Union Forces Commanded by Flag-Officer Charles H. Davis and
Col. Charles Ellet
Confederate Forces Commanded by Capt. James E. Montgomery and
Brig. General M. Jeff Thompson
Conclusion: Union Victory
The Battle of Memphis was a naval battle that resulted in the Union fleet capturing the city of Memphis.
After the Confederate River Defense Fleet, commanded by Capt. James E. Montgomery and Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson bested the Union ironclads at the Battle of Plum Run Bend on May 10, they retired to Memphis. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard ordered troops out of Fort Pillow and Memphis on June 4, after learning of 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 A.M. on June 6. Arriving off Memphis about 5:30 A.M., the battle began. In the hour and a half battle, the Union boats sank or captured all but one of the Confederate vessels; Van Dorn and the other survivors retreated southwards down the river towards Vicksburg, Mississippi. The battle was watched by the civilian population from the Chickasaw Bluffs. Immediately following the battle, Ellet's son, Medical Cadet Charles Ellet, Jr., met the mayor of Memphis and raised the Union colors over the courthouse.
Later, Davis officially received the surrender of the city from the mayor. The Indiana Brigade, commanded by Col. G.N. Fitch, then occupied the city. Union commanders landed at the city docks and took control of Memphis, giving the Union army a port for moving supplies down the river. Memphis, an important commercial and economic center on the Mississippi River, had fallen, opening another section of the Mississippi River to the Union.