Battle of Memphis
51 North Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103
Memphis civilians lined the bluffs to watch the battle, which began at dawn on June 6. The battle ended at mid-morning with all but one of the Confederate vessels destroyed, and the city surrendered.
After the Union victory at Shiloh in April 1862 made Confederate control of the Mississippi River in Tennessee impossible, Southern soldiers evacuated posts that could not be defended easily, such as Memphis. A token militia and eight Confederate gunboats remained here as a fleet of U.S. Navy gunboats and armored rams steamed downriver before dawn on June 6. Memphis civilians lined the bluffs to watch the battle.
The gunboats shelled each other beginning at 5:40 a.m., to no effect. Then the USS Queen of the West rammed and sank CSA Lovell, and the engagement became a melee. When two CSS rams, General Price and General Beauregard, attacked USS Monarch from opposite sides, Monarch steamed out of the way and the Confederate rams collided.
The battle ended mid-morning with all but one Confederate vessel destroyed. About 200 Confederates were killed or captured; Federal Col. Charles Ellet, gunboat commander, was the only Union casualty, dying of his wound two weeks later. The city surrendered before noon to his son, Lt. Charles R. Ellet, and two privates.
- U.S. Navy gunboats and armored rams steamed downriver on June 6 and shelling began at 5:40 a.m.
- The battle ended with all but one of the Confederate vessels destroyed. About 200 Confederates were killed or captured.