Steamboats 1854-56


Built: 1854, Fulton, Cincinnati, Ohio.
 Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
225′ x 27′, 296 tons.
Boilers: Three boilers.

Built by the Minnesota Packet Company, the WAR EAGLE operated mostly between Galena & St.Paul, and Dunleith & St.Paul. During a trip on the Tennessee River for the Union in 1862, she was attacked while wooding up at the riverbank, taking a shot in one of her stacks. She had a most ornate cupola on her pilot-house with an eagle over the wheel.

The Northwestern Union Packet Company acquired her when taking over the Minnesota Packet Company circa 1864.

She was destroyed by fire on May 15, 1870, at La Crosse, Wisconsin, with the loss of six lives.


Built: circa 1855.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size:  Unknown except for Harpers Weekly illustration.

On July 16, 1863, the steamboat IMPERIAL arrived in New Orleans from St. Louis, marking the opening of the Mississippi River in the closing stages of the Civil War, following the cessation of river traffic in 1861. She had left St. Louis on July 8, four days after the surrender of Vicksburg to General Grant.

The whole town was thrown into a state of pleasing excitement on Thursday last, just after the CREOLE sailed, by the sudden appearance at the levee of the large steamboat IMPERIAL, just in from St. Louis. She came down freighted with some 600 head of cattle, part of a large haul that was made at Natchez a short time ago. She had a pleasant, unmolested trip all the way down, and reported the river perfectly quiet between this and St. Louis.

The IMPERIAL is an immense, showy vessel, one of the first-class river steamers, which completely dwarfs the LAUREL HILL, EMPIRE PARISH, and others that we have been long accustomed to look upon as leviathans. But it was not her size nor fine equipments which impressed the eager multitudes who thronged to see her; it was the fact that she was the first freight boat which had ventured down the Mississippi since the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson; and every one who gazed upon her proud form saw in her the embodiment of reawakened commerce with the Mississippi Valley. She staid in New Orleans just long enough to receive the greetings of hundreds, and then went on to Carrollton, near the city, where she unloaded her living freight.
Credit:~ Harpers Weekly, August 8, 1863.


Built: 1856, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Type: Sidewheel, wooden hull packet.
Size: 226 feet, 329 tons.

Built for the La Crosse and Minnesota Packet Company, the NORTHERN BELLE was commanded by Capt. Preston Lodwick, and by Capt. Jesse Y. Hurd during 1858-59, trading between Galena, Dunleith, Dubuque and La Crosse.

She raced the KEY CITY in 1856 and lost, however she was well run and has the considerable distinction of being the ‘longest lived steamboat’ on the river.

The NORTHERN BELLE transported Civil War troops in 1861 while under the command of Capt. W. H. Laughton, and was eventually demoted to wharf-boat duty.