Archive for April, 2013

Constructive Criticism

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

A friend offered some constructive criticism recently.  She explained that the GeorgetownSteamboats site was so large that she did not know how to approach it. 


I agree.  The site is huge, and growing.   It is divided into blog posts and static pages and images:

            (1)  Posts         181      ==     32,298 words
            (2)  Pages        145      ==  107,082 words
            (3)  Images      648


The total word count is not current yet easily matches an average sized novel – without images!  I have more work in progress.  Currently I am working on the Georgetown Cemetery list by analyzing three different sources :  findagrave, the genealogypitstop, and an inherited hand written list.  I am also working on additional CivWar150 posts.   Seven more trips to the National Archives will complete my port of Pittsburgh steamboat registrations review.  And I have a wish to visit, Cincinnati, St Louis, and Ft Benton historical societies, museums, and libraries.  Only 22 of more than 100 identified to date steamboat biographies have been researched and put to Word.  The percentage for steamboat owner and captain biographies is about equal to the steamboats.  Where is Ken Burns when you need him?


The comment forced me to consider developing an outline for users.  I have three classes of readers.  One class is interested in Poe genealogy; another group prefers general steamboat and Ohio River history; and the Russians who we will exclude from consideration.  The history of Georgetown and its local area stories fit into the Poe genealogy class. 


So here it is.  Analysis of the most frequently visited pages and posts provided by the POWWEB visitor stats mapped into my faves produced the following two lists of top ten pages and posts for my two classes of users.


Poe Genealogy and Georgetown History Steamboat  and Ohio River History
Site Introduction Site Introduction
It Used To Be A River Town It Used To Be A River Town
History in Homes Civil War Transports
The Point of Beginning No Place for a Lady
No Place for a Lady Capt Jacob Poe
The Lost Frontier Fort The BM Laughlin Book
Thomas Washington Poe Thomas Washington Poe
Gentleman Charles E Poe The First Steamboat War
The Preacher’s Note Georgetown Cemetery
Poe Glass Plates Str Clara Poe


The popularity of The Point of Beginning amazes me.  It is the fourth most view page in the past twelve months. 


In hand, I have two important original source documents: the Nancy Ann (Poe) Ebert journal and the hand written book by Benjamin M Laughlin (courtesy of the Frances  and John Finley Collection).  The Poe journal in a word is fascinating.  The Laughlin book adds new information to the history of steamboats.  A look at both will be time not wasted. 


Again, I welcome your comments, criticisms, and corrections.  An historian I am not.  If information posted on GeorgetownSteamboats is incorrect, I appreciate having it brought to my attention for correction. 




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 Editorial

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Reading historical accounts of events that took place 150 years ago provides enjoyment.  But not in a normal fun sense.  These sesquicentennial histories are serious because they observe a celebration that commemorates the most turbulent era in our nation’s history.  Somewhere in all this the contributions of steamboat men and their steamboats has been sadly overlooked. 


Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150: 22 Apr 1863

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

On this day 150 years ago, the str Horizon ran the Vicksburg and Grand Gulf batteries with supplies.  Her civilian crew, except for her pilots, was temporarily replaced by Army officers and soldiers.  Badly damaged by shell fire, she ran the gauntlet successfully. [1]  According to the regimental history of the 11th Illinois Infantry, Second Lieutenant James D. Vernay of Company B received the Medal of Honor.  He had been detached as a volunteer to the steamer Horizon during the Vicksburg campaign.  The medal was issued for “Served gallantly as a volunteer with the crew of the steamer Horizon that, under a heavy fire, passed the Confederate batteries.”. [2]


The str Horizon was one of six transport steamers repaired to run the Vicksburg batteries after the failures of the “bayou” expeditions.  On 22 Apr 1863, Capt GW Kennard 20th IL Regiment commanded the str Horizon.  His boat left Millikin’s Bend at 9:00 PM.  She steamed slowly to the bend then put on a “full head of steam”.  At the second battery two artillery shots crashed through the bulkhead.  At the next battery two shots hit the hurricane deck.  In total fifteen or sixteen shots hit their target.  All were forward and above the boiler room.


After passing the batteries, the str Horizon attempted to go to the assistance of the disabled str Moderator without success.  The str Horizon then went to the aid of the str Anglo-Saxon.   Later that day, the str Horizon was ordered to pass the Warrenton battery a second time and report at New Carthage.  The str Horizon ”steamed up and reported” at New Carthage.[3]

Think for a moment about the power of the Medal of Honor.  To single out for honor one person aboard one steamer would be a fascinating subject to explore.  


How different the Civil War would have been without the Ohio River effectively separating much of the nation, North and South!  And how different would have been the outcome without the steamboat , Union men, who knew the chutes, channels, and shoals of the Ohio and its tributaries.




[1] Charles Dana Gibson and E Kay Gibson, Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels Steam and Sail Employed by the Union Army 1861 – 1868, (Ensign Press, Cambridge, MA 1995), p 152.

[2]  Regimental History of the 11th Illinois Infantry.

[3] JK Folmar I, California, PA 1849-1881: The History of a Boat Building Town, (Yohogania Press, California, PA 2009), p 58.


Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved