Tuesday, February 22, 2011

T. M. Spencer, Carpenter on the ram, Queen of the West

Headstone in section 5, Evergreen Cemetery

This inscription quickly caught my attention as I had not thought previously of ship keeping tradesmen such as carpenters on their ship. Mr. Spencer may have been a "carpenter's mate" on the ship as that is the one naval title I have seen that may have applied to him.

The Queen of the West was built in Cincinnati in 1854 and purchased by the Union in 1862. It was then converted into a ram and joined the Union fleet, but the Confederacy captured it in February 1863. (Ironically, it then took part in a mission that sunk the USS Indianola, another ship that had been constructed in Cincinnati.)

I did find a link in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion that lists a James F. Foster of New York as a carpenter on this ship when the Confederates captured it. Maybe Mr. Spencer was lucky enough to avoid that fate, either by not being on that voyage or somehow escaping the Confederates when they captured the ship.

Here is a photo of the Queen, courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Harper's Weekly of February 28, 1863 has a story about this ship and its heroics near Vicksburg, along with the following engraving.


I found a couple more links with some information and illustrations about this ship. Here is  one  about the ship while under Union control, while this one focuses on the boat as Confederate property.

I'll also include this wikipedia link which has a few illustrations as well.

Rest in peace, Mr. Spencer


  1. Richard - awesome as always...check out "History of the ram fleet and the Mississippi Marine Brigade in the war for the Union on the Mississippi and its tributaries" on Google Books...it has a crew list and Spencer is listed!