The steam tug Resolute joined the Union navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, serving during the Civil War under charter on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including expeditions on the White and Red rivers during the ongoing battle for control of significant interior rivers in the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Acquired on January 1, 1862, by the U.S. Quartermaster for use as a chartered auxiliary vessel on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, the steam tug Resolute displaced thirty tons and served with two barges. According to Brigadier General Christopher Columbus Andrews, who commanded 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 Union capture of Little Rock (Pulaski County) in September 1863, small regular and irregular Confederate attacks on Union navy vessels continued to hamper operations on and along the state’s major rivers. A similar attack occurred against the side-wheel steamer John D. Perry near this same portion of the White River on September 9, 1864.

The Resolute continued to serve under charter with the Union navy 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: Government Printing Office, 1893.

Robert Patrick Bender
Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell


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