Today in History:

General Sumter (1861-1862)

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CSS General Sumter was originally a 524-ton side-wheel river towboat built at Algiers, Louisiana, in 1853. In 1861, while named Junius Beebe, she was in the service of the State of Louisiana. The steamer was converted at New Orleans in early 1862 to a River Defense Fleet "cottonclad" ram and renamed General Sumter. She went up the Mississippi River to Fort Pillow, Tennessee, in April 1862 and played a prominent role in the naval action there on 10 May. When Fort Pillow was evacuated on 1 June, the River Defense Fleet retreated to Memphis, where it fought a final battle on 6 June. General Sumter rammed the Union ship Queen of the West at that time, but was herself badly damaged, run aground and captured. Placed in Federal service under the name Sumter, she stranded off Bayou Sara, Louisiana, in August 1862 and was abandoned.

This page features our only views of CSS General Sumter.

Photo #: NH 2049

"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.



Photo #: NH 42755

"Battle of Fort Pillow, 3rd 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 left, include: Colonel Lovell, General Beauregard, General M. Jeff Thompson, General Bragg, General Sumter, Little Rebel and General Earl van Dorn.
The Federal ironclads, in the center and right, are: Carondelet, Cincinnati, Mound City, Benton, Saint Louis, Cairo and Pittsburg. A tug is seen in the right foreground.



Photo #: NH 59053

"Closing-Scene of the Naval Engagement Before Memphis, Tennessee.", 6 June 1862


Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862.
Ships shown are (from left to right): CSS General Earl Van Dorn (escaping, with the Federal fleet in pursuit); General Sumter (captured); General Beauregard (sinking) and General M. Jeff Thompson (blowing up).



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