Queen of the West


Queen of the West

(SwRam: t.406; 1. 180'; b. 37'6"; dph. 8'; cpl. 120; a. 1 30-pdr.,
3 12-pdr. how.)

Queen of the West, a side wheel steamer built at Cineinnati in 1862, wac ptlrehased by the War Department in 1854 and fitted out as a ram for General Ellet's Ram Fleet which operated on the Mississippi in the Civil War in eonjunetion with the Western Flotilla.

Commanded by Col. Charles Ellet, Jr., Queen of the West ram Monarch, and Gve ironclad gunboats of the Western Flotilla 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 for the Union control of the Mississippi as far south as Vicksburg.

On 15 July, Qucen of the West, Carondelet, and Tyler engage~l Confederate ironclad ram Arkansas in the Zazoo 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 We.st and Essez 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, and 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 Zazoo of torpedoes 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 starboarl wheel and retired down stream. The next day she forced ashore and captured Confederate steamers O. W. Baker Moro, and Beruick Bay. On the 12th she ascended the Red River and entered the Atehafalaya where a landing party destroyed Confederate Army wagons. That night Southern batteries fired on the ship. The next day, in reprisal, Ellet destroyed all nearby buildings.

On the 14th Queen of the West captured steamer Era No. ~ some 15 miles above the mouth of the Black River and eontinued 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 Ellet ordered "abandon ship," and the formidable vessel fell into Confederate hands.

Queen of the West operated thereafter under the Confederate Army. In eonjunetion with another Confederate ram, Webb, she forced the surrender of Indlianola off the Red River on 24 February. On 14 April 1863 she was attacked on the Atehafalaya River, La., by Union ships Estrella, Calhoun and 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.