The sidewheel steamer Lancaster was bought by the Union and converted to a ram by Charles Ellet in May of 1862. The ram was put into service shortly after as part of the effort to capture Vicksburg. It was among a number of federal gunboats blocking the mouth of the Yazoo river, just upstream of Vicksburg. On July 15, 1862, the confederate ironclad Arkansas ran down the Yazoo and slipped through the surprised Federal fleet. The Lancaster attempted to ram the Arkansas, but cannonfire disabled the federal ram and killed a number of her crew; the Arkansas made it to the shelter of the guns of Vicksburg, and the Mingo picked up the Lancaster the next day and towed her to Memphis.
Here the incident is recorded in the Lancaster’s log for July 16. The same encounter from the viewpoint of the CSS Arkansas is at The American Civil War.
UNION AND CONFEDERATE NAVIES IN THE WAR OF THE REBELLION. SERIES I VOLUME 23. NAVAL FORCES ON WESTERN WATERS FROM APRIL 12 TO DECEMBER 31, 1862. p. 244
Log of the ram Lancaster No. 3, 1862.
Tuesday, July 16.4 :30 a. m.
A. 0. Tyler stopped alongside for a pilot to go up the Yazoo River. Dick Smith was sent on board. Queen of the West and Carondelet followed after her. 6 a. m. heavy firing was heard up the Yazoo. Half an hour afterward the Queen and Tyler, followed by the Carondelet, badly crippled, reappeared around the bend above us hotly pursued by the Arkansas. The Lancaster being anchored above the fleet, was the first to see the danger.
Our anchor line was cut and we rounded to give her a little of our kind of warfare. When we were fully underway and about 100 yards from her, a 64-pound ball came through our bulwarks and 8 feet of coal, cutting off 3 feet of our steam dram. Our head engineer, John Wybrant, was knocked down and badly scalded; Second Engineer John Goshorn badly scalded and jumped overboard, where he was shot in the water; George Boggs, assistant engineer, killed; Christopher Padlock, Company C, Sixty-third Illinois, missing; S. Casor and J. C. Alcorn, Sixty-third Illinois, wounded, John Dowell, cook, badly scalded and died at 9 p. in.; Jim McCann, deck hand, both legs and one arm shot off and badly scalded, died in a few minutes; Johnson, deck hand, scalded and leg hurt. Two died, names unknown, at 11 a. m. and perhaps others from scalding, there being some ten or more others who are more or less scalded. Our pilot, Sylvester Doss, stuck to the wheel till he dropped from the platform, he being scalded inwardly, wounded in the left side, right shoulder broken, and teeth all blown out.
The Lancaster is disabled, having been shot all to pieces. Her wheelhouse has eight balls through it; not a flange left on the shaft; three shots from our oxvn fleet, weighing 128 pounds, one left sticking in our port side cylinder timber and one shell, 64 pounds, under port side cylinder, besides grape and canister all over. Eighty-six large balls and shells were found on board. Her crew, with sharpshooters, deck hands, and negroes, was 169, and but 6 negroes were left out of 43.
The Lancaster was caught by the Queen of the West and brought back to her moorings. Her officers were Captain Thomas Reilly, of Pittsburg; Ira Noville, first master; Peter Sands, second; John Wybrant, first engineer;. John Goshorn, second engineer; Sylvester Doss, pilot, all of Cincinnati. Dick Smith, pilot, of St. Louis, Mo. (on the Tyler that day); Joseph Connelly, carpenter, of Cincinnati; Lewis Serles, steward; Jack Dowel, cook; William Rice, second; George Boggs, assistant engineer; all from Cincinnati. 8: 20 p. m. Farragut passed down by the batteries with his nine vessels. Wednesday, July i6.10 a. m. 4 men died, names unknown.
Ram Mingo came alongside and took the Lancaster to Memphis to be repaired. Left at 1 p. m.