Capture of the Steamers W. B. Terry and Samuel Orr, at Paducah, Ky.
AUGUST 22, 1861

Report of Maj. Gen. J. C. Frémont, U. S. Army, commanding Western Department.

HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
Saint Louis, August 25, 1861

Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D.C.

        SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith communications to my headquarters from Col. R.J. Oglesby, Eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteers, commanding at Cairo, Ill., reporting the circumstances of the capture of the steamer W. B. Terry, on the Ohio River, at Paducah, by the U.S. gunboat Lexington, and a statement by the officers of the mail steamboat Samuel Orr, running between Evansville and Paducah, in reference to her capture in reprisal for the above by a Paducah mob.
        Events have thus transpired clearly indicating the complicity of citizens of Kentucky with the rebel forces, and showing the impracticability of carrying on operations in that direction without involving the Kentucky shore.
        Colonel Oglesby has telegraphed to me this morning that he is to receive to-morrow a deputation from the governor of Kentucky, and he has furnished them a safeguard.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. FRÉMONT,
Major-General, Commanding.


Report of Col. Richard J. Oglesby, Eighth Illinois Infantry, commanding at Cairo, Illl.

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS,CAMP DEFIANCE,
Cairo, Ill., August 23, 1861

Maj. Gen. JOHN C. FRÉMONT,
Comdg. Dep't of the West, Saint Louis, Mo.

        SIR: In the affair of the little steamer W. B. Terry, taken by Captain Stembel, of gunboat Lexington, yesterday morning, at Paducah, Ky., I had indisputable proof, which an examination of her papers found on board confirms, that she was running in the employment of the Confederate States. Without hesitating upon the neutrality of Kentucky, I ordered her capture. She turns out to be of no great value, say, vessel and furniture, $3,000. To the Confederates three times that sum will not compensate the loss. I have had her valued by a commission of my own appointment, and the papers filed at these headquarters. I am at a loss what further to do with her legally. Of course I shall use her, if necessary to do so.
        Of course Paducah was in confusion, and his excellency the governor may become indignant. The result is, that yesterday the crew of the Terry, led by the captain and a few citizens, seized the steamer Samuel Orr, from Evansville, the private property of private citizens of Indiana --a retaliation more vindictive than sensible, as they thus destroy the last means of illicit trade with the border States north of the Ohio. Nevertheless, they have the boat and cargo, worth, say, $25,000. I would like to go up the Tennessee River and make the reprisal. I send herewith a copy of the statement of the captain and officers of the Samuel Orr, and also transmit copy of report [No. 3] of Capt. R. N. Stem-bel, commanding gunboat Lexington.

Hoping my action may meet your approval, I am, most respectfully, yours,
R. J. OGLESBY,
Colonel, Commanding Forces at Cairo.

[Inclosure.]

CAIRO, ILL.,
August
23, 1861.

        The steamboat Samuel Orr, running as the regular mail-boat from Evansville to Paducah, was, on the 22d of August, 1861, forcibly taken by a mob at Paducah, Ky., from the crew in command, and taken up the Tennessee River. The boat was new, and worth $15,000. It had on board a miscellaneous cargo, worth about $10,000. The principal owners are citizens of Evansville, and the actors in the seizure were Captain Johnson, late commander of the steamboat W. B. Terry, White Fowler, A.M. Winston, and about 40 or 50 other persons,. we believe all citizens of Paducah. Several shots were fired by the assailants, wounding two persons.
        We were all of us hurriedly driven from the boat, without allowing us (except in one or two instances) the privilege of bringing away our clothing or baggage.
        It is but justice to say that some of the leading citizens of the town were loud in their condemnations of this act, but no measures were taken, as far as we know, to prevent it.

Respectfully,
W. H. McCLURG, Captain.
THOMAS DE SOUCHET, Clerk.
W. H. LONGNECKER, Clerk.
F. F. DE SOUCHET, Clerk.
A. J. DUNCAN, Esq.
ROBERT REDDEN, Esq.


Report of Commander R. N. Stembel, U. S. Navy.

U.S. GUNBOAT LEXINGTON,
Cairo, August 22, 1861

Colonel OGLESBY,
Commander Military Post, Cairo, Ill.

        COLONEL: Agreeably to your verbal order, communicated to me at midnight of the 21st instant, I got under way, and proceeded to Paducah, Ky., where I arrived at 7.03 a.m. The gentleman you placed on board to designate the steamer employed in the rebel trade and carrying their flag pointed out the W. B. Terry as being the vessel thus illegally engaged. I ran alongside of her, cut her out, made her fast to the Lexington, and immediately returned to this anchorage and placed her in your possession. I was not opposed in the performance of this duty by either the citizens of Paducah or the officers and crew of the Terry, for the latter, evidently suspecting my object, left the boat hastily, with such articles of clothing as were at hand. I was therefore unsuccessful in capturing any of them.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. N. STEMBEL,
Commander, U. S. Navy.

This Page last updated 10/20/01

RETURN TO NAVAL WAR OVERVIEW