The Official Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, Site
The Official Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, Site
The US Navy at Fort DeRussy
Fort DeRussy was a Confederate fort, but it saw quite a bit of the US Navy present in Red River in front of the fort at various times. Here are some facts on some of the Yankee boats that were present at the fort during the War.
Mississippi Marine Brigade Ram Queen of the West
The USS Queen of the West made the mistake of trying to capture Fort Taylor (soon to be Fort DeRussy) on February 14, 1863. The boat, armed with one 30-pounder and three 12-pounder howitzers, ran aground in front of the fort and was quickly captured. The Confederates repaired the boat and used it to assist in sinking the USS Indianola in the Mississippi River below Vicksburg on February 24.
Her career as a Confederate gunboat was a short one. CSS Queen of the West was sunk by Union naval vessels in Grand Lake (a part of the lower Atchafalaya River) on April 14, 1863.
The USS Albatross, a wood-hull screw steamer rigged as a three-masted schooner, along with consorts Arizona and Estrella, attacked the Confederate gunboats Grand Duke and Cotton II (formerly Mary T) at Fort DeRussy on May 4, 1863. In the ensuing battle, Albatross was badly shot up, but did serious damage to the two Confederate boats. Quartermaster James Brown received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day. The battle ended in a Confederate victory, with Albatross leaving the river to the Southern boats - who could not leave because of the serious damage that had been inflicted upon them. Neither Arizona nor Estrella were actively involved in the fight.
Albatross was armed with a 30-pounder Parrott gun on the forecastle, six 32-pounders, and a rifled 12-pounder Dahlgren howitzer on the quarter.
USS Arizona, an iron-hulled sidewheel steamer, was at the gunboat fight at Fort DeRussy on May 4, 1863, but did not actively participate. She returned the next day with Porter's fleet, and went ahead of the fleet to capture the city of Alexandria, which had been abandoned by the Confederate Army. Arizona was armed with four 32-pounders, one 30-pounder Parrott rifle, and one 12-pounder rifle. Arizona burned and sank in the Mississippi River below New Orleans in 1865. The location of her wreckage may have been located in 2001.
USS Estrella, a sidewheel steamer, was also present at the May 4 gunboat fight, but also did not participate in the action. She also returned the next day with Porter's fleet. Estrella carried one 30-pounder rifle, two 32-pounders, and two 24-pounder howitzers. She survived the War, becoming a merchant vessel and was lost (cause unknown) in 1870.
Admiral Porter's Fleet
When Albatross, Arizona and Estrella retreated downriver from Fort DeRussy on May 4, 1863, they soon came across Admiral Porter's fleet headed upriver. Porter's boats consisted of the ironclads Benton, Lafayette and Pittsburg; the timberclad General Price; the Mississippi Marine Brigade ram Switzerland; and the tug Ivy. Porter's fleet captured the abandoned Fort DeRussy on May 5 and then proceeded up the river to capture Alexandria. Benton returned to the fort on May 9 and stayed there two days, her crew doing as much destruction inside the works as possible.
Mississippi Marine Brigade Ram Switzerland
Switzerland was a 413-ton sidewheeler converted to a ram in 1862. While the other boats in Porter's fleet would be back in 1864, this was Switzerland's only visit to the fort. A few weeks earlier, she had successfully run the Vicksburg gauntlet at the same time that her sister ram Lancaster had been sunk. A month later, Switzerland was involved in the shelling of Simmesport in June of 1863. She survived the War and continued to operate as a civilian vessel until 1870.
The capture of Fort DeRussy on March 14, 1864, led to the fort's use as a gunboat station. Numerous Union vessels were present at the fort as a result of this.
USS Eastport (ironclad)
Eastport was the only Naval vessel to fire on Fort DeRussy during the March 14, 1864 battle. She "fired a short-fuzed shell at an elevation as a signal gun, and then ventured one 100-pounder rifle shell at the water battery, which shell burst over it. . . "
Eastport continued upriver after the fort's capture, and was scuttled by the Union Navy near Montgomery after striking a Confederate mine. The Edward F. Dix snagged on her wreckage at the end of the War, and the remains of the two boats lie intertwined to this day.
Eastport was 280 feet long, and drew a little over 6 feet of water. She was armed with four 9-inch smoothbores, two 100-pounder rifles, and two 50-pounder rifles.
USS Osage (monitor)
Osage, a sternwheel single-turret monitor, was also present at the capture of the fort - or at least very shortly after - but did not fire any of her guns at that time.
Osage was 180 feet long by 45 feet wide, and drew 4.5 feet of water. She was armed with two 11-inch smoothbores and one 12-pounder rifle. She was sunk by a mine in Alabama late in 1865, but later raised and operated as a merchant vessel after the War.
USS Fort Hindman (tinclad #13)
Fort Hindman was one of the four naval vessels present at the capture of Fort DeRussy in 1864. She was the vessel that carried the captured Confederates from the fort to Baton Rouge. She was also one of the boats that made the first pass up Red River in 1865 when the War ended.
Fort Hindman was a side-wheeler, 150 feet long by 37 feet wide, drawing 2.5 feet of water. She was armed with two 8-inch guns of 55 hundredweight (cwt), and four 8-inch guns of 63 cwt. during the Red River Campaign. When she came up river in 1865, she had an additional 100-pounder rifle and a 12-pounder rifle.
USS Cricket (tinclad #6)
Cricket played a big role during the Red River Campaign, serving as Admiral Porter's flagship in the river above Alexandria (Black Hawk drew 6.5 feet of water, Cricket only 4, hence the change in flagships). She was sternwheeler, 154 feet long by 28 feet wide. According to Silverstone, she was armed with six 24-pounder howitzers - however, her deck log mentions a 100-pounder Parrott gun and a pivot gun. She used the 100-pounder to fire a shot at Lewis DeRussy's house at Grand Ecore on April 3, 1864.
USS Benton (ironclad)
USS Essex (ironclad)
USS Dahlia (tug)
USS Black Hawk (large tinclad)
USS Lexington (timberclad)
USS Ouachita (large tinclad)
USS General Price (timberclad)
USS Fern (tug)
USS Carondelet (ironclad)
USS Chillicothe (ironclad)
USS Choctaw (ironclad)
USS Lafayette (ironclad)
USS Louisville (ironclad)
USS Mound City (ironclad)
USS Pittsburg (ironclad)
USS Neosho (monitor)
USS Ozark (monitor)
USS Argosy (tinclad #27)
USS Gazelle (tinclad #50)
USS Juliet (tinclad #4)
USS Little Rebel (tinclad #16)
USS General Bragg (timberclad)
USS Judge Torrance (ordnance steamer)
USS Samson (floating machine/blacksmith shop)
USS Woodford (hospital boat)
USS Avenger (ram)
USS Naiad (tinclad #53)
USS Nymph (tinclad #54)
USS Covington (tinclad #25)
USS Signal (tinclad #8)
USS St. Clair (tinclad #19)
USS Forest Rose (tinclad #9)
USS Meteor (tinclad #44)
USS William H. Brown (dispatch vessel)
USS Brown, as she was more commonly known, was a 230 feet long by 26 feet wide sternwheeler, and was armed with two 12-pounders. She served as a general purpose service vessel, dispatch vessel, tow boat and transport, as circumstances demanded.
This page is currently under construction, and was last updated on January 4, 2010. Come back soon for additional information.