Memphis, TN I

Date(s): June 6, 1862

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Campaign(s): Joint Operations on the Middle Mississippi River [1862]

Battles in Campaign:



  • Union: Flag-Officer Charles H. Davis and Col. Charles Ellet

  • Confederate: Capt. James E. Montgomery and Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson

Principal Forces:

  • Union: U.S. Ironclads Benton, Louisville, Carondelet, Cairo, and St. Louis and U.S. Army Rams Queen of the West and Monarch

  • Confederate: C.S. Navy Rams General Beauregard, General Bragg, General Price, General Van Dorn, General Thompson, Colonel Lovell, Sumter, and Little Rebel


  • After the Confederate River Defense Fleet, commanded by Capt. James E. Montgomery and Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson (Missouri State Guard), defeated the Union ironclads at Plum Run Bend, Tennessee, on May 10, 1862, the Confederates retired to Memphis.

  • Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard ordered troops out of Fort Pillow and Memphis on June 4th, after learning of Union Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck’s occupation of Corinth, Mississippi.

  • Thompson’s few troops, camped outside Memphis, and Montgomery’s fleet were the only force available to meet the Union naval threat to the city.

  • From Island No. 45, just north of Memphis, Flag-Officer Charles H. Davis and Col. Charles Ellet launched a naval attack on Memphis after 4:00 am on June 6th.

  • The Union fleet arrived off Memphis about 5:30 am and the battle began.

  • In the hour and a half battle, the Union boats sank or captured all but one of the Confederate vessels.

  • Immediately following the battle, Col. Ellet’s son, Medical Cadet Charles Ellet, Jr., met the mayor of Memphis and raised the Union colors over the courthouse.

  • Later, Flag-Officer Davis officially received the surrender of the city from the mayor.

  • The Indiana Brigade, commanded by Col. G. N. Fitch, occupied the city.

  • Memphis, an important commercial and economic center on the Mississippi River, had fallen, opening another section of the Mississippi River to Union shipping.

Slide Presentation: None

Classification1: B


  • Union: 1

  • Confederate: 180

Results: Union Victory Miniature Union Victory

Battlefield Websites: 

Lodging and Restaurants: Tennessee Tourism

Recommended Resources:

1 National Park Service summary.

2 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

3 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 03/15/2013