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  1. Grant Marsh, Steamboat Captain For those of us who have engaged in the activity of searching through libraries, archives, private collections and that Jekyll and Hyde tool known as the internet; following up leads to see if we can find something new and pertinent to the subject of the research. Expectations are crushed sometimes but other times you run across something in a file or a book that gives you great satisfaction that you found it but even greater satisfaction when you share it with the intent of adding to the knowledge of all those interested in the Battle of Shiloh. If you are familiar with the Sioux expedition of 1876 which has one of its aspects the Battle of the Little Big Horn; I say one of its aspects because after the battle the survivors of 7th cavalry remained in the field pursuing the foe that had wiped out a large number of the regiment and killed their dashing leader, General George Armstrong Custer, civil war hero, Injun fighter and just all around good guy. If there is steam coming out of your ears because of that last statement; good. Now to the subject of this post. Some of you know who Grant Marsh was but for those of you who do not he was the captain in charge of the steamboat Far West that escorted the expedition up the Yellowstone River. After the Battle of the Little Big Horn he moved as far up the Bighorn as possible and received the wounded from the fight and flew downstream to Fort Lincoln at Bismarck, North Dakota. He made 710 river miles in 54 hours. I ran across a biography of Grant Marsh titled The Conquest of the Missouri – Being the Story of the Life and Exploits of Captain Grant Marsh. Marsh started his river career as a twelve-year old cabin boy signing on a steamer in Pittsburg, Pa in 1846. In the spring of 1862 he was the mate on the John P. Roe which Mark Twain wrote about as being so slow that after it sank it took its owners five years to find out about it. The Roe joined the flotilla of ships transporting the Army of Tennessee to the area of Savannah, Tennessee and Pittsburg Landing. On the trip from St. Louis the Roe took on board the 8th Missouri and the 11th Indiana and Major General Lew Wallace and deposited them at Crump’s Landing. A few days before the battle of Shiloh a barge full of army wagons was marooned on the shore near Savannah when the water level in the river suddenly dropped over night. The Roe was at Pittsburg Landing but Grant Marsh and a shipmate, Frank Borden, were sent downriver to Savannah to work the barge off the shore with the assistance of a contingent from the 14th Wisconsin. The barge was within sight of the Cherry Mansion so they were able to observe the comings and goings of General Grant on his headquarters steamer, the Tigress. The following information was given about the Tigress: “This boat was a small, side-wheel, Ohio River packet named the Tigress, and was commanded by Captain Perkins. Before the war she had been accustomed to go to the lower Mississippi during the winter months and there engage in the cotton trade, and she was regarded as a speedy boat for her class.” Grant obviously chose the Tigress to shepherd himself between Savannah and Pittsburg Landing because of its speed. On the evening of April 5, 1862 Grant Marsh and Frank Borden turned in expecting to finish the task of floating the barge the next day. The following is straight from the book: “No news had come of a disturbing nature and all was quiet along the wide front of the army. But when they awoke at dawn it was to hear the morning air throbbing with sounds which drove all thought of the barge from their minds. It was the roar of artillery beating down from Pittsburg Landing, seven miles away, while in the clustered infantry camps about Savannah arose a turmoil of excited preparation. Marsh and Borden threw on their clothes and ran to the river bank, where in the first dim flush of dawn the Tigress, with steam up, lay fretting at the landing. Just as they arrived, General Grant and his staff and orderlies, all mounted, came clattering down the bank and rode aboard. The two steamboat men, considering, simply and loyally, that at such a time their place was with the John J. Roe, scrambled aboard also, and in a moment the lines were cast off, and the Tigress, trembling in every timber, was rushing away up the river. General Grant had dismounted from his big buckskin horse and seated himself in a chair on the boiler deck near the front stairs. Here, surrounded by his staff, he calmly listened to the roar of battle. The boat had proceeded but a mile or two when she met the steamer John Warner racing downstream. The Warner hailed, and on both boats slowing down, a lieutenant hurried on board the Tigress, bearing a dispatch from General Stephan A. Hurlbut to General Grant. Hurlbut was in command of one of the five hard-pressed divisions now hotly engaged near Shiloh Church with Hardee’s and Bragg’s advance. Marsh was standing near Grant when the staff-officer handed the latter his dispatch and verbally reported that the enemy were massed in great numbers all along the front and were driving the army back on the river. With perfect composure Grant read Hurlbut’s message and listened to the remarks of the bearer. He did not move from his chair, and his only comment was to the effect that when he arrived he would surround the enemy.” The interesting fact here is that Grant received word from Hurlbut about the attack before he stopped and spoke with Lew Wallace at Crump’s Landing. That bears on the question as to why Grant did not order Lew Wallace to proceed to Pittsburg Landing immediately rather than wait for orders. Marsh and Borden found the John J. Roe with steam up at the landing and the boat made several trips between Savannah and Pittsburg Landing ferrying troops to the battlefield and then participated in moving Buell’s troops from the east side of the river to the west side during the night. The book tells the story of a boat full of pontoons arriving at the landing during the battle and John Rawlins telling the Captain to go away. Also, another boat arrived at the landing towing two barges of ammunition. A Confederate shell landed in the water near the barges and the Captain thought it would be prudent to cut the barges loose and leave the landing but the ever present Rawlins convinced him otherwise. On April 8th Marsh walked over the battlefield and then that evening the John J. Roe left Pittsburg Landing with 600 wounded men to hospitals in Evansville, Indiana and St. Louis. Grant’s headquarter’s boat would be sunk the following year, April 22, 1863 when trying to run the guns at Vicksburg. The former U. S. Custom House in Cairo, Illinois is now a museum and there you can see the flagpole from the Tigress that was salvaged by its captain. They also have Grant’s desk that he used while in Cairo planning the movements up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. You can download the Grant Marsh biography off the internet. Here is a link to a story about the Tigress and the flagpole. www.sdgs.usd.edu/pubs/Scans/WaterwaysJournal/1999-1018.pdf I attached some photos. This is my first time trying this so I hope it works OK. Grant Marsh became famous with his exploits during the 1876 Sioux campaign and it is interesting that he traveled with Grant on the Tigress the morning of April 6, 1862. Hank
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