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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Benton


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Ironclad steamer:
  • Built, circa 1861, as a catamaran snagboat at St. Louis, MO. for the US Army
  • Commissioned, 24 February 1862, as USS Benton, LT. J. Bishop in command
  • During the Civil War USS Benton participated in the following engagements:
    Captures of Island Number Ten, Fort Pillow and Memphis in the Spring of 1862
    Action with the Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas near Vicksburg, MS. in the Summer of 1862
    Yazoo River expedition in summer 1862
  • Transferred to US Navy control, 1 October 1862
    In September 1862 LCDR. William Gwin took command of the big ironclad Benton. On 27 December 1862, in a heated engagement with Confederate artillery on the Yazoo River, his ship was seriously damaged and Gwin mortally wounded. LCDR. William Gwin died from his wounds on 3 January 1863. In reporting his death to the Navy Department, Gwin's squadron commander, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, remarked: "The country has lost one of its bravest officers." Photo from the collections of the Library of Congress.
    Damaged by Confederate gunfire on the Yazoo River in December 1862
    Ran past Vicksburg, April 1863 and bombarded Grand Gulf, MS in May
    An attack on Fort DeRussy, AK. in May
    The siege of Vicksburg. In March through May 1864
    The Red River expedition, in Louisiana in 1864
  • Decommissioned, 20 July 1865
  • Final Disposition, sold November 1865, fate unknown
    Specifications:
    Displacement 633 t.
    Length 202'
    Beam 72'
    Draft 9'
    Speed 5.5 kts
    Complement 176
    Armament
    two 9" smoothbores
    seven 32-pdr smoothbores
    seven 41-pdr rifles
    Propulsion steam

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    By
    General Beauregard 177k "The Great Naval Battle before Memphis, June 6, 1862". Engraving after a sketch by Alexander Simplot, published in "Harper's Weekly", depicting the action between the Confederate River Defense Fleet and Federal warships off Memphis, Tennessee. In the foreground, the print depicts the Confederate ships (from left to right):
    CSS General M. Jeff Thompson (shown sinking);
    CSS Little Rebel (shown burning);
    CSS General Sterling Price;
    CSS General Beauregard (shown being jammed by the Ellet Ram
    USS Monarch;
    CSS General Bragg (shown aground) and
    CSS Colonel Lovell (shown sinking). In the background are the Federal warships (from left to right):
    USS Queen of the West;
    USS Cairo;
    USS Carondelet;
    USS Louisville;
    USS Saint Louis; a tug; and
    USS Benton. The city of Memphis is in the right distance, with a wharf boat by the shore. Harpers Weekly, 28 June 1862.
    Sons of the South - Memphis Naval Battle
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 58891
    Robert Hurst
    Benton 358k "Admiral Porter's Fleet Running the Rebel Blockade of the Mississippi at Vicksburg, April 16th 1863." Text under the print's title reads: "At half past ten P.M. the boats left their moorings & steamed down the river, the Benton, Admiral Porter, taking the lead -- as they approached the point opposite the town, a terrible concentrated fire of the center, upper and lower batteries, both water and bluff, were directed upon the channel, which here ran within one hundred yards of the shore. At the same moment innumerable floats of turpentine and other combustible materials were set ablaze. In the face of all this fire, the boats made their way with but little loss except the transport Henry Clay which was set on fire & sunk."
    Ships depicted are (from the front to the rear:
    USS Benton (flagship);
    USS Lafayette with
    USS General Price alongside;
    USS Louisville;
    USS Mound City;
    USS Pittsburgh;
    USS Carondelet; transports
    SS Silver Wave;
    SS Forest Queen;
    SS Henry Clay; and
    SS Tuscumbia.
    Currier & Ives, New York. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Beverley R. Robinson Collection.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 76557-KN (Color)
    Robert Hurst
    Choctaw 40k USS Choctaw and USS Benton on the Western Rivers, circa 1863.
    "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", 22 August 1863.
    Tommy Trampp
    Benton 88k USS Benton off Natchez, Mississippi, in July 1864.
    US Navy photo # NH 56664 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Benton 63k Wash drawing by F. Muller, circa 1900, depicting USS Benton on the Western Rivers during the Civil War. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.
    US Navy photo # NH 55828 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Benton 96k Wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1900, depicting USS Benton off Natchez, MS., in July 1864. Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.
    US Navy photo # NH 75623 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn
    Benton 99k Inboard and outboard drawings prepared at the time USS Benton was converted for Civil War emplacement. "The Iron Clad Gunboat Benton designed and constructed by Jas. B. Eads, St. Louis, Mo. By order of Maj. Genl. J.C. Fremont, U.S.A.. Commanding Western Department -- Sept. 1861." Courtesy of Lieutenant Commander Lyle W. Eads, USN (Retired).
    US Navy photo # NH 68439 from the collections of the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Aryeh Wetherhorn

    There is no DANFS history for USS Benton at NavSource
    Commanding Officers
    01LT. Bishop, Joshua24 February 1862 - 15 May 1862
    02LT. Phelps, Seth Ledyard11 May 1862 - 15 September 1862
    03LCDR. Gwin, William15 September 1862 - 3 January 1863 (KIA)
    04Acting Master Lord, George P.3 January 1863 - February 1863
    05LCDR. Greer, James AugustineFebruary 1863 - September 1864
    06LCDR. May, Robert L.September 1864 - 7 November 1864
    07LCDR. McCauley, Edward Yorke7 November 1864 - 20 July 1865
    Courtesy Bill Gonyo

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Pook's Turtles by Aryeh Wetherhorn
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 2 September 2016