The three gentlemen standing on the cotton bales are most likely Shelby Rees Lee, my grandfather, Robert E Lee and perhaps their brother James Lee III. The SADIE LEE is to their right and the HARRY LEE is in front of the SADIE. The colorized postcard below is almost identical to the above picture and it appears that several of the Rousters are in both pictures. These pictures most likely were taken sometime shortly after 1901 when my grandfather began working for the Lee Line. The Lee Line did not go farther south than Vicksburg Mississippi which makes me suspicious that these pictures were not taken at New Orleans. Additionally steamboats landed upriver since controlled landings were easier going upriver than down bound. Memphis is on the east bank of the Mississippi as well as prevailing winds from the south west make me think this picture would have been taken at Vicksburg or Memphis since these steamers are landed starboard side and their smoke is blowing left to right.
The reverse of this postcard has the following description: “Loading cotton: Husky, singing Negroes handle these great bales of cotton as most people would handle bed pillows. On the great Mississippi river, packets and barges are piled high with the billowy white cotton, tightly encased in burlap wrappings.” There are no pictures showing rousters carrying cotton bales as if they were pillows. The Rousters pictured are carrying what appears to be perhaps 100 pound bags of cotton seed. Pictures of Rousters handling cotton bales show 2 or 3 men rolling bales of cotton across cobble stones or up the gang plank of steamboats. Stacking cotton bales on the decks of steamers would have required 3 or 4 men to lift and position 500 pound bales of cotton.