Riverboats and The Civil War

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I am editing a diary of J.H. Durgin, a POW held at Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas who was paroled in October 1864.
They were marched to Shreveport and put on Steamers to be taken down the Red River. Apparently the river was too low at Alexandria, and they were disembarked.
His diary references that the two steamers used between Shreveport and Alexandria were the "Dixie" and the "Celia".
From Alexandria to Red River Landing the steamers "T.S. Conley" and "Champion # 3" were used.
I have seen several references to the Champion.
Col. Ignatius Syzmanski, a wealthy Louisiana sugar planter was the CS Commissioner of exchange, and apparently had hired the Champion for his service in 1864 and 1865.
He travelled with his own personal brass band and set a good table.
His federal counterparts liked dealing with him because of his geniality and hospitality.
On the evening of October 14, 1864, the US prisoners were serenaded by his band playing "home-sweet home" as they boarded the Champion.

I could not find anything regarding the Conlely, Dixie, or Celia on your web site. Do you perchance have anything on them?

Randy Gilbert


Submitted to Ships Log, 02/12/03 by Bill Piper - bandcpiper@AOL.com
From letters of Pvt.Duncan McArthur, Co. K, 14th Illinois Volunteers:

Dated 25 February 1862: ....We left Cairo yesterday morning, the 24th, with our teams onboard the steamer ECONOMY bound for Ft. Donelson. This morning at three o'clock she struck a floating log and knocked a hole in her bow. They ran her to shore and put their pumps to work. They kept her up until we got the mules off and part of the wagon beds and some harness. The running gears of the wagons was down in the hull, so they went down with the boat. She is a total wreck.

Dated March 25, 1862..... We left Ft. Donelson on the 5th. We got to Ft. Henry on the 6th. We laid there one day then we moved six miles above to Happy Landing. We stayed there one day. Monday the 10th, the Regiment went on board the steamer D.A. JANUARY and left us teamsters there in the mud. We laid there until Sunday the 16th. We went on board the steamer CHAMPION No. 3. While going up we stopped to wood. While wooding, the WAR EAGLE loaded within a half a mile, when we saw her firng. We paid no attention to it. We thought they was just trying their guns. We soon overtook them and they told us they had been fired into by some Secesh that was hid along the bank......On the 18th we went 10 miles above and went on shore at a place called Pittsburg Landing......They have sent all the sick on the hospital boat, CITY of MEMPHIS; today they are agoing down river.

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12., 13., and 14. July and August 1861
"On the seventeenth of August 1861 (14) Capt. Cason had word... that two steamboats [the White Cloud and the McDowell] loaded with troops were coming down the river en route to St. Louis. An ambuscade was... formed on the Howard County side, and almost... opposite Saline City. Here the current of the river sweeps very near to the shore.... Unsuspicious of danger and crowded with a human freight ... the boats... swept swiftly along. A sudden flame leaped out from the bushes ... and then on the crowded decks were terror, confusion, bleeding men and dead men. For nearly an hour Cason fought the boats thus, making of every embankment and earthwork, and of every tree a fortress. Finally a landing was effected and two pieces of cannon hurried ashore, and used for shelling the timber which concealed the Guerrillas. Cason held on. As the infantry advanced he fell back; as the infantry retired he advanced.... Night alone ended the savage duel, the Federal loss being about sixty-two killed and nearly a hundred wounded.' Edwards adds that following the above activities Capt. Cason went South with most of his men. (See also the History of Howard and Cooper Counties, P. 284)

A full line of quality suppliments

From The Diary Of Joseph T. Anderson, storekeeper, Commerce Mo.
- Monday June 24th, 1861. "Our town was surprised on Saturday night by the arrival of Steamer City of Alton with 1200 soldiers. She landed about half past 11 o'clock at night. I had not gone to bed on account of a party at J. M. Jehlen's. It broke up about 11 o'clock and when I came to the store I heard a steamer coming up and I awaited its arrival for I was waiting for the Perry to ship Wm. Burgesses goods and she came up without whistling. We still Thought it was the Perry. I went down with my lantern and I saw A.R. Newman come down from his store with a letter to send to St. Louis and behold when she came in, we saw it was a boat loaded with soldiers. As soon as the planks were put out, they began to crowd off. Newman and I stood close to the boat all the time they were coming off. Meanwhile I noticed that two soldiers stood very close to us, one on each side of Newman. When the horses began to come off, they got so thick that we started to get out of their way. I got up on the wood pile and Newman started to go around the end of the wood pile, and the soldiers just laid their hands on his shoulders and took him on the boat; they had not more than done this when here came four or five soldiers with M. Ellison and more prisoners. I stayed around the warf until about 1 o'clock and I went home and went to bed. The soldiers marched out for the camp but found no men. They began to drop back about 9 o'clock Sunday Night and about 10 o'clock on Monday they all got in. They stayed asround till 12 o'clock awaiting dinner, as they had no provisions on the boat for the reason that they called away from Cairo on very short notice and only brought provisions for about one day, thinking that they could go in and take the Southern people that had formed the company at Benton and get back in a day. A little after 12 they all got on the boat and left for up the river to meet a company of men that went up the river to take a disunion flag that had been raised in the hills. About morning they bid us adieu by firing a cannon three times and playing fifes and drums, but before they left their musicians went all around town and serenaded the people at their houses that had been so kind as to feed them. They praised the people of Commerce greatly and particularly the ladies.
- Friday, July 12th, 1861. " . . . Soon after having landed a regiment of troops at Cape Girardeau, the City of Alton passed down this morning loaded with soldiers.
- December, Sunday, 1861. " . . . About 2 o'clock this evening I was sitting in the store when a Negro came to the door and said 'the town is full of Seccessionists'. I ran to the door when who should I see but Jeff Thompson and about thrity or forty men. He immediately came into the store and not waiting to be dinied commenced taking all that was in shape of clothing, boots, etc., to the amount of $300.00 and then said to his men to go into the other store and take the ballance from him. They stayed here about an hour when a boat came in sight, The "City of Alton". They immediately hid themselves till the boat came up and was almost against the shore befor she found that Jeff was here. Some of the citizens informed her of his presence and she began to back out and then commenced shooting but the boat kept backing and they kept shooting as long as she was in shooting distance. The boat went back to Max Island and landed. The secessionists stayed here about half an hour, after and left. Two or three of the citizens got into a skiff and started for the boat. She took them in and went by to Cape (Giradeau) as hard as she could."

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