Civil War Memorial Grave 1865
Visitors to Magnet, Indiana will find this historical marker honoring the deaths of ten soldiers of the 70th Ohio Infantry that died when the boiler exploded on the steamboat steamboat they were riding in back to their homes in Ohio.
Title of Marker:
Civil War Memorial Grave 1865
CR 36 next to Ohio River and right before paved road turns to gravel, 0.5 mile south of Magnet. (Perry County, Indiana)
Erected by Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission, 1965
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On August 21, 1865, the steamer, U.S.S. Argosy, (Number 3), was caught in a storm, blown aground and her boilers exploded. Ten fatalities occurred among Union soldiers returning home from war service. They were buried in a mass grave one half mile from Magnet (Rono) where memorial markers perpetuate this burial ground.
Tragedy befell the soldiers of the 70th Ohio Infantry as they returned from their duty during the Civil War aboard the U.S.S. Argosy 3 when a storm blew them against a rock near Magnet, Indiana. Ten of the soldiers died in the tragedy.
U.S.S. Argosy, (Number 3)
The US Navy had three ships named Argosy during the Civil War. Built in 1862, U.S.S. Argosy #1 was a stern-wheeler that the US Navy purchased and converted into supply ship and gunboat. By coincidence, it was the U.S.S. Argosy #1 that picked the survivors up after the tragedy involving U.S.S. Argosy # 3. U.S.S. Argosy #2 was constructed in 1863 and sold to the Navy the same year. The Confederates captured this ship in May 1864. U.S.S. Argosy #3, built in 1864, was not a regular government ship. It was a shipping boat that the military had requisitioned temporarily to transport returning troops home.
70th Ohio Infantry
Under the command of Colonel Joseph R. Cockerill, the 70th Ohio mustered into service on October 14, 1861 at Union Ohio. The regiment had extensive service in Kentucky, Tennessee and lastly, in Arkansas. The regiment mustered out on August 14, 1865 at Little Rock, Arkansas. They were transported to Cairo, Illinois. 300 of the soldiers boarded the U.S.S. Argosy #3. At Magnet, Indiana, they would have a terrible interruption to their long, weary journey.
A man named Dodson founded a woodyard on the banks of the Ohio River at a place he called Dodson’s Landing. Dodson sold his woodyard to Jesse Martin, who renamed the spot Martin’s Landing. When residents chose a name for the village in 1848, they named it Rono, after Martin’s dog. The United States Postal Department changed this name to Magnet in 1899. The town is about half way between Owensboro and Louisville, Kentucky. It is about six miles east of Indiana State Road 66. To get there, turn east on Ultra Road. After about a quarter of a mile, turn right on Parks Road (CR 35). Parks Road runs into Magnet. To get to the marker, turn left on East Buzzard’s Roost Road (County Road 36). Turn right just before the paved road turns to gravel road.
The boat had rounded a turn in the river called Ox Bow Bend when a thunderstorm blew up. Many of the soldiers took shelter from the blowing wind and rain in the boiler-room. The storm blew the boat against a submerged rock ledge. The rock tore the steam pipes apart, scalding many of the soldiers. The boat nearly capsized and many of the soldiers jumped overboard. After the boat righted and the officers restored order, they took roll. Eight men were missing and presumed drowned in the Ohio River. Two men died of their burns. The U.S.S. Argosy # 1 transported the survivors to Louisville. There, another ship, the Captain Lytle, continued the journey of the 70th Ohio back to Ohio. After repairs, the U.S.S. Argosy # 3 returned to service.