War of the Rebellion: Serial 077 Page 0881 Chapter LI. ATTACK ON STEAMER BELLE SAINT LOUIS.

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All on board the boat acknowledge that the gallant acts of Majors Beeler and Smith were the means of saving the boat and probably the lives of all on board. We all felt that they had lost their own lines in their successful efforts to save ours, and also to preserve the Government property on board, and we shall always hold them in affectionate remembrance and mourn the loss of two such efficient and gallant officers from our corps. Mr. L. F. McGowan, clerk to Major Dickson, was also seriously wounded, his left arm having been broken by a musket-ball, which also passed through the fleshy part of his breast.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Paymaster, U. S. Army.


Washington, D. C.

Numbers 3. Report of Colonel Loren Kent, Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry.

CAIRO, ILL., October 29, 1864.

SIR: As the senior officer on board, under orders from headquarters District of WEST Tennessee, I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the trip of the steamer Belle Saint Louis, from Memphis, Tenn., to this place:

We left Memphis at or about 6 p. m. of the 27th instant with a large number of passengers, including several officers and about FIFTY discharged and furloughed soldiers. Of this number six were paymasters returning to Saint Louis from payment of troops in the field. They had with them, I was informed by one of the corps, about $40,000. The steamer reached Randolph, Tenn., about 12 o'clock of same night, landed, and proceeded to take on board eight bales of cotton under permit of the military authorities at Memphis, the port from which the boat was cleared. The cotton belonged to one Harris, who was the first to leave the boat. He appeared to hasten at once to the top of the bank and immediately a party of armed rebels, numbering, I should think, at least FIFTY, rushed toward the boat, discharging their arms, and attempted to get on. Only six of them succeeded, as Captain Alexander Zeigler, master, as soon as they were discovered, ordered that the steamer be backed into the stream, which was done, leaving the second clerk, Mr. George Atherton, and crew ashore. The rebels on board entered the engine-room at once, ordered the engine to be reversed, and the boat run to the landing. By their knowledge of their duties and their coolness they succeeded in only complying with part of their orders, and kept the boat at a sufficient distance from the shore to prevent others from getting on board. Defeated in their effort these rebels then attempted to reach the pilot and compel him to execute the orders they had given the engineers. But this time the passengers had not only become thoroughly aroused, but most thoroughly panic-stricken. The appearance of the rebels in the cabin and their orders to surrender gave rise on the part of many to the belief that we were then past relief. The only arms on board were pistols in possession of officers, and in many cases these were either with their baggage in the party's room or in unserviceable condition. My first effort upon observing the critical condition of affairs was to see that orders were given not to