Ellet, Charles, Jr.

Ellet, Charles, Jr.

(1810–62) civil engineer; born in Bucks County, Pa. In 1842 he built a wire suspension bridge across the Schuylkill River in Pa., and went on to build numerous bridges, canals, and railroads. In 1853 he advocated using dams and reservoirs to control the flooding of major U.S. rivers. In 1854 he proposed using ships with reinforced prows and iron rams for assaulting coastal forts and harbors in wartime. After the successful debut of the Confederacy's Merrimack, the Union commissioned the "Ellet Ram Fleet." In June 1862 it opened the Mississippi River from Memphis to Union ships, but Ellet was killed in the action.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.