February 16, 1857: Monday– Sam boarded the packet Paul Jones (353 tons), on its way from Pittsburgh, for passage to New Orleans, commanded by Hiram K. Hazlett and piloted by Horace E. Bixby (1826-1912) and Jerry Mason. Sam claimed in his autobiography that his intention was to travel to the Amazon, but could not find passage once in New Orleans. His other longtime dream of becoming a steamboat pilot then took over and he approached Bixby about becoming his assistant. Bixby had a sore foot, which made standing at the wheel painful, so Sam did “a lot of steering” for him.
Sam’s impressions of the Paul Jones: “I was in Cincinnati. . . I packed my valise, and took passage on an ancient tub called the PAUL JONES for New Orleans. For the sum of sixteen dollars I had the scarred and tarnished splendors of ‘her’ main saloon principally to myself, for she was not a creature to attract the eye of wiser travelers”.
February 17, 1857: Tuesday– The Paul Jones was “heavily loaded with ordnance for the Baton Rouge arsenal”. As the boat neared Louisville it ran onto rocks near Dick Smith’s wharf and stuck for more than 24 hours.
February 19, 1857: Thursday– The Paul Jones left Louisville.
February 23, 1857: Monday– The Paul Jones reached Memphis.
February 28, 1857: Saturday– The Paul Jones reached New Orleans.
March 4, 1857 Wednesday – Commanded by Patrick Yore and piloted by Horace Bixby, the Colonel Crossman (415 tons) left New Orleans with Sam aboard bound for St. Louis.
March 15, 1857: Sunday – The Colonel Crossman arrived in St. Louis.
April 29, 1857: Wednesday – Sam left St. Louis on the Crescent City (688 tons), bound for New Orleans.
May 4? Monday – The Crescent City arrived in New Orleans.
May 8–9? Saturday – The Crescent City left New Orleans bound for St. Louis.
May 16–19? Tuesday – The Crescent City arrived in St. Louis. Note: approximate dates with ? are calculated from Branch’s assertion of three round trips rather than two, and his updating of information from MTL 1: 71.
Once in St. Louis, Sam went first to cousin James Clemens, Jr., and then to brother-in-law William Moffett to secure the loan of $100 with which to pay Bixby a down payment [MTL 1: 71].
May 22, 1857: Friday – The Crescent City left St. Louis bound for New Orleans, with Sam as the official cub pilot. From this date until May 1861, Sam learned and worked his new trade as a steamboat pilot. He made exceptional pay once licensed and loved the work. Only the closing of river traffic with the Civil War cost Sam this job. It is one of the side benefits of the war that Sam was forced off the river and into the West to discover his true calling. Still, without those years on the Mississippi, Sam might never have reached his pinnacle as the “Lincoln of our literature” [MTL 1: 71].
May 27, 1857: Wednesday – Sam arrived in New Orleans on the Crescent City, cub under Horace Bixby. Nearly all of Sam’s piloting was between New Orleans and St. Louis, some 1,300 miles.
Bixby taught Sam that he must memorize every mile of the trip, that each side of the river, coming and going was different, and that at night nothing looked the same. To make it more difficult, the river was constantly shifting its banks. Sam was boggled by what was required of him [MTL 1: 71].
May 31, 1857: Sunday – Sam visited the French market in the morning. He wrote of it the next day to Annie.
June 1, 1857: Monday – In New Orleans, Sam wrote to Annie Taylor: New Orleans:
My Dear Friend Annie ... I visited the French market yesterday (Sunday) morning. I think it would have done my very boots good to have met half a dozen Keokuk girls there, as I used to meet them at market in the Gate City. But it could not be. However, I did find several acquaintances—two pretty girls, with their two beaux—sipping coffee at one of the stalls. I thought I had seen all kinds of markets before—but that was a great mistake—this being a place such as I had never dreamed of before. Everything was arranged in such beautiful order, and had such an air of cleanliness and neatness that it was a pleasure to wander among the stalls. The pretty pyramids of fresh fruit looked so delicious. Oranges, lemons, pineapples, bananas, figs, plantains, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries, plums, and various other fruits were to be seen on one table, while the next one bore a load of radishes, onions, squashes, peas, beans, sweet potatoes—well, everything imaginable in the vegetable line—and still further on were lobsters, oysters, clams—then milk, cheese, cakes, coffee, tea, nuts, apples, hot rolls, butter, etc.—then the various kinds of meats and poultry. Of course, the place was crowded (as most places in New Orleans are) with men, women and children of every age, color and nation. Out on the pavement were groups of Italians, French, Dutch, Irish, Spaniards, Indians, Chinese, Americans, English, and the Lord knows how many more different kinds of people, selling all kinds of articles—even clothing of every description, from a handkerchief down to a pair of boots, umbrellas, pins, combs, matches—in fact, anything you could possibly want—and keeping up a terrible din with their various cries. Today I visited one of the cemeteries—a veritable little city, for they bury everybody above ground here. All round the sides of the inclosure, which is in the heart of the city, there extends a large vault, about twelve feet high, containing three or four tiers of holes or tombs (they put the coffins into these holes endways, and then close up the opening with brick), one above another, and looking like a long 3- or 4-story house. The graveyard is laid off in regular, straight streets, strewed with white shells, and the fine, tall marble tombs (numbers of them containing but one corpse) fronting them and looking like so many miniature dwelling houses. You can find wreaths of flowers and crosses, cups of water, mottoes, small statuettes, etc., hanging in front of nearly every tomb. I noticed one beautiful white marble tomb, with a white lace curtain in front of it, under which, on a little shelf, were vases of fresh flowers, several little statuettes, and cups of water, while on the ground under the shelf were little orange and magnolia trees. It looked so pretty. The inscription was in French—said the occupant was a girl of 17, and finished by a wish from the mother that the stranger would drop a tear there, and thus aid her whose sorrow was more than one could bear. They say that the flowers upon many of these tombs are replaced every day by fresh ones. These were fresh, and the poor girl had been dead five years. There’s depth of affection! On another was the inscription, “To My Dear Mother,” with fresh flowers. The lady was 62 years old when she died, and she had been dead seven years. I spent half an hour watching the chameleons—strange animals, to change their clothes so often! I found a dingy looking one, drove him on a black rag, and he turned black as ink—drove him under a fresh leaf, and he turned the brightest green color you ever saw. On this date the Crescent City left for St. Louis.
June 9, 1857: Tuesday – Crescent City arrived St. Louis. Note: The following steamboat schedules are taken from [MTL 1: 387-90].
June 17, 1857: Wednesday – Crescent City left for New Orleans.
June 23, 1857: Tuesday – Crescent City arrived New Orleans.
June 28, 1857: Sunday – Crescent City left for St. Louis.
July 7, 1857: Tuesday – Crescent City arrived St. Louis.
July 11, 1857: Saturday – Sam and possibly Bixby transferred to the Rufus L. Lackland (710 tons) and departed St. Louis for New Orleans.
Note: Recently added to Schmidt’s website is the following note: “New research by Michael Marleau indicates that during this time frame Clemens most likely made a trip up the Missouri River with pilot Horace Bixby aboard the D. A. JANUARY. Edgar Branch never placed Clemens on the Missouri River and had previously theorized that Clemens was on board the RUFUS J. LACKLAND from 11 July to 3 August 1857. Further research by Michael Marleau includes a new interpretation of Clemens’ personal journals and indicates the 1859 dates are the most likely dates of service for the RUFUS J. LACKLAND as a licensed pilot.” Until such time as Marleau’s new citations are published, with dates and places for the purported Missouri River leg, the chronology will continue to present Edgar Branch’s conclusions. If Marleau’s information is confirmed, it would affect dates July 11 through Aug. 3 on the Lackland, and also re-date Sam’s comments about the steamboat (above) to July 21, 1859 in the New Orleans Crescent.
July 19 Sunday – Rufus L. Lackland arrived New Orleans.
July 23 Thursday – Rufus L. Lackland left for St. Louis.
August 3 Monday – Rufus L. Lackland arrived St. Louis.
August 5 Wednesday – Sam, cub pilot, was now under Zebulon “Zeb” Leavenworth (1830-1877) and/or Sobieski “Beck” Jolly (1831-1905) on the John J. Roe (691 tons). Bixby wanted to work the more lucrative Missouri and Sam had chosen to stay on the Mississippi run. The steamboat left St. Louis this date for New Orleans. It was a freighter and not allowed to carry passengers. Sam, about the Roe: I served a term as steersman in the pilot house. She was a freighter . . . It was a delightful old tug and she had a very spacious boiler-deck—just the place for moonlight dancing and daylight frolics. She was a charmingly leisurely boat and the slowest one on the planet. Up-stream she couldn’t even beat an island; down-stream she was never able to overtake the current. But she was a love of a steamboat.
August 14 Friday – John J. Roe arrived New Orleans.
August 18 Tuesday – John J. Roe left for St. Louis.
August 29 Saturday – John J. Roe arrived St. Louis.
September 2 Wednesday – John J. Roe left for New Orleans.
September 10 Thursday – John J. Roe arrived New Orleans.
September 15 Tuesday – John J. Roe left for St. Louis.
September 24 Thursday – John J. Roe arrived St. Louis.
October 9 Friday – Sam, cub pilot, now under Horace Bixby again with co-pilot, possibly Isaiah Sellers (1802-1864) on the William M. Morrison (662 tons). On this date the steamboat left St. Louis [Schmidt].
October 16 Friday – William M. Morrison arrived New Orleans.
October 19 Monday – William M. Morrison left for St. Louis.
October 26 Monday – William M. Morrison arrived St. Louis.
November 2 Monday – Sam was now under the infamous William Brown, co-pilot George Ealer (1829-1866) on the steamboat Pennsylvania (486 tons). The ship left this date for New Orleans. In Chapters 18-19 of Life on the Mississippi, Sam recounted the conflict with Brown: “…a middle-aged, long, slim, bony, smooth-shaven, horse-faced, ignorant, stingy, malicious, snarling, fault-hunting, mote-magnifying tyrant.” From their first meeting, nothing Sam did was right for Brown. Cub Sam would lie in his bunk at night thinking of creative ways to kill Brown. Imagination was all that was left to Sam, since it was a “penitentiary offense” to strike a steamboat pilot. The other cub on board was George Ritchie, who was blessed with serving watch only for the co-pilot George Ealer, as amiable as Brown was nasty. Whenever Sam took the wheel for Ealer’s watch, Ritchie would mimic Brown, which got old fast with Sam. The conflict between Brown and Sam would peak the next June [Schmidt].
November 8 Sunday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
November 10 Tuesday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis. With Brown gone, George Ealer was most likely the pilot.
November 16 Monday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
November 18 Wednesday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans.
November 24 Tuesday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
November 26 Thursday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis. About thirty miles above New Orleans it was struck by the Vicksburg and lost its wheelhouse. The boat was laid up for repairs near New Orleans for eleven weeks. Some accounts say the two boats were racing, an illegal but common activity for steamboats. On Mar. 19, 1858, Sam would give testimony for a lawsuit in the matter. His remarks include observations of the boat: I was on the PENNSYLVANIA as Steersman at the time of the collision in November last. I was not at the wheel at the time. At the moment of the collision I was standing on the Sky light deck, aft of the Pilot house…..I think that at the instant the VICKSBURG struck us that one of her engines was still going—and my reason for thinking so is, that she did not recede from us after she struck, but kept pressing on—the crash of timbers continued—the deck swayed under me, and I thought I heard the noise of her engines. It was over a minute after the VICKSBURG struck us, before she began to back away from us. After the boats came together, I heard the Captain of the VICKSBURG call to Captain Klinefelter, and I understood him to say that he (Capt White) “Knew that the VICKSBURG would run from the bar.” I am learning the river—have been learning it, now, about ten months. At that time I had been on the PENNSYLVANIA about three trips. The PENNSYLVANIA steers very easily, I was in the Pilot house that night before supper, and I noticed that she steered well—that is her general character for steering. The PENNSYLVANIA is a first class boat every way—she is large, and well finished for a passenger boat. The officers and crew which the PENNSYLVANIA had at the time of the collision were all of them capable sober and patient. When I was on the extreme stern of the PENNSYLVANIA as above stated, Capt Klinefelter was there—I do not know where he was after that. After the collision the VICKSBURG towed the PENNSYLVANIA to the right hand shore. The VICKSBURG then backed off. I am not exactly certain whether I was in a position to see her when she left us. I do not think she landed after she left us—I think she just backed out, ad went up the river. I am certain she did. John Klinefelter et. al. vs. Steamer Vicksburg, J. M. White, Master, National Archives [Marleau, “Eyewitness” 18-19].
November 27 to December 12 Saturday – Sam worked as a night watchman on the freight docks from seven in the evening until seven in the morning. He earned three dollars a night [Neider 100].n
November 30 Monday – Sam’s 22nd birthday.
December 13 Sunday – Sam was a steersman under Joseph Edward Montgomery (1817-1902) on the D.A. January, which left New Orleans on this date. The captain was Patrick Yore. Montgomery would later serve as a commodore of the Confederacy’s river fleet, which was destroyed in June 1862 at Memphis.
December 22 Tuesday – D.A. January arrived in St. Louis.
December, late – Sam no doubt spent the holidays with his family before returning to New Orleans [MTL 1: 75].
January 14 Thursday – Sam may have made the return trip on the New Falls City, an 880 ton side-wheeler freshly built that month, with Captain Montgomery. The licensed pilots at this time were Chauncy Cable and Zeb Leavenworth. Sam possibly offered his steering services in exchange for passage [MTL 1: 75].
January 20 Wednesday – New Falls City arrived in New Orleans.
February 6 Saturday – The Pennsylvania, now repaired and refitted, left New Orleans with William Brown as pilot, George Ealer as co-pilot, John Simpson Klinefelter (1810-1885) as Captain. Sam had procured a job for Henry as “mud clerk,” so called because the job required leaping to shore in places where there was no pavement or dock. The job did not pay, but was a way to rise in the ranks. Henry Clemens was nineteen, and would make six trips with his brother Sam [Powers, MT A Life 84].
February 14 Sunday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
February 17 Wednesday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans. The Mississippi was choked with ice, but Captain Klinefelter thought the boat could handle it. They went aground several times.
February 18 Thursday – Due to ice, the Pennsylvania had only managed to reach Rush Tower, some 40 miles south of St. Louis.
February 19 Friday – The Pennsylvania reached Cairo, Illinois in the afternoon. Other boats had either elected to stay in St. Louis or were aground.
February 25 Thursday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
February 27 Saturday – Pennsylvania ,left for St. Louis
March 9 Tuesday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis. Sam wrote to Orion and Mollie about the difficult trip of Feb. 17, which took twenty days, six or seven more than usual for the round trip. Dear Brother and Sister: I must take advantage of the opportunity now presented to write you, but I shall necessarily be dull, as I feel uncommonly stupid. We have had a hard trip this time. Left Saint Louis three weeks ago on the Pennsylvania. The weather was very cold, and the ice running densely. We got 15 miles below town, landed the boat, and then one pilot, Second Mate and four deck hands took the sounding boat and shoved out in the ice to hunt the channel. They failed to find it, and the ice drifted them ashore. The pilot left the men with the boat and walked back to us, a mile and a half. Then the other pilot and myself, with a larger crew of men started out and met with the same fate. We drifted ashore just below the other boat. Then the fun commenced. We made fast a line 20 fathoms long, to the bow of the yawl, and put the men, (both crews) to it like horses, on the shore. Brown, the pilot, stood in the bow, with an oar, to keep her head out, with and I took the tiller. We would start the men, and all would go well till the yawl would bring up on a heavy cake of ice, and then the men would drop like so many ten-pins, while Brown assumed the horizontal in the bottom of the boat. After an hour’s hard work we got back, with ice half an inch thick on the oars. Sent back and warped up the other yawl, and then George [Ealer] (the first mentioned pilot,) and myself, took a double crew of fresh men and tried it again. This time we found the channel in less than an hour, and landed on island till the Pennsylvania came along and took us off. The next day was colder still. I was out in the yawl twice, and then we got through, but the infernal steamboat came near running over us. We went ten miles further, landed, and George and I cleared out again—found the channel first trial, but got caught in the gorge and drifted helplessly down the river. The Ocean Spray came along and started into the ice after us, but although she didn’t succeed in her kind intention of taking us aboard, her waves washed us out, and that was all we wanted. We landed on an island, built a big fire and waited for the boat. She started, and ran aground! It commenced raining and sleeting, and a very interesting time we had on that barren sandbar for the next four hours, when the boat got off and took us aboard. The next day was terribly cold. We sounded Hat Island, warped up around a bar and sounded again—but in order to understand our situation you will have to read Dr. Kane. It would have been impossible to get back to the boat. But the Maria Denning ,was aground at the head of the island—they hailed us,—we ran alongside and they hoisted us in and thawed us out. We had then been out in the yawl from 4 o’clock in the morning till half past 9 without being near a fire. There was a thick coating of ice over men, yawl, ropes, and everything else, and we looked like rock-candy statuary. We got to Saint Louis this morning, after an absence of 3 weeks—that boat generally makes the trip in 2. Henry was doing little or nothing here, and I sent him to our clerk to work his way for a trip, by measuring woodpiles, counting coal boxes, and other clerkly duties, which he performed satisfactorily. He may go down with us again, for I expect he likes our bill of fare better than that of his boarding house. I got your letter at Memphis as I went down. That is the best place to write me at. The post office here is always out of my route, somehow or other. Remember the direction: “S.L.C., Steamer Pennsylvania, Care Duval & Algeo, Wharfboat, Memphis.” I cannot correspond with a paper, because when one is learning the river, he is not allowed to do or think about anything else. [MTL 1: 76].
Notes: from the source: Elisha Kent Kane (1820–57), a U.S. Navy surgeon, participated in two unsuccessful Arctic expeditions in the 1850s in search of Sir John Franklin, the explorer who died in 1847 while trying to find a northwest passage to the Orient. Kane published two popular accounts of the expeditions. Also: “Clemens artfully inscribed his closing and signature to suggest a gradual loss of control over his pencil.” See other notes in source.
March 11 Thursday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans.
March 17 Wednesday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
March 19 Friday – Sam gave a deposition in a lawsuit (Klineflelter, et al, vs. Vicksburg) over the collision between the Pennsylvania and the Vicksburg on Nov. 26, 1857. See that entry. Sam was a steersman on the Pennsylvania at that time [Marleau, “Eyewitness” 18].
March 20 Saturday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis.
March 27 Saturday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
March 31 Wednesday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans.
April 6 Tuesday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
April 10 Saturday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis.
April 16 Friday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
April 20 Tuesday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans.
April 26 Monday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
April 30 Friday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis.
May 5 Wednesday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
May 10 Monday – Pennsylvania left for New Orleans.
May 16 Sunday – Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans.
May 20 Thursday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis. When the boat was backing out, Sam had to leap for the rail from the John J. Roe, ending his visit with Laura Wright. Years later he would send her a thousand dollars in response to a letter asking for help. The loves of Sam’s life were invariably put on haloed pedestals, none more so than Laura Wright [MT Encyclopedia Baetzhold 799; Powers MT A Life 82].
May 27 Thursday – Pennsylvania arrived in St. Louis.
May 29 Saturday – In St. Louis, Sam dreamed of Henry “lying in a metallic burial case in the sitting-room, supported on two chairs” [MTB 134]. He related the dream the next morning to his sister Pamela Moffett and family, who later recalled him taking it quite serious. Henry and Sam were staying with their sister for a three-day layover. Sam left St. Louis on May 30 [MTL 1: 387] so he must have had the dream on May 29.
May 30 Sunday – Pennsylvania left for St. Louis.
June 3 Thursday – Mid-morning: [Powers, MT A Life 85] Pilot William Brown called Sam’s brother Henry Clemens a liar, and started after him with a big chunk of coal. Sam stepped in between and “stretched him out” with a heavy stool. Sam then “stuck to him and pounded him with my fists a considerable time – I do not know how long, the pleasure of it probably made it seem longer than it really was…” For a few minutes no one was steering the ship. Called on the carpet in Captain John Klinefelter’s cabin, Sam was questioned about the fight. The Captain said he was “deuced glad of it!” and advised Sam to further thrash Brown on shore. Brown refused to stay on the same boat with Sam, so was let off in New Orleans. This is the only violent act Sam was ever known to commit, though he threatened or wished more than a few other times.
June 4 Friday – Pilot William Brown forbade Sam entrance to the pilothouse for the rest of the trip. Sam was “ ‘an emancipated slave’ listening to George Ealer’s flute and his readings from Oliver Goldsmith and Shakespeare. Sometimes he played chess with Ealer, and learned a trick which he would use himself in the long after-years—that of taking back the last move and running out the game differently when he saw defeat” [MTB 137].
June 5 Saturday – After the Pennsylvania arrived in New Orleans on this date, Brown left the boat. Captain Klinefelter offered Sam a co-pilot position back up the river, but Sam did not feel ready. He left the boat with the understanding he would rejoin it after Brown was replaced. Henry Clemens stayed on the Pennsylvania as a mud clerk.
June 8 Tuesday – Sam and Henry chatted until midnight on the levee. It was their last conversation.
June 9 Wednesday – The Pennsylvania left New Orleans at 5 PM without Sam and with Henry Clemens aboard. Klinefelter had been unable to hire another pilot, attributed by Powers to the pilot’s union [Powers, MT A Life 86].
June 11 Friday – Two days behind Henry on the Pennsylvania, Sam left New Orleans bound for St. Louis on the Alfred T. Lacey with Captain John P. Rodney and Sam’s Hannibal friend Barton S. Bowen, pilot [MTL 1: 82n3].
June 13 Sunday – 70 miles south of Memphis at about 6 A.M., the steamboat Pennsylvania’s boilers exploded, severely injuring Henry Clemens. Henry was blown free of the ship, but swam back to help rescue passengers. Either Henry did not realize the extent of his own injuries, or was scalded in his attempts to help. About 150 people were killed, including pilot William Brown. Klinefelter helped with the rescue and received only minor injuries. Henry was taken aboard the Kate Frisbee to Memphis, some sixty miles up river from the disaster [MTL 1: 80n1].
June 14 Monday – Henry Clemens arrived at Memphis at 3 A.M. with 31 other victims, some twenty-one hours after the explosion and after several transfers, including the Kate Frisbee. Henry was taken to the Memphis Exchange, a makeshift hospital. 100-degree heat increased the suffering of the wounded [Powers, MT A Life 87; MTL 1: 84n7].
June 15 Tuesday – The Lacey docked in Memphis and news of the explosion reached Sam [MTL 1: 82-3n3]. He rushed to the Memphis Exchange. He sent a telegram to brother-in-law William Moffett: “Henrys recovery is very doubtful” [MTL 1: 80].
June 15 to 18 Friday – Sam stayed by brother Henry’s side.
June 25 Friday – Sam arrived in Hannibal with Henry’s body aboard the steamer Hannibal City. Henry buried the same day next to his father, John Marshall Clemens in the Old Baptist Cemetery. In 1876 Sam would have both bodies moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery [MT A Life 88-9]. Dempsey writes: “After emancipation, the Baptist church in Hannibal kicked its black members out of the church. Most white people quite burying in the old Baptist Cemetery, though blacks continued burying there….Mt. Olivet became the fashionable cemetery for white Hannibal Protestants” .
July 11 Sunday – Sam, cub pilot under Samuel A. Bowen (1838?-1878), co-pilot George G. Ealer, Captain John P. Rodney left St. Louis for New Orleans on the Alfred T. Lacey. Sam loved Ealer, who read Shakespeare, played the flute and was fond of chess. Sam remembered steering for Bowen. This was the only round trip that the Lacey made that month [MTL 1: 86].
July 16 Friday – Alfred T. Lacey arrived in New Orleans.
July 21 Wednesday – Alfred T. Lacey left for St. Louis.
July 28 Wednesday – Alfred T. Lacey arrived in St. Louis.
August 4 Wednesday – The shorter run from St. Louis to Memphis and back allowed Sam to stay closer to his family after the death of Henry and make weekly visits. The John H. Dickey (403 tons) left St. Louis on this date with Sam’s old friend Sam A. Bowen, pilot and Daniel J. Able (b.1825?) captain. Andrew Hoffman claims Bart Bowen got Sam the position as steersman with his brother Sam Bowen “in order to get Sam back on the river” .
August 7 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis. In these runs there was either one-day layover or no layover. All departures were Wednesdays from St. Louis, Saturday from Memphis.
August 11 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
August 14 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
August 18 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
August 21 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
August 25 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
August 28 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
August 30 Monday – Sam dated the article he signed as “Rambler” this day [Branch, “Dickey” 196]. This was the same pen name Sam had used for the Hannibal Journal from Apr. 29 through May 14, 1853.
September 1 Wednesday – Sam’s article was printed in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat using the pen name “Rambler” [Branch, “Dickey” 196]. The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
September 4 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
September 8 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
September 11 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
September 12 Sunday – Heavy fog delayed the Dickey’s arrival in St. Louis [Branch, “Dickey” 198].
September 15 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
September 16 Thursday – The John H. Dickey laid over at Cairo for six hours, where Senator Stephen A. Douglas was speaking in his campaign against Abraham Lincoln [Branch “Dickey” 198].
September 18 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
September 22 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
September 25 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
September 29 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
October 2 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
October 5 Tuesday – The John H. Dickey arrived at St. Louis and unloaded 1006 bales of cotton, “the largest lot brought on any one boat this season” [Branch, “Dickey” 198].
October 6 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
October 9 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
October 13 Wednesday – The John H. Dickey left St. Louis.
October 16 Saturday – The John H. Dickey left Memphis.
October 20 Wednesday – The Dickey was laid up for repairs, so Sam and probably Sam Bowen and Captain Able, made the St. Louis to Memphis run on the White Cloud (345 tons).
October 22 Friday – Sam’s article was printed in the St. Louis Missouri Republican using the signature “C” [Branch, “Dickey” 199-200].
Note: MTPO Notes on Aug. 1, 1876 to Cist calls this “chatty river correspondence.”
October 23 Saturday – The White Cloud left Memphis.
October 24 Sunday – Sam’s article, “Memphis—The Cotton Trade—Illinois Politics—What Tennessee Thinks of Them,” was printed in the Memphis Daily Appeal [Branch, “Dickey” 201].
October 30 Saturday – Sam left St. Louis on the New Falls City (880 tons; built in January of that year, the largest ship Sam served on. Sam took passage on the boat in January as well) Pilot Horace Bixby, Captain James B. Woods.
November 8 Monday – New Falls City arrived in New Orleans.
November 10 Wednesday – New Falls City left for St. Louis.
November 17 Wednesday– New Falls City arrived in St. Louis.
November 19 Friday – New Falls City left for New Orleans.
November 26 Friday – New Falls City arrived in New Orleans.
November 29 Monday – New Falls City left for St. Louis.
November 30 Tuesday – Sam’s 23rd birthday.
December 8 Wednesday – New Falls City arrived in St. Louis.
December 13 Monday – Sam and Horace Bixby left St. Louis on the Aleck Scott (709 tons) under Captain Robert A. Reilly. Sam remarked on the Aleck Scott: I will remark, in passing, that Mississippi steamboatmen were important in landsmen’s eyes (and in their own, too, in a degree) according to the dignity of the boat they were on. For instance, it was a proud thing to be of the crew of such stately craft as the ‘Aleck Scott’ or the ‘Grand Turk.’ Negro firemen, deck hands, and barbers belonging to those boats were distinguished personages in their grade of life, and they were well aware of that fact, too. – Life on the Mississippi [MTL 1: 14]. The Aleck Scott was the last steamboat Sam served on as cub pilot. His next assignment was pilot on the Alfred T. Lacey.
December 21 Tuesday– The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans.
December 24 Friday – The Aleck Scott left New Orleans.
January 1 Saturday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis.
January 4 Tuesday – The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.
January 11 Tuesday – The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans.
January 15 Saturday – The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis.
January 27 Thursday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis.
February 1 Tuesday – The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.
February 11 Friday – The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans
February 16 Wednesday – The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis
February 27 Sunday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis
March 1 Tuesday – The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.
March 8 Tuesday – The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans
March 9 and 11 Friday – In New Orleans, Sam began a long letter to sister Pamela Moffett, that he finished on Mar. 11. He wrote of the Mardi Gras, and Maria Piccolomini, an Italian “princess” singer Here, in part: . . . . [first part not extant] beginning of Lent, and all good Catholics eat and drink freely of what they please, and, in fact, do what they please, in order that they may be the better able to keep sober and quiet during the coming fast. It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans. I posted off up town yesterday morning as soon as the boat landed, in blissful ignorance of the great day. At the corner of Good-Children and Tchoupitoulas streets, I beheld an apparition!—and my first impulse was to dodge behind a lamp-post. It was a woman—a hay-stack of curtain calico, ten feet high—sweeping majestically down the middle of the street (for what pavement in the world could accommodate hoops of such vast proportions?) Next I saw a girls of eighteen, mounted on a fine horse, and dressed as a Spanish Cavalier, with long rapier, flowing curls, blue satin doublet and half-breeches, trimmed with broad white lace—(the balance of her dainty legs cased in flesh-colored silk stockings)—white kid gloves—and a nodding crimson feather in the coquettishest little cap in the world. She removed said cap and bowed low to me, and nothing loath, I bowed in return—but I could n’t help murmuring, “By the beard of the Prophet, Miss, but you’ve mistaken your man this time—for I never saw your silk mask before—nor the balance of your costume, either, for that matter.” And then I saw a hundred men, women and children in fine, fancy, splendid, ugly, coarse, ridiculous, grotesque, laughable costumes, and the truth flashed upon me—“This is Mardi-Gras!” It was Mardi-gras—and that young lady had a perfect right to bow to, shake hands with, or speak to, me, or any body else she pleased. The streets were soon full of “Mardi-gras,” representing giants, Indians, nigger minstrels, monks, priests, clowns,— every birds, beasts,—everything, in fact, that one could imagine. The “free-and-easy” women turned out en masse—and their costumes and actions were very trying to modest eyes. The finest sight I saw during the day was a band of twenty stalwart men, splendidly arrayed as Comanche Indians, flying and yelling down the street on horses as finely decorated as themselves. It was worth going a long distance to see the performances of the day—but bless me! how insignificant they seemed in comparison with those of the night, when the grand torchlight procession of the “Mystic Krewe of Comus” was added. …[MTL 1: 87-91].
Note: the Krewe was established in 1856; prior to that the celebrations was exclusively Catholic, informal, and not regular. Six Anglo businessmen met in a secret society to improve Mardi Gras, inspired by Milton’s Comus. The torchlight procession was one of their additions. The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis.
March 19 Saturday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis
March 21 Monday – The Aleck Scott left for New Orleans.
March 27 Sunday – The Aleck Scott arrived in New Orleans
March 31 Thursday – The Aleck Scott left for St. Louis
April 8 Friday – The Aleck Scott arrived in St. Louis
April 9 Saturday – Sam was granted a license as a full steamboat pilot from the Department of Commerce in St. Louis. Until May 1861, Sam had the “best job in the world.”
Note: Until copies of Sam’s pilot license surfaced in the late 1930s, it was thought by Paine, DeVoto and others (from Sam’s autobiographical estimates of eighteen months from his apprenticeship under Bixby,) that the date was Sept. 9, 1858. Sam may have recollected being allowed to pilot crafts without passengers prior to the issuance of his license, which would have been lawful at that time [The Twainian, Nov. 1939].
May 4 Wednesday – Now a full pilot, Sam left St. Louis on the Alfred T. Lacey, copiloted by Bart Bowen (brother of Sam and Will Bowen), under Captain John P. Rodney, for New Orleans. “A pilot, in those days, was the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth” [LM; MTL 1: 14].
May 10 Tuesday – Alfred T. Lacey arrived in New Orleans.
May 14 Saturday – Alfred T. Lacey left for St. Louis.
May 21 Saturday – Alfred T. Lacey arrived in St. Louis.
June 25 Saturday – Sam piloted the J.C. Swon, (678 tons) under Captain Isaac H. Jones. Left for New Orleans.
July 1 Friday – J.C. Swon arrived in New Orleans
July 3 Sunday – J.C. Swon left for St. Louis.
July 9 Saturday – J.C. Swon arrived in St. Louis
July 13 Wednesday – J.C. Swon left for New Orleans.
July 19 Tuesday – J.C. Swon arrived in New Orleans.
July 28 Thursday – J.C. Swon arrived in St. Louis.
August 2 Tuesday – Sam left St. Louis as pilot of the Edward J. Gray, (823 tons) Bart Bowen, Captain. Here was another majestic boat for Sam to pilot.
August 10 Wednesday – The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.
August 12 Friday – The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.
August 19 Friday – The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.
August 24 Wednesday – The Edward J. Gray left for New Orleans.
September 1 Thursday – The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.
September 3 Saturday – The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.
September 9 Friday – The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.
September 13 Tuesday – The Edward J. Gray left for New Orleans.
September 21 Wednesday – The Edward J. Gray arrived New Orleans.
September 23 Friday – The Edward J. Gray left for St. Louis.
October 1 Saturday – The Edward J. Gray arrived St. Louis.
October 2 to 25 Tuesday – Sam stayed “at home awhile” in St. Louis until he learned that he was to pilot the A.B. Chambers [MTL 1: 95n4].
October 26 Wednesday – Sam left for St. Louis as the pilot of the A.B. Chambers (410 tons), copilots James C. DeLancey and Will Bowen; Captain George W. Bowman.
November 7 Monday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.
November 9 Wednesday – A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.
November 20 Sunday – A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.
November 23 Wednesday – A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.
December 4 Sunday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.
December 8 Thursday – A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.
December 17 Saturday – A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.
December 20 Tuesday – A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.
December 22 or 23 Friday – The Chambers ran aground five miles south of Commerce, Mo., where the channel flowed between Power’s Island and Goose Island—a notorious trap. It was soon stuck hard with ice piling up around it. Out of wood, the captain ordered Sam and seven others to take a yawl and row up river to fetch a flatboat with wood. Sam’s judgment in directing the craft avoided certain death by any other course [MTL 1: 95n4]. (See this note for the full story as told by Grant Marsh, first mate.)
December 29 Thursday – A.B. Chambers reached Cairo, Illinois.
December 31 Saturday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.
January 7 Saturday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.
January 10 Tuesday – A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.
January 20 Friday – A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.
February 1 Wednesday – A.B. Chambers left for New Orleans.
February 11 Saturday – A.B. Chambers arrived in New Orleans.
February 14 Tuesday – A.B. Chambers left for St. Louis.
February 24 Friday – A.B. Chambers arrived in St. Louis.
March 21 Wednesday – According to records accessed at the Department of Commerce, Steamboat Inspection Service in St. Louis in 1925, Sam’s pilot license, initially issued Apr. 9, 1859 was renewed on this day [The Twainian, January 1940].
March 25 Sunday – Sam became pilot of the City of Memphis (865 tons) and left St. Louis this day with co-pilot Wesley Jacobs, Captain Joseph E. Montgomery. Here was a 6-boiler, 300-foot behemoth of a boat. Branch asserts that Sam was a skillful pilot [Branch, “Mark Twain: The Pilot” 30]. “One time I mistook Capt. Ed Montgomery’s coat hanging on the big bell for the Capt. himself and waiting for him to tell me to back I ran into a steamboat at New Orleans” [MTNJ 2: 536].
April 2 Monday – City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.
April 4 Wednesday – City of Memphis left for St. Louis.
April 11 Wednesday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.
April 14 Saturday – City of Memphis left for New Orleans.
April 21 Saturday – City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.
April 24 Tuesday – City of Memphis left for St. Louis.
May 1 Tuesday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.
May 4 Friday – City of Memphis left for New Orleans.
May 14 Monday – City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.
May 15 Tuesday – City of Memphis left for St. Louis.
May 22 Tuesday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.
May 24 Thursday – City of Memphis left for New Orleans.
May 31 Thursday – City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.
June 3 Sunday – City of Memphis left for St. Louis.
June 10 Sunday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.
June 13 Wednesday – City of Memphis left for New Orleans.
June 19 Tuesday – City of Memphis encountered a storm about 11 AM at Terrapin Bend, 28 miles north of Vicksburg.
June 22 Friday – City of Memphis arrived in New Orleans.
June 24 Sunday – City of Memphis left for St. Louis.
June 27? Wednesday – Sam wrote brother Orion while on the City of Memphis (surviving fragments here): Putting all things together, I begin to think I am rather lucky than otherwise—a notion which I was slow to take up. The other night I was about to round to for a storm—but concluded that I could find a smoother bank somewhere. I landed 5 miles below. The storm came—passed away and did not injure us. I Coming up, day before yesterday, I looked at the spot I first chose, and half the trees on the bank were torn to shreds. We couldn’t have lived 5 minutes in such a tornado. And I am also lucky in having a berth, while all the young pilots are idle. This is the luckiest circumstance that ever befell me. Not on account of the wages—for that is a secondary consideration—but from the fact that the CITY OF MEMPHIS is the largest boat in the trade and the hardest to pilot, and consequently I can get a reputation on her, which is a thing I never could accomplish on a transient boat. I can ‘bank’ in the neighborhood of $100 a month on her, and that will satisfy me for the present (principally because the other youngsters are sucking their fingers.) Bless me! what a pleasure there is in revenge! and what vast respect Prosperity commands! Why, six months ago, I could enter the “Rooms,” and receive only a customary fraternal greeting—but now they say, “Why, how are you, old fellow—when did you get in?” And the young pilots, who used to tell me, patronisingly, that I could never learn the river, cannot keep from showing a little of their chagrin at seeing me so far ahead of them. Permit me to “blow my horn,” for I derive a living pleasure from these things. And I must confess that when I go to pay my dues, I rather like to let the d—d rascals get a glimpse of a hundred dollar bill peeping out from amongst notes of smaller dimensions, whose faces I do not exhibit! You will despise this egotism, but I tell you there is a “stern joy” in it [MTL 1: 96-99].
June 28 Thursday – City of Memphis arrived at Cairo [MTL 1: 99 n2].
July 1–2 Monday – City of Memphis arrived in St. Louis.
July 28 Saturday – Sam piloted the Arago (268 tons), co-pilot J.W. Hood, Captain George P. Sloan. The boat left St. Louis on this date bound for Vicksburg.
August 3 Friday – The Arago arrived in Vicksburg.
August 4 Saturday – The Arago Left Vicksburg for Cairo, Illinois. August 10 Friday – Sam witnessed the aurora borealis (“it was very beautiful, but it did not last very long”) and mentions it in his letter the following day.
August 11 Saturday – The Arago arrived in Cairo. Sam wrote from Cairo, Illinois to Susan I. (Belle) Stotts, sister of Orion’s wife, Mollie.
August 12 Sunday – The Arago left for New Orleans.
August 20 Monday – The Arago arrived in New Orleans.
August 22 Wednesday – The Arago left for St. Louis.
August 31 Friday – The Arago arrived in St. Louis.
September 19 Wednesday – Sam piloted the Alonzo Child (493 tons), co-pilots Horace Bixby, Will Bowen, Sam Brown; Captains David DeHaven and James O’Neal. This was the last steamboat that Sam would pilot. The Alonzo Child left on this date for New Orleans.
September 28 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans
September 29 Saturday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. Before leaving, Sam wrote a short note from New Orleans to his brother Orion. October 6 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
October 9 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
October 20 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans
October 21 Sunday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis
October 28 Sunday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
October 31 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
November 5 Monday – Samuel Erasmus Moffett was born to Pamela and William Moffett. Sam was an uncle for the third time [MTL 1: 383].
November 9 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans
November 10 Saturday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.
November 11 Sunday – Sam ran the Alonzo Child aground, about seventy-three miles above New Orleans at the Houmas Plantation. It remained stuck for 28 hours [MTL 1: 105 n2].
November 12 Monday – A rising tide freed the Alonzo Child [MTL 1: 105n2].
November 18 Sunday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
November 21 Wednesday – Sam wrote from St. Louis to his brother Orion and family about running the Alonzo Child aground, about prices of poultry, eggs, and apples in New Orleans. Sam, ever the speculator, wrote:
My Dear Brother: At last, I have succeeded in scraping together moments enough to write you. And it’s all owing to my own enterprise, too—for, running in the fog, on the coast, in order to beat another boat, I grounded the “Child” on the bank, at nearly flood-tide, where we had to stay until the “great” tide ebbed and flowed again (24 hours,) before she floated off. And that dry-bank spell so warped and twisted the packet, and caused her to leak at such a rate, that she had to enter protest and go on the dock, here, which delays us until Friday morning. We had intended to leave today. As soon as we arrived here last Sunday morning, I jumped aboard the “McDowell” and went down to look at the river—grounded 100 miles below here—25 miles this side of the “crossing” which I started down to look at—stayed aground 24 hours—and by that time I grew tired and returned here to be ready for to-day. I am sorry now that I did not hail a down-stream boat and go on—I would have had plenty of time. The New Orleans market fluctuates. If any man doubts this proposition, let him try it once. Trip before last, chickens sold rapidly on the levee at $700 per doz—last trip they were not worth $300. Trip before last, eggs were worth $35 @ 40cper doz—last trip they were selling at 12½— which was rather discouraging, considering that we were in the market with 3,600 dozen, which we paid 15 cents for—together with 18 barrels of apples, which were not worth a d—m— We expected to get $6 or 7 per bbl. for them. We stored the infernal produce, and shall wait for the market to fluctuate again. But in the meantime, Nil desperandum—I am deep in another egg purchase, now.
November 23 Friday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
November 30 Friday – Sam’s 25th birthday.
December 1 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.
December 4 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.
December 11 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in Cairo, Illinois, where it laid up until Jan. 8 1861 due to ice in the river.
January 7 Monday – Brother Orion wrote Sam from Memphis. His letter of introduction to Samuel Taylor Glover (1813-1884) was intended to obtain a letter of introduction to Edward Bates (1793-1869), Lincoln’s attorney general. Orion hoped to get a government position to provide his family with a stable income and to pay debts We had a had a hearty laugh, as well as some of our acquaintances of the feminine gender (in my absence) heads of families, over your last letter. … I am greatly obliged to you for the Tri-weekly Republican till 1st next April. You could hardly have made me a more acceptable present. Jennie is equally delighted with her books. I have read them all through [MTL 1: 114n9].
January 8 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left Cairo for St. Louis.
January 11 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
January 14 Monday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
January 21 Monday to March 30, 1861 – Ten letters signed by Quintus Curtius Snodgrass were published on various dates in the New Orleans Daily Crescent. Until 1964, most scholars attributed these letters to Sam. Alan Bates then presented an article showing that the dates penned and published would have precluded them from being Sam’s [Bates 31-7]. Could Sam have assigned them dates different than the day of composition? Or, are they, as Bates claims, “the tedious productions of an obscure newspaper reporter”? (See also Claude Brinegar’s 1963 article, “A Statistical Test of Authorship,” Journal of American Statistical Assoc. (March, p.85-96), and references in Tenney.
January 24 Thursday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans January 29 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.
February 5 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in Cairo, and did not continue to St. Louis due to icy river conditions.
February 8 Friday – The Alonzo Child left Cairo for New Orleans.
February 16 Saturday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.
February 18 Monday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. The committee on petitions for the Polar Star Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis reported favorably on Sam’s petition for membership. Sam was recommended by John M. Leavenworth (b.1835?) brother of Zeb, and John T. “Tom” Moore. Sam Clemens was duly elected to receive the Masonic first degree [Jones 364; Strong 88]. Note: Moore was a “mud clerk” on the Roe; see July 6, 1859 and Feb. 18, 1861; also letter from Karl Gerhardt of May 5, 1909 mentioning Moore.
February 25 Monday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
February 27 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans. Sam took his mother, cousin Ella Creel (b. 1840), and Miss Castle of St. Louis on a pleasure trip from St. Louis with 20 or 30 other couples to New Orleans aboard the Alonzo Child [MTL 1: 118n4].
March 6 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans with Sam’s pleasure cruise contingent [MTL 1: 118n4].
March 8 Friday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis with Sam’s pleasure cruise contingent.
March 15 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis. The pleasure cruise was completed.
March 20 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans. According to records accessed at the Department of Commerce, Steamboat Inspection Service in St. Louis in 1925, Sam’s pilot license, initially issued Apr. 9, 1859 was renewed a second time on this day [The Twainian, January 1940].
March 26Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.
March 27Wednesday – Orion received news of his commission as Secretary of Nevada Territory [ET&S 1: 12].
March 28 Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis.
April 5 Friday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
April 9 Tuesday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
April 16Tuesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans.
April 18Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for St. Louis. From Sam’s 1905 notebook entry: Alonzo Ch. heard of firing on Fort Sumter,
April 18 at Vicksburg on way down (the day after it happened.) We hoisted stars & bars & played Dixie [Bates 36]. Note: Ft. Sumter was bombarded on Apr. 12, 1861.
April 20 Saturday – Orion Clemens received his commission as Secretary of Nevada Territory [MTL 1: 121n3].
April 25 Thursday – The Alonzo Child arrived in St. Louis.
April 26 Friday – Sam boarded the Hannibal City to Hannibal. Sam wrote Orion of his intention to travel to Hannibal to collect a debt (probably the $200 Will Bowen had borrowed). He asked Orion to bring or buy the book, Armageddon by Samuel D. Baldwin. “My Dear Brother: / I am on the wing for Hannibal, to collect money due me. I shall return to St. Louis to-morrow. “Orion bring down ‘Armageddon’ with you if you have it. If not, buy it.” [MTL 1: 120]. Note: Armageddon, by Samuel D. Baldwin (1845); see source notes on this book.
April 28 Sunday – Sam boarded the Die Vernon as a passenger for the return trip to St. Louis, where he spent a few days with his family [MTL 1: 120n2].
May 2Thursday – The Alonzo Child left for New Orleans.
May 8 Wednesday – The Alonzo Child arrived in New Orleans. This was Sam’s last trip as a steamboat pilot. Captain DeHaven was a rabid secessionist who decided after reaching New Orleans not to return north, forcing Sam to find another way home.
May 14 Tuesday – Sam departed New Orleans as a passenger on the Nebraska. Commercial traffic was halted. This was the last boat allowed through the Union blockade at Memphis. Sam’s days as a river pilot were over, though he did not know it at the time. He would later wax nostalgic and eloquent about his idyllic career on the river. Just as his idyllic days of boyhood in Hannibal had abruptly ended, so too did his time on “the best job in the world.” Paine gives the name of the boat as the Uncle Sam: “I’ll think about it,” he said. “I’m not very anxious to get up into a glass perch and be shot at by either side. I’ll go home and reflect on the matter” [MTB 161].
May 21 Tuesday – Sam arrived in St. Louis. Sam hid out in the Moffett residence, fearful of being arrested by Union agents and forced to pilot a gunboat. He stayed there for a few weeks [MTL 1: 121]. During his stay he was invited to visit his cousin James Lampton, also in St. Louis. James was Jane Lampton Clemens’ first cousin, and the model for Colonel Mulberry Sellers in The Gilded Age. Sam stayed at James’ house for a few days. It was during this stay when the famous “turnips and water” dinner was served. When Sam came home one day he was given the key to the neighbor’s house, owned by George Schroter (or Schroeter) (1813?-1896?), Will Moffett’s business partner. The Schroter family was in Hannibal and it was thought Sam would be safer in their St. Louis house. One day a man who gave the name “Smith” came looking for Sam and his mother recognized him as a friend of Sam’s. The man came with the project of forming a Confederate company in the Hannibal area to join General Sterling “Old Pap” Price (1809-1867). Sam accepted and began the Marion Rangers fiasco [MTBus 60].
May 22 Wednesday – The Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis initiated Sam Clemens an Entered Apprentice, the next step up [Jones 364]. Note: Strong gives May 21 for the initiation .
June 12 Wednesday – Sam was probably no longer hiding out at his sister’s, for on this date he was raised to Master Mason (second degree) in the Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis [Jones 364].
June 15 Saturday ca. – The Missouri state government had fled from Jefferson City by this date. Absalom Grimes wrote in his memoirs that he, Sam Bowen and Clemens were in Hannibal and were ordered to report to General Grey in St. Louis. (This may have been General Henry Gray, Jr. (1816-1892) spelled “Grey” by Grimes.) They made the trip on the Hannibal City and were instructed to be pilots carrying soldiers up the Missouri River, in pursuit of Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806-1862). The three escaped and returned to Hannibal [Dempsey 266-7].
June, mid – Back in Hannibal, Sam joined his merry band of play soldiers, the Marion Rangers, a ragtag bunch of friends who took up the Southern “cause.” In 1885 Sam wrote a humorous account of these two weeks in “The Private History of a Campaign that Failed,” where all names except Ed Stevens were fictitious [Rasmussen 370-1]. The group of old Hannibal schoolmates included William Ely, Asa Glasscock, Absalom Grimes, John D. Meredith, Sam Bowen, John L. RoBards, Perry Smith, and Ed Stevens [Budd, “Collected” 955-6; MTB 166].
The article below adds Tom Lyon and Charley Mills. From the special Mark Twain Centennial edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post, Mar. 6, 1935 p.9b: Grimes said he went to his home in Ralls county after their return and a short time later when the war fever reached Ralls county he heard that a brigade of troops had assembled at the home of Nuck Matson, near New London….There he found his pilot friends, Sam Clemens and Sam Bowen and other young men he knew, among them being Charley Mills, Jack Coulter, Tom Lyon, Ed Stephens and Asa Fuqua. He joined them. At the home of Col. John Ralls the company met a similar group who called themselves the Salt River Tigers. The Tigers were organized, which led Mark Twain’s group to believe they should elect officers. In the ensuing election William Ely was elected captain, Asa Glascock became first lieutenant, Mark Twain was elected second lieutenant, with Sam Bowen as sergeant and Tom Lyon orderly sergeant.
“After all the officers were elected we had three or four men to serve as privates,” Grimes said. They took the name Ralls County Rangers and called upon Mark Twain for a speech. After much persuading he got upon a log and made a bashful speech which probably would have amazed the thousands who heard him years later on the lecture tour.
The ranger episode ended with Sam suffering a painful boil, a sprained ankle and several burns when he fell from a hayloft which caught fire from a smoker’s pipe. He convalesced at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Nuck Matson, near New London. By then the company has disbanded. (See Confederate Mail Runner by Absalom Grimes, 1926 for more.)
June 20 Thursday – Sam’s article, “Report on the Hannibal Home Guard” was printed in the Missouri State Journal [Camfield, bibliog.].
July, early – Sam returned to St. Louis. Sometime in the first half of the year (Budd says “probably written in early 1861”) [“Collected” 1000] before leaving for the West, Sam wrote an untitled tale (“Ghost Life on the Mississippi”) not published until 1948, but which was “a milestone in Clemens’ early development as a writer. “Despite certain inconsistencies and weaknesses in the narrative handling, the tale revealed a growing literary maturity and a distinct ability to construct serious fiction of some length” [ET&S 1: 146]. Sam used a pen name, “WILLIAM JONES—PRESENTED BY HIS FATHER.”
July 2 Tuesday – Orion Clemens received final instructions for his appointment as secretary of Nevada Territory [RI UC 1993 explanatory notes 574].
July 4 Thursday – Orion left his family in Keokuk and joined Sam, ready to travel to Nevada to take his new position as territorial secretary. He persuaded Sam to go with him, since Sam had the wherewithal to pay passage, and Orion did not. Sam did not request a “demit” (an official termination) from the Masons, which means he allowed himself to be suspended, and eventually not be a member [Jones 364].
July 10 Wednesday – The Polar Star Masonic Lodge Number Seventy-nine of St. Louis awarded Sam his third degree [Strong 88].
July 11 Thursday – Orion took an oath of office before a Supreme Court Justice in St. Louis. It was the one prestigious position of Orion’s life, owed to his persistent campaigning for Lincoln in 1860 and his connection with Edward Bates, who had been appointed Attorney General [Powers, MT A Life 102].
July 18 Thursday – Orion and Sam left St. Louis on the Sioux City for St. Joseph, Missouri [MTL 1: 122 citing Mollie Clemens’ Journal]. In Roughing It, Sam wrote: “— a trip that was so dull, and sleepy, and eventless, that it has left no more impression on my memory than if its duration had been six minutes…” A. Hoffman gives this date as July 10, 1861 . July 18 seems more likely.
July 25 Thursday – Orion issued receipt for $300 down and $100 balance in 30 days, for a coach trip to leave from St. Joseph, Missouri.