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Riverboat Disaster

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by DaveBrt, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt First Sergeant

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    Been a bit quiet on the Naval Forum. Let me toss this out as an example of the dangers of river travel:

    Charleston Mercury, September 3, 1862

    Terrible Steamboat Disaster on the Mississippi
    Memphis papers contain the particulars of a serious disaster on the Mississippi, which occurred at Grand Cut Off, sixty miles below the city, on Thursday last. The stern wheel steamer Accasia, on her way down to Helena, with a passenger and crew list of over one hundred and fifty, struck a snag, about 2 o'clock, a. m., and was so badly damaged as to sink almost immediately. The water rushed into the hold with extreme rapidity, and in five minutes of the time of striking, the boat keeled over and completely capsized. The "skylight" parted from the rest, and with the "texas" or pilot house and the staterooms, connected with it, floated. The hull completely capsized, and in doing so, glided from the shoal where the accident took place, and sunk in the deep water. So rapid did all this take place, the shock -- the rush of the waters into the hull below -- the rolling of the rolling overboard of the chimneys above -- the riving of parting timbers, as the hurricane deck separated from the cabin, and this at a time when nearly every tenant of the ill-fated boat was in deep sleep, that there was no opportunity for one to help another. Those who were on the hurricane deck heard agonizing cries, heart-rending exclamations, and vain calls for help from those below. Then they and the rest were all struggling in the waves that surged wildly round the spot where the capsized boat was swallowed up. Of the passengers, it is estimated that at least one-half, seventy-five persons, perished. One white woman and a colored chamber maid were saved, five ladies were carried down when the boiler deck broke from the hull and the hurricane from that. None of the survivors saw anything of the ladies. They probably, in their wild fright, made some attempt at dress, and those few moments were fatal. The captain, clerk, and crew, with the exception of some of the deck hands and the negro cook, got safely to land. There was on board eight thousand dollars in gold, besides the freight, valued at two thousand dollars.
     

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  3. Mike d

    Mike d Private

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    WOW, a good read, Thank you for adding this. I cannot help but wonder if the safe and such were ever located in the salvage of the vessel.
     
  4. Mike d

    Mike d Private

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    I did find this :
    http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SDU18620915.2.9

    FROM MEMPHIS.
    Particulars of the Disaster to tbe Acacia. [Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.] , Memphis. August 2'Jd. — From persona who came up this, morning on the steamboat Con- ' way, we have some particulars of the disaster ; to the steamboat Acacia. The Acacia left this place about eight o'clock on Wednesday evening, bound for Helena, having on board between seventy and eighty pasBengexp, being convalescent soldiers and officers returning to army at Helena, sutlers, cotton buyers, and rive or six ladies, the wives j of officers, going to meet their husbands at Helena. The night, though not cloudy*, was what the pilots call a "gray night," or "hazy about the horizon; so that all landmarks were blurred and indistinct, and from this cause the Acacia may have got out of the channel. About halfj past one o'clock in the morning, when she had j reached the foot of "Grand Cut Off," a little over sixty miles below this place, and was running over a bur, she struck a log which lay on the bottom, tearing a hole in the bottom of the boat of the width of one or two planks, and almost the entire length of the boat. She immediately began to fill rapidly, and the pilot, seeiugthat sb'e was about to sink, stopped the engines and signaled the engineer to back her, so as to keep her from goiug over the reef and sinking in deep water. Every one who is at all acquainted with the formation of sand bars-fiu rivers, knows that the reef, or the high ridge of the bar, always runs at a right angle to the current, the lower, or down stream side, of the reef, is almost perpendicular and stands like a wall along the upper side of the channel, which zigzags from one shore to the other, and a few yards below this reef is always the deepest water in the river, while above the reef the water is shallow but very gradually deepens for miles a3 you go up stream. The Acacia struck so near the edge of the reef that the reversing of the engines would not check h»T headway b<'fore|sbe was carried over the reef, where in about five minutes her hull tilled and she capsized, and lay for a few minutes with the cabin nearly submerged. While this was taking place the dim scene was rendered more horrible, by the indistinct cries of the wretched souls who bad been unable to escape from the cabin, and who were being drowned as the cabin slowly settled deeper and deeper. The heated boilers too, broke loose, and went settling down, sending up a cloud of steam through the floating masses of wreck. In a few minutes the cabin with the " texas" and pilot house began to break loose from the hull and soon separated from it entirely. The hull turned bottom side up and floated down a few miles where it lodged in a shallow place, in the channel. The cabin, which still floated on its side, rose a little higher out of the water as soon us it separated from the hull, and all the passengers who could reach it, seventeen or eighteen in all, clambered on top. With these it drifted off rapidly down stream. Dozens of others were drifting near it on smaller pieces of the wreck. After drifting several miles, the wreck of the cabin came so near the shore that it passed under a tree which leaned out and hung very lowover the water. About half a dozen of those who were on the wreck managed to catch the branches as they drifted under, and so clambered along the tree to the batik. The rest, however, drifted on down twenty mile* below where the accident occurred, to opposite the mouth of St. Francis river. Here the floating wreck was burled by the rapid current against a huge snag, which completely demolished it, literally breaking cabin, texas and pilot house into kindling wood. It was now daylight. As the wreck of the cabin went to pieces, those who had been drifting on it saw many of the bodies of the unfortuI nates who had been drowned in the cabin thrown i temporarily to the surface, among the debris of i he wreck. About this time the steamboat Conway, from | Helena, came in sight, and began picking up I th'-se who were .still afloat. She also rescued half a dozen who had succeeded in getting to the bank. And soon after the dispatch lx>at W. H. 8., on her way to' Helena from this port, came in sight, she having also picked up a number from pieces of the wreck, which were scattered for many miles along the river. Thirty or forty of the passengers and crew of the Acacia came back to this place on the Conway, and quite a number, including all the officers and soldiers who had been on board, went down to Helena on the W. H. B. Out of the one hundred and fifteen or one hundred and twenty who were on board the Acacia, .it is supposed that fully forty were drowned. Among the lost were i four ladies and three children; they were in their staterooms asleep when the accident occurred, and were unable to get out of the cabin ; only two ladies are known to have been saved. The reason assigned for 60 few escaping from the cabin is, that the boat instantly careened over so much that it was impossible for any one to walk the floor. When the wreck of the cabin, after drifting so far, struck the snag that tore it to pieces, a negro who was on the wreck, was somehow left clinging to the snag, which projected above the water several feet, and to which the swift current gave a sawing motion, and one instant he was plunged down into the water, and the next raised again several feet above the surface. In this uncomfortable fix he clung several hours, until rescued by the Conway. The Acacia "had about seventy-five tons of freight on board, mostly sutlers' stores, all of which was lost. A large amount of money was ulso lost, by cotton buyers and others ; one man lost eight thousand dollars is gold, and another two thousand. A number of the survivors got off to shore near the residence cf Sirs. Dr. Kent, who showed them every assistance in her power. At one place when the Conway landed to rescue some of the survivors, the officers of the boat were told that a band of guerrillas were then looking at them with glasses from the opposite shore. All the survivors mention the name of Thomas Baldwin, the engineer of the Acacia, with commendation, for having stood at his post endeavoring to back the engines until the water rendered it impossible. The Evening Bulletin says of the unfortunate boat : " The Acacia wag the old W. IT. Langlev, which used to run to White river and other side streams, and for some time run with the Kate Frisbee in Ciiptuin Shirley's Memphis aud Vicksburg packet line. The boat was old and unfit for service. She was owned by Captain Price. " The only names we have been able to obtain are the following, which were signed to a series of resolutions which they passed, eulogizing the humanity of the officers of the Conwa\, and expressing gratitude for their generous efforts to save their lives, and kindness after they were taken on board. The names ore: "John Brown, Jbo. Carson, Charles Ross. Jno. Siven, John G. Uuer, Berom Leore, N. Lewe, E. Ringler, W. S Wood, T. Heidelberger, .1. R. Smith, Eighth Indiana; Robert A. Brown, Eighth Indiana; Isaac A. Sharp, Eighth Indiana; Letman A. White, Eighth Indiana; William Streaemeicr, John Burgess, W. U. Ashwell. I certify that the above is correct. E. Ringlek, Assistant Surgeon, Fifty-eighth Regiment, Ohio Volunteers.'' The only nanio I have been able to learn of any one certainly lost is that of Mrs. Scliuman, the wife ofj^Uiiptain in the army at Helena. The wife^Tso, of a Colonel at Helena, whose name Ijould not learn, was lost. Wit for Cabbages. — A contributor to the Farmer and Gardener remarks upon this subject : A
     
    AndyHall, USS Cumberland and DaveBrt like this.
  5. Story

    Story Sergeant

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    JPK Huson 1863 and AndyHall like this.
  6. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Mark Twain's brother was a victim to one, so you know there's as heart rending an account as could exist on our planet. Poor, dear man. It's a dreadful and chilling story within another. In 1858, The Pennsylvania blew. Twain's brother Henry was ' mudman ', a job Sam, only a year away from his captain's license, had helped Henry into.

    " In] the morning, when I awoke I had been dreaming, and the dream was so vivid, so like reality, that it deceived me, and I thought it was real. In the dream I had seen Henry a corpse. He lay in a metallic [burial case]. He was dressed in a suit of my clothing, and on his breast lay a great bouquet of flowers, mainly white roses, with a red rose in the [centre]. The casket stood upon a couple of chairs. I dressed, and moved toward that door, thinking I would go in there and look at it, but I changed my mind. I thought I could not yet bear to meet my mother. I thought I would wait [a while] and make some preparation for that ordeal. The house was in Locust [street], a little above 13th, and I walked to 14th, and to the middle of the block beyond, before it suddenly flashed upon me that there was nothing real about this--it was only a dream. I can still feel something of the grateful upheaval of joy of that moment, and I can also still feel the remnant of doubt, the suspicion that maybe it [was] real, after all. I returned to the house almost on a run, flew up the stairs two or three steps at a jump, and rushed into that [sitting-room]--and was made glad again, for there was no casket there. "

    It's an awful story. Each aspect came true- every one. Worse, Henry was found laying with those scalded and burned and thought hopeless- saved..... died from a morphine overdose in the chaos.
     
  7. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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