The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Memphis, Capture of

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MEMPHIS (Tenn.), Capture of. At dusk 5 June 1862 the Union flotilla under command of Com. C. H. Davis appeared near Memphis and anchored two miles above the city. The Confederate flotilla, Com. J. E. Montgomery, commanding, was lying at the Memphis levee. At daylight the Union neet began to drop down toward the city, and the Confederates advanced to meet it. There were no troops protecting the city. The flotillas were composed of the following vessels:

Union Guns      Confederate  Guns
Benton 16  Little Rebel  2
Louisville 13  Bragg 3
Carondelet 13  Beauregard 4
Cairo 13  Price 4
Saint Louis 13  Sumter 3
Queen of the West  ram  Lovell 4
Switzerland ram  Thompson 4
Monarch ram  Van Dorn 4
Lancaster ram


Besides having more than twice the number of guns, the Union ordnance was much superior to that of the Confederates. The latter, however, made a desperate fight, which finally ended 10 miles below the city, with the result that the Lovell, Beauregard and Thompson were destroyed; and the Little Rebel, Price, Sumter and Bragg captured. The Van Dorn escaped. On the Union side only the Queen of the West was disabled.

Immediately after the fight the mayor, in reply to a summons to surrender, informed Commodore Davis that there were no troops with which to oppose him. The next morning detachments from troops under Col. C. N. Fitch, which accompanied the fleet, landed and took possession of the city.

General Grant arrived at Memphis 23 June and established the headquarters of the District of West Tennessee. He was recalled to Corinth 15 July and General Sherman was ordered to Memphis, reaching the city 21 July. He restored the mayor and the city government, and made them responsible for civil order. He continued in command at Memphis until his forces left to join General Grant in the final campaign for Vicksburg, having previously participated in the first move against that city.

The raid of Gen. N. B. Forrest, of Confederate cavalry fame, into Memphis occurred 21 Aug. 1864. The Union forces and commanding officers were completely surprised and barely escaped capture. Gen. C. C. Washburn, in command of the District of West Tennessee; Gen. R. P. Buckland of the District of Memphis, and Gen. S. A. Hurlbut were asleep in the city. General Forrest left the vicinity of Oxford 18 August, with three brigades, making a forced march of nearly 100 miles. A strong detachment rode into the city at 4 o'clock in the morning, running over a regiment of 100-days men on picket, and capturing about 250 of them. This force divided into three and at once surrounded the quarters of the three officers named. Each, however, escaped. General Buckland succeeded in reaching his troops and promptly directing offensive operations. With the exception of inconsiderable skirmishes in its vicinity, Memphis, thereafter remained in undisturbed Union control.