July 13, 1863 Explosion of the Railroad Steam Engine "Jefferson Davis" at Boiling Creek near Richmond

lelliott19

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On Monday, July 13, 1863, the boiler of the railroad steam engine "Jefferson Davis" exploded, killing the engineer, Hugh Burns, and fireman, James Trent, along with at least one soldier and three paroled Confederate sailors of the Atlanta, who had recently arrived at Petersburg under flag of truce. Five or six other passengers were seriously wounded by the explosion.

...The explosion was as terrible as that of a 32-pounder, and such was its force that the engine was thrown corsswise off the track, and the pilot or cow-catcher hurled off to a distance of fifty feet up an embankment. Two of the box-cars next to the engine were demolished by the explosion and the momentum of the train, and here the killing and maiming beyond that of the engineer and fireman occurred, as the two cars were filled with sailors and soldiers. One soldier sitting upon the top of the foremost car, was struck in the head by a billet of wood and instantly killed; another was mortally injured. A large number of ladies and children were on the train, but as they were in the rear cars, none were injured. -- Richmond Examiner
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@DaveBrt do you have a picture of the locomotive "Jefferson Davis"?
 

DaveBrt

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On Monday, July 13, 1863, the boiler of the railroad steam engine "Jefferson Davis" exploded, killing the engineer, Hugh Burns, and fireman, James Trent, along with at least one soldier and three paroled Confederate sailors of the Atlanta, who had recently arrived at Petersburg under flag of truce. Five or six other passengers were seriously wounded by the explosion.

...The explosion was as terrible as that of a 32-pounder, and such was its force that the engine was thrown corsswise off the track, and the pilot or cow-catcher hurled off to a distance of fifty feet up an embankment. Two of the box-cars next to the engine were demolished by the explosion and the momentum of the train, and here the killing and maiming beyond that of the engineer and fireman occurred, as the two cars were filled with sailors and soldiers. One soldier sitting upon the top of the foremost car, was struck in the head by a billet of wood and instantly killed; another was mortally injured. A large number of ladies and children were on the train, but as they were in the rear cars, none were injured. -- Richmond Examiner
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@DaveBrt do you have a picture of the locomotive "Jefferson Davis"?
The Jefferson Davis was the captured Baltimore & Ohio RR locomotive #235. See http://csa-railroads.com/Essays/Specifications_For_B&O_188,_231_&_235.htm
 

lelliott19

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Carol

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Wow. From your essay:
Steam pressure: A little above 100 pounds
Good grief! No wonder the article says "The explosion was as terrible as that of a 32-pounder.." I guess it would have been horrendous.
Any final analysis for the explosion? I also noted in the article by @DaveBrt that 106 tubes are listed. Did this engine have superheater tubes within the fire tubes?
 

Lubliner

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How could a Locomotive explode with such force that enough of it could be returned and repaired to the B&O after the war?
The size of the major components given in the description must have been a near standard size. Five foot wheels appeared big to me. I didn't recognize that feature until I saw the picture. I wonder how long it took to clear the wreckage and remove the cars with another locomotive. I suppose this one ran through Chesterfield County, that would eventually run above the POW camp as it crossed the James River into Richmond?
Thank you @lelliott19 for the thread.
Lubliner.
 

DaveBrt

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How could a Locomotive explode with such force that enough of it could be returned and repaired to the B&O after the war?
The size of the major components given in the description must have been a near standard size. Five foot wheels appeared big to me. I didn't recognize that feature until I saw the picture. I wonder how long it took to clear the wreckage and remove the cars with another locomotive. I suppose this one ran through Chesterfield County, that would eventually run above the POW camp as it crossed the James River into Richmond?
Thank you @lelliott19 for the thread.
Lubliner.
Most of the explosion was usually vented upward, so the boiler tubes and upper shell were the things most damaged and easily repairable. The frame, rods, wheels, etc would not likely have been severely damaged. The #235, Jefferson Davis, was found by Mr. Keith in the shops at Danville (ie the Manassas Gap RR shops) with the name Powhatan and "in pretty fair order. Can be easily moved." I assume that the locomotive had been repaired and provided to the Piedmont RR in running order in 1864.

Clearing the wreck so close to Richmond should have been easy, with plenty of assets to use. It was also critical that the Richmond & Petersburg RR remain in operation, so every effort would have been used. Many collisions and wrecks were off the track on a single day.
 
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