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Public Notices

April 24, 2014

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Local Author Has Book On Civil War River Battles

Originally published: 2010-01-11 11:45:32
Last modified: 2010-01-11 11:45:39

'Tinclads In The

Civil War' Written

By Librarian At

Tusculum College



Myron J. "Jack" Smith, Jr., director of Tusculum College's Thomas J. Garland Library, is a prolific author, especially of detailed works on the Civil War and other aspects of American history.

Believe it or not, Smith has just completed his 80th book. His first was published in 1972.

His latest book is entitled, "Tinclads in the Civil War -- Union Light-Draught Gunboat Operations on Western Waters, 1862-1865."

Smith writes in it, "Once the Union Army gained control of the upper rivers of the Mississippi Valley during the first half of 1862, slow and heavy ironclads (vessels) proved ineffective patrolling the waters.

"Hastily outfitted steamboats were covered with thin armor and pressed into duty.

"These (Union) 'tinclads' fought Confederate forces attackng from the riverbanks, provided convoy for merchant steamers, enforced revenue measures, and offered tow, dispatch and other fleet support services."

Smith's 412-page volume recalls in minute detail the U.S. Navy's tinclad river gunboats along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, especially in Tennessee and Kentucky.


Smith's latest volume is the third in a series of related works.

The first was "Le Roy Fitch: The Civil War Career of a Union River Boat Commander." It was published by in 2007 by McFarland & Company, which has an office in Jefferson, N.C.

The second volume in the series was Smith's "The Timberclads in the Civil War: The Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler on the Western Waters." It was published by McFarland in 2008.

Smith's latest book points out that the U.S. Navy's tinclad vessels met the needs of President Lincoln's government for easily-procured vessels that could operate year-round in shallow rivers.

The volume focuses on Confederate resistance to such Federal inland river nautical activity, emphasizing the South's efforts to hit the Union steamboat logistical effort between the summer of 1862 and early 1865.

Those interdiction efforts resulted in many ship-to-shore engagements between the Union tinclads and bands of Confederate guerrillas and gray-clad regular Army cavalry.

Smith's book reports that among the most famous Confederate cavalry men involved in such battles were John Hunt Morgan (who later was killed in Greeneville), Nathan Bedford Forrest, Jo Shelby, Adam Rankin Johnson and Colton Greene.


A caption in the book with a picture says, "John Hunt Morgan (1825-1864) was perhaps the most famous Confederate cavalry commander in the Western theater when he mounted his raid into Indiana and Ohio in July 1863.

"Captured when the light-draught ('tinclad') gunboats of the (U.S.Navy's) Mississippi Squadron prevented his return to Southern soil, Morgan later escaped from the Ohio State Penitentiary.

"While commanding troops in the Rebel Department of Southwest Virginia on Sept. 4, 1864, he was surprised and killed at Greeneville, Tenn."

Smith's very detailed book is not for the casual reader.

Rather, it should attract serious Civil War historians, libraries, and those who want to know more about fighting along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, and other rivers, that may have involved their ancestors.

Smith's latest work is dedicated to the staff at Tusculum College's library.

The book's price is $55. It can be ordered from McFarland & Company, Inc., Box 611, Jefferson, N.C. 28640. It also is available at

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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