Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Running the Vicksburg Blockade.

March 26, 2013

Harper's Weekly,Miscellaneous document sources

unsuccessful effort of the rams Switzerland and Lancaster to run the Vicksburg batteries

WE publish on this page a drawing from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. Theodore R. Davis, representing the unsuccessful effort of the rams Switzerland and Lancaster to run the Vicksburg batteries on the night of 25-26th March. A rebel account mentioned the attempt of the rams, and stated that both were disabled and one sunk. A Union account says:

“Last Wednesday evening the rams Lancaster and Switzerland undertook to run the batteries at Vicksburg. As soon as they came within range the rebels opened a tremendous fire. The Lancaster was struck thirty times. Her entire bow was shot away, causing her to sink immediately, turning a complete somersault as she went down. All the crew except two escaped. The Switzerland was disabled by a 64-pound ball penetrating the steam-drum. She floated down, the batteries still firing and striking her repeatedly, until finally the Albatross ran alongside and towed her to the lower mouth of the canal. The loss of life on her is not ascertained.”

Our correspondent mentions an interesting circumstance. The Lancaster had just sunk under the terrible hail of shot and shell from the rebel batteries. The Switzerland was badly injured, the smoke and steam filling her completely. At that moment Colonel Ellet remembered or perceived that the flag was not in its right place. Instantly ascending to the deck, he caught the halyards and hoisted the bunting in the face of the cheering rebels, while the shower of lead and iron whistled round him. A very gallant exploit. (Harper’s Weekly, April 18, 1863)

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