JOPLIN, Mo. —
Lately, I've been researching a fellow named Splitlog who lived in Wyandotte County, Kansas, during the Civil War. According to several newspaper articles and books, Splitlog built a steamboat for George Nelson. He served as engineer of the boat, Nelson served as captain and George Schreiner served as pilot.
In September of 1861, Nelson was pressed by Col. James Mulligan to transport Union soldiers from Kansas City to Lexington, Mo., where they were attacked by Gen. Sterling Price and his State Guard soldiers. Heavily outnumbered, the colonel was forced to surrender.
What was the name of the steamboat? Were other steamboats at the town? What happened to Shreiner, Nelson and Splitlog during and after the battle?
Most families have vague, oral stories that tell about an ancestor's military history. An example would be a family legend that an ancestor fought on the Union side during the Civil War at the Battle of Pea Ridge. How can one learn details about his service?
Family history researchers in Southwest Missouri are fortunate that there is a library at the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield that is one of the best Civil War libraries in the nation. That library has resources that answer questions about the Battle of Pea Ridge, the Battle of Lexington and thousands of other Civil War subjects.
Some examples of details found in that library's records are: the names of men in each unit, the places where each unit served during the war, the date and place where each man mustered into service, the date and place where each mustered out, events that occurred during battles, names of prisoners who were exchanged, pension records and records about compensations that were given to those whose possessions were taken or destroyed by troops during the war.
Other places to check for details about the Civil War are court records, congressional records and National Archive records. In recent years, many of those records have been digitized and placed online, free of charge.
Since I failed to find detailed Internet resources on Splitlog's Civil War service (and I no longer live close to Wilson's Creek), I decided to do Internet searches on Nelson and Shreiner. If the steamboat was burned, did Nelson try to receive compensation after the war? Did they receive pensions?
I found a website that has a digitized copy of House of Representative Report No. 434 in which Shreiner appealed to Congress in 1874 to increase his Civil War pension. From the record, I learned the day that the steamboat arrived in Lexington and details of an injury that Shreiner suffered. I also learned that the steamboat may have been named Sunshine, and that the Union prisoners were exchanged for prisoners from Camp Jackson.
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