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Near Cairo, Illinois, fire completely destroys a steamboat carrying Army Paymasters and more than $2,000,000

Destruction of the steamboat "Ruth" on the Mississippi, the night of August 3-4, 1863, artist's impression, detail
08/03/1863 to 08/04/1863
The steamboat Ruth left St. Louis bound for Vicksburg in the afternoon carrying a full cargo and a large group of paymasters with pay for the Union Army. Near Cairo, Illinois fire broke out aboard just before midnight. The blaze spread with remarkable speed and within minutes fifty-three lives were lost, including paymasters and troops assigned to guard the reported 2.6 million dollar payroll.  The Ruth, and the money, was completely destroyed. (By John Osborne)
Source Citation: 
"The Disaster on the Mississippi: Destruction of the Steamer Ruth," New York Times, August 16, 1863