Little is written about the so called “Brownwater Navy” of the Western Flotilla in the American Civil War. At last count, there are only two publications of naval officers below Flag Rank (the equivalent of an Army Major General) in the vital fight to control transportation river lines of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
On the Cumberland River at Nashville, it was naval Lieutenant Commander Le Roy Fitch, in charge of the U.S. naval forces in December of 1864. Admiral Stephen D. Lee was stranded downstream at Clarksville, Tennessee due to falling river flow. This left two Ironclads, and four Tinclads, under the command of Finch, the equivalent of an army Major.
Here is the United States Official Record of their actions at The Battle of Nashville: OR_P.138-153
The U.S.S. Carondelet was of the Cairo Class of the Brown Water Navy. The were referred to as “City Glass Gunboats”, “Pook Turtles” and “Eads gunboats” after James B. Eads, a wealthy St. Louis industrialist who risked his fortune in support of the Union. The Carondelet was in action during The Battle of Nashville and two weeks prior on several occasions. This rendition is by Jeanie Nicolson of Vicksburg, Mississippi and is available for purchase.
See a virtual tour of the sister ship the U.S.S. Cario.
Virtual Tour of Kelley’s Point