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.  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.”. 
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.
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.
 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.
 Regimental History of the 11th Illinois Infantry.
 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
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