A Versatile Commander; Wreck of the “Equator”
While some men were to be found on the Mississippi in the sixties who did not hesitate to avow themselves religious, and whose lives bore witness that they were indeed Christians, the combination of a Methodist preacher and a steamboat captain was one so incongruous that it was unique, and so far as I know, without a parallel on the river. There appeared to be no great incompatibility between the two callings, however, as they were represented in the person of Captain Asa B. Green. He was a good commander, as I had personal opportunity of observing at the time of the incident described in this chapter; and a few years later, when the great drama of the Civil War was on, I again had an opportunity to observe Captain Green in his alternate role of minister of the gospel, he having been appointed chaplain of the Thirtieth Wisconsin Infantry in which I served as a private soldier. In this capacity he showed rare good sense and practical wisdom. He preached to the boys when a favorable opportunity offered on a Sunday, when there was not too much else going on; but his sermons were short, and as practical as was the man himself.
Of his conversion, or early life, on the river as a missionary, little seemed to be known by any one whom I ever met. He ran the Chippewa in the early days, during the summer months, and in the winter did missionary work among the lumbermen, following them to their camps in the woods, preaching and ministering to them; not as an alien, and in an academic fashion, but as one “to the manner born”. It is likely that his young manhood was passed on the river and in the lumber camps, and when he was converted his thoughts turned naturally to the needs of these particular classes, for none knew better than he just how great