Everybody Knows That...
By Morgan Gates
(Yes I know it's been a while since I posted an article, but it's summertime and the living easy right? Wrong things have been quite busy in fact. So here is a quick post based on an article in the Vicksburg Post 7/29/18 by writer Terri Cowart Frazier...)
Everybody knows that during the Civil War the Union wore blue and the Confederates grey, right? Not necessarily, In fact in the Western Theatre, very few rank and file soldiers would have worn grey. Butternut, a brown to light tan color made from natural materials, was much more common and more often than not his uniform was not an actual uniform at all, but simple homespun clothing. Minutiae like that are starting to slip away into the cracks of time as the study of history is becoming unfashionable.
An example of this is a work of art recently completed by Vicksburg's own nationally known artist H. C. Porter. The first in a series commemorating the Civil War. She began with a photo that she had been told was of a Confederate soldier because he was dressed in grey. But something about the details of the photo bothered her and, she did some research and low and behold her confederate turned out to be a member of the New York State Militia! It seems that at the beginning of the War this Militia dressed in grey! Kudos to you H.C. Porter! So the next time you think, everybody knows that, think twice!
In in the summer of 1862, almost a year before the Siege began the Union Navy was attempting to bombard the City of Vicksburg into submission. In Late July The Confederate Ironclad Arkansas came out of the Yazoo River and caught the fleet by surprise, inflicting serious damage to the Union Fleet. Likely this attack contributed to the Navy's decision to pull out shortly there after. The Arkansas survived but a number of it's crew died in the fight, the Arkansas KIA are buried in Vicksburg's Confederate Cemetery. My friend Bryan Skipworth wrote the following verses to honor the memory of these brave men.
The 156th Anniversary of the Confederate Ironclad Ram Arkansas
By Bryan Skipworth
O hark do you hear the cannon’s faint roar as it rumbles and echoes from the far distant shore
Will full steam raised we begin this trip 75 miles down the Yazoo to the might Mississip
This is a story of a few hundred men and a mighty gunboat who would sacrifice all to keep her afloat
Gallantry and bravery are what come to mind, heroes are mad of lesser men this day and time
Let’s talk about the officers brown Stevens, Gimball, Barbot, Wharton, Gift and Read
They took 150 volunteers from the Army the Navy could not supply all theyed need
July 15 ‘62 these men would man this warship like the most experienced of the day
And after the first day of battles twelve men would find their grave
It is estimated that 300 federal cannon were waiting to sink the Arkansas that day
And an estimated 20,000 had gathered on the hills of Vicksburg to cheer her along the way
July 22 ‘62 Just a week later Union Gunboats would attack in the early morning light
And six more men from the Arkansas would be lost in this great fight
While docked at Vicksburg resting and having repairs made, five more wounded would be laid in their grave
There are too many brave men to name them all but while serving the Confederacy in her hull this these did fall
Gilmore, Hodges, Perry, Harter, Heaton and Lang, Cusick, Thornell, Lewis, Dunn, Rankin and Kane
Johnson, O’Sullivan, Flores, Thomure, Minton, and Dills, Snider Blankenship, Woodward, Madden and Shields
Now let’s talk of this might ship of war made of iron and wood
Her keel was laid in Memphis October ‘61 and in April ‘62 she was moved to Greenwood
In May ‘62 Lieutenant Isaac Newton Brown took command and towed her to the naval yard at Yazoo city to finish the navy plan
In five short weeks the men had her fitted with timber and guns
And had her ready to steam down the river the Union blockade to run
She measured 165 feet long and 35 feet wide rusty rail iron covered oak timbers down both her side
With her cast iron beak, she displaced 800 tons and drew 12 feet of water
With twin screw propulsion each engine 900 hp pushed her at 9 knots per hour
She was armed with 10 big cannon rifled and smoothbore, stopping this warship would prove to be a chore.
Her orders were to destroy all Union ships along the way, and steam in quick defense of the Harbor of Mobile Bay.
Instead she was scuttled August 6 ‘62, on the way to defend Baton Rouge.
This mighty Ironclad Ram had done all the damage she could do.
Now just as we began but before we are gone, we will end this short story with and old folk song,
“tis the Barque that has triumph’d single handed, alone, and ran through the gauntlet, one hundred to one!”