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A ‘floating palace’—United States hospital steamer red rover on the Mississippi This steamer was a veritable floating palace for the days of 1861. It had bathrooms, a laundry, an elevator between decks, an amputating room, two kitchens, and the windows were covered with gauze to keep out flies and mosquitoes. When Island No.10 was captured on April 7, 1862, several Confederate boats were taken. Among them was this Red Rover, an old side-wheel steamer which had been purchased in New Orleans for $30,000 the previous November. A shell had gone through her decks and bottom, but she was repaired at Cairo, Ill., and fitted up as a hospital boat by Quartermaster George M. Wise. The Western Sanitary Commission gave $3,500 for the purpose. Dr. George H. Bixby of Cairo was appointed assistant surgeon and placed in charge. Strange to say, the first serious cases placed on board were those of the commander and men of the gunboat Mound City, who had been severely scalded when the boiler was pierced by a shot in the attack on some Confederate batteries. This was the gunboat that had taken possession of the Red Rover when she was abandoned at Island No.10, little more than two months previously. Before the Red Rover was placed in service, the army had chartered the City of Memphis as a hospital boat to take the wounded at Fort Henry to Paducah, St. Louis, and Mound City. There were several other hospital steamers, such as the Louisiana, the D. A. January, the Empress, and the Imperial, in service.

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