Cover image for Ellet's Brigade : the strangest outfit of all
Ellet's Brigade : the strangest outfit of all
Hearn, Chester G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xv, 289 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E470.8 .H43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Soon after the Civil War started, Charles Ellet Jr formed the Ram Fleet. The rams were shunned by army and navy until they proved their worth on June 6th 1862. This study details the formation and wartime exploits of Ellet's fleet, reviving the history of this almost forgotten brigade.

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Choice Review

Hearn, author of various Civil War titles including The Capture of New Orleans, 1862 (CH, Feb'96) tells the bizarre story of the Union Army's fleet of unarmed rams (steamboats reinforced at the bow), largely responsible for winning the naval battle of Memphis. When his idea of a fleet that could sink ships by running into them was rejected by the Navy, engineer Charles Ellet Jr. received the approval of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to obtain boats, man them with a few Army troops and other volunteers (including 13 members of his family as officers), and organize them into a small squadron. Stanton passed control of Ellet's ram fleet to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, who passed it to Admiral Porter, who dumped it on General Grant. During this command confusion, the group grew into the amphibious Mississippi Marine Brigade, which, commanded by Alfred Ellet (in charge after the founder's death), was supposed to seek out and destroy guerrillas along the banks of the Tennessee, Mississippi, and Red rivers. Unhappily, this often descended into plundering of towns and plantations, making it necessary to disband the brigade in 1864. Heavily documented, employing previously uncited, unpublished memoirs by Brigade members and other out-of-the-way sources, Hearn's account of this unit is the first since Warren D. Crandall and Isaac D. Newell's History of the Ram Fleet (1907). For all Civil War collections. M. J. Smith Jr.; Tusculum College