Rebel Steamer CSS "Ellis" Engaging U.S. Gunboats off North Carolina

Object Number: 
August 1861- February 1862
Graphite on lined paper
Overall: 7 1/2 x 9 13/16 in. ( 19 x 24.9 cm ) mat: 11 x 14 in. ( 27.9 x 35.6 cm )
Inscribed along lower edge in graphite: "Rebel Steamer. Ellis. engaging our / gun boats."
Civil War Drawings Collection. CSS Ellis (later USS Ellis) was a gunboat in the Confederate States Navy and the United States Navy during the American Civil War. Confederate Service The Ellis, with Commander W. T. Muse, played an important part in the defense of Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark in Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina on August 28-29, 1861, of Roanoke Island on February 7-8, 1862, and of Elizabeth City, North Carolina on February 10, 1862; that day she was captured by the Union Army after a desperate struggle in which her commander, Lieutenant James W. Cooke, CSN, was badly wounded. United States Service Ellis was taken into the U.S. Navy, under the command of Lieutenant C. L. Franklin, USN, and spent her entire U.S. Navy service in the sounds and rivers of North Carolina. Ellis took part in a combined expedition which captured Fort Macon, near Beaufort, North Carolina, on April 25, 1862 and from August 15 to 19 she made an expedition to Swansboro, North Carolina to destroy salt works and a battery. On October 14, she was detailed to the blockade of Bogue Inlet, and a week later, captured and burned the schooner Adelaide with a valuable cargo of turpentine, cotton, and tobacco. Final Action In November 1862, Ellis, under command of Lieutenant William B. Cushing, sailed up New River Inlet to capture Jacksonville, North Carolina. The steamer captured two schooners, some arms and mail. On her way down river, Ellis ran aground on November 24 and could not be refloated. After dark her commanding officer moved all the crew except six and all her equipment and supplies except her pivot gun, some ammunition to one of the captured schooners. While the schooners slipped down the river, Cushing and five of his men remained to fight it out. Early on the morning of November 25, the Confederates opened fire on Ellis. Cushing chose not to surrender and before leaving his ship, set fire to her in five places. Cushing and his men reached the schooner just in time to escape several companies of cavalry trying to cut off the schooner at the mouth of the inlet. Ellis was blown to pieces by the explosion of her magazine on the morning of November 25, 1862.
Credit Line: 
James B. Wilbur Fund
John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group