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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Mound City

 

An Illinois town on the Ohio River.

 

(ScStGbt: t. 512; l. 175'; b. 50'; cpl. 175; a. 2 80‑pdrs., 5 32‑pdrs., 3 9", 1 30‑pdr., 1 12‑pdr.; cl. Cairo)

 

Ironclad screw steamer Mound City, built at St. Louis, Mo., 7 August 1861 by James B. Eads, joined the War Department’s flotilla on the western rivers in 1862, Comdr. A. H. Kilty in command.

 

Departing Cairo in March, Mound City operated off Island No. 10, the key to the Mississippi, and New Madrid. Pope’s army took New Madrid on the 13th, thus removing the strong Confederate network of communications and eliminating a major obstacle to Union control of the upper Mississippi. After the surrender of Island No. 10 on 7 April, Mound City seized Confederate ship Red Rover, damaged by mortar fire. Sent to Cairo, Red Rover was subsequently converted to the Navy’s first hospital ship.

 

Union capture of Fort Pillow 1 April did not entirely eliminate the Confederate resistance; eight Confederate gunboats made a spirited attack on Union gun‑boats and mortars at Plum Point Bend 10 May. Colonel Lovell rammed Mound City, forcing her ashore to avoid sinking. Meanwhile, Union ships bombarded Fort Pillow daily, reducing Confederate will to fight. Speeding to aid rammed and sinking Cincinnati off Ship Island, Mound City was rammed by General Van Doren, completely wrenching off Mound City’s bow. Her bow replaced at Mound City, the steamer ran up White River in June, engaging Confederate batteries at St. Charles, Ark.; the complete Union victory at St. Charles gave the Union control of White River, but was costly to Mound City as one shot completely disabled her. In danger of sinking, she was towed from beneath the batteries by Conestoga.

 

The Union forces met strong southern opposition throughout the summer and abandoned Vicksburg 6 August when Mound City formed part of the White River expedition, escorting transport White Cloud. Union forces regrouped at Helena, from which Mound City departed 16 August with 6 other Union ships and two regiments 2d Brigade, 3d Division, Army of the Southwest on the Yazoo River expedition. The Army‑Navy expedition captured steamer Fairplay 20 miles above Vicksburg, where the ships were unable to proceed due to shallow water.

 

Meanwhile, McClernand was formulating his plans for the assault on Vicksburg. From October 1862 through March 1863, Mound City was with Pittsburg, Carondelet, and Louisville as part of the Grand Gulf venture. Passing the upper batteries of Grand Gulf 12 October, the ships completely silenced the lower fort. Mound City, Carondelet, Signal, and Marmora steamed to the mouth of Yazoo River 25 November to prevent southern blockade of it, remaining here on guard duty through March.

 

Mound City formed part of the Yazoo Pass Expedition via Steele’s Bayou 14 March as Union ships attempted to strike the rear defenses of Vicksburg. Returning to more direct action against Vicksburg, Mound City’s bold passage of the batteries 14 April dampened the enthusiasm of Confederate sympathizers along the shore, contributing to early Union seizure of Grand Gulf and the eventual fall of Vicksburg. On the 27th, Mound City joined 7 other Union gunboats in attacks on Grand Gulf.

 

After attacking Warrenton, Miss., 10 May and destroying a battery, she guarded the river from Gand Gulf depot to Hard Times. She returned to Vicksburg 18 June for a 3‑day expedition to Cole’s Creek, destroying six or seven small boats. After shelling the batteries at Vicksburg 3 July, she steamed to Lake Providence, Ga., 7 August when she fired on and dispersed Confederate cavalry, thereafter guarding this part of the river.

 

Off Davis plantation in January 1864, she endeavored to raise Indianola, sunk in Red River in 1862. Seizing tug Rawlins off Natchez 2 March, Mound City joined 17 other ships and Sherman’s troops in the Red River Expedition 16 March through 22 May in an effort to enter Texas via Alexandria, La., to counter the threat from Maximilian. Shallow water proved an obstacle as Mound City and Carondelet grounded near the wing dams across Red River 10 May. Hauled across the upper falls above the obstructions by throngs of straining soldiers, the ships were able to get free. Mound City spent the remainder of the year guarding Indianola.

 

She joined the expedition to Black River in May 1865, turning back from Baldwin’s Perry on learning of an imminent attack. After the end of the conflict, she returned to Mound City for dismantling but was sold there at public auction to Frank Bennet 9 November 1865.