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Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Where the War REALLY was Won (and who won it)

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  • Tom Gilbert
    Fran: Exceptionally interesting post!  I did a short study of the river war during my graduate study in the 1990 s, and I was impressed to find that three
    Message 1 of 62 , Sep 22, 2009
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      Exceptionally interesting post!  I did a short study of the river war during my graduate study in the 1990's, and I was impressed to find that three gunboats in particular seemed almost ubiquitous - the Conestoga (built up the Mon in Brownsville Pa), the Lexington (Belle Vernon, also up the Mon), and the Tyler (Cincinnati) .. they always seemed to be in the thick of things throughout the western theater .. wanted to a more in-depth study, but as yet have never gotten around to it .. I live only a few miles from Brownsville and Belle Vernon, so I suppose I might be in a good position to do research on their construction .. maybe someday .. Tom Gilbert

      --- On Tue, 9/22/09, daz0463 <fwnash@...> wrote:

      From: daz0463 <fwnash@...>
      Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Where the War REALLY was Won (and who won it)
      To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 2:53 PM

      From the date of your post, it is obvious that I took quite some time to formulate my response. After considerable thought and analysis, I've come to my conclusion. The Civil War was won in:

      Pittsburgh = Steeler Country

      And was won by western Pennsylvanian rivermen.

      Some believe the momentum of the Civil War changed after victories in the Western Theater, whether Vicksburg or Shiloh. If this premise is true, then what were the major enablers that differed from the east? The major advantages of the Union Army were the tall stack steamers: civilian transports, tinclads, and gunboats, and their men: captains, pilots, engineers, and crews, who operated the transports. The origin of these advantages, and other support goods, was Pittsburgh.

      A mindful analysis of the Charles and E Kay Gibson's "Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels, Steam and Sail, Employed by the Union Army 1861-1868", indicates that approximately 720 steamboats were employed on the western rivers during the Civil War. The Army Quartermaster built and purchased 105 and chartered 615. Cross referencing those steamboats by name with Capt Frederick Way's "Way's Packet Directory, 1848-1994" revealed that just over 44% of the steamboats were built in Pittsburgh. My definition of "Pittsburgh" is the region on the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers approximately 20 miles down the Ohio and 20 miles up the Mon from Pittsburgh. That region includes boatyards in river towns such as Freedom, Shousetown (no longer exists), Elizabeth (Lewis and Clark keelboat fame), Brownsville, McKeesport, California, Belle Vernon ... That region is about 4% of the total run of the Ohio River.

      From Gibsons Dictionary I have included all the boats which means packets built as far up the Mississippi as Keokuk, IA and as far down as New Orleans, LA and in Bridgeport, AL on the Tennessee River. So my 40 miles of water surrounding Pittsburgh is competing with all the boatyards on the rest of the Ohio plus nearly the full length of the Mississippi and the Tennessee rivers. Gunboats also skewed the data against Pittsburgh. Gunboats were built specifically for the Quartermaster in strange places such as Oquaka, IL, Burlington, IA, Chatanooga, TN, etc. These sites were not commercial boatyards like those found in Cincinnati, OH, New Albany, IN, and Elizabeth, PA.

      The sources used to identify the steamers on the western rivers were the primary sources of Gibson's Dictionary part 2 and 3 of HR-337 and one secondary source identified as Hurst which refers to a list in "The Battle of Shiloh" by TM Hurst. The Gibsons do not list the build port for the steamers. By cross referencing the name provided by the Gibsons with the build location in Way's Directory, I have my data.

      I confess I lost 13.6% of the Gibson steamers. In most cases, the names identified by the Gibsons did not match with Way's Packet Directory. The missing steamers I believe were often tugs and ferries not listed by Capt Way because they were not packets. In a few cases the names did match but I excluded the boats if either the vessel was out of service before the war or not built until after the war according to Way's Directory. I trust Capt Way more than the Gibsons.

      In addition to the boatyards, Pittsburgh was the major iron works center in the Union. Approximately 60% of the artillery used by the Union Army was forged in Pittsburgh. Rails for the railroad systems were also forged in Pittsburgh, although the railroads contributed no or little advantage in the west. Theses two additional products, artillery and rails, provide the mortar to keep my main conclusion standing. Without experiencing a single warlike day, Pittsburgh provided the underlying support that changed the momentum of the war.

      A different yet interesting line of research would be: How different would have been the outcome of the Civil War without the steamboats pilots who knew the chutes, channels and shoals of the Ohio and its tributaries?

      Note 1: I was surprised that Pittsburgh's steamboats did not total more than 50%. Alas, I had spent too much time not to respond with the data at hand. For the Missouri River commerce of the late 1860's, Pittsburgh produced approx 70% of the packets. I was also amazed by the number of packets built in Cincinnati. Far more than any other single site, but far less than the Pittsburgh region according to my definition of the region. I had no idea Cincinnati had such a river history. To honor the history of Cincinnati's contributions to the epoch of steamboats, I will celebrate with a case of Little Kings.

      Note 2: The Chaplain of the 72nd Ohio Infantry was Rev Adam B Poe, one of the founders of Ohio Wesleyan College. Three of his first cousins from Georgetown, PA were packet owners and captains who steamed to Pittsburg Landing in Apr 1862: Jacob, Thomas W, and Adam Poe. Another Georgetown steamboat captain, Jackman T Stockdale, was also at Pittsburg Landing on 6-7 Apr 1862. Two Georgetown captains, George W Ebert and Richard Calhoon, and their vessels were chartered at the correct time, but I can not place them at Pittsburg Landing. About that time George W Ebert had been running messages between Helena, AR, Memphis, TN and St Louis, MO. Richard Calhoon had been transporting troops and supplies along the Ohio. I am curious whether the reverend and the captains knew.

      Fran Nash

      --- In civilwarwest@ yahoogroups. com, "jbissla" <gabriel@... > wrote:
      > The American Civil War Western Theater Discussion Group is a great
      > forum for the 600-plus men and women who see significance in what
      > happened westward from the Appalachians. Millions of other Americans,
      > however, STILL assume the "real war" occurred mostly in Virginia, and
      > Gettysburg was the war's turning point. For those of us who believe the
      > war's outcome was shaped in the Western Theater instead, the popular
      > lack of awareness is a kind of continuation of the insults Easterners
      > used to heap on Westerners ("armed rabble," "drunkards," etc.). I have
      > just joined the small group of writers who argue the war's outcome was
      > shaped in the Western Theater by Westerners while Easteners were
      > achieving no more than (as Richard McMurry puts it) "a bloody strategic
      > stalemate." The battlefields of Virginia and nearby were great for
      > creating widows and orphans, but until Grant came east, not much else
      > that might end the war. My new book, "Blood, Tears, and Glory: How
      > Ohioans Won the Civil War" (see wwww.orangefrazer. com/btg) makes the
      > argument from one point of view; I hope others will chime in with
      > theirs. James (Jim) Bissland

    • fwnash@comcast.net
      This letter, published in the S&D Reflector in Dec 1969, was written by the mayor of Pittsburgh to recognize six steamboat captains and their vessels for their
      Message 62 of 62 , Nov 4, 2009
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        This letter, published in the S&D Reflector in Dec 1969, was written by the mayor of Pittsburgh to recognize six steamboat captains and their vessels for their service to the country. 


                                         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.



        My search for the original letter has failed to date.  To whom the letter was addressed is unknown.  What words were replaced?  The subject of the paragraph in the S&D Reflector was salaries of the captains of the steamers during the war.  Apparently, boats and crews who worked for no salary were not uncommon especially when pressed to service.


        The letter was also interesting from the steamer point of view.  Three boats were destroyed during the war.  In Jan 1865, the Emma collided with the Louisville ferry.  Both vessels were disabled and both floated helplessly over the falls.  A dramatic ending for the Emma.   The Clara Poe, bound for Nashville with supplies, was burned on 17 Apr 1865 by rebels along the Cumberland River .  That date was curious.  Hostilities in the west continued for about thirty days after Appomattox .  While running at night without lights, the Horizon collided with the Moderator near Vicksburg on 1 May 1863 resulting in the deaths of many soldiers.


        All six boats were built and manned from the Pittsburgh region.  The Clara Poe and the Horizon were owned and operated by my guys from Georgetown , PA. 


        Another description of the impact of the Civil War on river commerce is found in a brief editorial - The Golden Age of Steamboating.  If the hyperlink fails, the web page is:




        Research on RR capabilities during the Civil War continues. 

        Fran Nash





        ----- Original Message -----
        From: fwnash@...
        To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sunday, October 4, 2009 12:21:32 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
        Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Where the War REALLY was Won (and who won it)

        Mr K

        Wonderful story.   Thanks for sharing.   I often wonder what our great great grandchildren will think of our lives and artifacts.  


        Your phrase “marched along the RR towards Vicksburg ” peaked my interest.   As you are probably aware, my  interest involves inland river steamboats from 1850-1870.   I am also interested in Civil War railroads in Pittsburgh .   There is a CWWT topic “Railroads” dated 20 Oct 2002.   After I read the entries, I may throw out another possibly nutty idea .  


        Speaking of crazy, did we reach any conclusion on where the war was won, and who won it?   Vicksburg and the Pook Turtles or Pittsburgh and the rivermen or?!?  Currently, t he topic has more than sixty entries and, in my opinion, the discussion h as been  quite interesting and entertaining .  

        Fran Nash

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "edkiniry" <wah_mei_1388@...>
        To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Saturday, October 3, 2009 12:35:53 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
        Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Where the War REALLY was Won (and who won it)

        Thank you for asking. The story is in a small notebook that my mother used as a diary and a record of her collage days, about 1918. I found this story under a heading "Stories my father told me about the Civil War."I will parapharase.

        I took sick after Shiloh and was sent to a hospital in Mound City. after a few weeks I wanted to return to my unit but the doctors thought I should still nurse. I found two soldiers who wanted to stay and nurse but were to be released and did not want to go. Me and my partner changed names with them and we left. We were traveling to the unit, in Tennessee, when we were caught by the sentries. we were taken before General Grant for a disposition. He said to the sentries "These boys are all right, let them return to their unit, but you shall make sure they get there." They joined the battery in time for Grant's march along the RR toward Vicksburg, and fell back when Van Dorn raided their supply depot at Holly Springs.

        I couldn't believe what I was reading, swapped identities, a meeting of two privates under guard, with General Grant and it turned out O. K. and it was MY grandfather.
        I am extremely glad that "mom" quieried her father about his experiences and recorded them.

        An interesting side note: The Federals could not communicate with Sherman, that they would not make their part of the attack, but the rebels notified Pemberton of what had happened. It was approximately the same distance, but Forrest had made havoc with the Federal communications in Tennessee, and Grant could not tell Sherman that it was "all off."


        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "carlw4514" <carlw4514@...> wrote:
        > David, we would love to hear that story... and I too scold keeno2 [will?] for being dense and saying none were built in ILL.

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