Professor Myron J. “Jack” Smith, Jr., has written a new book, “Civil War Biographies from the Western Waters: 956 Confederate and Union Naval and Military Personnel, Contractors, Politicians, Officials, Steamboat Pilots and Others.” This is the 86th volume published by the director of Tusculum College’s Thomas J. Garland Library.
From 1861 to 1865, the Civil War raged along the great rivers of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. While various Civil War biographies exist, none have been devoted exclusively to participants in the Western River War, which was waged down the Mississippi to the mouth of the Red River, up the Ohio, the Tennessee and the Cumberland.
Based on the official records, county histories, newspapers and internet sources, this is the first work to profile Union and Confederate naval officers down to the rank of mate. These include enlisted sailors who won the Medal of Honor, or otherwise distinguished themselves or who wrote accounts of life on the gunboats; army officers and leaders who played a direct role in combat along Western waters; political officials who influenced river operations; civilian steamboat captains and pilots who participated in wartime logistics; and civilian contractors directly involved, including shipbuilders, dam builders, naval constructors and munitions experts.
Each of the biographies includes (where known) birth, death and residence data; unit organization or ship; involvement in the river war; pre- and post-war careers; and source documentation. Hundreds of individuals are given their first historic recognition or are recognized as having a role in the river war, including Gen. John Hunt Morgan and Greeneville’s Andrew Johnson. Some 200 portraits are included, while the cover art features a well-known painting of Western waters naval action.
The librarian’s latest volume is the seventh in his eight Civil War title series. The volume is available from the Tusculum College book store or through McFarland & Company, which is located in Jefferson, N.C. or Amazon.com.
Smith is currently penning “His Honor’s Ironclads,” the first biography of Joseph Brown, the 21st mayor of St. Louis, Mo. (1871-1875) and also one of the best known steamboat captains of his era. Brown was also mayor of Alton, Ill. (1856-1857) and a Democrat friend of Lincoln’s. Brown built more Civil War Union gunboats than any other contractor.
Smith has been a professional librarian and historian since 1966. In 1993, he received the Nelson Ross Award and in 2006, was the first Greene Countian to publish an e-book. He is the only American to have received the Richard Franck Preis for history from the German Government. Smith and his wife Dennie reside in northern Greene County.