclad ram by placing a 4-inch oak sheath with a 1-inch iron covering on her bow, and by installing double pine bulkheads filled with compressed cotton bales. On March 25 General Price, Capt. J. H. Town-send, sailed from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn., where she stayed until 10 April having her ironwork completed. She was then sent to Fort Pillow, Tenn., where she operated in defense of the river approaches to Memphis.

 

On 10 May 1862, off Fort Pillow, General Price, under First Officer J. E. Henthorne (or Harthorne), in company with seven other vessels under Captain Montgomery, attacked the ironclad gunboats of the Federal Mississippi Flotilla. In the action of Plum Point Bend, which followed, the Confederate ram General Bragg struck USS Cincinnati halting her retreat. This allowed General Price to violently ram the Federal gunboat, taking away her rudder, stern post, and a large piece of her stern, decisively disabling her. At the same time General Price's well directed fire silenced Federal Mortar Boat No. 16, which was being guarded by Cincinnati. General Price was heavily hit in this action. Her upper works were severely damaged, and she was struck by a 128-pound shell which cut off her supply pipes and caused a dangerous leak.

 

The Confederates quickly repaired General Price and later she participated with Montgomery's force in holding off Federal vessels until Fort Pillow was successfully evacuated on 1 June. The Confederate vessels then fell back on Memphis to take coal.

 

Following the Federal 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, General Sterling Price charged the Federal ram Monarch, but instead collided with the Confederate ram General Beauregard, also attacking Monarch. General Price lost her wheel and was disabled. While the two Confederate vessels were entangled, Federal rams attacked them mercilessly. General Price collided with the Federal ram Queen of the West, under Col. C. Ellet, Jr., USA, commander of the two rams of the Davis Flotilla. As Queen of the West captured her crew, General Sterling Price sank slowly onto a sand bar. She was later raised by Union forces and taken into Federal service.


CSS General Sterling Price (Side-wheel Ram)