No letters are known to survive for a period of almost nine months following the death of Henry Clemens. The exact date of Clemens’s return to the river remains undetermined. Possibly he resumed his piloting apprenticeship in July 1858. He later recalled that he once steered a trip for Bart Bowen on the Alfred T. Lacey (26 Feb 99 to John B. Downing, MTL, 2:675). The Lacey’s 11–28 July St. Louis–New Orleans round trip, the only one it made that month, may well have been the assignment Clemens remembered. If so, the boat’s second pilot was another old friend—for Clemens reportedly “returned to the river as steersman for George Ealer, whom he loved” (MTB, 1:145).
In August—perhaps as early as the fourth and no later than the twenty-fifth—Clemens began working as a steersman aboard the John H. Dickey, a packet in the St. Louis–Memphis trade piloted by the youngest of the Bowen brothers, Samuel (1838?–78). He remained with the Dickey through October, except for one round trip, from the twentieth to the twenty-sixth of the month, with the White Cloud, a packet that replaced the Dickey while it was laid up for repairs. (For a discussion of Clemens’s activities while on the Dickey, including the texts of three articles he published in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat [1 Sept 58], the St. Louis Missouri Republican [22 Oct 58], and the Memphis Appeal [24 Oct 58], see Branch 1982, 195–208.)
There is a strong possibility that Clemens’s next berth, from 30 October to 8 December, was as steersman for Horace Bixby aboard the New Falls City during two St. Louis–New Orleans round trips. Following that assignment Clemens moved with Bixby to the Aleck Scott. Robert A. Reilly, the new master of the Scott, had thoroughly repaired the boat during November and early December 1858 (“Aleck Scott—Railroad Line Packet for New Orleans To-day,” St. Louis Missouri Republican, 13 Dec 58, 3). Very likely Clemens joined the refitted and restaffed Scott on its 13 December run to New Orleans and remained for five St. Louis–New Orleans round trips, leaving it on 8 April 1859, the day before he acquired his pilot’s license.