Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Figure 1: USS Cincinnati (1862-1865) photographed on the Western Rivers in 1862-63. Note laundry drying on lines rigged from her mainmast and awnings spread over her upper deck. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Cincinnati (1862-1865) line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, 20 June 1863, soon after she was sunk off Vicksburg, Mississippi, by Confederate gunfire. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: "Gun-Deck of One of the Mississippi Gun-Boats Engaged in the Attack on Fort Henry." Line engraving after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in Harper's Weekly, 1862. It depicts a gun deck scene on board one of the "City" class ironclad gunboats. Of the seven ships of that class, Carondelet, Cincinnati and Saint Louis were present during the attack on Fort Henry, Tennessee, on 6 February 1862. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: "City" class ironclad gunboats off Cairo, Illinois, in 1863, with barges moored in the foreground. These ships are (from left to right): USS Baron de Kalb (1862-1863); USS Cincinnati (1862-1865) and USS Mound City (1862-1865). Boats are tied astern of Baron de Kalb and Cincinnati. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Sketch of USS Cincinnati (1862-1865) during the later part of the Civil War, with a long deckhouse fitted above her casemate. Courtesy of the Philibrick Collection, Kittery, Maine. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Battle of Fort Henry, 6 February 1862. Line engraving after a drawing by Rear Admiral Henry Walke, published in the History of the Great Rebellion, by Harper. The print depicts the federal gunboats Saint Louis, Carondelet, Essex and Cincinnati bombarding Fort Henry. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: Bombardment and capture of Island Number Ten on the Mississippi River, April 7, 1862. Colored lithograph published by Currier & Ives, New York, circa 1862. It depicts the bombardment of the Confederate fortifications on Island Number Ten by federal gunboats and mortar boats. Ships seen include (from left to right): Mound City, Louisville, Pittsburg, Carondelet, Flagship Benton, Cincinnati, Saint Louis and Conestoga. Mortar boats are firing from along the river bank. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: "Battle of Fort Pillow, First position." Engraving published in Rear Admiral Henry Walke's "Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War in the United States ..." (1877), depicting the action between the Confederate River Defense Fleet and federal ironclads near Fort Pillow, Tennessee, 10 May 1862. Confederate ships, seen at right, include (from left to right): General Earl Van Dorn, General Sterling Price, General Bragg, General Sumter and Little Rebel. The federal ironclads, in the center and left, are (from left to right): Mound City, Carondelet and Cincinnati. A federal mortar boat is by the river bank in the lower right. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: “They Swam to and from Shore, Saving their Comrades." Artwork by Bacon, published in Deeds of Valor, Volume II, page 47, by the Perrien-Keydel Company, Detroit, 1907. It depicts Landsman Thomas E. Corcoran assisting fellow crewmen of USS Cincinnati as their ship sinks under fire of Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on 27 May 1863. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at this time. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Landsman Thomas E. Corcoran, USN. Copied from Deeds of Valor, Volume II, page 47, published by the Perrien-Keydel Company, Detroit, 1907. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the loss of USS Cincinnati while in action with Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi, 27 May 1863. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a city in Ohio, the 512-ton USS Cincinnati was a City class stern-wheel ironclad river gunboat that was built by James Eads at Mound City, Illinois, and was commissioned on 16 January 1862. The ship was built for the US Army’s Western Gunboat Flotilla and was technically under the command of the US Army. Cincinnati was approximately 175 feet long and 51 feet wide, had a top speed of 4 knots, and had a crew of 251 officers and men. The gunboat was armed with six 32-pounders, four 42-pounders, one 12-pounder, and three 8-inch smooth-bore cannons.
Cincinnati joined a flotilla of gunboats that was under the overall command of Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and was immediately sent into action. Cincinnati participated in the attack and capture of Fort Henry, Tennessee, on 6 February 1862. From 12 March to 7 April 1862, Cincinnati joined the successful assault on Island No. 10 at the New Madrid or Kentucky Bend of the Mississippi River. Then on 10 May, Cincinnati was part of the attack on Fort Pillow, which overlooked the Mississippi River in western Tennessee. During the battle, Cincinnati was rammed repeatedly by gunboats from the Confederate River Defense Fleet and sank in shallow water.
Cincinnati, though, soon was raised, repaired, and returned to service. But although Cincinnati was repaired quickly, the lessons from Fort Pillow were not forgotten. To protect Union gunboats from future attacks by Confederate rams, the Union gunboats were reinforced with railroad iron around their stems and sterns and logs were suspended along their sides.
Cincinnati was officially transferred to the US Navy on 1 October 1862 and during the latter part of the year participated in attacks on Confederate positions along the Yazoo River in Mississippi. In January 1863, Cincinnati took part in the White River campaign and assisted in capturing Fort Hindman in Arkansas. More fighting along the Yazoo River was followed by the enormous Union assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi. During the struggle for Vicksburg, Cincinnati attacked Confederate shore batteries on 27 May 1863. Unfortunately, the ship came under heavy enemy fire and the battered ironclad started to sink. Seeing that his ship was about to go down, Cincinnati’s captain was still able to move his ship up the river and grounded close to shore. Once there, Cincinnati sank for the second time. The ship lost 40 men during the course of the battle.
Incredibly, Cincinnati was raised, repaired, and returned to service once again in August 1863. She was assigned to patrol duties along the Mississippi River and its tributaries until February 1865. Cincinnati then was transferred to the Union’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron and patrolled off Mobile Bay and in the Mississippi Sounds until decommissioned on 4 August 1865 at Algiers, Louisiana. USS Cincinnati was sold at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 28 March 1866 but sank for the last time later that year.
Ironclads like USS Cincinnati were tough and resilient warships. The Union ironclads were also critical in winning the battles along the Mississippi River, as well as the other western rivers of the United States. The Confederate states managed to build some ironclads, but there were not nearly enough of them and soon the few they did have were overwhelmed by the sheer number of ironclads produced by the Northern states. Few people today know how many naval battles actually took place on American rivers during the Civil War, but ships like Cincinnati made sure they were won by the North