Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Battle of Baton Rouge

The Sinking of the CSS Arkansas

"And nothing in her after all! There lay a heavy, clumsy, rusty, ugly flatboat with a great square box in the centre, while great cannon put their noses out at the sides, and in front. The decks were crowded with men, rough and dirty, jabbering and hastily eating their breakfast. That was the great Arkansas! God bless and protect her, and the brave men she carries."

-- Sarah Fowler Morgan, A Confederate Girl's Diary, August 5, 1862

"As the Union gun-boats approached several shots were fired at the Essex front the Arkansas, one or two of them taking effect, but without doing any damage. In consequence of the immovable position of the Arkansas she could not bring more than one of her two guns to bear, or she might have given the Essex a great deal of trouble, as the latter vessel is quite unmanageable. The Essex ran past the Arkansas to a part of the river where there is a reach of some length, and opened on her formidable antagonist at five hundred yards with three guns loaded with solid shot. One of these took effect right under the port in the starboard bow of the Arkansas, and split in two from the force of the concussion. Commander Porter then ordered the same gun to be loaded with an incendiary shell of his own invention, and, without moving the gun to take a new aim, the shell was fired, entering just where the solid shot had struck. Immediately a jet of flame was shooting upward from the Arkansas, and in a short time the entire vessel was on fire. It is supposed that the condensed cotton with which the Arkansas is packed caught fire from the shell, and communicating thence to the wood-work soon wrapped the monster in flames. After burning till all her upper works were destroyed she swung off into the, stream, when she blew up with a terrific explosion."

-- "Destruction of the "Arkansas." Harper's Weekly, September 6, 1862.

Provide Website Feedback
Accessibility Statement