Friday, July 30, 2021

Terrific Explosion at the Battery -- July 30, 2021

New York Herald, 31-July-1871

150 years ago today, on 30-July-1871, the boiler of the Staten Island ferryboat Westfield exploded just after a huge crowd of Sunday excursionists had boarded. As many as 91 died and up to 200 were injured. Somehow, the boat was repaired and returned to service.

The Gracchi were two famous Roman brothers who tried to promote land reform. One was assassinated and the other committed suicide when a mob came to assassinate him.
Terrific Explosion at
the Battery.
The Staten Island Steamer
Westfield Bursts Her Boiler
at Whitehall Ferry.
Her Upper Works Shattered
Into a Thousand Atoms.

Over One Hundred
Complete List of the
Men, Women and Children
Hurried Into Eternity.

Excruciating Sufferings of the Burned,
Scalded and Bruised.
Desperate Struggles and Miraculous
Escapes in the Water.
Harrowing Spectacles
at the Hospitals.
Corpses Laid Out with Lighted
Narratives of Survivors and
Eye Witnesses.
Full and Graphic Report of the
Tragic Occurrence.

One of the most appalling catastrophes which ever took place in this city occurred yesterday afternoon, at the foot or Whitehall street, by which a large number of persons were killed and a still larger number were maimed for life. The laboring classes and others, who toil from morn till night, six days in the week, without a single day's respite, make Sunday a day of out-of-town excursions in the summer time. Among the many places near by which they resort for a breath of fresh air is Staten Island. It is only


to the island from the city, and hundreds every Sunday make it a sort of duty they owe to their wives and little ones, who during the week are pent up in foul-smelling tenements, to go to the island and spend an hour or two away from the heat and dust of the city in the midst of shady groves and cosy nookeries close by the sea.

The weather yesterday was everything that could have been desired for a pleasant sail down the bay. About noon it became too warm for comfort in the close streets, yet on the bay there was a refreshing breeze Which proved most grateful to the excursionist just emerged from his suffocating tenement or dingy attic. Every boat that had paddled its way to the island during the forenoon had been crowded in every part, and nothing occurred to mar the general pleasure of the day until


slid into her slip about a quarter past one. She had but few passengers on board when she arrived, but she bad taken down to the island an hour before fully seven hundred persons. This time an immense crowd of excursionists were impatiently awaiting her arrival behind the gateways, and even while she was being made fast to the pier hundreds could be seen rushing down Broadway and from the Brooklyn ferries, hurrying along at the top of their speed, fearful lest they should miss the boat which it would have been well had many failed to reach. It was just after the dinner hour, and nearly every man was accompanied by some female relative or companion. Many had their entire families with them, wife and children.

When the passengers from the island were safely landed, the gates were thrown open, and then begun the rush for choice seats on the part of the hundreds who were in the ferry house and behind the picketed enclosure. The crowd seemed to be unusually large, and


as usual on all excursions, predominated in point of numbers. A great many, principally young men, without female companions, made their way to the forward part of the boat on the lower deck. The great bulk of the crowd, however, went up stairs. Everybody endeavored to get a seat on a the front part of the boat, just in front of and alongside the pilot house, round the base of which ran a sort of bench nailed fast to the side of the cabin, Along the cabins, inside, and behind them at the stern, every seat was taken in a very short time; but, owing to the prospect of obtaining a better view of the surrounding scenery in going down the bay and getting the full benefit of the breeze, the greater portion of the passengers took possession of that part of the boat forward of the wheelhouse. Those who could not capture a stool, took up as comfortable a position as they could get just in front of those on the benches. In two minutes after the gates on the pier had been thrown open, the forward part of the boat was literally packed with men, women and children, so much so that was quite impossible for a person to get around from one side of the hurricane deck to the other without getting a passage made through the crowd by the removal or an entire line of the movable seats. Those who had been unable to secure a seat of any kind, in looking upon the laughing, gay hearted crowd that filled the small space near the wheelhouse as they good naturedly joked about the unfortunates who had been too slow in the rush up stairs to get even a stray box to sit upon, little thought how thankful they would in a brief moment have reason to be for their misfortune.

It was now lacking three or four minutes of the hour of starting. The children were running about the deck amusing themselves in a game of tag. A little group of jolly-looking fellows, accompanied by several women who sat beside them, closely huddled together right in the middle of the thickest of the crowd, had already settled a series of jocose story-tellings, and a loud roar of laughter every once in a while from the listeners told how they were relishing what they heard. In fact everybody had already settled himself and herself, as comfortably as possible for a pleasant time of it during the sail down the bay, and not one of the laughing crowd ever gave a thought that within a few feet of them was a huge mass of plate iron, hidden from view beneath the deck, which in a second was to carry


to many a harpy home. The engineer started at this moment from the pilothouse, as the bells were to be rung to "go ahead." The lines were cast off, the gang planks drawn in and the pilot stood at his post, when of a sudden there was a loud crash, a sound of hissing steam, and the boat shook from stem to stern as though she had been struck by an iceberg, and in a second the forward decks were thrown high into the air and fell in all directions in a thousand pieces. The boiler had exploded. The scene that ensued beggars description. The wheelhouse was thrown high into the air; the hurricane deck in front of it and alongside of it was torn into shreds and scattered in every direction. The deck beneath, near the bow, was rent asunder by the force of the concussion. The boiler crashing into the forward part of the hulk, carried with it everything that lay In its way. The heavy timbers of the deck were broken asunder as if they had been reeds, while the entire hold was laid open, and down into the midst if all the heap of broken iron and broken rails -- away down in the hold, from which the steam was gushing in thick, suffocating clouds -- lay


women aud children -- each in his or her agony tearing blindly at the other to reach a place of safety. Some lay on the edge of the broken part of the lower deck, crushed and mangled almost out of all semblance to humanity, while in the water, near the steamer, were crowds of the passengers struggling to get near the boats which put out from all sides to the rescue.

The hurricane deck forward of the shaft was hurled in fragments into the air, every person on it being hurled along with it and falling either dead or horribly mangled on the lower deck or into the waters beneath. The smoke stack fell at the same moment, the wheelhouse crashing drown at the same time, and the combined weight of the two crushed in what little remained of the decks, the whole mass falling into the hold below, carrying down with it every unfortunate who had not been flung into the river by the explosion. A bystander states that he actually saw two men fall into the water headless, and three others without the slightest vestige of an arm or a leg.

The scene was one of heart rending horror. Shrieks rent the air upon all sides, and above the din and confusion made by the groans and moans of the wounded was heard the shrill shriek of some woman, who, beneath a mass of broken timbers, lay writhing and struggling. in a vain effort to get free. The Police boat and boats from Governor's Island were soon on hand, and their crews worked energetically to save those whm had been thrown into the water by the explosion, or who had, in the horror of the moment, sprung overboard. A very large number were


and everything was done that could be done to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded, who were brought ashore and laid upon the wharves. In a short time after the dreadful accident the streets near the pier began to fill up with an excited crowd. An hour after the occurence there were fully five thousand people in the vicinity of the Battery, and it was as much as the police could do to keep them back from the slip where the shattered boat was lying. As quickly as could be the wounded were taken in wagons and ambulances to the nearest station house -- that in New street -- where they received all the attention that the surgeons could bestow upon them, and were afterward sent to the hospitals. Some of the dead were frightfully mutilated. Many of the bodies were brought to the station house immediately after the occurrence. They presented a horrible appearance. One man had his head blown almost completely off, only a portion of the forehead and face remaining. Among the dead was one woman apparently about thirty years of age. Her head had been crushed in by a timber falling upon her from the hurricane deck.

The scene In the streets as wagon after wagon passed along, each with its cargo of horribly mangled bodies created the greatest excitement, and In a very short time the intelligence of the horrible catastrophe was spread all over tne city. Hundreds of persons who had friends on board the boat hastened from up town in the direction of the Whitethall slip when they heard the news, and soon the crowds became so great that an extra force of police had to be called out to preserve order.

How the accident occurred no one seems to have any correct idea as yet. It is said that the boiler was patched some time ago, and that the new piece must have "given way." The engineer states that he had only twenty-seven pounds of steam on, and that the boiler had been in use for nine years.

People must await the result of the Coroner's inquest to get at the full facts.

The Westfield -- the Engineer's and Boatmen's

The Staten Island ferryboat Westfield, which blew up at the Whitehall landing, was built in 1863 and measured 220 feet over all. She carried a low pressure beam engine of ten foot. The boiler, which was tested by the United States lnspector, John K. Mathews, on the 15th of June last, was built by the Sissor Ironworks.


was applied, and, to all appearance, there existed no flaw. The Westfleld had one safety valve, 28 inches area, which only allows 25 pounds pressure per square inch. In addition she was furnished with one locked safety valve, as prescribed by law, loaded to 27 pounds per square inch. The object of the "locked safety valve"' is to guard against the indiscretion of the engineer, and this end the United States Inspector seals the valve so that as soon as the steam mounts beyond the pressure allowed it blows off. The engine is low pressure with cylinders fifty inches in diameter and ten feet stroke of piston; boiler twenty-four feet long and ten feet in diameter, twelve feet width of front. Last year's certificate expired on the l9th of June, and the inspectors had been notified and examined the ship, issuing their certificate on the 15th of Juue.


in the shiell of the boiler, for it is very unusual for boilers to burst in the shell, most of the flaws occurring near tne furnace or in the steam chest, the end of the shell was driven by the force of the explosion into the hull of the ship, but no other part of the machinery was injured. The engines are placed at one end of the boat and the boilers at the other. The force of the explosion was not sufficient to seriously injure the hull of the vessel.

At the moment of the explosion, half-past one o'clock P. M., the vessel was lying in the dock just preparing to move out, the end of the boat where the engines are situated was towards land, with the boiler end out towards the water. As is usual, tne majority of the passengers had passed through in order


during the passage, and when the explosion took place it spent its force in the direction where the least resistance was offered, blowing the hapless crowd of pleasure-seekers into the air. The explosion was not loud, nor was its force very great, as the upper and hurricane decks only are blown away, the solid hull of the steamer escaping without much injury. In a moment the water was covered with fragments of the decks and


of men, women and children were turned appealing for help toward the shore. Many of the poor people who clung to pieces of the wreck had received serious injuries during their fall, and the blood poured freely from their wounds. Those whose good fortune had kept them in the rear part of the steamboat, rushed back to the landing stage in terror for their lives; but as soon as the panic had abated many of them returned to afford assistance. At the moment the boiler burst men and women and pieces of the wreck could be indistinctly seen high up In the air throngh the clouds of steam that for a moment obscured the view. In an instant the steam cleared away and revealed


The pilot, who occupied the pilot house immediately over the boiler, was blown up into the air and came down on the hurricane deck, miraculously escaping without sustaining the slightest injury. Captain Freeland and Henry Robinson. a colored man, who was engineer, were standing in the rear pilot house when the explosion took place, and both escaped without injury, though it was at first reported that Robinson had been killed. So little was ihe force of the explosion that the Captain at first thought that one of the South ferryboats had run into him; but the cloud of steam dissipated this notion and revealed to him


A piece of iron four feet in length and about sixteen inches broad, somewhat wedge-like in shape, which had formed part or the boiler, was thrown on to the landing of the HERALD wharf, but fortunately did not injure any one. About two hundred peopie were on board the boat at the time of the explosion, upwards of one hundred of whom are supposed to have been injured. Almost as soon as the vapor had cleared away a number of gallant boatmen were on the spot making gallant efforts to save the poor wretches who clung desperately to pieces of the wreck, or grappled or dragged for those less fortunate whose injuries


Among the men who so distinguished themselves in the work of humanity the following deserve special mention:--
James Holland.
Thomas Bournan.
James Condy, attached to the HERALD.
Mlchael Quigley,
John Delaney,
Patrick Collins, Battery boatman.
The gallant fellows picked up over fifty people and landed them in safety.


who is a colored man of a good deal of intelligence, and reputed one of the best and most reliable men in the employment of the company, states that for twenty years he has been an engineer, and that he has spent sixteen years in the service of the company. He has the usual engineer's certificate, and states that he has passed at least one examination. It appears that it is not necessary for the engineers employed on this ferry to have certificatees. Robinson was in completed charge of the Westfield at the time of the explosion. At twenty minutes past one o'clock he went


and saw Patrick Finnegan, one of the firemen, and inquired how the water stood. Finuegan answered him that it was all right, but in order to see for himself he approached the boiler and tried the third cock and found the water flowed, and therefore considered that everything was right. On quitting the fire room Robinson went to the engine room and saw that the boiler carried twenty-seven pounds of steam and then left going on to the dock, in a couple of minutes Robinson again went on board and into the pilot house, where the captain was standing. After a few minutes' conversation In the pilot house Robinson was about to descend, when the explosion took place. The only cause which Robinson could assign for the catastrophe was


on the boiler, which, he says, may have given way, though he says that he examined it so late as Thursday, and that it appeared to be then in a safe condition. Beyond this Robinson could not give any explanation of the explosion. The fact that Robinson seems to have had some doubts as to tne soundness of the patch on the cylinder of the boiler suggests some very unpleasant reflections as to the value to be placed on the certificates of the United States Inspectors, who are supposed lo have examined this boiler so late as the 15th of June, which is the date of the last certificate shown by the secretary of the company to the HERALD reporter. If any doubt existed as to the perfcct soundness of so important, and


no certificate should have been issued. This is a matter which will demand the closest investigation.

The following is a full list of the crew of the Westfield and the injuries received by them:--
Captain -- Isaac Freeland, not hurt.
Assistant Pilot -- James McGee, slight wound.
Engineer -- Harry Robinson, not hurt.
Firemen -- Robert Casan, slight hurt; Patrick Finnegan, seriously injured.
Deck hands -- John King. not hurt; Michael Agnew, not hurt; James Holiday, not hurt; Charles Rent, slight wound.
Cabin boy -- John Slack, uninjured.
Chambermaid -- Jemima Jackson, uninjured.

The police mention with high honor for bravery and humanity the names of Michael Quigley and Patrick Collins, who rescued over one hundred persons from the water at the imminent risk of their own lives. Also the names of Charles Doane, Charles Henderson and Michael Knowles, who spent the whole evenng and night grappling for the bodies of the dead.


The following simple, straightiorward narrative is told by one of the gallant fellows who struggled so bravely to rescue their fellow creatures from a watery grave. The story is affecting in its rough, sailor like simplicity, and appeals to the heart more than the most sensational story could do. It is the statement of a man who did his duty and seems scarcely to think that he has done anything more:--


I was in the HERALD shipping office at the time of the explosion, and, looking out of the window, saw a volume of steam and ran out on the barge office dock. I jumped into a small boat and pulled round the end of the pier in there. I saw a number of people hanging on to the timbers of the dock, but as there were men on the dock with a ladder shoved down, trying to get them out, I turned my attention to the people in the water. All about the end of the pier the water was covered with fragments of the saloon works, scattered about at thirty feet distance out from the lock. In every direction men, women and children were


to the pieces of floating timber. Nearly all of them exhibited wounds about the head and face, and appeared to be greatly frightened. I saw a child lying on the top of a pretty large piece of the woodwork which was floating about in the water, and I at once pulled for it. When I got close I picked up the infant, which was about three months old. When I took it up it didn't appear to have anv life in it. I placed it on one side of the boat, and rowed to where I saw a woman clinging to another fragment about four yards away, and when I took her in I found she was


She was awfully excited, and when she saw her child she picked it up and put it in her lap. She said she had had three other children with her, and did not knew what had become of them. The poor woman, whose name was O'Neil, was dreadfully overcome with fright and seamed not to fully recognize her position at first. Close by these was a nice looking young girl, about fifteen years old, dressed in white, also supporting herself on a piece of the wreck. I got hold of her and pulled her into the boat. She cried to me, "Please take me in," and after I had safely got her into the boat she told me her name, Mary Bauman, living iu avenue C. She was in great distress for her mother, who had accompanied her on the boat, and whom she believed dead. However, when I landed her, some time after, she found her mother, who appeared to have


When I had the girl safely In the boat I went to the assistance of a man who was clinging to a piece of wood at about six yards from me. After some difficulty I handed him into the boat. He told me he had had a boy with him. After I landed him near the White Horse slip he found the child who was not injured. Bradford complained that his leg was injured, a little boy, about fifteen, supporting himself on the fragments, asked me piteously to take him in, as his leg was injured and he could not swim. Several men were


without my help, and I put them safely ashore. I think in all I put seven ashore. A number of boats had rowed in immediately after the explosion and were all busily engaged in trying to save the people in the water. Only for the small boats having come in so quickly a great mauy more would have been drowned. Among the boatmen whom I noticed actively engaged tn the effort to save the lives or the people, were Thomas Bresnaham, a Whitehall boatman, and James Holland, Whitehall boatman.


Mr. Edward Carlisle, of 17 Park row, was standing yesterday afternoon, with three friends, in front of the Stevens House, near the Staten Island ferry. Suddenly


and all eyes were turned in the direction from which the sound came, some minutes elapsed, and no news arrived of the cause of the mysterious sound. In a few minutes a man, accompanied by a woman, rushed out of the gate of the ferry houae. At first It seemed as though he was laboring only under excitement, but before running far he exclaimed,


He fell down, and a group gathered round him. It then becaun known that he was frightfully scalded and was suffering intense agony. He had been picked up out of the water, and in the madness of pain had rushed through the gates of the ferry house into the street. He was taken to the hospital, but died before arriving there. It is not known whether or not the woman who rushed out with the poor fellow referred to was acquainted with him. She had hardly got outside the gate of the ferry house when she fell to the ground. Her arms and legs were frightfnily burned, so much so that it was necessary to hold the flesh to prevent it from falling off. The poor creature died on the way to the hospital.


A father had gone down to the ferryboat with four of his children to proceed to Staten island. He, with two children, stayed for a few momenta outside the ferryboat station to buy some apples. The other two children had gone on board. Suddenly the frightful explosion took place.


were flung luto the air. Shrieks of agony resounded on all sides, and the disconsolate father, frantic with excitement at the loss of his two children, rent the air with his cries.


At this time two young men, the flesh actually dangling from their bodies, rushed out of the ferry gate. They were in frightful agony, but, despite all their sufferings, they clung to each other with singular aliection. Their strength seemed gone, and both were every moment on the point of falling, but the other, with sudden and seemingly superhuman devotion, clung to the other. The face of one was a mass of blood without burns, that of the other one of burns without blood. They staggered to the nearest drug store, and were, for the time, lost amid the terrible excitement of this sad scene.


Grappling for the Bodies of the Victims.

The gloomy river with a hissing noise having caught in its arms and folded in the mangled victims, resumed its wonted expression; the hearts on shore that stood still in the terrible moment of the explosion beat quick in agony of horror; a wail of grief escaped the widened lips or the survivors' and all was over. No, not all. Now was to come the realization of the extent of the catastrophe. Fourteen or fifteen boats, manned by excited volunteers from the shore, dashed into the slip and immediately prepared for the work of searching for the bodies. The water fronting ihe Custom House barge office and the river for some distance up and down, was littered with the debris of the wreck, and this mass of floating stuff too well indicated where the unfortunate victims had sunk to rise no more in life. Little wicker baskets, canes, hats, shawls, handkerchiefs, ties floated on the surface or were washed against the piers. Then planks and pieces of various parts of the upper deck bobbed up and down in the tide or drifted out to the eager river, but the boatmen paid little attention to these. They


with terrible energy, and soon the placid water bubbled, and all the spectators on the shore, and those in the boats fixed their eyes intently on the broad-shouldered man who, standing in the bow of his skiff, was hauling strongly but slowly up from the bed of the river something that glistened white beneath his hand. A moment of intense anxiety -- an eternity of expectancy for the lookers-on, many of whom had friends or relatives on board the ill-fated steamer, and the object floated to the surface. A moan escaped from the assembled crowd on the dock and the body of a little child was token on board a boat. With dripping hair and arms spread out Ihe poor innocent was laid across a thwart. Its face was dark and gathered up, as if it died in agony, while its clothes were torn from its body, scarcely a shred remaining. But there was no time for examining closely the condition of this


A shout at once startling and horrifying drew attention away to another quarter. On the dock, with wild eyes ami dishevelled hair, a woman stood shrieking and wringing her hands wildly over her head.

"Oh, my God! my God!" she cried continually, "where is my husband and my son? Oh, my son!" She made a movement as if she intended to precipitate herself into the river, but was held back by people near by.

"Look, look!" yelled a man in a boat, as he pulled a skiff quickly to ihe opposite side of the slip, "Look! here he is, here he is!"

The unfortunate man, who seemed to be a sailor or boatman, acted as if his reason hail deserted him. Leaning over the side of the boat until his face almost touched the water he gazed with distended eyes down into the river, watching, with an expression on his face of intense agony, nor that which he dreaded to see. Not a piece of dress or iron bolt this time tried the strength of the boatmen


It came slowly. Something below seemed to hold it in the bed of the river. What couid it be?

"Perhaps two bodies locked together," suggested a boatman.

"Or one imbedded in the mud," said another, as he tugged at the rope.

The excitement of the boatmen was naturally very great, though not so intense as those on shore. Presently the men at the rope felt that the object they had grappled was yielding, and soon after the water bubbled and boiled beside them; and then, to the inexpressible horror of all, two human feet, partly covered and swollen, burst out. of the water. The form of a full grown man was in full view. The poor scalded clay was taken gently but quickly into the boat and as quickly landed. And so the work went on. Boats of the Dock Department, from the shipping and from different slips in the immediate vicinity hurried to the assistance of those already at work, and so the work went on hour by hour. As the evening grew apace ami the news of the terrible disaster spread far and wide through the city a number of


the Westfield secured boats aud rowed about the river outside the slip, anxiously waiting the result of the labors of the men grappling for the bodies. The painfully eager faces of these grief-stricken people was reflected on shore in the horrified countenances of the great crowd that had now assembled. With clasped hands, white faces and motionless lips women stood gazing on the water, from which now and again some mangled human form emerged. Not many were recognizable. Torn with spiinters and swelled to an unnatural size by the steam escaping from the boilers, they presented a most sickening sight. The feeling of those who had reason to believe that their relatives or friends were numbered with the dead can be imagined, but no words can describe them. Fathers bewailed the loss of children, children fathers and mothers, and strong men wept tears of bitter agony, and mingled with the grief of the mourners was wild, uncontrollable passion.

"Ah!" exclaimed a gentleman in a boat, as another victim was hauled feet foremost to the surface.

"Ah! will God punish the murderers of my son? Is God just?" And he hid his face in his hands and moaned aloud.

"Your son may not be dead, sir," said a boatman near him; "he may not have been on board."

"Let me alone, let me alone," sobbed the gentleman, in agony, "I know he is dead; I feel it.


At half-past six the body of a little girl, apparently eight or nine years old, was recovered immediately in front of the Barge Office. She had on a white frock, embroidered on the front, near the neck, high laced shoes, white stockings, fastened with red and white garters. The eyes were of a light blue hue, hair dark brown and luxuriant, worn plain. The face and limbs were bloated and slightly discolored from the effects of being in the water. The body did not seem to have sustained any injuries with the exception of two light bruises on the forehead, probably caused by striking against some of the debris, or coming into contact with the spikes about the barge piers, as the body was swept along by the current. It was taken on a stretcher to the First precinct station house. Shortly after the recovery of this body a girl's slipper was flshed up, with a large square silver buckle on the front, together with a ladies' parasol of black silk with pink tips and white handle.

This was


before darkness set in. The men in the boats were exhausted with thelr labor and had to be relieved by others. There were volunteers by the hundred ready to take their places, and there was no delay on that account. But it became necessary to have lights, and these were soon procured.

Owing to the fact that the eddying current prevented the bodies from floating out into the river, the search was more successful than at any other time of the tide. The killed and drowned were kept by the tide within about fifteen yards of the spot where the disaster occurred, and it is quite posBible that all have now been recovered.

But the search was continued far into the night. Lights glimmered on the river, and the din of oars and the heavy splash of grappling irons fell dismally on the ears of the throng still on the Battery.


on the solemn water, the tide washed monotononsly and mournfully against the piers; while the stars threw a sickly, uncertain light down on the scene of human misery and human woe.


The promptitude of the hospital officers was commendable. In about twenty-five minutes after the explosion ambulances from the Centre Street Hospital, from the several police stations and from Headquarters hurried at full gallop to the scene of the disaster. Their arrival was greeted with cheers by the great and excited crowd assembled at the Battery. With


the former for the injured and the latter for those of the victims who were past all human aid, was a large and efficient staff of surgeons, with a plentiful supply of bandages and medicines indispensably necessary on such an occasion. The ambulances drew up before the ferry first, the surgeons leaped from their seats and went to work with a will. Theirs was a terrible work. The groaning wounded -- men, women and children shattered by splinters and scalded with steam -- writhed on the ground before them. To take them gently and put them in the comparatively easy ambulances was the work of a few minutes. But every moment there were others coming. The dead claimed attention. Heads or feet foremost, up they came, stark, staring, and with swollen limbs and torn flesh, stiff in the embrace of death, with eyes staring from their sockets and their faces contorted in the agony of the moment of dissolution, they were lifted on the Battery and from thence to the carts. Nothing but


were heard on every side. Relatives and friends of the agonized occupants of the ambulances followed up Broadway, chilling the hearts of the spectators of the mournful cortege and eliciting mournful and heart-rending cries. The carts rolling up from the Battery with their lifeless loads of mangled human clay also had their following. With each ambulance were one and sometimes two medical attendants. There was no lack of assistants. Mew York was stirred to its centre, and never was more humane. A driver and a single attendant was deemed sufficient for each cart load of dead.


The scenes along the streets in the neighborhood of Whitehall when the explosion look place were scarcely less horrible and agonizing than those within the slip itself. Every avenue leading to and from the Staten Island, Hamilton and South ferries was crowded with light-hearted men, women and children, who wore on their way to the boats that were to take them off rejoicing to suburban pleasure places and enable them to enjot "the poor man's holiday" in the open air; but when


took place the laughing and the cheerful chat suddenly ceased. The moving throngs stopped as though each individual had been just stricken dead. Every face turned pale witn inexplicable terror. People glanced with horror into one another's faces, afraid to ask what had frightened them. This lasted a moment or two; but as the agonizlng and almost unearthly screams went up again in rapid and increasing succession from inside the gate of the Staten Island ferry house, the people on the streets, as if moved by one and the same irresistible impulse, rushed towards the scene spot would soon find their efforts to repel the crowd unavailing if they had not been rapidly reinforced. Those who heard the noise and saw some of the


ran down to Whitehall at the top of their speed. Everybody who saw another rnnnlng followed in the same direction aud asked no questions, and soon the crowds filled the Battery park and all the avenues of approach for several blocks distant. The news must have spread through the city in an incredibly short space of time, for within an hour


seemed to be surrounding the place. How the tidings could have spread so rapidly is a mystery, seeing that not a human being moved up town or in any direction save that of the Battery. All through the afternoon and late into the night the tide of human beings poured down every street and swelled the sea of people that covered every available foot of ground in and below Bowling Green. People who had no interest in the result except that excited by


looked pale, anxious and horror-stricken; but the looks and actions of those who regarded the presence of some dear and near one on that boat as probable or possible, neither pen nor pencil can describe. Children cried piteously for missing parents, and parents, with their marrow frozen, remembered that tlieir children had gone out yesterday with some friend, who expressed an intenion to go on a trip down the bay. Men and women rushed wildly up to perfect strangers to them and inquired alter some missing darling, as though everybody must be thoroughly acquainted with the victims and knew their fate.


In the open streets, children screamed in affright, and strong men and manly boys bowed th >ir heads In silent grief, or rushed madly about in a delirium of excitement and miserable uncertainly. The first to arrive at the scene was


of the First precinct police, who did excellent work with his men in keeping back the obstructing crowd and aiding tne earnest and skillful workers who were busy rescuing the wounded and thc dying. Soon after came


whose timely assistance was of great value.


was on hand very early, and went in with a will. Many a poor scalded and stricken victitm will have to owe his life aud the remission of counyless lifelong momeuts of agony to the indefatigable Doctor.


came down with their usual speed and spirit, and did noble work.


especially two named Michael Quigley and Patrick Collins, immortalized themselves by their daring and untiring exertions to save the lives of their fellow beings.


from the City Hall Hospital flew down the street at a fearful rate and flew back again loaded with suffering humanity. The insurance patrol wagon became a useful volunteer, and brought up several loads of the scalded wretches. Several private carriages and express wagons came to tne rescue and did splendid service. When these vehicles passed the crowds on their way up the streets with their


and misery, moans of sympathy burst forth from the people and blessings were showered on the heads of the rescuers. As each load of boiled and scalded bodies of men and women and tender little children passed by, people groaned and cried with horror; while the attempts of so many to peer into the wagons in dread expectation ol recognizing some loved and lost one, were pitiable and heartrending to see. All the afternoon, while the work of relief and mercy was going forward, the thousand-headed masses of people remained in the neighborhood fascinated and horror-stricken by the scenes they witnessed, and which they never can forget if they lived fifty lives over.


Statement of Doctor Daniel McEwan.
Doctor Daniel McEwan give the following ' graphic and interesting account of the accident. The doctor was one of the earliest medical attendants on the grounds and did good service in ministering to the needs of the unfortunate victims. We prefer to give this account in his own words, as the narrative of the particulars of the various cases adds much to the vividness of the conception of the disaster. Says the doctor:--

I live at the Eastern Hotel, within a stone's throw of the slip where the accident took place. About one o'clock I heard the explosion. It was a


that seemed to carry with t, even at the moment you heard it, a peculiarly dreadful significance. I had never heard an explosion before, but I apppeared to feel at once that something terrible had happened. I rushed to the window, looked out towards the spot from whence the sound had come, and I saw the smoke rising from the Staten Island ferry house and the crowds of people running there. At first it was mostly steam that rose up, but soon heavy


slowly ascended in the air. I could not see the boat from my window, however?only the ferry house. As soon as I comprehended that there had been an accident, I put my Instruments in my pocket and ran down stairs to the site of the disaster, people were then coming out of the ferry house, some of whom said that they had been passengers in the boat injured, but that they had escaped, having luckily been in tne after part of the boat. Thev were all greatly terrified and excited. soon afterwards I met a man who bad been


His own was badly hurt. Splinters of wood had penetrated the fleshy part of the forearm, some of which had penetrated right down to the bone. It was bleeding profusely, and this showed that the injury had not been caused by scalding so much an by direct violence. I had scarcely looked at him, when a number of other persons, yet more severely wounded, claimed my attention. They were


The most came out of the ferry house, running as though greatly frightened and fleeing from some terrible danger. Most of the injuries were caused by frightful scalds, and appeared to be rather painful than dangerous or fatal.

In nearly all the cases the parts of the body which had been uncovered by clothing had been dreadfully injured by the steam and hot water. The skin in many cases had


like a glove and was hanging down in shreds. Thw sights thus to be witnessed were piteous in the extreme. I noticed that the palms of the hands were generally more injured than their backs. There wu? but little bleeding, the absence of which is, indeed, usuully a characteristic of scalds. The wounded, the females especially, were greatly excited and screamed with fright and called out for their friends. The crowd that had gathered round sympathized with them, but did nut seem to know in what way to afford relief.

The worst case l saw at this time was a boy of about ten years of age. The


beneath his clothing and to have reached every square inch of his body, and to have scalded him all over, without, however, producing any deep-seated injury in any one particular spot. His skin was injured from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. He was clad, too, in pretty thick and whole garments, though they were not very handsome or costiy. I ripped off his clothes with a knife as quickly and as carefully as I could, but in spite of every precaution the


in the operation. The poor boy writhed in an agony that seemed unendurable, and he screamed incessantly. He was absolutely out of his senses with extreme pain. He cried loudly for water, and we procured him some, as well us some brandy, as speedily as we were able, and a good draught somewhat soothed him. Some one had by this time procured some lint and carron oil (carron oil consists of equal parts of sweet oil and limewater); and I dressed his wounds as well as I could with the appliances at command and had htm carried Into the ladles' reception room of the ferry house. He seemed somewhat relieved, but was still suffering terrible torture. In the course of a few minutes, while I was attending to him,


other cases, more or less injured, were brought out of the wreck. The boat was at this time lying moored by chains to the wharf. Smoke was still rising from the forward part of the boat, which seemed, however, much less dilapidated than might be imagined. The smokestack had gone and the whole fore part of the vessel was in ruins, but the aft portion was unhurt, and people could pass to and fro without the slightest difficulty.


arrived about this time, prepared to extinguish the flames, but they were chiefly useful in extricating the dead and wounded from among the debris in which they were lying, and in this way they did good service. I did all I could for the wounded as they were brought into the ferry house. Most of the cases were injured upon the hands and face. I dressed the scalds with oil and lint, and calmed the minds of my patients as far as possible, as they still appeared to be very apprehensive of further injury, and I encouraged them to bear up under the agonies they were enduring. Some or them were in a state of mental excitement that it was positively painful to witness. None of these cases, however, were necessarily fatal, and but few of them were even serious, so I walked down to the end of the pier to where another vessel -- a sort of tugboat -- having heard the explosion and seen the need of succor, had come and moored herself across the ferryboat. I got on board and as fast as the bodies were brought from out the wreck attended to the injuries of the victims.

The first case that particularly attracted my attention was a woman in the


She could not articulate, and died in scarcely more than two minutes after, being brought under my charge. Her external injuries, however, appeared to be slight, but there was a bloody froth issuing from her nostrils and mouth, her face, however, was calm in expression, and I doubt much if she preserved enough sensibillty after the first shock to be conscious of pain.

The next case was that of a man -- I think he was a German -- who was raving with pain. He


as though respiration were extremely painful and difficult. He also was made to speak or swallow. His face was smeared with blood, where he had been struck with splinters of wood. His greatest injuries, however, seemed to be in the mouth and throat, which were terribly swollen by scalding.

Next to him, strange to say, came his natural foe, a Frenchman. The poor fellow was handsomely dressed and wore


He had a large solitaire diamond in his shirt bosom and he had a carbuncle pin in his neckcrchief. He kept repeating


I asked him In French if he suffered much, and in reply he pointed to his head and then to his stomach, but he seemed unable to explain intelligibly the nature of his sufferings. He was badiy scalded over the face, and the hot steam had seeked up his arms, and, as I found out by ripping up his pantaloons, up his legs also. We plied him well with brandy and water, and dressed his wounds, after which one of the deck hands put a coil of rope under his head for a pillow and he seemed a little relieved.

The next case I attended to was


eleven years of age. His countenance was pallid with suffering and his face was swollen up in many places with water blebs (blisters). He cried out "Water ! water !" without ceasing, and every now and then writhed from side to side, as though his sufferings were too great to be borne. I divested him of his clothing, and found that both arms to the shoulder, the neck and the whole surface of his back were badly scalded. The scarf, or outer skin, peeled off with his clothing. In spite of our efforts to prevent it. He also appeared to have been injured internally by the steam, as his mouth and throat were so swollen that he could not speak. I noticed about him, as also about all the other victims, that his


The cause of this may nave lieen simply a natural beauty; but, perhaps, also the steam may have acted in some way upon the tartar. I can't say exactly If that was so or not, though.

I then saw a young fellow, whose only injury had been caused by


from some heavy article on the small of the back. He complained of a great deal of pain in the part affected, hut this was relieved by a deck hand placing underneath him an extemporaneous piilow of some ropes and things.

The next case was


nine months old -- a male child. No one seemed to claim it, and I suppose Its parents or friends had been fatally injured. It whs badly scalded -- poor little thing -- in both legs and arms and upon the face. I think, though, it will recover all right. It was still lively and cried vigorously with pain, but it was not at all apparently weakened by suffering. I then despatched a lighter case -- a woman with a sprained ankle, but otherwise uninjured.

A woman was about this time


The lips and all the vascular parts of the body were blue, but there seemed to be no scalding. I suppose shee was killed Instantaneously, before the water or steam reached her. After death, of course, it is impossible for a scald to raise blisters. Her skin, however, seemed parboiled -- very white and unnatural in appearance.

Again I saw a little child without anv friends to claim it. It was slightly bruised, but that was all. No blood, no scalds, no injuries of any account that were perceptible. How it escaped I can't say. Perhaps it lay in its mother's arms when the disaster took place, but was unhurt by the shock that left it motherless.

After leaving the boat I came


where I was told there were some fifteen or twenty Other wounded people. These cases wore not, as a general thung, so serious as I had previously eon. One of them, though, a woman, was the worst case of scalding I witnessed. Her name was Mrs. Finlay. Both arms, both legs and all around the body were scalded deeply -- right down to the true skin. It was agonizing to listen to her shrieks. She entreated the people around her to kill her, or shoot her and


1 gave tier an injection of morphine, and after having bathed the wounds with oil she seemed greatly relieved.

There was also a sad case in which


Were Involved. There was a young English woman who had arrived in the country but a very short time, and had been taking a little excursion with her brother-in-law and his wife. All three case was that the first woman had intended to bring her child of eight months old with her, but it had been taken sick that morning, and she had, therefore, concluded to leave it at home. Her injuries were very serious. The head, face, neck and forearm were pretty badly scalded. She had a very


which contrasted badly with her pain-worn and anguish-stricken face. Her sister and her brother-in-law -- husband and wife -- had fallen together through the deck, but their injuries, though painful, were not necessarily fatal.

I was too actively engaged to be able to estimate the number of killed and wounded. In my opinion, however, most of the scalding cases were not rery dangerous. The immediately fatal injuries were mostly caused by direct violence.

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