Ellet went up the Yazoo with two rams, about sixty-five miles, intending to destroy three gunboats, the Van Dorn, Polk and Livingston. It does not appear from Ellet's report of this expedition that he was aware of the existence of the Arkansas. But if he were, his effort to reach her was defeated by the Confederates, who set fire to the three gunboats and cut them loose. Before their fiery advance Ellet sailed at full speed and escaped to the Mississippi.
The Arkansas was completed, and in appearance suggested both the Merrimac and the Monitor, having the ends above water like the latter, and with the armored shed of the former shortened up to a "gun-box" amidships. The armor was ordinary railroad iron. The battery was respectable for that period. ten guns, including two 64-pounders and two 100-pounders, and was manned principally by men from the late river fleet, commanded by experienced officers from the old United States navy.
On July 12th, Captain Brown dropped down to Satartia bar, and after a day spent in organization and drill started down to encounter the enemy’s fleet. At the mouth of Sunflower creek it was found that steam had wet the powder in the forward magazine so as to render it unfit for use, and it was necessary to tie up and spread the powder out in the sun to dry. Finally, after more vexatious delays, the ram entered the broad expanse of Old river, and was there met at dawn, on the 15th of July, by the ironclad Carondelet, the wooden gunboat Tyler, and the ram Queen of the West. The Arkansas immediately started at full speed for the Carondelet, which fired one gun and then turned tail, followed by the other vessels, The Arkansas opened fire with her 8-inch guns, and the 64-pound projectiles were seen to have marked effect on the armor of the Federal ironclad. The latter and the other Federal boats kept up a spirited fire from their stern guns. The pilot-house of the Arkansas was imperfectly covered with 1-inch bars, and a shot from the