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This Day in History, July 15, 2022 – “Dash of the CSS Arkansas”

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Exactly 160 years ago today, on July 15, 1862, the Confederate battleship CSS Arkansas, commanded by Lt. Isaac Brown, boldly breached a Union blockade north of the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. One of the few Confederate battleships during the war, CSS Arkansas sailed the Yazoo River to the surprise of Union fleets.

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The CSS Arkansas passes through the Union blockade to reach the beleaguered Confederate city of Vicksburg.
By Jo Davidson. Image courtesy of Wikicommons, public domain.

In a daring run, she managed to bypass several Union ships, both ironclad and wooden. One of the ways she was able to achieve such a feat was that sailing early in the morning, most Union ships weren’t ready to give chase, as their coal engines had no been lit. Some of the Union ships had rams, but the battleship managed to keep these ships from making contact by sailing very close to them, thus preventing them from having the chance to ram the ship head-on.

In the end, the CSS Arkansas made it into Vicksburg Harbor, to the cheers of its citizens. However, the excitement was short-lived, as the ship would be scuttled on August 6, and Vicksburg would surrender after a terrible siege on July 4, 1863. 160 years ago today, a daring ship, against all odds, made a mad dash towards trying to save a city.

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The fate of CSS Arkansas on August 6. Image courtesy of Wikicommons, public domain.

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