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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Queen of the West
(Side-wheel Ram: 406 tons; length 180'; beam 37’6”; depth 8’; complement 120; armament 1 30-pounder, 3 12-pounder howitzer)

A former name retained.

Queen of the West, a side wheel steamer built at Cincinnati in 1862, was purchased by the War Department in 1862 and fitted out as a ram for operations on the Mississippi in conjunction with the Western Flotilla.

Commanded by Col. Charles Ellet, Jr., Queen of the West, ram Monarch, and five ironclad gunboats engaged the Confederate River Defense Fleet at Memphis 6 June 1862. In the action, Queen of the West was rammed and Col. Ellet mortally wounded; but the Union ships destroyed the Southern flotilla and won control of the Mississippi as far south as Vicksburg.

On 15 July, Queen of the West, Carondelet, and Tyler engaged Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas in the Yazoo River. The Southern ram escaped into the Mississippi and, heavily damaged, found refuge under the Southern batteries at Vicksburg. A week later Queen of the West and Essex attacked Arkansas, despite the Southern guns. Essex steamed through a hail of shell past the shore batteries and joined Adm. Farragut-s ships below Vicksburg, arid Queen of the West rammed Arkansas before rejoining the Western Flotilla ships above the river fortress.

In ensuing months, Queen of the West continued to support operations against Vicksburg. On 19 September, while escorting two troop transports, she had a short engagement with Confederate infantry and artillery above Bolivar, Miss. As the year closed, she was busy clearing the Yazoo of mines and engaging Confederate batteries at Drumgold’s Bluff.

On 2 February 1863, after ramming but not sinking Confederate steamer City of Vicksburg under the fortress-s guns, Queen of the West fought fires in the bow and near her starboard wheel and retired down stream. The next day she forced ashore and captured Confederate steamers O. W. Baker, Moro, and Berwick Bay. On the 12th she ascended the Red River and entered the Atchafalaya where a landing party destroyed Confederate Army wagons.

On the 14th Queen of the West captured steamer Era No. 5 some 15 miles above the mouth of the Black River and continued on upstream seeking three vessels reported at Gordon’s Landing. Taken under heavy fire by shore batteries, she ran aground while attempting to back down river directly under Confederate guns which pounded her until the crew abandoned ship and the formidable vessel fell into Confederate hands.

Queen of the West operated thereafter under the Confederate Army. In conjunction with another Confederate ram, Webb, she forced the surrender of Indianola off the Red River on 24 February. On 14 April 1863 she was attacked on the Atchafalaya River, La., by Union ships Estrella, Calhoun, arid Arizona. A shell from Calhoun set fire to Queen of the West-s cotton and her burning wreck drifted down the river for several hours before she grounded and exploded.

5 July 2007, typo corrections only