Archive for December, 2012

Lower Missouri River Commerce

Friday, December 28th, 2012

It is important to acknowledge that the Georgetown steamboat owners and their crews were in the river freight and passenger business at the sharp and dangerous, and always moving, frontier edge of our nation.  Without them and men like them, the development of the interior of our nation would have been delayed many years.

I have added a page to tell their story: Lower Missouri River



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

The First Steamboat War.

Friday, December 21st, 2012

In May 1846, the US Army was completely unprepared for the logistics problems presented by the Mexican War.  Difficult though the procurement of supplies was, the distribution of those supplies presented far more complex problems.  Supply lines were longer than ever experienced in US military history.   For the Army of the West, nearly 900 miles of Indian Territory separated the Ft Leavenworth depot from Santa Fe and 1,050 miles separated Santa Fe from San Diego. For the Army of the East, San Antonio was 600 miles from Chihuahua and 160 miles from Port Lavacca on the Gulf of Mexico.


Beginning in Nov 1846, the US army Quartermaster successfully used steamboats for transporting troops and supplies to Ft Leavenworth on the Missouri River and New Orleans.  Some of the inland river steamboats also “sailed” the 600 miles from New Orleans over open seas so that they could operate on the Rio Grande during the war.  (Sailing vessels also moved troops and supplies from New York and other Atlantic ports to the Gulf.  At that time, the steam powered toy called a railroad appeared destined for nothing more than carrying goods to a steamboat port provided no benefit to the Army.)    


According to the entry in Capt Way’s Directory, the str New England was the flagship of a fleet of steamboats departing Pittsburgh with soldiers bound for the Mexican War.  In Mar 1847, the str New England was purchased by Capt George W Ebert who operated the sidewheeler between Pittsburgh and Wheeling till 1849. [1]  I do not know whether Capt Ebert  participated in the Mexican War effort (combat operations lasted a year and a half to the fall of 1847).

The following table lists the owners of the str New England  according to the Certifiacte of Enrollment record dated 3 Mar 1847.

Str New England

Owners and Partners Share Vol: 6629
Geo W Ebert   Enroll No : 26
Jacob Poe   Cert Date: 3 Mar 1847
Andrew Poe   Cert Type:: Enrollment 180
Thomas Poe   Build Locn: Pittsburgh, PA
Wm J Kountz   Build Date: 1844
David Wilkins   Master GW Ebert



Check the owners of  the str New England in 1847.  All these names spelled history.   Geo W Ebert was my great great grandfather;  Jacob, Andrew and Thomas Poe were brothers and my great great granduncles.  During the Civil War, William J Kountz was the admiral in charge of river transportation.  He declared that Gen US Grant was  a “glorious drunk” who should be court marshaled.  Grant arrested William J Kountz  for insubordination. 



[1]  Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p 343.