The Red Rover was a steamer bought by Confederate Navy at the beginning of the Civil War and used as a transport ship. At the Battle of Island #10 in April, 1862, near New Madrid Missouri,it was captured by Union forces. The Union Navy outfitted it as a military hospital ship, something which had never been done before.
The ship held operating rooms, amputation rooms, medical supplies, wards and accommodations for the female nurses, some of whom were members of the Catholic order: Sisters of the Holy Cross. African-American women served as paid aides.
On of the modifications allowed the new hospital ship to carry up to 300 tons of ice in its lowest hold, an important commodity for the sick and wounded soldiers it carried.
During the Civil War, the Red Rover made many trips up and down the Mississippi and other rivers, carrying soldiers back and forth to hospitals and treating lesser cases on board. Wherever it went, it was in great need, and it treated soldiers from both sides of the war.
Perhaps because it was called back and forth across the river so often or because it served both sides (Union and Confederate), after the war a popular children's game, previously known as Gates of the City , was renamed Red Rover. Generations of children have played the game that features the chant "Red Rove, Red Rove, send 'so and so' right over."
Red Rover, the first hospital ship of the United States Navy, the first navy ship that women served on and the apparent namesake of the popular children's game, was built and launched in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in 1859.
Today, we encourage our visitors to remember a hospital ship named Red Rover that reached out with compassion to those in need, regardless of the side on which they served. At the end of their visit, when guests to our community head home, it is our hope that along with several great memories and a few souvenirs, they also take the idea of compassion to one's fellow man home with them as well.
By The City Of Cape Girardeau Missouri
Points of Interest ---- Unique Lites and Historical Lites.