Today in History:

General Earl Van Dorn (1862)

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CSS General Earl Van Dorn, a side-wheel river steamer, was fitted out in early 1862 at New Orleans as a River Defense Fleet "cottonclad" ram. In late March, she steamed up the Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee, where her outfitting was completed. In the naval action off Fort Pillow on 10 May, she attacked a Union mortar boat with gunfire and rammed the ironclad Mound City. On 1 June, she helped cover the Confederate evacuation of Fort Pillow, then retreated to Memphis, where, on 6 June she was the only survivor of the River Defense Fleet's final battle. After escaping to Yazoo City, Mississippi, General Earl Van Dorn was burned on 26 June 1862 to avoid capture by Federal warships.

This page features our only views of CSS General Earl Van Dorn.

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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