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For smaller boats, Watt perfected the side-lever engine with the engine cut down using side bell-cranks to lower the center of gravity.Sidewheel paddlers were the first to enter the scene.Natchez II was the first built for Captain Thomas P. On March 10, 1866, it sank at Mobile, Alabama due to rotting. It was 270 feet (82 m) long, had six boilers, and could hold 4,000 bales of cotton. On January 1, 1854, the ship collided with the Pearl at Plaquemine, Louisiana, causing the Pearl to sink.Leathers, at Crayfish Bayou, and ran from 1845 to 1848. A wharf fire on February 5, 1854 at New Orleans caused it to burn down, as did 10-12 other ships.Even after the war, Davis would insist on using Leather's boats to transport him to and from his plantation, Brierfield.Natchez VI was also used to transport Confederate troops to Memphis, Tennessee.
At the time, a semi-bankrupt Napoleon was attempting to extend his hegemony over Europe in what came to be known as the Napoleonic Wars.After Union invaders captured Memphis, the boat was moved to the Yazoo River.On March 13, 1863, it was burned either by accident or to keep it out of Union hands at Honey Island. Natchez VIII was launched August 2, 1879 by the Cincinnati Marine Ways.The engines were also amidships, or at the stern depending on if the vessel was a sternwheeler or sidewheeler. Vessels, on average, only lasted about five years due to the wooden hulls being breached, poor maintenance, fires, general wear and tear, and the common boiler explosion.
Early trips up the Mississippi River took three weeks to get to the Ohio.Vessels were made of wood—typically ranging in length from 40 to nearly 300 feet (91 m) in length, 10 to 80 feet (24 m) wide, drawing only about one to five feet of water loaded, and in fact it was commonly said that they could "navigate on a heavy dew." The boats had kingposts or internal masts to support hogchains, or iron trusses, which prevented the hull from sagging. Often the boats became quite ornate with wood trim, velvet, plush chairs, gilt edging and other trimmings sometimes featured as per the owner's taste and budget.