The Civil War, Day by Day

The Glorious Fourth (detail)

Memphis Surrenders

In the early morning of June 6, Davis’ gunboats sailed up the Mississippi River to Memphis. Quickly, Confederate Captain J. Edward Montgomery engaged his eight warships in an attack upon the Union flotilla. The residents of Memphis rushed to gather along the shore, waving and shouting encouragement to the Southern fleet. However, their cheers would soon turn to groans of despair.

With vastly superior armaments, Davis barraged Montgomery’s men with gunfire. Some of the rebel ships collided and sank during the ensuing chaos, while others were captured by the Federals. Within two hours, the Confederates lost all but their flagship, the General Van Dorn.

After Memphis formally surrendered late in the morning, a Union soldier took over the city’s telegraph and found a note from his Confederate predecessor. Addressed to any “Lincolnite,” the letter stated, “although you can whip us on the water. . . if you will come out on land we’ll whip you like hell.”

Indeed, the Union’s land forces were suffering humiliating defeats in Virginia during this point in the war. However, the morale of the North improved drastically after the surrender of Memphis.

Mort Künstler painted this scene, a detail from The Glorious Fourth, which typifies the surrender of a southern city.

June's Archived Features:

Saturday June 1, 2019
Sunday June 2, 2019
Monday June 3, 2019
Tuesday June 4, 2019
Wednesday June 5, 2019
Thursday June 6, 2019
Friday June 7, 2019
Saturday June 8, 2019
Sunday June 9, 2019
Monday June 10, 2019
Tuesday June 11, 2019
Wednesday June 12, 2019
Thursday June 13, 2019
Friday June 14, 2019
Saturday June 15, 2019
Sunday June 16, 2019
Monday June 17, 2019
Tuesday June 18, 2019



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.