1867: Matthew C. Tulley to Arthur Sidney Nesmith

Arthur Sidney Smith

This letter was written by Matthew C. Tulley (1837-1904), a native of New York State, who resided in Carondelot City, St. Louis county, Missouri. His father was born in Ireland; his mother in Scotland. In later life, worked as a river boat captain.

Matthew wrote the letter to Arthur Sidney (“Sid”) Nesmith (1833-1877) of Franklin, New Hampshire. Arthur enlisted as a private in Company G, 1st New Hampshire Regiment on 31 May 1861 and mustered out on 9 Aug 1861 at Concord, Merrimack, New Hampshire. Arthur was then Commissioned an officer in Co. S, 3rd New Hampshire Regiment on 26 Aug 1861. and mustered out on 15 Nov 1862. He was promoted to Full Captain on 22 Jul 1863 and Commissioned an officer in the United States Volunteers Quartermaster’s Department Infantry Regiment on 22 Jul 1863. Arthur finally mustered out on 6 Jul 1865.

Sid Nesmith was known to have served on Submarine #12 and #13 as they salvaged and removed wrecks from the western waters in 1866 and 1867. These submarines were actually surface vessels from which someone in a diving bell could drop to the river floor in a diving bell.

See also — 1862: Arthur Sidney Nesmith to Annie Nesmith

Addressed to A. S. Smith, Esqr., Franklin, N. H.


Carondelot, Mo.
July 31st 1867


Having understood that he government was having built some Bell and Snag Boats for wrecking purposes and clearing the western waters generally, and becoming desirous of securing a situation as commander of one of the boats, I thought I would address you thinking you would know something about the matter and would either interest yourself in my behalf or give me such information as would lead to securing the situation.

If references are required — which no doubt will be the case — I can refer to Capt. James B. Eads, ¹ Henry T[aylor] Blow, and other leading businessmen of St. Louis, and also the Missouri Wrecking Company. Your own experience in Bell Boating on the Submarine No. 14 will give you a correct idea of what work can be done. I would also state that I can furnish a crew of divers, engineers — in fact, a crew well experienced in all that pertains to Bell Boating generally.

If you would attend to this for me, providing you have the time to spare, I would esteem it a great favor an consider myself under great obligation to you.

Accept the kind wishes of Mrs. Tulley and also the crew of the Submarine. If you cannot give the desired information, I would be pleased to hear from you at any time and upon any subject.

I am respectfully your obedient servant, — Mat. C. Tulley, Carondelot, Mo.

To: A. S. Nesmith, Esqr., Franklin, N. H.

¹ James B. Eads, at the age of 22, invented a salvage boat which he called a submarine; actually it was a surface vessel from which he could descend in a diving bell he had also designed and walk the river bottom. He recovered lead and iron pigs and other valuable freight; on one occasion he retrieved a cargo that included a large crock of butter in a good state of preservation. So successful was his equipment that in 12 years of operations on the Mississippi and its tributaries he made his fortune.


Griff View All →

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.

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