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The sinews of war: supply steamers at Nashville, December, 1862 This busy scene along the Nashville wharf on December 18, 1862, gives a clear idea of the magnitude of the preparations at the Federal army base thirteen days before the battle opened around Murfreesboro, at which point Bragg was threatening Nashville. Rosecrans could not move forward to attack him without supplies, and the river steamers which played so important a part in all the military operations in the West were hurrying up the Cumberland heavily loaded with the munitions and sustenance that made possible the coming battles. The first boat completely visible in the picture at the right is the “Mercury,” a famous Ohio River packet at the time. Next to her lies the “Lizzie Martin,” and then the “Palestine,” another Ohio racer. She has a hole stove in her prow just above the water-line, and the ship's carpenter in his yawl is busily repairing it. Confederate batteries constantly menaced the Federal transports as they plied up and down the rivers. The renowned Tom Napier sometimes scared and captured a vessel with his dummy wooden guns. Beyond the “Palestine” lie the “Reveillie,” the “Irene,” the “Belle Peoria” (a famous Mississippi boat from St. Louis), and last the “Rob Roy” --all discharging their tons of freight, paid for by the Government at war-time prices. On the snow-covered wharf are piled barrels of whiskey (the standard brand familiarly known as “Cincinnati rot-gut,” distilled for the Government's own use), while the roustabouts are rolling ashore barrels of sugar and hogsheads of molasses to be mixed with the coffee which weary soldiers are to brew for themselves in the field. There are thousands of barrels of flour still to be unloaded. In symmetrical piles lie myriad boxes each stencilled “Pilot bread from U. S. Government Bakery, Evansville, Ind.” Many an old Confederate knew the taste of this hardtack and had to depend upon capturing a supply of it to stay his hunger. Confederate prisoners in their confinement watched many such scenes as this, wondering what newcomers would be added to their numbers during the ensuing campaign.

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William S. Rosecrans (2)
Lizzie Martin (2)
Irene (2)
Braxton Bragg (2)
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