Looking for Accounts of the Massachusetts/Black Diamond Accident on Potomac

Aug 2, 2019
I am having a heck of a time finding information on the men who were on the Massachusetts transport steamer when she struck and sank the Black Diamond. The newspapers all ran basically the same wire service story the week it happened, and two survivors, WIlliam Nott and George Hollands wrote about in for the National Tribune in 1914. Those are pretty much the only primary accounts I can find on it.

Does anyone know the names of any of the victims (other than the ones from the 16 Connecticut) or has anyone come across any other accounts written by the survivors?



Sergeant Major
Dec 5, 2019
There is an online article "Peril on the Potomac" written by Karen Stone with some names: https://www.historynet.com/peril-on-the-potomac-the-sinking-of-black-diamond.htm It names Joseph Husted as a survivor from the Black Diamond.

What looks like a naval site (https://www.dcmilitary.com/tester/n...cle_6e77bb6d-d62b-5709-90cf-81d6a8413b89.html) has a brief article that names George Hollands, 101 PA, Co. B, as a survivor...but you know about him.

It might be worthwhile to contact one of the historical societies in the area. Alexandria comes to mind but surely there are others.
Aug 2, 2019
Thanks. Karen and I have been swapping emails - there's also a C-span interview online with her talking about the accident. She has a theory that she can't quite prove that John Wilkes Booth may have been able to cross the Potomac because the ships in the area left their posts to try to help rescue the men in the water. She knows that he crossed it that night, but supposedly he crossed an hour before the collision. Still, you can't tell how definitive that time is, and if it was an actual time or a retrospective estimate. Fascinating stuff, huh?

Thanks for the tip on Husted. He testified in the file of George Carter, the drummer from the 16 CT whose hands were too numb to grab onto the rope, and who drowned while Husted and William Nott, also of the 16 CT looked on while clinging to the mast of the Black Diamond. Reading the pension files for the dead guys, I've come up with the names of two more survivors - George Sullivan of the 2nd Mass HA and Samuel Porter of the 101 Penn, but both are pretty sparse details. Nott and Hollands are more detailed.

There's no photo of the Massachusetts with her bow stove in, but the ship that brought some of my ancestors to America collided with an iceberg in November, 1879. It was the Arizona and it held the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing at the time. It hit the ice berg head on, and also crushed the bow, but made it the rest of the way. I have this photo of it, with 5 or 6 men standing abreast in the hole, which is pretty much how the bow Massachusetts is described. I'm putting it here because I think it's probably very similar to the damage on the Massachusetts. No wonder the poor guys on board believed she was sinking!

Thanks for your help.

Arizona bow 1879.jpg