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Steamboat Disasters

Part Two





















At an early hour before daylight, on the 20th day of August, 1852, the steamboat Atlantic ran afoul of the propeller Ogdensburg, about six miles above Long Point, on Lake Erie. The morning was very foggy and the darkness was extreme, and for some time the extent of the damage was not apparent, even to those who were on board of the vessel which sustained the injury. The propeller struck the Atlantic forward of the wheel, on the larboard side; the shock was so little felt on board the steamer, that she continued her course without any apprehension of danger ; and, as the propellor had reversed her engine before the collision took place, the crew of it did not suppose that any serious mischief had been done to the other. However, before the Atlantic had proceeded two miles, it was discovered that she was sinking rapidly. The passengers were all in bed at the time, and when they were aroused from their slumbers to be informed of their perilous condition, the scene of confusion and dismay which followed is beyond all the powers of language to describe. The number of persons on board, including passengers and crew, is rated at four hundred and fifty. Of these, more than two hundred were Norwegian emigrants. As soon as the startling intelligence was communicated to the passengers, all were assembled on deck, to meet or avoid the fate which threatened them. The poor Norwegians, who were generally ignorant of the English language, could scarcely be made to comprehend .the cause of the alarm, but observing the consternation which prevailed among the other passengers, they became wildly excited, and threw themselves into the water in spite of every effort to restrain them.

The other passengers listened to the exhortations of the captain, and became perfectly calm, assisting to throw overboard settees, chairs, mattresses, and other buoyant articles, which might be the means of supporting them in the water when the boat went down. In the meanwhile, the state of affairs in the doomed vessel was such as to produce a feeling of intense anxiety, even among the bravest. The dense obscurity of the night, the damp and chilling atmosphere, the terrific hissing of the water as it rushed through the gaping leak upon the furnaces, in which every spark of fire was soon extinguished, the shrieks and cries of the affrighted women and children who remained on board, and the still more distressing exclamations of those who were struggling in the water, all these circumstances combined to make a scene of horror which appalled even those who could have met their own fate with fortitude and intrepidity. About half past two the steamer sunk, notwithstanding all the welldirected efforts which had been made by the crew to keep her afloat.

The propeller had stopped to make repairs after the accident and now when her crew were apprised of the dreadful condition of those who had been in the Atlantic, by the cries, shrieks, and lamentations of the drowning people, the Ogdensburg promptly steered for the spot, and was the means, under divine Providence, of saving about two hundred and fifty of the unfortunates who still survived. Hundreds were battling with the waters, and while the sympathising crew of the propeller were dragging some aboard of that vessel with all possible despatch, many others sunk into the abyss of waters, and were seen no more. From the most authentic statements it appears that more than three hundred lives were lost. A majority of the sufferers were Norwegian emigrants, of whom previous mention has been made. The books of the boat were lost, and no record of the names of those who perished has been preserved. The following is a list of the names of those passengers who obtained tickets at Erie, but it is uncertain who of them were saved and who were lost:

Mr. Osborne, wife and child, Mr. Reed, Mr. Field, wife and two children, of New York; Mr. Frost, of Boston; Mr. Calkins, Mr. Luke, Mr. Fairbrother, Mr. Bushnell and brother, of Albany, N. Y.; Mr. Lawrence, wife and two children, of Utica; Mr. Clark and child ; Mr. Russell; Mrs. Cornwall, sister of Elihu Burrett; Mr. Fisher, of Canada; Mr. Shanker, Mr. Britton, Mr. Stanley, of New York; Mr. Myers; Mr. Carley and wife ; Mr. Bissal, Mr. Brown, Mr. Le Fevre, Mr. Kirby, of Troy; Mr. Johnson and wife; Mr. White and wife; Mr. Crippen; Mr. Green, Mr. Burd, of Schenectady; Mr. Montgomery and wife, Cayuga Co., N. Y.

Second class passengers ticketed at the same office:—Messrs. Stevens, Hartley and wife, Albany ; Toogood and wife, Troy; Marshall, Boston; Hall, Graver, Calvin, Turner, Waits, wife and two children, Hammerman, Stuart, Bird and wife, Lucas, and Hayer.

The persons named below were also on board :

A. E. Doggett, of Chicago; Mr. Walbridge, of Erie; Mr. John W. Murphy, express agent. The names of the emigrants are not given.

Nearly all of the cabin passengers were saved ; also, the officers and crew, with the exception of three waiters. Captain Petty, of the Atlantic, was seriously injured. The Norwegian emigrants, of whom the greater number perished, were on their way to Quebec. About seventyfive of these people fortunately could not obtain passage in the Atlantic, and were left on the wharf.

Mr. A. Button, of New York, who was provided with two life-preservers, states that while he was fastening one on his wife, a ruffian snatched the other from him. Mr. S. managed, however, to save himself and his two children.

A young woman who fell overhoard was saved by the exertions of a young man who jumped in after her, and supported her on the surface until she was drawn up into the boat, and at that moment her brave deliverer disappeared under the water. He had proved himself an excellent swimmer, but most likely some drowning wretch had caught hold of him and dragged him down, clutching him with the grasp of death, from which there was no means of extrication.

The dead body of a little girl was found floating on a plank. Dr. Crippen, of Michigan, saved two ladies by breaking through the deck into the state-room, and drawing them out of the water. Three men saved themselves by clinging to the binnacle-box, which had been thrown overboard.

The first mate of the Ogdensburg, who was on watch at the time of the collision, afterwards admitted that if he had given the necessary orders a few moments sooner than he did, the accident might have been prevented. The second mate of the Atlantic, who was also on watch, finade similar admissions of delinquency. The officers of both boats were much censured by the citizens of Buffalo, Erie , as it was generally believed that the disaster was attributable to their culpable negligence. The surviving passengers of the Atlantic held a meeting, and passed resolutions strongly condemning the Captain and owners of that steamer for neglecting to provide a sufficient number of life preservers, and small boats. The wreck of the Atlantic was found five miles below Long Point House. She sunk four miles from the nearest shore, in one hundred and sixty feet water. Adams & Co.'s Express Messenger lost $60,000, which went down with the ill-fated boat. Several attempts have been made by submarine divers to recover this lost treasure, but without success. By this accident about three hundred persons were drowned. The names of many will never be known.


This destructive and fatal accident took place on the Ohio river, about twelve miles above Maysville, Ky., on Wednesday, the 29th day of December, 1847, at 2 o'clock, A. M. The steamer, at the time of the explosion, was in the act of rounding from the shore, having just discharged some passengers on the wharf-boat at Manchester. After the explosion, she was burned to the water's edge. No circumstantial account of the accident is given, except that a great many persons were killed and wounded, and their names, as far as they were known to the officers of the boat, will be found in the list which is here appended. It is to be observed that the gentlemen who made the report were not very exact in stating whether many persons named therein were killed, wounded, or missing; but it was understood that when not otherwise designated, the persons named in the list were missing :

Passengers.—Redman, a flat-boat hand, killed; S. S. Saunders, of Cincinnati, badly scalded; J. Kirkpatrick, Massillon, Ohio, scalded; William Everhart and son, of Pennsylvania, do.; D. Rutledge, of Ohio, do.; N. Wheat, Baltimore, Md., do.; Samuel Fisher, Warren, 0., do.; Samuel Pilson, Baltimore, do.; Henry Shane, Cincinnati; Arthur Foal, Pittsburgh; A. N. Johnson, wife and child, Wheeling, Va.; G. S. Weatherby, Philadelphia; Conway, Graham's Station; Cyrus Rollin, Lebant Fajls ; Jacob Schafer, Ohio, scalded; A . Bailey, Ohio, badly scalded; Robert Russell, Ohio; John Clancy and John Hardy, Cincinnati ; John Kenline, of Ohio; H. J. Bonner, Hanover, Ind.; C. Hardin, Guyandotte, Va.; John Boyd, Warren, Ohio; William Beard, St. Louis; F. Platter, Ohio; S. Cunningham, Cumberland, Md. ; J. Swagert, Belle Air, Ohio ; J. Barnett, Dayton, Ohio; F. McDonald, Pittsburgh; William Knight, Va. ; John Fowler, Ohio ; William Miller, Cincinnati; M. R. Hayden and James Wickersham, Pittsburgh; F. A. Home, Ohio ; James M. Lissorm, Ohio ; R. Hickson, Cincinnati; Augustus Marsh, slightly scalded; Henry Ladd and William Ladd, Randolph, Ohio ; John Borum, Clarington, Ohio ; William Parker, Dilley's Bottom, Ohio; A. Davis, Captain, 0. McTygart, Mr. McCullough, Mr. Lands, and Mr. All, Parkersburg, Va. ; James Bromdon and Edmund Swaggart, Belle Air, Ohio; John Gilbreath, of Pittsburgh, badly scalded ; Hamilton Barebout, John Williams, James Sprouts, and A. Bacon, Warren, Ohio; William Allen, Wheeling, Va.; Anderson Bonum and Benjamin Bonum, Cincinnati; G. Parker, Pittsburgh; C. Weaver, Wheeling, Va.; James Henderson, Belmont Co., Ohio; E. J. Pole and J. R. Deary, Athens Co., Ohio.; P. Flesher, Doddridge Co., Va.; Jacob Shoewalter, Warren Co., Ohio.

Boat's Crew.—A. Fairchild, Wheeling, first clerk, killed; Jacob Johnson, second clerk, missing; James Bellsville, carpenter, missing; John Lyle, second engineer, killed; Matthew Wilson, first mate, of Pa., leg broken ; James Fennell, bar-keeper, of Cincinnati, slightly scalded ; John Fennell, first steward, do., Alfred Burrows, second steward, do., both badly scalded; William Dorsey, second pilot, of Wheeling, Va., badly bruised ; Samuel P. Hardin, first cook, missing; porter and barber, both scalded badly; two men found dead, names unknown.

One of the boilers was blown into a corn-field two hundred yards distant ; another boiler was blown a hundred yards further into the same field. There was supposed to be one hundred and sixty passengers on board, of whom from sixty to eighty were killed or missing. Many others were wounded. All the ladies on board, six or seven in number, and four or five children, were saved. The steamer Boone went from Maysville to the scene of the disaster, and brought away thirty-seven of the dead and wounded. Some others were taken to Cincinnati. Many were so badly wounded that there were no hopes of their recovery. The death of the first clerk was attended by singular circumstances. He was blown to the distance of one hundred yards, and fell on the shore; he then sprang up, and ran in a phrenzied manner nearly a quarter of a mile to a house, which he entered, and ran under a bed. When taken from thence life was almost extinct, and he expired within a few minutes.

The engineer, just before he died, stated that he had tried the boilers a short time before the explosion, and found a sufficiency of water ; but one of the clerks reports that he heard the engineer complain several times after they left Cincinnati that the pumps did not work well.

The City Council of Maysville assembled on the afternoon of the fatal day, and made an appropriation for the relief of the sufferers.


The steamboat Missouri Belle left New Orleans, October 24th, 1834, bound to St. Louis, and when she had proceeded about fifteen miles up the river, she came in contact with the steamer Boonslick, which was coming in an opposite direction. The Boonslick sustained but little injury, but the Missouri Belle was so badly broken up that she sunk almost instantly. The Boonslick rounded to and steered for the wrecked vessel, nothing of which remained above water, except a piece of the hurricane deck, on which most of the passengers had taken refuge. A rope was thrown out by the crew of the Boonslick, and attached to the floating piece of the wreck, and some of the passengers were thus enabled to reach the deck of the Boonslick, while the yawls were engaged in picking up those persons who had been thrown into the water. There were about one hundred and thirty persons on board the Missouri Belle at the time she sunk ; thirty of these were drowned, though every possible effort was made by the captain and crew of the Boonslick to save them.

List Of Lost.—Dr. Brant, Mo.; A. C. Smithers, New Orleans; Miss C. Frazier, St. Louis ; "VV. Walters, New York ; P. Matlock, New Jersey; Mrs. De Soto, Havana ; Miss Mary Trimble, Miss.; John Budd, Boston; A. During, Ill. ; two infants, names not known; Ebenezer Dumbolt, Germany; wife and child of Mr. C. Glass, Wis.; three negro firemen, and seven Germans, who were from Heidelberg. This is the complete list of those drowned by this accident.


The steamer Tuscaloosa left the wharf at Mobile, Ala., about 8 o'clock on Thursday evening, January 29th, 1847, on her way to Tnscaloosa city, the capital of Alabama; and when she had proceeded ten miles up the river two of her boilers bursted, by which accident a number of her passengers and crew were killed and wounded. The explosion completely tore up the boiler-deck, and shattered the after-part of the boat below deck considerably. Immediately after the explosion, the steamer drifted near the shore and grounded, her stern projecting towards the center of the river. A line was made fast on shore, and an attempt was made, by pulling in the stern, to effect a landing for the passengers, but the boat was fixed too firmly in the bed of the river to be moved in this manner. The ladies were then lowered by a rope to the lower deck, and from thence were sent ashore in the yawl. All of them escaped unhurt.

Those of the male passengers who were uninjured saved themselves, and many of the wounded likewise, by constructing a raft of loose planks, on which they reached the shore in safety; but when they arrived at the banks they found it impossible to obtain a dry footing, as the river had overflowed its customary bounds to the depth of several inches, which, as the weather was exceedingly cold, made the landing (if it might be called so) very uncomfortable. In this state of things the male passengers climbed trees, where they remained spectators of the burning wreck for about three hours, when the steamer James Hewitt hove in Eight, and on coming near the wreck, sent her yawl to the assistance of the survivors, who were all taken on board and conveyed back to Mobile. The dead body of Lieut. Inge, one of the passengers of the Tuscaloosa, was also taken up by the James Hewitt.

List or Killed—Wm. Tanneyhill, C. Childs, and P. F. Beasley, of Eutaw ; W. R. Hassell, of Greenborough; B. Partier, second clerk; Thomas Clark, first mate; Arthur McCoy, second engineer; Abraham Flynn, volunteer for the U. S. Army in Mexico, from Green Co., Ala., and several colored deck hands.

Badly Wounded—Capt. E. P. Oliver, not expected to recover; George Kirk, first clerk, and acting Captain of the Tuscaloosa; Col. Wm. Armistead, and Capt. Asa White, of Eutaw. The last named gentleman was very badly scalded.


The boilers of the steamer Elizabeth collapsed on the 4th day of April, 1845, on the Mississippi river, at the entrance of the Courtanbleau. All the wood-work above the boilers was swept away. None of the passengers were hurt, but several of the boat's crew were killed, and others were wounded.

Killed.—Daniel York, the mate; John Rhodes, deck hand; Wilson Hill, second engineer; and a fireman, colored.

Wounded.—J. H. Gordon, the captain, mortally; Freeman B. Lamb, pilot, leg fractured ; James Marquite, first engineer, badly scalded; and a negro fireman.


The steamer Chamois, Capt. Morton, exploded near Chattahochee, Fa., at the fork of that river, on Thursday, November 3rd, 1842. She was aground, and the crew were endeavoring to get her off, when the accident took place. Three of the crew were killed, and several others more or less injured. The names of the persons killed were Leander Vale, first engineer, William Cannafax, steward, and Joseph Lloyd, deckhand.

Mr. Cannafax had recently been married, and for years had been the only stay and support of his aged parents. He was a young man of great probity and worth, and his untimely death occasioned a feeling of deep regret among all who had known him.


Between four and five o'clock, in the afternoon of July 1st, 1845, the steamer Marquitte, Capt. Turpin, was about leaving the wharf at New Orleans. Her last bell had rung, and the hands had begun to cast off the moorings, when it was ascertained that the cook was on shore. The boat waited for him about fifteen minutes, during which time no steam was blown off, or passed through the cylinders. The cook having arrived, the steamer began to back out from the wharf, and when the paddle-wheels had made three or four revolutions, all the boilers exploded simultaneously, producing a sound which was heard in the most distant parts of the city. The pilot, Mr. Frederick Ostrander, who was at the wheel, was blown to a considerable distance, and fell on the hurricane deck of the steamer Yazoo City. One of his thighs was dislocated and his hip broken by the fall. It is mentioned as a remarkable circumstance, that Mr. Ostrander's hat was blown in an opposite direction, and fell on another boat. The pilot house which this gentleman had occupied, after ascending to a great height, came down on the forecastle of the steamer James Pitcher, occasioning some damage to that vessel. The wheel, (or a part of the steering apparatus,) which Mr. Ostrander held at the time of the explosion, appears to have been annihilated, as not the smallest fragment of it could be found afterwards. Mr. Powell, the second pilot, who was sitting on the boiler-deck, reading a newspaper, was never seen after the explosion. The cook was cut in two by a piece of the boiler; one part of his body was blown forward near the jack-staff, and the other part remained near the machinery. Capt. Turpin himself received an injury in the thigh, but was still active in affording his assistance to the other sufferers. Capt. B. M. Martin, of the Belle Poule, was wounded by a piece of the boiler, and died a few hours after. At least forty-five others were killed, and comparatively few of their names, (as usual in such cases,) are on record. The universal excitement and consternation which prevail on board of the vessel where an explosion takes place, renders an accurate statement of particulars almost impossible. After the explosion, the boat drifted a short distance down the stream and sunk. All the cargo was lost.

The ladies and children in the cabin escaped injury, except a small girl, who was badly scalded. One dead body was taken from the wreck ; it was that of a man who had his legs literally blown away, and was otherwise mangled. Three others died in a short time. Two of the dead bodies remained all night in the watch-house yard, exposed until eleven o'clock next day, in order to be recognized by their friends, if possible. The officers of the boat were Robert Smith, first mate, slightly scalded ; J. F. Lee, clerk, bruised; John Orrick, bar-keeper, badly hurt; Samuel Hays, first engineer, scalded ; John Hazzard, second engineer, killed ; Hannibal, a slave of the captains, killed ; Theodore Ostrander, pilot, severely hurt; Mr. Powell, second pilot, lost; George W. Woodhull, clerk of the steamer Belle Poule, killed ; Luther Hathaway, mate of the same boat, badly injured; John Milton, New Albany, Ind., killed; Mr. Martin, Tenn., badly scalded; Mrs. Decker and child, killed.

Killed.—Z. Vanstover, Hermann, Mo.; Mrs. Lecrist, Louisville; 0. Doughty, P. Fishback and N. Drake, Cincinnati, Ohio; B. Williamson, St. Louis ; D. B. Short, South Carolina; Miss Tree, England; three firemen, names unknown ; Dunn O'Flaretyand Patrick Murphy, belonging to the boat; M. Music, New York ; Andrew Dearborn, New Castle, Ind. ; Dennis Cochran and Samuel Felt, Maine ; Thomas Farrell, Rhode Island; Simpson, Texas; W. E. Wilbur, New Orleans; A. Spotts, Ala.; F. Hogart, Evansville, Ind.; Franklin, Tenn.; Hilburn Carter and D. Epsome, Canada; besides several others whose bodies were not recognized after being taken from the water.

Cabin Passengers Saved —Miss McCord and child, Miss Lydia Page, Miss Sarah Smith and Mrs. Harriet Cook, all of Mobile; and Miss Elmira Lacy, Cincinnati, Ohio.


On the 17th day of December, 1850, the steamboat Knoxville exploded at New Orleans, just as she was leaving the wharf at the foot of Gravier Street. The flues of both boilers collapsed, tearing all the upper works forward of the wheel-house to pieces. One of the boilers was projected through the guarols of the steamer Martha Washington, which was lying at the same wharf, passing entirely through the cabin of that vessel and entering the ladies' cabin of the Grimn Greatman. Another boiler was carried by the force of the explosion one hundred and fifty yards across the levee, knocking down two large piles of flour barrels; but, happily, no person was injured in its transit, although it passed over the heads of a crowd of people standing on the wharf. An iron chest was blown high in the air, and fell on the steamboat Buck-eye, lying at a considerable distance below. The steamboat Ne-Plus-Ultra, which lay near the Knoxville, was much shattered; and the commander, Capt. Robinson, was badly scalded. The Knoxville took fire, but by the prompt assistance of the firemen of New Orleans the flames were extinguished. There were eighteen passengers on the boat at the time of the accident, a majority of whom were killed or missing. The Martha Washington, which lay nearly in contact with the Knoxville, was much damaged, all her upper works being swept away. We subjoin a list of the killed and wounded among the boat's crew; the names of those passengers who suffered were never ascertained, but their number is estimated to be not less than sixteen.

Killed.—William Dowdy, second engineer; the bar-keeper and third engineer, names not mentioned, and sixteen passengers.

Wounded.—Capt. Irvin ; Abraham Young and Henry Turner, cooks; B. H. Franklin and William Henry, pilots; Patrick Conelly, J. Collins, John Burke, Peter Millen, John Burns and Patrick Cannon, firemen; George Stackhouse; George Oldham ; James Johnston, first engineer; William Bowen, clerk; and the bar-keeper of the Martha Washing Mi.

SKETCH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.The Mississippi is the most important river in North America, and with the Missouri, its principal affluent, the longest in the world. It rises on the Hauteurs de Terre, the dividing ridge between the Red River of the north, and the streams flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, three thousand one hundred and sixty miles from the Gulf, and sixteen hundred and eighty feet above the level of the ocean, lat. 47° N., long. 95° 54' W. A small pool, fed by the neighboring hills, discharges a little rivulet, scarcely a span in breadth, meandering over sand and pebbles ; and blending here and there with a kindred streamlet, it ripples on, forming a number of basins, until it subsides at last into Itasca Lake. From this issues a second stream, giving promise of the strength of its maturity, first flowing northward through several small lakes, and then in various directions, forming Cass Lake, Lake Winnipeg, and a number of other bodies of water. It afterwards assumes a southerly course, receives mighty rivers as tributaries, and having rolled its vast volume through more than eighteen degrees of latitude, enters the Gulf of Mexico by several mouths, lat. 29° N., long. 89° 25' W. Though above the junction not so large as the Missouri which flows into it from the north-west, twelve hundred and fifty three miles from the Gulf, yet having been first explored, it received the name " Mississippi," which it has since retained throughout its entire course.

If we regard the Missouri as a continuation of the Mississippi above the junction, the entire length will amount to about four thousand three hundred and fifty miles. Above the confluence of the two rivers, the waters of the Mississippi are remarkably clear; but after commingling with those of the Missouri, they become exceedingly turbid, and contain about four tenths of sedementary matter. The Missouri river, (" the Mud river,") which is the longest tributary stream in the world, has its source in the Rocky mountains, lat. 45° N., long. 110° 30' W. The springs which give rise to this turbulent river, are not more than a mile from the head waters of the Columbia, which flows westerly to the Pacific ocean. At a distance of four hundred and eleven miles from the source of the Missouri, are what are denominated the " Gates of the Rocky mountains." For a distance of nearly six miles, the rocks here rise perpendicularly from the water's edge to a height of one thousand two hundred feet. The river here is about one hundred and fifty yards wide, and for the first three miles there is only one spot, and that of but a few yards in extent, on which a man could stand between the water and the perpendicular walls. At a distance of one hundred and ten miles below this, and two thousand five hundred and seventy-five miles above the mouth of the Missouri are the " Great Falls." Here the river descends by a succession of falls and rapids, three hundred and fiftynine feet in sixteen and a half miles. The perpendicular falls are, the first, twenty-six feet, th« second, forty-seven feet, the third, twenty feet, and the fourth, eighty-nine feet. Between and below these are continual rapids of from three to eighteen feet descent, forming the grandest view perhaps in the world, surpassing in beauty of scenery and magnitude the falls of Niagara.

The bed of the Missouri commences at the confluence of three small streams, about equal in length, and running nearly parallel to each other, called Jefferson's Madison's, and Gallatin's forks. The Yellow Stone river, which is eight hundred yards wide at its month, is the longest tributary of the Missouri, and enters it from the southwest, twelve hundred and sixteen miles from its navigable source. The two rivers at their junction are about equal in size. Steamboats ascend to this point, and can ascend farther, both by the main stream and its affluent. Chienne river, which is four hundred yards wide at its mouth, enters the Missouri from the south11 west, thirteen hundred and ten miles from its mouth. White river, which is three hundred yards wide at its mouth, enters the Missouri from the southwest, eleven hundred and thirty miles from its mouth. The Big Sioux river ia one hundred and ten yards wide, and enters the Missouri from the northeast, eight hundred Snd fifty-four miles from its mouth. Platte river is six hundred yards wide, and enters the Missouri from the southwest, six hundred miles from its mouth. Kansas river is two hundred and thirty-four yards wide, and enters the Missouri from the southwest, three hundred and forty-four miles from its mouth. Grand River is one hundred and eighty-nine yards wide, and joins it from the north, two hundred and forty miles from its mouth; and Osage river, which is three hundred and ninety-eight yards wide, flows into the Missouri from the southwest, one hundred and thirty-three miles from its junction with the main stream.

 The Missouri river is three thousand and ninety-six miles long to its confluence with the Mississippi; add to this twelve hundred and fifty-three miles, the distance its waters must flow to reach the Gnlf of Mexico, and the entire length, is four thousand three hundred and forty-nine miles. Through the greater part of its course, the Missouri is a rapid, turbid, and very dangerous stream to navigate. No serious obstacle, however, is presented to navigation from its mouth to the great falls, a distance of two thousand five hundred and seventy-five miles, excepting, perhaps, its shallowness during the season of the greatest drought, and the innumerable snags which are firmly imbedded in the river, by which boats sometimes meet with the greatest difficulty in ascending or descending it. The flood from this river does not reach the Mississippi river, till the rise in the Red, the Arkansas, and the Ohio rivers has nearly subsided. Vast prairies, with narrow strips of alluvium skirting the streams, compose the Missouri basin, excepting the upper portion of the river, which flows through an arid and sterile region. The entire extent of area drained by this river and its tributaries, is estimated at six hundred thousand square miles. The first five hundred miles of its course to the great falls is nearly north, then inflecting E. N. E., it reaches its extreme northern bend, at the junction of White Earth river, lat. 48° 20' N. After this its general course is southeast till it empties into the Mississippi river, eighteen miles above St. Louis, and twelve hundred and eighteen miles above New Orleans, lat. 38° 50' N., long. 90° 10' W. The other principal tributaries of the Mississippi river from the northwest and west, are the St Peters, or Minnesota, which empties into it two thousand one hundred and ninetytwo miles from its mouth, and the Des Moines, White, Red, and Arkansas rivers. Those emptying into it from the northeast and east, are the Wisconsin, which enters it nineteen hundred and thirty-four miles from its mouth; the Illinois river flows into it five hundred and six miles below, and the Ohio joins it, one thousand and fifty-three miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The Arkansas river, next to the Missouri, is the largest affluent of the Mississippi ; it rises in the Rocky Mountains near the boundary between Utah and the Indian Territory, and pursues an easterly course several hundred miles. Near the ninety-eighth degree of west longitude, it turns and flows south-eastward, to Fort Smith, on the western boundary of Arkansas; continuing in the same general direction, it traverses that state, dividing it into two nearly equal portions, and empties itself into the Mississippi at Helena, four hundred miles below the mouth of the Ohio, and six hundred miles above New Orleans, in lat. 33° 54' N., long. 91° 10'W. Its whole length exceeds two thousand miles.

The current is not obstructed by falls or rapids, and is navigable by steamboats, during about nine months of the year, for a distance of eight hundred miles from its mouth. The difference between high and low water in this river is about twenty-eight feet; it is from three-eighths to half a mile wide throughout the last six hundred miles of its course. White River is the next largest tributary of the Mississippi; it is formed by three small branches which rise among the Ozark Mountains, and untte a few miles east of Fayetteville, Arkansas; it Hows first north-easterly into Missouri, and after making a circuit of one hundred and ten miles, returns into Arkansas, and pursues a south-easterly course to the mouth of Black River, which is its largest affluent from this point; its direction is nearly southward until it enters the Mississippi, fifteen miles above the mouth of the Arkansas. The whole length of White river exceeds eight hundred miles, and is navigable by steamboats, in all stages of water, to the mouth of Black river, three hundred and fifty miles above its mouth; and during a large portion of the year they can run to Batesville, about fifty miles higher. In very high water, boats have gone several hundred miles further up into Missouri. The navigation is not obstructed by ice in the winter. Below Batesville the channel is about four feet deep throughout the year, and is one of the most delightful and placid streams in the world.

Red River is the southernmost of the great tributaries of the Mississippi. It rises in two branches, called the North and South Forks, which unite near lat. 34° 30' N., and long. 100° W. The principal or southern branch has its source in lat. 34° 42' N., long. 103° 7' 10" W., in New Mexico, just beyond the west boundary of Texas ; and the North fork in lat. 35° 35' 3" N., long. 101° 55' W., within a degree of the north boundary of Texas. After the junction of the two forks, the stream varies but little from a due east course till it reaches Fulton, in Arkansas, where it turns to the south, and pursues that direction, with a slight inclination to the east, till near Natchitoches, from whence it runs a little south of east. The main or southern branch has its sources in deep and narrow fissures in the north-east part of the Llano Estacado, an elevated and barren plain, at an altitude of two thousand four hundred and sixty-one feet above the level of the sea. For the first sixty miles the escarpments rise from five hundred to eight hundred feet, so directly from the water's edge, that, in many instances, a skiff must take the channel of the stream to proceed. After leaving the Llano Estacado the river flows through an arid prairie country, almost entirely destitute of trees, over a broad bed of light shifting sands, for a distance of five hundred miles, following its sinuosites. It then enters a country covered with gigantic forest trees, grown upon a soil of the most pre-eminent fertility. Here the borders contract, and the water, for a considerable portion of the year, washes both banks, carrying the loose alluvium from one side and depositing it on the other, in such a manner as to produce constant changes in the channel, and to render navigation difficult. This character continues throughout the remainder of its course to the Delta of the Mississippi; and in this section it is subject to heavy inundations, which often flood the bottoms to such a degree as to destroy the crops, and occasionally, on subsiding, leaving a deposit of white sand, and rendering the soil barren and worthless.

The entire length of Red River, including the South Fork, is estimated at two thousand one hundred miles, the main stream being about one thousand two hundred miles long. During eight months of the year steamboats regularly navigate it from New Orleans to Shreveport, a distance of about seven hundred and fifty miles, and the navigation is good in all stages of water to Alexandria. The most serious obstacle to the navigation of the upper part of Red river is the " great raft," which consists of an immense mass of drift wood and trees, which have been brought down several hundred miles by the current, and lodged here, obstructing the channel for a distance of seventy-five miles, and inundating tbe adjacent country. In 1834, '35 it was removed by Capt. Henry M. Shreve (who was employed by the general government) at an expense of three hundred thousand dollars ; but being left many years without snag-boats to keep it clear, another and more serious raft has been formed, the lower part of which is now about thirty miles above Shreveport, and is continually growing, so that in a few years more this important stream will be rendered entirely unnavigable, unless the general government has it removed. During high water small steamers pass round the raft by means of the lateral channels or lakes which are then formed. Red River empties into the Mississippi two hundred and sixty-eight miles above New Orleans, in lat. 31° N., and long. 91° 50' W.

The Tazoo river is another prominent tributary to the Mississippi. It is formed by the Tallahatcbee and Yallabusha rivers, which unite at Leflore, in Carroll County, Mississippi. It then pursues a very serpentine course, the general direction of which is South by West. The length of the main stream is about two hundred and ninety miles. It is a deep, narrow, and sluggish stream, traversing an alluvial plain of extreme fertility, which is mostly occupied by plantations of cotton. It is probably not surpassed in navigable qualities by any river In the world of equal size. Steamboats ascend it from its mouth to its origin in all stages of water, and at all seasons of the year. The Tallahatchee, the largest branch, is perhaps as long as the Yazoo itself, and is navigable by steamboats more than one hundred miles. The Yazoo empties into the Mississippi twelve miles above Vicksburg.

The descent of the Mississippi from its source to its embouchure averages over six inches to the mile. The elevation of the various points are at its extreme source sixteen hundred and eighty feet. Itasca lake, fifteen hundred and seventy-five feet; falls of St. Anthony, eight hundred and fifty-six feet; Prairie Du Chien, six hundred and forty-two feet; St. Louis, three hundred and eighty-two feet; mouth of the Ohio, three hundred and twenty-four feet; Natchez, eighty-six feet; entrance of the Red river, seventy-six feet, and opposite New Orleans, ten and a-half feet. The only falls of any considerable note in this river are those of St. Anthony, which have a perpendicular fall of eighteen feet, with rapids above and below, making in all about sixty-eight feet descent in three quarters of a mile. The scenery here is grand and picturesque, especially at the time of the spring floods. The rapids of Pecagama are six hundred and eighty-five miles above the falls of St. Anthony. The river there is compressed to a width of eighty feet, and precipitated over a rugged bed of sandstone at an angle of 40°. The entire descent at this point is about twenty feet in three hundred yards. Below the falls of St. Anthony the river is navigable for steamboats. A considerable obstruction, however, is offered when the water is low, by the rapids about nine -miles in extent, a short distance above the entrance of the Des Moines river, near Keokuk, and the upper rapids, which commence below Muscatine, Iowa. These rapids are a serious obstacle to the navigation-of the Upper Mississippi, and it is to be hoped that the general government will improve them at once. The average depth of the Mississippi below the mouth of the Ohio, varies from ninety to one hundred and twenty feet, and the breadth from six hundred to twelve hundred yards. Opposite New Orleans the river is one third of a mile wide, and one hundred feet deep.

The mean velocity of the current at this place is about two feet per second, or thirtythree miles per day. Between the Gulf and the entrance of the Missouri river, it is from sixty to seventy miles per day. Above the mouth of the Missouri the current is less rapid. A peculiarity of the Lower Mississippi is its extremely winding course. Sometimes a bend of thirty miles will occur, where the distance across the neck does not exceed a mile. This circumstance, no doubt, tends to check the current, and facilitate navigation. One of the important facts in relation to this great river, is that it flows from North to South. A river that runs East or West has no variety of climate or productions from its source to its mouth. The course of this stream being from North to South, spring advances in a reverse direction, and releases in succession the waters of the lower valley, then of the middle section, and finally the remote sources of the Mississippi and its tributaries. It is a remarkable fact that the waters from this last named region do not reach the Delta until upwards of a month after the inundation there has been abating. The swell usually commences towards the end of February, and continues to rise by unequal diurnal accretions till the first of June, when the waters again begin to subside.

No experience will enable a person to anticipate, with any degree of certainty, the elevation of the flood in any given year. In some seasons, the waters do not rise above their channels ; in others, the entire lower valley of the Mississippi is submerged. Embankments called levees have been raised from five to ten feet high, on both sides of the stream, extending many miles above and below New Orleans. By this means the river is restrained within its proper limits, except at the greatest freshets, when the waters sometimes break over everything, causing great destruction to property, and sometimes loss of life. The average height of the flood from the Delta to the junction of the Missouri is above sixteen feet. At the mouth of the latter river it is twenty-five feet. Below the entrance of the Ohio river the rise is often fifty-five feet. At Natchez, it seldom exceeds thirty feet; and at New Orleans, about twelve feet. What goes with the water ? It is known that the difference between high and low water mark, as high up as White river, is about thirty-six feet, and thecurrentat high watermark runs near seven miles per hour, and opposite to New Orleans the difference between high and low water mark is only twelve feet, and the current little over three miles to the hour.

The width and depth of the river being the same, from which we calculate that near six times as much water passes by the mouth of White river as by New Orleans. What goes with the excess ? The only solution we can offer is, that it escapes by the bayous "Plaquemine," "Lafourche" and "Iberville," but when we calculate the width, depth and current of these bayous they fall vastly short of affording a sufficient escapement. The true explanation can, we think, be given. At low water, throughout the whole extent, we tee a land structure exposed, underlying the bank, or that the alluvial structure on which the plantations are, is a structure of deposit made by the river above its low water mark, which, opposite to the mouth of White river, is thirty feet thick. As you descend, the river diminishes in volume as the difference between high and low water mark diminishes and nearly corresponds to it, and wherever the bottom is exposed it shows throughout the whole extent that the bottom is pure coarse and ; exhibiting at many places the ocean nile, through the superimposed alluvial structure mixed with line sand. The water percolates with such facility and rapidity that the water in a well dug at a considerable distance from the river bank rises and falls with the riso and fall of the river, not varying an inch, and through the coarse sand and shingles of the bottom, it passes as rapidly as through a common sieve.

By the accurate surveys of several scientific engineers, it is ascertained that the fall of the Mississippi river is four inches to the mile. The distance from Natchez to New Orleans of three hundred miles will give twelve hundred inches, or one hundred feet . The depth of the river is less than fifty feet at high-water mark. The river debouches into the ocean from a promontory made by itself. The surface of the ocean, by measurement, below the bottom of the river, above New Orleans, corresponds with the low-water mark below New Orleans, therefore the Mississippi river is pouring through its own bottom into the ocean, the superimposed weight giving lateral pressure to hurry the subterranean current. If the reader has ever stood upon a Mississippi sand-bar in a hard rain, or seen water poured from a bucket on the sand-bar, he has seen that neither can be done in sufficient quantity to produce any current or accumulation on the surface. The river is, therefore, from the time it comes below the lime-stone stratas of Missouri and Kentucky, wasting itself through its own bottom. If the Mississippi river had to pursue its course, like the Ohio, over rocky strata, walled in by rock and impervious clap banks, the high-water mark at New Orleans would reach one hundred feet above its present limit; but running over coarse sand, walled in by a deposit made of sand, ancient duluvial detritus, and vegetable mound, no more water reaches the ocean than the excess over the amount that permeates the surrounding structure and passes off in the process of percolation or transperation in a subterranean descent to the ocean. The river, without any restraint from rock or clay in the bottom or bank, is left free to the government of no other law than the law of hydrostatics. The washing, or wasting of the banks, cannot be prevented, though the caving or sliding of large portions at one time may be easily guarded against.

The Arkansas river, west of that state, receives several large tributaries, and is itself above their junction as large as the congregated rivers after their junction within the state. Within that state it has no more tributary before reaching the" Mississippi river, which has within tho said district, as a consequence, a rise of fifteen or twenty feet. Sometimes it enters the stem of the main river without producing any rise at its mouth, unless the supply is maintained for a considerable time ; thus the far-famed Niger of Africa, whose mouth has never been found, may be lost and wasted in the great sand plains of the Desert of Sahara, and its subterranean flood may again be collected on the surface of a subterranean stratum of rock, and projected on the surface of the earth, sustaining the opinion of Pliny, that the Niger is a western and main tributary of the Nile. The flood of the Mississippi river often carries away large masses of earth, with trees, which frequently become imbedded in the mud at one end, while the other floats near the surface, forming snags and sawyers. So changeable are the channels of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, that to be a competent pilot, it is necessary to make trips every few weeks on these rivers, otherwise sight is lost of the channel, so suddenly does it change from one side of the river to the other. Eight hundred and sixteen steamboats are employed on the Mississippi river and its tributaries, the total tonnage of which amounts to 326,443 tons, besides twenty-three hundred flat boats and barges which are in constant operation. The total value of the steamboats annually afloat on the western rivers, is estimated at nearly $20,000,000, and the commerce at $200,000,000. The area of country drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries, is over 2,000,000 square miles. This vast region, from its almost unexampled fertility, has obtained the title of the " Garden of the World."


The Augusta left Natchez, December 3rd, 1838, for Vicksburg, with the ship Jeannette in tow. On the voyage the ship got aground, when the Augusta separated from her, and proceeded to a wood-pile, where she took in some fuel, and was making her way to another pile, when the pilot, seeing some floating timber ahead, rang the bell as a signal for the engine to be stopped. The machinery was accordingly stopped until the float had passed, when the bell was again rung as a signal for the engine to be put in motion. The engineer discovered, at this moment, that the engine was at the dead point, and he immediately ran back to turn the bar, but before he had time to return, the explosion took place, laying a great part of the boat in ruins. The boilers and all the machinery were broken to minute pieces; the social hall, with all its appurtenances, was shattered, according to the common phraseology, "into atoms," and nearly all the cabin was swept away ; a small part of it adjoining the ladies' cabin was all that was left. The extent of the devastation proved that the force of the explosion was tremendous. Fortunately the Augusta had but few passengers on board, otherwise the loss of life would have been very great. The names of all the victims are not known. Five dead bodies were found on board, and doubtless others were blown into the water. A considerable number were hurt; some to that degree that the physicians were hopeless of their recovery. The pilot at the wheel, Mr. Lachapelle, with his pilot box, was blown overboard, the box being broken into two pieces during its transit. By using one of these pieces for a float, Mr. Lachapelle contrived to reach the shore.

The five persons found dead on board were, Leonard Brown, clerk; W. Henderson, first engineer; George Ward, merchant, Troy, Miss.; and John Wilson and Robert Smith, deck-hands.

The captain was never seen after the explosion, and there can be no doubt that he lost his life, being probably blown overboard and drowned.

Badly Wounded.—Deck Hands—William Johnson, James White, James Innis, James Johnson, William McDonald, and' another, name unknown. The barber was so badly hurt that he died on the following day.

Slightly Wounded.—William Taylor, second engineer, Henry Smith, and Lewis Lachapelle, pilot.

Twenty-eight deck-hands and firemen were on board; when they were called together, some time after the explosion, only eight could be mustered. There was but one female passenger, and she escaped unhurt. When an examination was made of the pieces of boiler found on deck, no doubt remained that this explosion was the result of culpable negligence on the part of the engineer.


On the night of November 9th, 1840, the steamboat Persian collapsed her flues, on the Mississippi river, three miles below Napoleon, Ark. The Captain was asleep at the time of the accident, and, according to common rumor, the pilot was intoxicated. The boat had stopped to take in wood. Six persons were instantly killed by the explosion, seventeen died on the following day, and fifteen or sixteen others were supposed to be mortally wounded. The cabin passengers and the captain and clerk escaped uninjured.

List Of The Killed—Daniel Green, first engineer; John Williams, second mate; Oscar Brown and Washington Marks, colored firemen; six deck passengers, all of one family, named Floyd ; John Cora, second cook; John O'Brien, deck passenger; Wm. S. Hanners, of Illinois; Mr. Fields, of Tennessee, and nine others, names unknown.

Thirty were scalded, with more or less severity.


The popular and beautiful steamer Clarksville, a regular packet boat between New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee, was destroyed by fire near Ozark island, on the 27th day of May, 1848; thirty deck passengers, nearly all the crew, and the commander, Capt. Holmes, lost their lives. The cabin passengers were all saved. We have obtained the following particulars of this melancholy event:

As soon as the alarm of fire was given on board, the pilot steered for the island. At the moment her head touched the shore, the flames burst into the cabin, one of the boilers burst simultaneously, and, to aggravate the calamity still more, three kegs of gunpowder, which were among the freight, exploded at the same instant. Governor Poindexter, of Tennessee, who was one of the passengers, received some injuries. Most of the passengers lost their baggage, and none of the officers or crew saved anything. Captain Holmes acted most nobly throughout the trying scene, who, after swimming ashore with his wife, returned to the boat, and met his death in the honorable discharge of his duty. His first impulse was to save the female passengers. Rushing to the ladies' cabin, he prevailed on the affrighted occupants to take the chairs, with the life-preservers attached to them, and commit themselves to the water. He then threw the baggage , overboard, to lessen the combustible material, and being now exhausted by his exertions, and half suffocated with smoke, he attempted to jump overboard, but striking against the lower guard, he fell among the burning ruins, and there perished.

The following details were furnished by a gentleman who was one of the surviving passengers of the Clarksville: The fire by which this noble boat was destroyed, was first discovered when she was about half a mile below Ozark island, at half-past 5 o'clock, P. M. Within a few minutes after the discovery of the fire, the boat reached the island to which the pilot had directed her course. The head of the steamer struck the ground, and all the passengers might easily have passed over the forecastle to the island, and many of them were saved in this way; but others, being apprehensive of an explosion, remained in the cabin until they were driven from thence by the progress of the flames, which had, by this time, cut off all retreat by the forward part of the boat. All that could now be done by the persons who remained aft, was to throw themselves into the river, as the stern of the boat lay out from the shore. Governor Poindexter and his lady were both injured, the former slightly, and the latter severely. The first clerk escaped without hat or coat, but saved the books of the boat and the money. The fire originated immediately over the boiler, under the social hall, and made such rapid progress fore and aft, that all efforts to extinguish the flames were unavailing. The steamer Chalmetto took- off the surviving passengers.

List Of The Killed.—Captain Holmes, master of the Clarksville; two ladies and a child, names unknown; Charles Quinn, a deck hand; the second steward, name not mentioned; Humphrey, Sam Johnson, Lewis, Peter Spicer, Sam Wilson, Prince, and Giles, colored firemen; a negro man, his wife and four children, slaves of a Mr. Russell; Sam, a slave of Gov. Poindexter; and colored girl belonging to one of the passengers.

Wounded.—Governor Poindexter and lady; Mr. Barrow, and Mr. Lofton, of Memphis.


The Creole was on her way from Nachitoches, on Red River, to New Orleans, with a full freight of cotton, and one hundred thousand dollars in specie, consigned to the Exchange Bank of New Orleans. She had, likewise, about one hundred passengers, including several entire families. At an early hour on Monday morning, February 22nd, 1841, when the Creole had reached the mouth of Red River, she was discovered to be in flames, which spread with such rapidity as to preclude all hope of saving the vessel. The engineer and pilot remained at their posts until they were completely surrounded by the flames, and succeeded in running the boat to the nearest bank of the river, before the tiller-ropes were burned off. Unluckily, however, the bank which had been reached was steep and inaccessible; and the boat, when she struck against it, dislodged a quantity of earth, which fell on her bow, and caused her to bound off from the shore. She then became unmanageable, as the tiller-ropes by this time were consumed. Many of the passengers and crew were rescued by the steamers Baltic and Governor Pratt. The cargo, baggage and specie were all lost. The names of the killed are comprised in the following list:

Killed.—The family ot A. B. Church, consisting of two grown daughters, himself and wife, and two colored servants ; D. M. Delmonico, New Jersey; wife of John Abrams, St. Louis ; A. Catcher and daughter, Mobile; E. Fitch, New Orleans; A. Barker and wife, Tenn.; Miss Snow, of Montgomery, Ala.; John Floyd, W. Smith, and Edward Young, Miss.; four colored waiters ; nine firemen, Irish ; a German family, six in number; besides thirty-one persons who were more or less wounded.


A flue of the steamer Edward Bates collapsed on the Mississippi river, near Hamburg, Ill., on the 9th day of August, 1848, causing the death of fifty-three persons, and wounding forty others. The particulars are unknown, as few of those who witnessed the disaster survived to tell the melancholy story. The names of some of the killed and wounded have been preserved, and will be found in the following list:

Killed—William Chamberlain, Mr. White, Mr. Rarridon, and Mr. Haines, deck passengers; Mrs. Bowen and nephew; Mrs. John Bowen and child ; Mrs. Susan Bowen and child ; Mr. Eades and two children ; Master Eades, his nephew; John Brown, Andrew Hatfield, and Eli Delmay, deck hands ; Geo. Matson and John Lenan, firemen ; Henry Johnson, Wm. Parks, G. W. Lyons, J. Holliday, Win. Amet, Frederic Smith, colored fireman, and Isaac Dozier.

Thirteen dead bodies, exclusive of the above, were afterwards picked up at Hamburg.

Wounded—George Blackwell, T. B. Ewing, D. E. Cameron, Samuel Simpson, Preston Leiper, Le Roy Jenkins, E. B. Morrison and wife, (badly,) M. Vansel, James Cook, J. H. Simpson, Master Bowen, Mr. Eades, E. T. Hudson, H. M. Swazy, J. Righter, and friend.

Mortally Wounded—George Watt, Samuel Dolsey, Wm. Wells, John Montague, Silas Bowman, Samuel Ferguson, T. M. McDonald, Joseph Morrison, Jacob Andrews, F. Turner, Jno. Swan, and Wm. Robinson.


Thia terrible accident occurred about four o'clock on the morning of the 21st of November, 1847, on Lake Michigan, within seventeen miles of Sheboygan. The fire was first discovered under the deck, near the back end of the boiler ; but it soon spread in every direction through the boat. There were more than two hundred passengers on board, and it soon became manifest that, with the means of escape which offered, not more than one-third of them could be saved. The excitement, consternation and despair which then prevailed among so many people doomed to a horrible death, cannot be depicted by any human language. About thirty of the passengers betook themselves to the small boats, which would contain no more, and they were taken up by the steamer Delaware, which soon hove in sight, but not in time to save those who remained on board the Phoenix, more than one hundred and sixty persons, all of whom were drowned or burnt to death.

The commander of the Phoenix, Capt. Sweet, was just recovering from a severe illness, and was still confined to his state-room, at the time the vessel took fire. He escaped, however, in one of the small boats, and was taken up by the Delaware. A large number of the passengers were Hollanders emigrating to the West. The following relation was given by Mr. House the engineer. Mr. House remained at his post until the flames fairly drove him into the water. Seizing a broad-axe, he separated with a single stroke a rope which sustained a piece of timber called a " fender," used to prevent the sides of the boat from chaffing against a wharf. As soon as this fender fell into the water, Mr. House leaped after it, but in his first efforts to get hold of it, he only pushed it further from him ; and at that moment, a tall and vigorous emigrant jumped into the water, and endeavored to gain possession of the piece of timber, to which Mr. House trusted for his own preservation. However, the Hollander could not swim, and before he could reach the piece of wood he disappeared under the water, leaving Mr. House in uncontested possession of the frail support. When it is considered that this accident took place in the latter part of November, and that the water of the lake was almost in a freezing condition, some idea may be formed of the effort required when the chilled and benumbed passengers were laboring to keep themselves afloat on the various articles of cabin furniture, &c., which had been thrown overboard for that purpose. Very few of them indeed were able, in such trying circumstances, to support themselves on the surface of the lake until assistance arrived. Mr. House soon discovered that the piece of wood which he had detached from the boat was not sufficient to sustain him, but he fortunately obtained possession of a state-room door, which drifted within his reach, and by attaching this with his neck-cloth to the fender, he formed a raft, large and buoyant enough to assure him of preservation from drowning; but his sufferings from the cold were almost insupportable. When he first betook himself to the water, he was surrounded by many others, who were striving hard to prolong their existence until relief might providentially be afforded ; but one after another sunk, chilled and exhausted, into the long sleep of death. Very soon he found himself almost companionless on the bosom of the lake. In this frightful and agonizing situation, tortured almost beyond endurance, with both mental and corporal anguish, he remained for two hours.

At last, when almost tempted to abandon his raft, and precipitate himself on that fate which seemed most likely to overtake him eventually, he discerned the lights on board of a steamboat which was rapidly approaching. Two or three persons were still clinging to settees, boards, &c., and he exhorted them in the most earnest manner to retain their grasp a little while longer, as relief was at hand. He addressed himself particularly to a lady, who had hitherto sustained herself on a floating settee with admirable heroism ; he directed her attention to the approaching boat, which was now scarcely a furlong distant ; but alas ! her emotions at the prospect of deliverance seemed to overcome her more than the fear of death itself; for at this instant she swooned away, lost her grasp on the bench, and sunk to her final resting place under the deep, blue. waters. When the approaching steamer, which proved to be the propeller Delaware, arrived at the spot, Mr. House was the only person found alive. The propeller had already succored those passengers who had escaped from the burning steamer in the small boats. All who had remained on the Phoenix, and all who had thrown themselves into the lake, with but one exception, had perished.

At this time the blazing vessel presented a most awful and sublime spectacle. The hull was a complete bed of fire, which, bursting in flames from the sides, at times streamed far out over the waters, and then curled aloft, till flame meeting flame, the combined fiery current rushed furiously upward till it appeared to be lost in the clouds. When Mr. House, alone -on his raft, beheld this grand, but dreadful object, the shrouds and rigging were covered with human beings, who sought safety there rather than in the waters. Their terror-marked features were lighted up by the ghastly glare of the flames, and as the fire reached them in their retreat, one after another fell, shrieking, into the fiery furnace below. One man reached the cross-trees (an elevated position on the mast), where he lashed himself, and there he remained till all his companions had fallen, and the mast went by the board; but in the mean-time he was roasted to death by the fervid heat. While the boat was burning, and all prospects of relief were cut off, some betook themselves to quiet prayer, others shrieked for aid, or uttered phrensied exclamations of despair, and others bowed in meek submission to the fiat of an overruling Providence. As the flames advanced, one voice after another was hushed in death, and finally a stillness, awful and profound, told the horrified spectator that the scene of suffering was finished.

This disaster is supposed to have occasioned a greater loss of life than any other steamboat accident which ever occurred on the American lakes. The greater number of those who perished were the Holland emigrants, whose names are unknown. Mr. House, the engineer, who related the particulars contained in this narrative, was personally acquainted with some of the American passengers who were lost, and their names only are preserved in the following list, given by Mr. House himself.

Passengers Lost.—Mr. West, lady, and child, of Racine, Wis.; Mr. Heath and sister, of Little Fort; Mrs. Long and child, of Milwaukie ; S. Burroughs, of Chicago; D. Blish, Southport; two Misses Hazelton,of Sheboygan; twenty-five other cabin passengers, names unknown to Mr. House; six or eight steerage passengers, and about one hundred and fifty Hollanders.

Officers And Crew Of The Boat Lost.—D. W. Keller, steward, of Cleveland, Ohio; J. C. Smith, saloon keeper, of Buffalo, N. Y.; N. Merrill, second mate, of Ohio city; W. Owen, second engineer, of Toledo, Ohio; H. Robinson, porter, Chicago; J. Nugent, fireman, of Buffalo.

 Deck Hands.—T. Harsey, T. Ferteau, of River St. Clair; J. Murdock and A. Murdock, of Canada; George , cabin boy; H. Tisdale, of Cleveland, (body found;) wheelsman, name not remembered ; L. Southworth, of New Bedford; and two colored cooks, of Detroit.

The names of those saved were Capt. Sweet, Ohio city; Mr. Donihoe, clerk, River St. Clair; engineer, M. W. House, Cleveland; wheelsman, A. G. Kelso, Ohio city; deck hand, J. Moon, Cleveland; fireman, Michael O'Brien, Buffalo; second porter, R. Watts, Cleveland.

The Phoenix had as large a load of passengers and freight as she could carry.

The loss of life was the largest which ever occurred on the lakes, and the property lost was immense. It is supposed that those one hundred and fifty Hollanders had considerable money with them, as they were seeking a location in the West; but how uncertain is life ! It is indeed mournful to record this sad catastrophe.

Part Three


Part One

Part Two

 Part Three

Part Four