Memphis's Civil War Sites

Memphis's Civil War Sites (HM1NMP)

Location: Arlington, TN 38002 Shelby County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 15.775', W 89° 39.707'

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Civilians Lined the Bluffs

In April 1862, Union victories at Shiloh and on the Mississippi River made Confederate control of the river in Tennessee more difficult. Southern soldiers evacuated posts that they could not defend easily, such as Memphis. Capt. James E. Montgomery remained with eight gunboat-rams to protect the city. Shortly before dawn on June 6, Federal Capt. Charles H. Davis's ironclad gunboat flotilla and Col. Charles Ellet's Ram Fleet steamed downriver to attack them. Memphis civilians lined the bluffs to watch the battle.

At first, the gunboats shelled each other ineffectually. The USS rams Queen of the West and Monarch then rammed and disabled CSA General Lovell and General Price, respectively, and the engagement became one-sided. The battle ended at mid-morning with all but one of Montgomery's vessels destroyed or captured. Hundreds of Confederate sailors were killed or taken prisoner. Ellet was the only Union fatality, dying of his wound two weeks later. The mayor of Memphis surrendered the city to Ellet's son, Medical Cadet Charles R. Ellet, and two marines.

The Tennessee Wars Commission helps preserve and promote battlefields, sites, and buildings.

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is a federal, state, and local partnership managed by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University.

The side-wheel steamboat Sultana was photographed in Helena, Ark., on April 26, 1865, en route upstream from Vicksburg, Miss. Carrying almost 2,500 persons, mostly newly released Union prisoners of war, the vessel was vastly overloaded. At 2 A.M. on April 27, about 8 miles north of Memphis, a boiler exploded and the Sultana burned and sank. An estimated 1,800 people died in the largest maritime disaster in American history.

Sultana - Courtesy Library of Congress

Ellet approaching Memphis to demand surrender, Harper's Weekly, June 28, 1862

(map legend)
1. Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island River Park
2. Confederate Park
3. Forrest Park
4. Hunt-Phelan House
5. Elmwood Cemetery
6. Fort Pickering Site at Chickasaw Heritage Park

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Series This marker is part of the Tennessee: Tennessee Civil War Trails series
Placed ByTennessee Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 6th, 2015 at 9:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 257858 N 3905448
Decimal Degrees35.26291667, -89.66178333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 15.775', W 89° 39.707'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 15' 46.5" N, 89° 39' 42.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)901
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 12036 Arlington Trail, Arlington TN 38002, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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