Soon after the start of the Civil War, during the naval buildup on the central Mississippi River, celebrated civil engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., formed the Ram Fleet under U.S. secretary of war Edwin M. Stanton. Perhaps the most bizarre unit organized by the Union, the rams were shunned by both the army and navy as superfluous instruments of war. However, on June 6, 1862, they proved their worth by defeating the Confederate River Defense Fleet ironclads at Memphis while the U.S. Navy simply watched. In this lively study, Chester G. Hearn details the formation and wartime exploits of Ellet's fleet, reviving the history of this fascinating but forgotten brigade.
Chester G. Hearn is the author of Six Years of Hell: Harpers Ferry during the Civil War; When the Devil Came Down to Dixie: Ben Butler in New Orleans; The Capture of New Orleans, 1862; Ellet’s Brigade: The Strangest Outfit of All; and Lincoln, the Cabinet, and the Generals