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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 14

Steam Engine
courtesy photobucket.com

The war was getting into full swing and Lee kept out of sight for he didn't want to be conscripted into the army.

He was still too young for that, but they didn't worry about your age.  If you could march and shoot you were qualified for service.

The railroad had started building toward the west, and needed men who were experienced with machinery.

Lee caught up with the section boss a few miles outside of St. Louis and told him he could run Locomotive for he was an engineer.  The section foreman looked at him with skepticism, but he needed help so he told him to put his stuff in the caboose, and he would have the engineer check him out on the trip to the end of the line.

Lee climbed up into the cab of the engine and looked around. He had never been in a train cab before but thought if it moves by steam he could master it in no time.  They got up steam and were off.  

Immediately the engineer realized that Lee didn't know how to run the engine so he asked what actual experience he had.  Lee told him about his engine room experience on the ferry, and said this can't be any more difficult than that.  
 
After about 30 minutes instruction Lee knew all he needed to know to run the engine.
 
By the time they got to the end of the line he had everything down for he understood all about steam engines.

Lee thought to himself, “This isn't as interesting as piloting the ferry but is a lot of fun anyhow.”

Lee stayed with the railroad until it ran from coast to coast, although he never managed to get all the way to Oakland.
 
The civil war was finally over and Lee wanted to see how the ferries fared.

Lee got a job with one of the rafting companies. They would fasten huge log rafts several hundred feet long together and construct a shelter on it for times when the weather was inclement. It was strange at first just floating along with the river current steering the raft around the bends of the river.
 
This was a slow trip and hard work trying to control something as big as the rafts. They were the largest thing on the river by far. They arrived at the lumber mill and their journey was over.

Lee still had several miles to go and he caught a ride on a small ferry that managed to survive the war down to New Orleans.

When he arrived he went to the docks and looked for the ferry he served on, but it was nowhere to be seen. After enquiring about her no one had ever heard of it.   

After some time Lee finally located Sam's family deep into Cajun country.

They went there after Sam was put into a Yankee prison camp, because he had knifed a Yankee soldier who was trying to rape his wife and daughter.  Sam never had a trial which was a good thing, for they would have shot him after finding him guilty.  He remained with thousands of other prisoners who were scattered throughout the south in the same circumstances.

When Lee found Sam's family they greeted him suspiciously for they had not seen him for several years.  They ended up spending most of the night talking about all that had happened.

The Mississippi River Lady had been sunk by a southern gun boat after the Yankees had confiscated it for their use.  

Captain Jack had been killed in the skirmish as well as part of the crew.  Sam and a few others were able to swim to shore and hide out until they were able to escape into the swamp. 

Sam made it home but soon after, he had been taken prisoner for cutting the Yankee.

By now Sam's two older daughters had married some Yankee officers and had moved back East, much to the consternation of the Yankee's parents but the soldiers were quite pleased with their Cajun wives.  
 
To be Continued
 
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