During the civil war Alfred Van Santvoord chartered a number of boats to the Government His boat the River Queen enjoyed the historic distinction of being the place of meeting of Abraham Lincoln and Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy, when they held a conference near Fortress Monroe. The River Queen was also Ger. B. F. Butler's headquarters boat for a short period.
Chartered by the U S Department of War, the River Queen was used by General Ulysses S. Grant as his private dispatch boat on the Potomac River in 1865. On February 3, 1865, the Hampton Roads Conference took place on the River Queen in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate an end to the American Civil War. While the conference was being held in the saloon of the ship, the River Queen was lashed to the Mary Martin, another ship.
Abraham Lincoln met with General William T. Sherman, Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter and General Grant aboard the River Queen near the end of the Civil War. Both Lincoln and Grant liked this vessel; Lincoln rode aboard her two days before his assassination. Capt. Nathan B. Saunders of the Fall River steamer line was captain of the River Queen during its Civil War service.