22 April 2015

Newspaper Account #1 of Railroad Accident that Killed Henry Martin Walker, Sr.

From the The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) newspaper · Mon, Mar 13, 1865 · Page 1 (click on image to enlarge):
between Terrebonne and New Orleans

  The 33d Ill. Vet. thrown off a railroad track.

                Nine Men Killed and 72 Wounded
(Special Correspondence of the Pantagraph.)
Algiers, La., (Opposite New Orleans)
                                         March 3d 1864(sic)
     ED. PANTAGRAPH: -- A terrible railroad accident occurred yesterday on the U.S. military railroad leading from this place to Brashear City, by which a large number of men of the 33d Illinois regiment were killed or severely injured.  Bloomington being the original headquarters of this regiment, and three of the companies having been chiefly raised in McLean County (Cos. A, Capt. Dutton, formerly Capt. Potter; C, Capt. Lewis, formerly Capt. Roe; and G, Capt. Russell, formerly Capt. Moore,) I embrace the earliest leisure to send you and account of the sad affair;
     The 33d has been, as your readers know, for several months guarding stations on this railroad.  Having been relieved and ordered to join A.J. Smith's corps, near New Orleans, they were loaded in the regular train yesterday morning, and came on eastward without accident, until a point was reached twenty-seven miles west of this place.  Here a horse which had been for some distance running ahead of the engine near the track, suddenly attempted to cross, and was [ ] run over and torn to pieces.  The engine, tender and first two (flat) cars passed over the obstruction and remained on the track; but half a dozen or more of the following cars (box and flat) loaded with troops, were thrown off and piled together in a horrible mass of fragments; beams, trucks, baggage, guns and equipments in inextricable confusion, intermingled with crushed, dead, and dying men.  Several of the rear cars, with the passenger cars containing most of the officers and the citizen passengers, remained on the track and no one was injured on them except by jumping off.  This was the case with Cos. C, Capt. Lewis; F, Capt. Gray, formerly Capt. Roberts; I, Capt. Lyon, formerly Capt. Lawton; and K, Capt. Higgins, formerly Capt. Lippincott.  Co. B, Capt. Gill, formerly Capt. Morgan, was on the two forward cars and suffered but little.  The chief injury was sustained by Cos. A, Capt. Dutton, formerly Capt. Potter; D, Capt. Rosengrant, commissioned but not yet mustered, formerly Capt. Pope;  E, Capt. Pratt, formerly Capt. Elliott; G, Capt. Russel, formerly Capt. Moore.  The company (H, Capt. Smith, formerly Capt. McKenzie) st Boutte station, was not on the train, the accident having occured(sic) three miles west of that place.
     The moment the train stopped, the officers and all the men who were not completely disabled, rushed to the rescue, and began laboring with Herculean energy to extricate their mangled comrades.  After an hour's work in the wreck, all the dead and wounded were got out and the most severely injured were conveyed to a neighboring house, where Drs. Rex and Antis, the regimental surgeons, performed the needful operations and dressed the wounds.  The train from [ ] city having means while arrived, the regiment, with the surviving wounded were loaded on a boat and transferred to the hospital.  The accident appears to have been one of those unavoidable ones for which no blame can be properly attach to the officer of the train, and certainly after its concurrence all was done that could be, and in the promptest manner, to remedy the effects.
     Orderly Sergt. Spillman F. Willis, of Co. A, was instantly killed and crushed out of all sembance of humanity.  Five or six others were taken out dead; and others died within a few minutes after being carried to the house.  Charles Howell, of A, with severe internal injuries, died on the train on the way to the city.  Nine were dead when I made up the list last night, and I shall probably have others to add before closing this.
     I append a list of the dead and wounded, made up by a careful and thorough canvass of the train by myself, and by conference with company commanders after our arrival here.  I think my old readers know my accuracy in my old trade as reporter, well enough to accept this list as reliable.  It includes a few or none who are not for the present disabled for duty, although many will be able again in a few days.  Scores were more or less bruised, jarred and sprained, who are not on the list.  Of Cos. A and D, scarcely a man escaped unhurt.  With these preliminary remarks, I submit the list to the anxious eyes of the hundreds of your readers who had near and dear friends killed on the train.
Spillman F. Willis, .......1st Sergeant, Company.......A
Charles G. Howell.........Private.............."...............A
Charles Greening...........Recruit.............."..............A
H. M. Walker...................."..................."...............A
Jerome Wolfe......................"..................."..............A
John B. Melvin..............Private..............."..............D
Joseph Waldon..................."..................."..............D
Walter Webster..............Recruit.............."..............D
Robert Barkley......... .....Private..............."........ ....[ ]
[  ]
     March 3d., 10 A.M -- I have just heard from the hospital.  Maj. Pope has visited the wounded boys this morning, and reports all are doing well.  He did not, however, find Zuraf of A, who was one of the severely wounded.  This young man lay for nearly an hour under a pile of heavy trucks and rubbish, with as large force of men working at him who could get to him, before he was extricated.  Although thus held down, and considerably cut and bruised, he seemed much less hurt when taken out than was suspected, and no bones appeared to be broken.  In his case as in others, however, some days may pass before the full extent of his injuries will be manifested. 
     Every one speaks with astonishment of the courage and cheerful endurance of Pettibone of Co. D, a recruit of only a few days standing, both legs amputated below the knee.  He bears his mutilation like a hero, and will have all the chances of recovery that a strong spirit can give him, but the result is of course doubtful at best.  Adam Willis of D, has a frightfully extensive laceration in the flesh in the region of the hips, and is in great danger.  Several others of the severely injured may yet die; but I am glad to report that up to this hour no additional deaths are reported.
     It is not impossible that this accident may delay the departure of our regiment to the front.  -  Respectfully [ ], 
                                                   Edward J. Lewis

As a reminder, Henry Martin Walker, Sr. was my 2xg-grandfather, and the Capt. Dutton named above was my 2xg-granduncle, and brother in law to Henry.

This is the first in a series of three or four newspaper articles I will be posting on the railroad accident.  I am sorry for the omissions illustrated with the empty brackets, but the bottom half of the scan is very poor, and the smaller the font the more impossible to read.

From the description of the location, I used Google Earth and I think I have a good idea where it occurred.  More to follow on that subject.

My search for my 2xg-grandfather's grave continues.  I am going to search where the remains of those killed with him are interred.  He might also be there.

Copyright © 2015 by Kevin W. Walker

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