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1863 October 17: “New Ironsides” Torpedoed, and Shelby’s Raid

October 18, 2013

The following summary of war news comes from the October 17, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.

The News.

From Charleston we have news of a rebel attempt to destroy the frigate Ironsides¹ with torpedos.  The scheme of the rebels failed, with a loss of 2 killed on the rebel side and one wounded on ours.

From Rosecrans’ army we have the positive assurance that he has been heavily reinforced, that he is rapidly re-organizing his army, that his troops are in good spirits, and that he will soon drive Bragg into the interior of Georgia.

From Missouri we have good news to record.  Gen. Brown² has won a splendid victory over the rebels under Shelby,³ scattering them in every direction, and capturing all their artillery and trains.  Their loss in killed and wounded very heavy.

1.  The USS New Ironsides (1862) was the third of the three ironclads ordered by Navy Secretary Gideon Welles at the outset of the Civil War (the Monitor and the Galena being the other two).  The name comes from the U.S.S. Constitution of 1797, which was affectionately called “Old Ironsides.” The ship spent most of her career blockading the Confederate ports of Charleston, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina and was torpedoed by the CSS David at Charleston on the night of October 5, 1863. Though damaged, New Ironsides was patched up in a few days and remained on station for more than 6 months after the incident.  (For more details, see the Naval Historical Center page for the New Ironsides.)
2.  Egbert Benson Brown (1816-1902) commanded the Union’s District of Central Missouri during 1863 and through 1864. He primarily suppressed Confederate guerrillas raiding into Missouri from Arkansas and the Indian Territory. He won two victories over Joseph Shelby (see footnote 3), first at the Second Battle of Springfield during Marmaduke’s first raid, and the second at Marshall, Missouri, during Shelby’s Great Raid of 1863. During Sterling Price’s 1864 raid into Missouri, Brown was relieved of command at the Battle of Westport for failing to promptly obey and order to attack.
3.  Shelby’s Great Raid was a Confederate cavalry raid—between September 22 and October 26, 1863—that caused great disruption in Missouri before returning to Arkansas. The raid cemented Confederate Colonel Joseph Orville “Jo” Shelby’s reputation as a cavalry commander and he was promoted to brigadier general as a result. The raid showed that Missouri was still vulnerable to Confederate raids.

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