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Sallie Wood

 

During the Civil War, Sallie Wood—also erroneously called Sallie Ward and Sallie Woods—retained her former merchant name while serving as a Confederate transport and, after capture, while operating as a dispatch vessel for the Union's Western Flotilla.

 

(SwStr.: t. 256)

 

Sallie Wood was a wooden steamer built in 1860 at Paducah, Ky. Early in the Civil War, she was acquired by the Confederate government and used as a troop transport on the Mississippi and its tributaries.

 

After a Union naval force under Flag Officer Foote captured Fort Henry, Tenn., on 6 February 1862, Lt. S. L. Phelps, in Conestoga, led gunboats, Tyler and Lexington, up the Tennessee River seeking Confederate shipping. On the 8th, they seized steamers, Sallie Wood and Muscle. The former was laden with iron intended for shipment to Richmond. Moreover, the sweep of the Union gunboats had compelled retreating Confederate forces to burn three other Southern vessels lest they be captured.

 

In returning down stream, Muscle sprang a leak and sank; but Sallie Wood descended safely and was taken into the Western Flotilla for service as a transport, a tug, and an ammunition ship.

 

While steaming along the navigable branches of the Mississippi, Sallie Wood occasionally braved fire from masked riverside batteries. In July, as she ascended the Mississippi carrying sick soldiers, she was fired upon by Confederate cannon concealed ashore at Carolina Landing, at Princeton, and at other points above. On the 21st, attacks on the steamer were made from Argyle Landing and from Island No. 82. A shot during the latter ambush pierced her steam drum and left her dead in the water. Her pilot used the current to run her aground on the island, but the cannonade continued until all of the side wheeler's officers, crew, and passengers had been forced to leave the ship. The Confederates later removed whatever they could salvage and burned the steamer to her waterline.