The Great Accident.
The following well written account of the terrible accident to the 33rd Illinois vet. volunteers, will be read with great interest in this county. It is from the N.O. Times of March 3d.
One of the most terrible railroad accidents that has occurred in this or any other country, took place yesterday on the New Orleans and Opelousas railroad. Fully fifty human beings were more or less injured, nine or ten have since died.
The particulars are as follows:
The train of conductor William Creigler left Brashear City yesterday morning at 8 o'clock, and consisted of some nine or ten freight (box and flat bottomed) cars, with a baggage and two passenger cars in the rear of all, the first passenger car being exclusively for the use of negroes.
The Thirty-Third Illinois.
In the passenger car were fifteen or twenty citizens and about as many officers. Among the latter were Col. C.E. Lippencott, of the 33d Illinois Infantry, Lieut. Col. Elliot, Major Pope, and the line officers of that regiment, and last, but not least, was Doctors Geo. P. Rex, and H.T. Antis.
The 33d has for some time past guarded the road for a distance of fifty miles from Brashear City, but was recently ordered to report to New Orleans, and a negro regiment assigned to the duty which this gallant regiment has so long [ ] faithfully performed. As the train stopped at the different stations, the various members of this regiment, who had previously been on guard in this neighborhood, scrambled on the cars, full of life and joy at rejoining their fellow comrades, and of the prospect of an early visit to New Orleans.
How the Accident Occurred.
The train had been running very slowly nearly the whole distance from Brashear to Bayou des Almonde, and so difficult was it to get steam up that it was only after leaving the latter place that the speed could be increased to from between twelve to fifteen miles an hour. When about three miles from Boutte Station a mule and a horse were discovered near the track, and as the train approached they galloped [ ] still keeping some distance from the track. The country at the point was open, and there appeared to be little or no danger of the horses running up on the track, as a few yards ahead was a crossing which it was supposed they would take. The mule did take this path but the horse turned suddenly, sprang upon the track in front of the engine, and before it could be reversed or a signal of alarm sounded, the locomotive, [ ], and first car had passed over it. The next instant, the car following (a box car) sheered crossways from the track, the coupling broke, the other cars crowded upon it, and in this manner the accident occurred.
The Scene in the Passenger Car.
Before entering upon an explanation of the scene of this wreck, and the poor mangled human beings who were buried beneath, I will describe the shock in the passenger car. Almost ever passenger was thrown from his or her seat, then the car moved on a few feet, was [ ] again, but not so violently as before. moved a few feet again, was [ ] a third time, and remained stationery. It was all over in sixteen seconds, and thank God not a passenger received the slightest injury.
The Scene on the Train -- Human Suffering.
Several of the male passengers, including the officers, at once sprang to the doors of the car and started for the center of the train, or rather for the heap of broken cars which had crushed and ground against each other, forming a terribly pyramid, one above the other, several yards in height; and fifty human beings lay beneath them [ ] more or less crushed, bruised or injured by springing to the ground in time to escape the second and third crash, by having the presence of mind to take the warning of the first and jump for dear life from the crashing cars. The moans and the groans of the wounded and dying appealed to the sympathies of those who had escaped injury, and like true men each rushed to the rescue, citizen and soldier, black and white.
Col Lippencott, collected around him, for a moment al who were able to render any assistance, and the next moment they were at work under the direction of Mr. Creigler, the conductor, and the officers of the regiment when the noble work of saving life commenced with an earnestness [ ] will highly commendable to all parties engaged. The wreck was [ ] cleared to allow the men to work and in a few moments twenty of the injured lay around. The majority had received internal injury, or complained of a terrible pain in the back or head. [ ] fellows many were crushed and broken and nine have died. Legs and arms broken, cuts in the head, and torn and mangled bodies could be seen in every direction, but in an incredibly short time every man was taken from the ruins.
As I have stated before there was fortunately on board the train Dr. Rex and his assistant Dr. Antis. Both these gentlemen commenced operating upon the injured, and in three hours every man had received surgical aid. One poor fellow had both his feet amputated at the ankles, while several others were compelled to submit to the severing of an arm or a leg if the broken limb was too badly injured to set. One by one the wounded were transferred to a house near by, according to the extent of their injuries, and soon all were there and attended to as the urgency of their case demanded. The surgeons deserve the highest praise.
The Injured on Their Way to New Orleans.
The news of this terrible accident was telegraphed to New Orleans from Boutte [ ] in about half an hour Conductor Mile's train arrived, and returned to Boutte with the news. It then came back to the scene of the accident, took on board the injured, as well as passengers of the other train, and waited the arrival of the special train from Algiers, which left the city at 2:45pm.
About half past four this train arrived, having on board Mr. E.K. Johnson, master of transportation, and other officers belonging to the road. The Superintendent, Cap. Morse was unable to leave as he was confined in New Orleans by sickness.
Arrival of the Train in Algiers.
Nothing worthy of not occurred until the arrival at Algiers, except that the train was compelled to come almost to a "standstill" three or four times, on account of the number of horses, mules, and cattle which appeared determined to remain upon the track to be run over. On one occasion a horse and mule were so obstinate in remaining upon the track that, although the whistle was repeatedly sounded, they were only compelled to evacuate by the appearance of the fireman at the head of the engine, throwing pieces of wood at them.The editors of The Pantagraph say this article first appeared in the N.O. Times on March 3. Not quite. I pulled it and will be posting it to this blog next. It was on March 4, and is only vaguely similarly written. Maybe I am wrong, but I couldn't find a different edition.
It was easy to perceive that the news of the accident had preceded our arrival, for there were hundreds of soldiers and citizens assembled and patiently waiting for us. There was a string of eight or ten ambulances too, for the purpose of transferring the wounded to the hospital in this city, Dr. Rex, having telegraphed ahead to Dr. Alexander, the medical director, to have ambulances ready for "forty badly wounded men."
This with the following list of the dead and injured, closes the account of one of the most heart-rendering accidents of railroad traveling on record. The Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment, several of the private soldiers, and Conductor Creiger, who witnessed the accident, exonerated the engineer and the fireman from all blame and consider it unavoidable. The train was running twelve or thirteen miles an hour when the accident occurred.
Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker