Sunday, November 2, 2014

Finding A Sailor on a Mississippi River Steamboat in the Civil War

Last week I read "Shiloh" by James Reasoner about the Battle of Shiloh in the Civil War. I was particularly interested in this book of the series because one of my relatives fought as a Confederate soldier in this battle. This book of historical fiction, however, focused on a character who fought in the battle from a steamboat.

Yes, my history background is weak, though I am actively making it stronger. But, I didn't know that steamboats played a part in the Civil War. As I read about the character's experience on the steamboat and then fighting in the battle, I wished that I had a relative who'd worked on a steamboat on the Mississippi River.

Lookout Steamer on the Tennessee River ca. 1860-1865
public domain image by Mathew Brady found on Wikipedia
That was only days ago, and today I stumbled upon a newspaper article that ties my family not only to a steamboat, but to a steamboat which was an 'active participant' in the Battle of Shiloh! How amazing!

According to "Tennessee Online," the "Union Naval Fleet deployed to the Battle of Shiloh was the largest assembled and said to exceed the Spanish Armada in number. It included 14 armed river boats and 153 steamboats."

C. R. Viney was married to Augusta "Gussie" Viney who was a daughter of my great, great, great grandfather, Guenther Werther. Gussie was born in Germany and came to America as a young girl. (Her brother, Kenny, is the father of Ollie (Werther) Crockett whose murder I wrote about in my last post.)

According to his obituary in The Wichita Beacon dated March 15, 1902, "Mr. Viney was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1839. He moved to the United States when still a young man and secured a position as a sailor on a Mississippi river steamboat.... When the civil war broke out, the boat on which [he was] working was purchased by the government for a dispatch boat and [he] remained with it throughout the war. The vessel took an active part in the battles of Vicksburg and Shilo and in several others of historical importance."

I can't wait to uncover more of C. R.'s interesting life! I am looking for his military records and seeing if I can find any more newspaper clippings. is my favorite genealogical tool lately. You never know what you'll discover!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at

Another Pioneer, The Wichita Beacon, 15 Mar 1902, page 5, column 1, digital image, (; accessed 30 Oct 2014)

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