February 2, 1863
●--Mississippi River, Vicksburg: The Escapades of the Queen of the West – The USS Queen of the West was a strange vessel. A riverboat-turned-ironclad, it had been built and commissioned by the Army, and was manned by them, also. It is commanded by Col. Charles Ellet, Jr., son of the former skipper, who had been killed at the naval Battle of Memphis. On this date, Ellet is orderd by Admiral David D. Porter to steam past Vicksburg’s defenses partly to see how well the Rebel guns were placed, and also to see if the Queen could not destroy the CSS City of Vicksburg, a powerful gunboat moored at the city’s wharves. As Ellet turns the bend in the river, the shore batteries opened up. He steers straight for the Rebel vessel, but the current makes it hard to get up ramming speed.
The Federals fire turpentine-soaked incendiary rounds into the City of Vicksburg, but the Rebels put out the fire and return fire of their own. The cotton bales Ellet had covered his ship with were set aflame by the Queen’s own cannons, and so the Federal soldiers on board cut the bales loose, and the Queen backs off, having sustained 12 hits, and one gun damaged. The Rebel ship has been badly damaged, however. Ellet steams his ironclad past the city and heads downriver, with orders to destroy or capture all Confederate property and vessels he encounters.
●—On this date, in Congress, both houses vote to allow Negroes into the army.