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This week in the Civil War - August 5, 1862

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Confederate troops bidding to regain control of Louisiana reached the outskirts of its state capital, Baton Rouge, on Aug. 5, 1862, and fighting erupts as they meet Union resistance. Union gunboats on the Mississippi River begin shelling the secessionist troops.

The Confederates had hoped that their ironclad, the CSS Arkansas could arrive in time to shell the gunboats and put them out of action. But the engines failed on the ironclad and the vessel is unable to take part in the battle.

A day later, on Aug. 6, 1862, the CSS Arkansas again attempts to close in on the Union gunboats. But the ironclad experiences engine problems anew and suffers damage to a propeller before running aground. A sitting duck for capture, the vessel is hastily scuttled, blown up by her crew to avoid capture.

The Associated Press, reporting on the destruction of the Arkansas in a dispatch 12 days later, said the ironclad had come aground above Baton Rouge when federal gunboats approached to attack and the Arkansas "blew up." It added that "The ram Arkansas approached with the intention of engaging (federal) gunboats, but grounded at a distance of 6 miles" from the capital city before being destroyed. The account notes thousands of troops took part in the fighting on both sides with a large proportion of officers among at least 250 dead.

The demise of the ironclad also signals defeat for the Confederacy in this attempt to regain the Louisiana state capital. Meanwhile, news reports indicate Union forces driven away from Richmond, the Confederate capital, during the Seven Days' Battle, have virtually evacuated the bulk of their troops, guns and supplies from Harrison's Landing off the Virginia Peninsula region. That fighting earlier in the summer saw rising Confederate star Robert E. Lee repulse a massive Union force at the gates of Richmond, assuring that the Civil War would not be ended quickly.

Copy right by The Associated Press

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