The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
The launchings of James B. Eads’ gunboats became something of a popular event during the war and were advertised in the local papers. As the Chickasaw prepared to launch from the Carondelet boatyard on the morning of February 10, 1864, a crowd estimated at 150 to 200 gathered to witness the occasion. As was the custom, a young lady was selected to break a bottle of champagne over the bow and announce the name of the boat. The christening party assembled on the bow. At the ceremony’s conclusion, the 1,300-ton boat slid off its ways and plunged into the water.As the boat slipped, the anchor ropes uncoiled and quickly swept across the deck, knocking several people off their feet and carrying five of them, including Mary Maguire and Jenney Eads, the gunboat builder’s daughter, into the Mississippi. All but one were rescued from the frigid winter water. Mrs. William P. Bradley, whose husband was a clerk for Eads, was presumably knocked unconscious and drowned. The Missouri Republican reported the next day that as of press time her body still had not been recovered. Miss Maguire presented this silver goblet to an unidentified Mr. Hamilton of the sidewheel steamer G. W. Graham for plucking her from the river.