I Go [Steamboat]

aka: Igo
aka: New Igo
aka: New Iago

The I Go was a small steamboat often chartered by the Union military during the Civil War. It was attacked by guerrillas and ultimately captured and destroyed on the Arkansas River by Confederate cavalry on June 12, 1864.

The I Go was a 104-ton sternwheel paddleboat built at Antiquity, Ohio, in 1861; the vessel was rebuilt after a boiler explosion at Parkersburg, West Virginia. Union forces first chartered the I Go in August 1862 and used it again in October 1863. The vessel was chartered from December 12, 1863, to March 19, 1864, then from April 10 to April 25, 1864 “for operations on the Arkansas River.” The I Go was again chartered from April 25 to May 8, 1864, and from May 14 to June 10, 1864.

The day after that contract ended, a group of four Confederate guerrillas—including Bennie Riggs and John Jones, who would seize and sink the steamboat J. H. Miller later that summer—captured the vessel at Swan Lake Landing on the north side of the Arkansas River below Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The bushwhackers set fire to the boat but fled when Federal cavalry approached, allowing the crew to extinguish the blaze.

A day later, on June 12, 1864, the I Go was again attacked, this time by Confederates under Lieutenant Walter Greenfield of the Second Arkansas Cavalry (CS) at Douglass’s Landing on the Arkansas. The vessel was “captured and burned after a running fight of eighteen miles.” The Washington Telegraph reported that the I Go was “laden with cotton” and that Greenfield’s men “captured the boat with a negro crew, 40 Yankee prisoners, 40 stand of small arms, 1500 rounds of ammunition, &c. The boat and cotton was burned, and prisoners and negroes brought off.”

Because the I Go was not under U.S. government contract at the time of its destruction, its owners were not compensated for the vessel’s loss.

For additional information:
“Arkansas News.” Washington Telegraph, June 29, 1864, p. 1.

Christ, Mark K. “‘What Three Boys Did’: The Capture of the J. H. Miller.” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies 49 (December 2018): 183–190.

Gibson, Charles Dana, and E. Kay Gibson, comps. Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels Steam and Sail Employed by the Union Army, 1861–1868. Camden, ME: Ensign Press, 1995.

“Other Incidents Related By ‘Captain’ Jones.” Confederate Veteran 15 (February 1907): 77.

Way, Frederick, Jr. Way’s Packet Directory. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1983.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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