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    [Civil War]. Ellet Family Archive comprised of over fifteen letters, orders, reports, and other ephemera spanning the years 1861 through 1907. Several members of the Ellet family, most prominently Charles Ellet, Jr. and his brother, Alfred W. Ellet, served with distinction during the Civil War. The United States Ram Fleet was the brainchild of Charles Ellet, Jr., a well-known civil engineer, who was given the authorization to convert river towboats into a flotilla of powerful steam rams to operate mostly along the Mississippi River. He was appointed colonel of the unit and his son, Charles Rivers Ellet, was placed second in command.

    Shortly before the Battle of Memphis, Col. Ellet received a dispatch aboard his flagship, the U.S. Ram Queen of the West, above Fort Pillow: "The Col. Commanding [Charles Ellet, Jr.] was surprised this morning by receiving a written request from 1st Master D. M. Dryden of the Steam Ram Monarch, to report immediately to that boat and to call a Board of Engineers to examine her boilers, which the captain now states 'are in a bad condition to move or to raise steam on any longer without repairs..." and in view of the situation, Ellet consented to "...allow Jno T. Brooks Chief Engineer of the Monarch, to return to Cairo immediately..." One week later, Ellet and his ships took part in the Battle of Memphis.

    Ellet was wounded during the engagement and, while recovering, still attended to business as this report filed on June 9, 1862, three days after the battle regarding the U.S. Ram Lancaster's failure to engage the rebel fleet during the battle, saying: "The Col. Commanding, after causing an investigation of the circumstances attending the failure of the Lancaster to come into the navel action off Memphis on the 6th of June, when all her crew could see the 'Queen of the West' followed by the 'Monarch' bearing down on the Enemy, has arrived at this conclusion. That Capt. Wm Mix exhibited great error of judgment in permitting his pilot to stand anywhere by at the wheel..." An inexperienced man had taken control of the boat and instead of "...driving down upon the rebel fleet..." backed the boat up. In light of the debacle with the Lancaster, Ellet believes that her commander and crew will "...vindicate his [high] opinion...on the next opportunity, which if one should not offer, will be immediately sought for." On June 11, presumably still recovering from his wounds, he sent a letter to Commodore C. H. Davis who had requested "...a detachment of my cooperate with two of the gun-boats of your squadron in an expedition up White River...All my boats are nearly out of provisions..." but he knows "...of prevent the expedition from starting tomorrow, if we can obtain subsistence for the trip from your fleet...I could contribute the Lancaster...the best I have for that service...the Mingo and Lioness, and the Horner as a tug to tow a couple of coal barges." Sadly, Ellet died four days later of wounds suffered during the battle.

    Following his Charles Ellet's death, his brother Alfred took control of the flotilla, which was reorganized as the Mississippi Marine Brigade, and received a brigadier general's commission. Several of the letters included are from or about Alfred. Ellet's second in command, his son Charles, served with distinction during the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, but died shortly after of ill health while in command of the Mississippi Marine Brigade.

    Also included is a three page, poetic account of the Battle of Memphis, written thirty-five years to the day after the battle, June 6, 1897, and the commission of Alfred W. Ellet as captain of "...Company I in the 9th Regiment Missouri Volunteers..." dated December 28, 1861, and signed by Missouri Governor Hamilton R. Gamble. All documents show some age toning, but are otherwise in great condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
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