Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Civil War Photo Friday: a tinclad on the Missouri River

One of the reasons Missouri was so important to both sides in the Civil War was its waterways. The eastern boundary of the state is defined by the Mississippi River, the lifeline for the region's industry and agriculture. The Missouri River, flowing from west to east, neatly cuts the state in half and was important as a commercial waterway for Missouri and Kansas.

While the Union firmly established control of the Missouri River at the first significant battle in the state and indeed the whole country, The Battle of Boonville, fighting over the Mississippi raged the entire war. The Union took Vicksburg in 1863 and the river became a waterway for naval gunboats, but the Confederacy never stopped harassing shipping.

This picture is of the USS Naiad, taken in 1863. This stern-wheel steamer was fitted with armor and eight 24-pounder guns. It patrolled the rivers and fought Confederate artillery batteries that were firing on shipping from the shore. That strange rake-like device on the front was a minesweeper. Mines were in their infancy in those days, but the infernal devices appeared on land and at sea. The Civil War Daily Gazette has an interesting post about the first river mines (called topedoes back then).

The Naiad was sold after the war, renamed the Princess, and sank at Napoleon, Missouri, in 1868.

My Civil War novel, A Fine Likeness, only indirectly touches on the naval aspect of the war. Captain Richard Addison's only surviving son, Allen, serves on board the USS Essex. While we only hear about Allen through letters, he's one of the protagonists in the sequal to A Fine Likeness. More on his historic ship in a later post!
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]


  1. Interesting post, Sean. I'll have to research where Napoleon, MO, is.

  2. It's on the south bank of the Missouri River about 15 miles upriver (west) of Lexington.

  3. got to admire you research and ability to mine the incredible past! great stuff



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