Attack on Steamer Resolute

The 1864 attack on the Union steam tug Resolute illustrates the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department, more than a year after the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Union.

Chartered on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department for use as an auxiliary vessel, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons of water and served with two barges transporting troops and supplies on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, commanding the Second Division of the Seventh Army Corps headquartered at DeValls Bluff (Prairie County), an indeterminate number of unidentified Confederate partisans fired at the Resolute at 8:00 p.m. on October 11, 1864, from the east bank of the White River, approximately twelve miles above Clarendon (Monroe County), while the steamer towed its two barges. Union casualties numbered four wounded, including one mortally. No Confederate reports or casualty figures exist for this incident.

Despite the capture of Little Rock in September 1863, small regular and irregular Confederate attacks on Union vessels continued to hamper operations on and along the state’s major rivers. A similar attack had occurred against the side-wheel steamer John D. Perry near this same general portion of the White River on September 9, 1864.

Resolute continued to serve under charter on the western rivers until April 1865, when it struck a snag in the Red River and sank.

For additional information:
Gibson, Charles Dana, and E. Kay Gibson. Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels Steam and Sail Employed by the Union Army, 1861–1868. Camden, ME: Ensign Press, 1995.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 41, Part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Robert Patrick Bender
Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell


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