The Civil War in Missouri

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The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.

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James B. Eads

ca. 1861
MHM Photographs and Prints

Prior to the war, engineer James B. Eads had spent years tinkering with mechanics and designing equipment that had helped him amass a fortune by salvaging sunken boats. He was able to draw upon his aptitude for engineering and an in-depth knowledge of the Mississippi River and its tributaries when asked by U.S. attorney general Edward Bates to bid on the construction of gunboats for the Federal government. Eads’s bid won, and he quickly set out to build gunboats that would be used to help the Union secure the western waterways.