Bits and Pieces
Life on the River
Civil War Boats
Wheeling W. Va.
I am editing a diary of J.H. Durgin, a POW held at Camp Ford
near Tyler, Texas who was paroled in October 1864.
They were marched to Shreveport and put on Steamers to be
taken down the Red River. Apparently the river was too low
at Alexandria, and they were disembarked.
His diary references that the two steamers used between Shreveport
and Alexandria were the "Dixie"
and the "Celia".
From Alexandria to Red River Landing the steamers "T.S.
Conley" and "Champion
# 3" were used.
I have seen several references to the Champion.
Col. Ignatius Syzmanski, a wealthy Louisiana sugar planter
was the CS Commissioner of exchange, and apparently had hired
the Champion for his service in 1864 and 1865.
He travelled with his own personal brass band and set a good
His federal counterparts liked dealing with him because of
his geniality and hospitality.
On the evening of October 14, 1864, the US prisoners were
serenaded by his band playing "home-sweet home"
as they boarded the Champion.
I could not find anything regarding the Conlely, Dixie, or
Celia on your web site. Do you perchance have anything on
Submitted to Ships Log, 02/12/03 by
Bill Piper - bandcpiper@AOL.com
From letters of Pvt.Duncan McArthur, Co. K, 14th Illinois
Dated 25 February 1862: ....We left Cairo yesterday
morning, the 24th, with our teams onboard the steamer ECONOMY
bound for Ft. Donelson. This morning at three o'clock
she struck a floating log and knocked a hole in her bow. They
ran her to shore and put their pumps to work. They kept her
up until we got the mules off and part of the wagon beds and
some harness. The running gears of the wagons was down in
the hull, so they went down with the boat. She is a total
Dated March 25, 1862..... We left Ft. Donelson
on the 5th. We got to Ft. Henry on the 6th. We laid there
one day then we moved six miles above to Happy Landing. We
stayed there one day. Monday the 10th, the Regiment went on
board the steamer D.A.
JANUARY and left us teamsters there in the mud. We laid
there until Sunday the 16th. We went on board the steamer
No. 3. While going up we stopped to wood. While wooding,
EAGLE loaded within a half a mile, when we saw her firng.
We paid no attention to it. We thought they was just trying
their guns. We soon overtook them and they told us they had
been fired into by some Secesh that was hid along the bank......On
the 18th we went 10 miles above and went on shore at a place
called Pittsburg Landing......They have sent all the sick
on the hospital boat, CITY
of MEMPHIS; today they are agoing down river.
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AUGUSTUS McDOWELL and WHITE CLOUD
WAR INCIDENTS IN HOWARD COUNTY (Mo.)
12., 13., and 14. July and August 1861
"On the seventeenth of August 1861 (14) Capt. Cason had word...
that two steamboats [the White
Cloud and the McDowell] loaded with troops were coming down the
river en route to St. Louis. An ambuscade was... formed on the Howard
County side, and almost... opposite Saline City. Here the current of
the river sweeps very near to the shore.... Unsuspicious of danger and
crowded with a human freight ... the boats... swept swiftly along. A
sudden flame leaped out from the bushes ... and then on the crowded
decks were terror, confusion, bleeding men and dead men. For nearly
an hour Cason fought the boats thus, making of every embankment and
earthwork, and of every tree a fortress. Finally a landing was effected
and two pieces of cannon hurried ashore, and used for shelling the timber
which concealed the Guerrillas. Cason held on. As the infantry advanced
he fell back; as the infantry retired he advanced.... Night alone ended
the savage duel, the Federal loss being about sixty-two killed and nearly
a hundred wounded.' Edwards adds that following the above activities
Capt. Cason went South with most of his men. (See also the History of
Howard and Cooper Counties, P. 284)
From The Diary
Of Joseph T. Anderson, storekeeper, Commerce Mo.
- Monday June 24th, 1861. "Our town was surprised on Saturday
night by the arrival of Steamer City of Alton with 1200 soldiers. She
landed about half past 11 o'clock at night. I had not gone to bed on
account of a party at J. M. Jehlen's. It broke up about 11 o'clock and
when I came to the store I heard a steamer coming up and I awaited its
arrival for I was waiting for the Perry to ship Wm. Burgesses goods
and she came up without whistling. We still Thought it was the Perry.
I went down with my lantern and I saw A.R. Newman come down from his
store with a letter to send to St. Louis and behold when she came in,
we saw it was a boat loaded with soldiers. As soon as the planks were
put out, they began to crowd off. Newman and I stood close to the boat
all the time they were coming off. Meanwhile I noticed that two soldiers
stood very close to us, one on each side of Newman. When the horses
began to come off, they got so thick that we started to get out of their
way. I got up on the wood pile and Newman started to go around the end
of the wood pile, and the soldiers just laid their hands on his shoulders
and took him on the boat; they had not more than done this when here
came four or five soldiers with M. Ellison and more prisoners. I stayed
around the warf until about 1 o'clock and I went home and went to bed.
The soldiers marched out for the camp but found no men. They began to
drop back about 9 o'clock Sunday Night and about 10 o'clock on Monday
they all got in. They stayed asround till 12 o'clock awaiting dinner,
as they had no provisions on the boat for the reason that they called
away from Cairo on very short notice and only brought provisions for
about one day, thinking that they could go in and take the Southern
people that had formed the company at Benton and get back in a day.
A little after 12 they all got on the boat and left for up the river
to meet a company of men that went up the river to take a disunion flag
that had been raised in the hills. About morning they bid us adieu by
firing a cannon three times and playing fifes and drums, but before
they left their musicians went all around town and serenaded the people
at their houses that had been so kind as to feed them. They praised
the people of Commerce greatly and particularly the ladies.
- Friday, July 12th, 1861. " . . . Soon after having landed a
regiment of troops at Cape Girardeau, the City of Alton passed down
this morning loaded with soldiers.
- December, Sunday, 1861. " . . . About 2 o'clock this evening
I was sitting in the store when a Negro came to the door and said 'the
town is full of Seccessionists'. I ran to the door when who should I
see but Jeff Thompson and about thrity or forty men. He immediately
came into the store and not waiting to be dinied commenced taking all
that was in shape of clothing, boots, etc., to the amount of $300.00
and then said to his men to go into the other store and take the ballance
from him. They stayed here about an hour when a boat came in sight,
The "City of Alton". They immediately hid themselves till the boat came
up and was almost against the shore befor she found that Jeff was here.
Some of the citizens informed her of his presence and she began to back
out and then commenced shooting but the boat kept backing and they kept
shooting as long as she was in shooting distance. The boat went back
to Max Island and landed. The secessionists stayed here about half an
hour, after and left. Two or three of the citizens got into a skiff
and started for the boat. She took them in and went by to Cape (Giradeau)
as hard as she could."
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