Archive for the ‘Civil War Steamers’ Category

CivWar150 – 24 Apr 1862

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Str Kenton Receipt during Civil War (Ohio State University)

Str Kenton Receipt during Civil War (Ohio State University)

The str Kenton and its crew were chartered for service by the Quartermaster from 27 Dec 1861 to 5 Jan 1862 and from 6 Jan for an unknown duration of time[1].  The str

Kenton receipts for three round trips between Pittsburgh and Louisville and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were in the papers of Capt William B Anderson (civilian riverboat captain and pilot) in the Ohio State University Rare Books Collection.  Trip number 13 was dated 24 Apr 1862; trip number 10 was undated but signed by Standish Peppard (owner and first clerk of the str Kenton), and the third receipt was neither dated nor signed.  Capt Anderson was quite probably one of the pilots of the str Kenton on these trips.  In letters to his wife dated after 24 Apr 1862 Capt Anderson wrote of the str Kenton in the past tense which suggests he had moved to another packet.  In the letters, he also expressed his concern about being drafted while between government contracts and paying a $1,000 fine about avoiding the draft.  He also wrote about two captains, Capt Adams and the captain of the Florence Miller, arrested for cowardice by General Wright.  The Florence Miller was a tinclad packet.  The conflict between military and commercial control of the vessels was real.




[1]  Charles Dana Gibson and E Kay Gibson, Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels Steam and Sail Employed by the Uniion Army 1861 – 1868, (Ensign Press, Cambridge, MA 1995), p 189.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Census Data Analysis

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Sometime ago, I reviewed the Georgetown census data for 1860 and 1870 to determine whether the steamboat men of Georgetown prospered from their Civil War contracts.  According to the census data, the steamboat captains had accumulated the greatest wealth of any residents of Georgetown.  Comparing the value of real and personal property of the 1860 and 1870 data, showed that the relative position of the captains changed little.  Thomas Poe amassed more wealth than his older brothers, Jacob and Adam.  Their brother-in-law, George W Ebert, was in last place in the 1860 census.  However, only  George W Ebert’s wealth increased between 1860 and 1870.  The wealth of the Poe brothers, Thomas, Jacob, and Adam, decreased by 30-45%. 

The census analysis is available on the page Census Data Analysis.




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 6 Apr 1862

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Still owned by Capt Jackman T Stockdale, the str Horizon was pressed into Civil War duty serving at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River on Apr 6-7, 1862. Also in 1862 with a number of other Pittsburgh based boats, the Horizon was called to the Cumberland River to relieve sick and wounded soldiers. [1]



[1] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 217.

Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved



Civil War Transports

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

A page, Civil War Transports, has been added to tell the story of the civilian steamboat men from Georgetown who served their country during the Civil War. None achieved much renown during their lifetimes.




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 19 Feb 1862

Saturday, February 18th, 2012


                                       Pittsburgh, PA,

                                     Feb 19th, 1862


                         I desire that the captains of the following
                         steamers be placed on record for the patriotic
                         and liberal (volunteering) of their services and
                         boats, without renumeration, to proceed
                         immediately to the Cumberland River to
                         relieve the sick and wounded soldiers:
                         Rocket, Capt Wolf; Clara Poe, Capt Poe,
                         Horizon, Capt Stockdale; Emma, Capt
                         Maratta; Westmorland, Capt Evans;
                         Sir William Wallace, Capt Hugh

                            B. C. Sawyer, Jr., Mayor 


One hundred-fifty years ago, the mayor of Pittsburgh acknowledged the patriotic service of six steamboat captains.  These captains with their boats, without pay, steamed to Tennessee to transport wounded and sick soldiers to Louisville and St Louis.  Captains Thomas W Poe and Jackman T Stockdale were Georgetown steamboat men.   Three of these six boats including the two from Georgetown were destroyed during the war: str Clara Poe, str Horizon, and str Emma.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Capt Adam Poe’s Book

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

I have scanned the book written by Capt Adam W Poe. The book, “A True History of the Three Brave Indian Spies, John Cherry, Andrew and Adam Poe“, includes a partial genealogy of the Poe family in America and a version of the famous frontier Indian battle between the Poe brothers, Andrew and Adam (the author’s grandfather), and the Wyandot Indian war party led by Big Foot son of Half King.  The final segment is a memoir written in 1887 that includes stories of Capt Adam Poe’s river experiences.  There is a kind of mythology that stories like this tend to drift toward.  A wonderful read.


The book was made available by the University of Pittsburgh Libraries.  I printed their eBook and scanned and loaded the pages.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Georgetown Cemetery Video

Friday, December 16th, 2011

I happened upon a Ghost Box video on YouTube entitled A Midnight Visit to the Georgetown Cemetery.  The video was uploaded on uploaded on 30 May 2010.  The link follows:





The narrator of the video told a story about a witch that I had never heard.  She also filmed Capt Thomas Poe’s marker.  Whether filming that stone was planned or accidental or guided by forces outside the usual, it added the salt and pepper required to balance the fantasy and history of the hallowed place.   


Capt Thomas Washington Poe was arguably the most ill-fated steamboat captain from Georgetown.  If there is a “night shade” hovering over any stone, it would be the spirit of Capt Thomas Poe.  Owned by Thomas W Poe and other partners from Georgetown, PA ,the str Georgetown was snagged on the Missouri on 12 Oct 1853, raised, and returned to service.  On 11 May 1855 the str Georgetown was fatally snagged at Bellefontaine Bluffs on the Missouri in route to a military post.  He was the principal owner of the str Clara Poe which was burned during the Civil War by rebel forces on 17 Apr 1865 at Eddyville on the Cumberland River; he also owned the str Amelia Poe which was a complete loss when snagged on the upper Missouri river on 24 May 1868 and salvaged by 1,500 riotous Indians; and he was the owner of the str  Nick Wall which met a tragic end on the Mississippi River near Napoleon, AK on 18 Dec 1870.  Here a grisly incident occurred that Mark Twain retold in “Life on the Mississippi”.  Though injured himself by the falling roof, Capt Thomas W Poe attemped to save his wife trapped in a stateroom.  He chopped a hole in the roof with an ax striking the unfortunate Martha Jane Poe in the head.  Martha Jane Poe, fatally wounded, was returned to Georgetown for burial. 


What could make a better Ghost Box story?



Copyright © 2011 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CW150 str Kenton

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

On this day 150 years ago (23 Oct 1861) Capt GeorgeW Ebert and Standish Peppard, his brother-in-law and business partner, purchased an interest in the str Kenton.  A short time after the purchase, the Kenton was called to service by the US Army Quartermaster.

Str Kenton Bill of Sale dated 23 Oct 1861 (From the Collection of the UW La Crosse Murphy Libraray Special Collections)

Str Kenton Bill of Sale dated 23 Oct 1861 (From the Collection of the UW La Crosse Murphy Libraray Special Collections)


The receipt from the Collection of the UW La Crosse Murphy Library Special Collections was signed by GW Ebert and witnessed by S Peppard.  These men and their boat had some great experiences during the war.



Copyright © 2011 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Civil War 150 Site

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Yesterday, I was introduced to a website documenting the 79th PA Vol Inf.  The website is based on letters written by soldiers in the regiment.


Monongahela Wharf Postcard 1908 (FNash Collection)

Monongahela Wharf Postcard 1908 (FNash Collection)

Coincidentally, this part of Negley’s brigade left Pittsburgh on one of the six steamboats destined for Louisville.  The  steamboat, the str Clara Poe, commanded by Capt Thomas W Poe from Georgetown, PA, was one of those transports.  

A fun site.  Make the time to have a look.

Civil War 150

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is upon us.  In the Civil War 150 programs I have viewed, there are, not surprisingly, few references to steamboats or the men who owned and operated them.  So today I want to take a moment to pay tribute to the men of Georgetown, PA  specifically and all of the men who commanded and operated those transports 150 years ago.

“Thousands of men, women and children lined the river bank to give the men a sendoff…The 78th PA Infantry was boarded on Captain Thomas Poe’s steamboat Clara Poe and the Moderator while the remainder of the men. horses and canon boarded on the four other steam boats.”  ”At 6:00 PM ropes were released, whistles sounded, anchors weighed, and the Clara Poe… sailed quickly from the Monongahela River into the Ohio River enroute to their jump-off point of Louisville, Kentucky, some three days away.  Some of the soldiers standing at the ship’s railing, watching the city quickly disappearing into the darkening sky, would never live to see Pittsburgh again” [1]


This sendoff was vividly recorded on Oct 18, 1861 – 150 years ago tomorrow.  The Clara Poe was one of six steamboats chartered by Commodore WJ Kountz, who had charge of the transportation by river of troops and Government supplies. [2]  The other five steamers at the Monongahela Wharf that Oct day were the Moderator, Sir William Wallace, JW Hallman, Argonaut, and the Silver Wave

On Apr 17, 1865, the str Clara Poe was burned by the Confederates at Eddyville on the Cumberland River while transporting supplies and barges of hay to Nashville.  [3] The Moderator on 1 May 1863 collided at night with the str Horizon a vessel owned at that time by Capt Thomas S Calhoon of Georgetown, PA.  The collision, a Civil War tragedy where many soldier lives were lost, occurred near Vicksburg. [4] 

The shining example of these steamboat men is a gift to those with a sense of history.  




[1] Arthur B Fox, Pittsburgh during the Civil War, 1860-1865, p. 31-32.
[2] Arthur B Fox, Pittsburgh during the Civil War, 1860-1865, p. 31-32.
[3] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 99.
[4] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 217.