Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

27th Iowa Top Banner

Steamers in the History of the 27th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry


These steamers have been mentioned in various histories of the 27th Iowa. I have only done a very small amount of research on them, but find them fascinating for some reason. I would welcome any additional information regarding the steamers that the 27th Iowa traveled on. All the information comes from one source.

These steamers are are all described in Frederick Way, Jr., _Way's Packet Directory, 1848-1994; Passenger Steamboats of the Mississippi River System Since the Advent of Photography in Mid-Continent America_ (revised edition; Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1994), as follows (in alphabetical order):

The COMMONWEALTH was a side-wheel packet built at Shousetown, Pennsylvania, in 1864. 261 x 43 x 8.6 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 22 in, length of stroke 9 ft; 3 boilers. In 1866, James Lloyd, master, and James K. Boyles, clerk, she ran New Orleans-St. Louis. Owned in 1868 by Benjamin F. Hutchinson, St. Louis (3/4), and M. W. Beltzhoover, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania (1/4); Capt. William Conley. May 1873, sold to Capt. J. P. Sedam and others, who extensively rebuilt her, but could not pay the bills. She was seized by a U.S. marshal at St. Louis in November 1873, and sold to Capt. Thomas W. Shields and others, who ran her New Orleans-St. Louis, and occasionally New Orleans-Cincinnati. She is said to have made a trip up the Wabash River to New Harmony, Indiana, and brought out a large cargo of corn. She was incorporated into the Anchor Line. Late in her career she was sold to a gentleman of Dover, Kentucky, who ran her several times Cincinnati-New Orleans, and then pinch-hit in the excursion trade between Cincinnati and Coney Island; during one such trip she ran over the steamer LAME DUCK and sank her. She burned at the foot of Whittaker Street, Cincinnati, at 11 PM, 25 August 1889. She had a mockingbird whistle, and had to lower her stacks to clear the Cincinnati suspension bridge [pp. 107-108, packet #1275].

The DES MOINES was a side-wheel packet, built in Madison, Indiana, in 1857. 298 tons; wood hull. 1857-1861, in the Keokuk Packet Co, J. D. Malin, master; part owner, Capt. John G. Prather. Appropriated by the War Department for transport service during the Civil War, and in 1864 was up the Red River. 22 November 1864, struck and sank the steamer KATIE at Diamond Island, Ohio River. Off the lists in 1865; her machinery went to the steamer CORNELIA [p. 125, packet #1512].

The DIADEM was a sternwheel packet, built at Monongahela, Pennsylvania, in 1860. 154 x 33 x 4.9 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull. Built for the Pittsburgh-St. Louis trade, Capt. Rogers. Served as a U.S. army transport during the Civil War. Lost in ice at St. Louis, 13 January 1866, Capt. J. Wolff [p. 127, packet #1533].

The EMPIRE CITY was a wooden side-wheel steamer, built by William H. Brown, New York, keel laid 13 August 1848, launched 10 March 1849. 1,751 21/95 tons; 238 ft 8 in x 39 ft 4 in x 24 ft 4 in (length x beam x depth of hold); 3 decks, 3 masts, round stern, dragon head; one side-lever engine built by T. F. Secor & Co; diameter of cylinder 6 ft 3 in, length of stroke 9 ft; barkentine rig; estimated cost between $220,000 and $300,000, of which $62,000 was for the engine.

Modeled for speed and very strong. Said to be the first ocean vessel to have a deck house extending from stem to stern, her hurricane deck supported by stanchions from the bulwarks and forming a canopy for the promenade deck below. Her interior was the most ornate of any steamship on the Atlantic. From the stern forward, her upper deck housed a ladies' cabin or reception room, with rosewood furniture upholstered in purple and gold damask, and lined with staterooms, every stateroom door being decorated with a Hudson River scene; the galley; a "Social Hall" 35 ft long in which men might smoke; and the forecastle. On the main deck, the waiters' quarters were forward, then the dining saloon, off of which opened staterooms with two berths each, the doors to which were decorated with scenes from Washington Irving's _Sketch Book_, then the pantry, and then the after saloon, off of which opened staterooms with four berths each and large windows with glass an inch thick. Ornamental columns had gilded Corinthian capitals, and were set off by satin and zebra wood. The decks were covered with oilcloth patterned to look like carpet.

Laid down for Isaac Newton, for his service between New York and New Orleans, but sold on the stocks, in January 1849, to Charles Morgan and John and Joseph Howard (Empire City Line). 17 July 1849, maiden voyage, New York-Chagres. October 1850, came under the control of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co; early 1851, sold for $225,000 to the United States Mail Steamship Co, which placed her in the New York-Havana-New Orleans service. Continued as part of the U.S. Mail fleet until it was disbanded in 1859, when she was acquired, at auction, for $12,000 by Marshall O. Roberts, the last principal stockholder and managing agent of the line; Roberts carried on the service from New York to New Orleans and continued to advertise under the U.S. Mail name, even though the original company no longer existed. Chartered by the Quartermaster's Department, War Department, in 1861, for $25,000 the job, and in 1861, 1862-1863, 1863, and 1864, at $775 to $1,000 per day. October 1861, transport on Admiral DuPont's expedition to Port Royal; 1862, went up the Mississippi and passed besieged Vicksburg, again as a transport; 1864, delivered men to General Butler during the invasion of the North Carolina Sounds. 27 January 1865, purchased by the War Department for $225,000. In 1866, considered for use as a floating hospital at the New York Quarantine Station, but never put to use. Laid up at Red Hook until May 1869, and broken up sometime thereafter [Kemble, _op. cit._, pp. 224-225; Ridgely-Nevitt, _op. cit._, pp. 121-125].

The HAVANA was a sternwheel packet, her hull built at Parkersburg, West Virginia, and completed at Wheeling, by the Sweeneys of Wheeling, in 1863. 390 tons; wood hull. Built for the Louisville-Nashville trade. During the Civil War, carried U.S. army supplies up the Cumberland River. February 1864, sold to W. E. Gibson & Co, Aurora, Indiana, Capt. Ira Malin. Burned and lost at Parlor Grove, in the vicinity of North Bend, Ohio, 16 August 1869 [p. 208, packet #2555].

The MEMPHIS (officially so, but referred to in contemporary newspapers as the BELLE MEMPHIS) was a side-wheel packet, built in Jeffersonville, Indiana, by Howard, in 1860. 645 tons; 263 x 38 x 7 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 27 in, length of stroke 8 ft; 4 boilers, each 44 in by 24 ft. Norman S. Russell's paper on American river steamers, in _Transactions of Naval Architects_, 2 (1861), contains three detailed drawings of her. She frequently served as a U.S. army transport during the Civil War. February 1862, carried the 66th Illinois Infantry from St. Louis to Fort Henry, where the troops occupied the vacated fortifications. She spent most of March and the first week of April 1864, on a sand bar opposite Tiptonville, Tennessee. She was anchored at St. Louis, at the location of the east pier of the Eads Bridge, in the winter of 1865-1866, and test borings were made from her forecastle. She was at that time solidly frozen in ice, and was lost on 12 January 1866, when the ice gorged, the crew, including the captain and two pilots, getting ashore only with some difficulty. The wreck lodged near Duncan Island, where on 13 February 1867 it was struck by the steamer WHITE CLOUD NO. 2, which sank [p. 319, packet #3897].

The ROSE HAMBLETON was a side-wheel packet, built at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1861. 154 tons; wood hull. 6 June 1866, Capt. Charles Beers, arrived at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and loaded for St. Louis, departing the next day. Reported sold at Cincinnati to Capt. John Claycomb, 19 November 1866, and would load for the Arkansas River with Nip Simonton in the office. Reported lost, but with no details, 30 September 1869 [p. 402, packet #4839].

Submitted by George Mills, great grandson of Charles Sweney.

Sallie ListSteamship Sallie List:

Physical description of Sallie List:

Wooden hulled, sternwheeler, packet steamboat
Note: packet steamboats were built to carried both passengers and cargo
Built: Elizabeth Marine Ways, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. Launched 1860
Length 155.7 ft, Width 30.5 ft, Draft 5.7 ft, Tonnage: either 212? or 342?
Snagged and sank February 21, 1868, Portland, Alabama<.p>

Served in the lower Mississippi River region, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, and environs, as a troop and cargo carrier.

Actions other than described in Charles’ letter in which the Sallie List was involved:

A. Early June 1864: Yellow Bend, Mississippi River, 10 shots fired.

B. May 29, 1864: Yellow Bend, where the channel is close to the shore — rebels fired into them with musketry.

Note: Yellow Bend is below Helena, Ark, and likely above Columbia, Ark. It is in the area below Arkansas City & on the Mississippi River border of Desha County

There were four vessels named SILVER LAKE on the Mississippi River System in the 1860's:

NOTE by Elaine Johnson. After reading through these descriptions, I would think Silver Lake #2 was the most likely steamer that the 27th traveled on November 1864.

SILVER LAKE, a sternwheel packet, built at Wellsville, Ohio, in 1858. 70 tons; wood hull. Originally documented at Rock Island, Illinois. Burned on the Osage River, Missouri, 3 September 1862 [p. 426, packet #5115].

SILVER LAKE NO. 2. a sternwheel packet, built at Wellsville in 1861. 129 tons; wood hull. 1861, sold to the U.S. Quartermaster's Department. 7 October 1865, sold to private hands, rig changed to side-wheel, and renamed MARION. Engines, inside diameter of cylinder 13 in, length of piston stroke 3 1/2 feet; 2 boilers. Made a mountain trip, Capt. William D. Shanks, and about August 1866, sank on a sand bar at Pablo Rapids, about 70 miles below Fort Benton. The "Wild and Scenic Rivers" supplement map to the _National Geographic Magazine_ for July 1977 marks the location of the wreck of the MARION [pp. 426, packet #5117, and 308, packet #3757].

SILVER LAKE NO. 3, a sternwheel packet, built at California, Pennsylvania, in 1862, for Capt. Henry Willoughby (3/4) and Thomas M. Rees (1/4), Pittsburgh. 212 tons; 157 x 32.5 x 4.5 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 15 in, length of piston stroke 5 ft. Transported ordnance for the U.S. army from Pittsburgh to St. Louis. 15 November 1862, sold to the U.S. Navy; served in the war as tinclad #23. 17 August 1865, sold at public sale, in Mound City, Illinois, for $9,500, to Capt. James Ken[n]iston, of Cincinnati, who rebuilt her and renamed her MARY HEIN, after Capt. James Hein. Ran New Orleans-Shreveport. 28 February 1866, burned on the Red River, downbound with 600 bales [pp. 426, packet #5118, and 313, packet #3815].

SILVER LAKE NO. 4, a sternwheel packet, built at California, Pennsylvania, in 1863, for Capt. Henry Willoughby (3/4) and Thomas M. Rees (1/4), Pittsburgh. 224 tons; 155 x 33 x 5.5 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 15 in, length of piston stroke 5 ft; 3 boilers, each 38 in by 22 ft. Ran Pittsburgh-St. Louis. Capt. John Todd, Wellsville, Ohio, bought an interest in March 1865; also W. H. Briggs. Ran Pittsburgh-Cincinnati, with occasional trips to St. Louis, Capt. John Todd. 1 February 1871, in Pittsburgh from New Orleans, delivering a cargo of sugar and molasses. Later that year went to the Missouri River, where she was operated by Durfee & Peck, Capt. Andy Johnson, Grant Marsh and Joe Todd, pilots. 20 November 1871, frozen in above Sioux City, Iowa, below Okobogo Island and Fort Sully; Marsh, Todd, Dr. Perry, N. Buison, and L. T. Jones took to shank's mare, wagons, and sleds to return to Sioux City. Off the lists, 1879 [pp. 426-427, packet no. 5119].

The SIOUX CITY was a side-wheel packet, built in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1857. 379 tons; 218 x 33 x 5.8 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 22in, length of piston stroke 7 ft; 3 boilers, each 44 in by 24 ft. First home port, St. Louis. Operated on the Missouri River. Ran trips up the Red River in 1860, and served as a U.S. army transport in 1863-1864. 26 February 1867, lost at St. Louis when the ice gorged [p. 428, packet #5129].

There were two vessels named STARLIGHT on the Mississippi River System during the Civil War:

STARLIGHT, a side-wheel packet, built at Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 1858. 280 tons; 162 x 31 x 6 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 20 in, length of piston stroke 7 ft. Ran New Orleans-Shreveport, Capt. Charles Hayes. Rebuilt after the war to measure 166.6 x 33.6 x 6.3 ft. The Hayes family continued to operate her New Orleans-Red River until they sold her in February 1868 to J. B. Simonds, New Orleans, who resold her in March 1868 to Capt. Daniel J. Crowley, New Orleans. Burned at Algiers, Louisiana, 23 April 1868 [p. 432, packet #5181].

STARLIGHT, sternwheel packet, built at Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, in 1862. 214 tons; wood hull. Capt. T. M. Harton ran her Pittsburgh-Louisville-St. Louis most of the first year. At the time of Morgan's raid in 1863, she was under the command of Capt. Wood, at Marietta, on the lower river, grounded in the foot of Blennerhasset Island, with a cargo of flour, etc., consigned to the U.S. army; the Parkersburg ferryboat lightened her off. Burned at Gretna, Louisiana, 25 April 1868 [p. 432, packet #5181A].

The TARASCON was a side-wheel packet, built at Jeffersonville, Indiana, by Howard, 1863. 250 x 38 x 6 ft (length x beam x depth of hold); wood hull; engines, inside diameter of cylinder 22 in, length of piston stroke 7 1/2 ft. Built for the Louisville & Henderson Mail Line. 5 December 1863, left the shipyard for Evansville; 22 December at Evansville, on her way to the Tennessee River, where, with other vessels, she carried Gen. A. J. Smith's army to New Orleans. About 25 February 1864, traveled from New Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain. After the surrender of Mobile in April 1865, the TARASCON was sent to ply the Alabama River. Fall 1865, returned to Evansville. 1866, Capt. J. A. Lusk, J. M. Pendleton, clerk, in the Louisville-Memphis trade, but soon reverted to the Louisville- Evansville trade. 1870, Capt. William Strong, H. L. Bonta and A. Jennings, clerks. 12 September 1875, sank in shallow water, two miles below Salt River; raised. 1876, Capt. David Penny, C. V. Jennings and W. W. Huston, clerks. Fall 1877, retired when the JAMES GUTHRIE was put into service; dismantled at Jeffersonville in the summer of 1879. The whistle of the TARASCON is said to have been "appropriated" at New Orleans from an Italian freighter by the crew of the steamer EUGENE, after whose wreck (14 November 1862) it was installed on the steamer HETTIE GILMORE, from whom it was transferred to the TARASCON in December 1863. According to the oft-repeated story, while the TARASCON was in New Orleans in early 1864, the pilot blew her whistle. which was recognized by the crew of the Italian freighter, which was (either still, or, more probably, again) in the port. The master of the Italian vessel demanded that the whistle be returned, and after some heated argument the case was referred, by mutual agreement, to the French consul, who ruled in favor of the TARASCON on the grounds that the whistle had been salvaged from an abandoned wreck (i.e., of the EUGENE). The whistle henceforth became a valuable symbol to the Louisville & Henderson Mail Line, and was transferred to the JAMES GUTHRIE when she was put into service in 1877, and later, in turn, to the TELL CITY, the NASHVILLE, and the SOUTHLAND. The whistle was lost when the SOUTHLAND was destroyed by fire in 1932 [pp. 444-445, packet #5309].

Way's collection of over 8,000 photographs of Mississippi River System steamboats is now in the Inland Rivers Library section of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 800 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45202-2071.

The Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, maintains a collection of approximately 44,000 photographs of inland river steamboats and river scenes: Inland River Boats. The Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen (c/o Mrs. J. W. Rutter, 126 Seneca Dr., Marietta, OH 45750), publishes a quarterly magazine called _The S & D Reflector_, which contains feature articles on individual riverboats.

Finally, John Hartford maintains a Steamboat History Web Page at Steamboat Pictures and Information.