Aquia Creek, VA Steamers GEORGE PEABODY and WEST POINT Collide On Potomac River, Aug 1862

DREADFUL DISASTER ON THE POTOMAC.

A STEAMER WITH SICK AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS ON BOARD RUN INTO AND SUNK.

ABOUT EIGHTY LIVES LOST.

Washington, Thursday, Aug. 14.
There is news here of a horrible disaster to one of the vessels lately loaded with patients from the Peninsula hospitals. At 2 o'clock this afternoon, the steamer GEORGE PEABODY, loaded with sick and wounded soldiers, was run into and sunk by the steamer WEST POINT, opposite Acquia Creek.
There was great danger of losing the whole number on board, but it is stated that finally only eighty were lost.

LATER -- PARTICULARS OF THE DISASTER.
Aquia Creek, Va., Thursday, Aug. 14.
A collision occurred on the Potomac River, last night, off Ragged Point, between the steamers PEABODY and WEST POINT, involving the loss of seventy-three lives. The WEST POINT was bound to this place from Newport's News, with convalescent troops of GEN. BURNSIDE'S army. The PEABODY brought the rescued soldiers and passengers to this point, and from Lieut.-Col. CHARLES SCOTT, of the Sixth New Hampshire, who was on board of the ill-fated vessel, and in charge of the troops, I have obtained the following account of the affair:
We left Newport's News on Tuesday, the 11th inst., with 254 soldiers, four officers, three ladies and one child. At Fortress Monroe we took on 17 men, making in all 279 souls.
On Wednesday evening, the 13th inst., about 8 o'clock, off Ragged Point, on the Potomac, we were startled by a shock, and soon discovered that a collision had taken place between our steamer and another, named the GEORGE PEABODY, bound down the river. The WEST POINT began to leak very fast, and it was ascertained that she would sink in less than ten minutes. The PEABODY, which had been partially disabled, could render no assistance, except with the small boats.
From other sources I learn valuable assistance was rendered by Capts. BIGGS and HALL, and their assistant quartermasters, of GEN. BURNSIDE'S Army, who were passing in the steamer John Farren at the time, and by Acting-Master JOSLYN, of the gunboat Reliance. An unknown bark also rendered valuable assistance, and, by the combined efforts of all, two hundred and three persons were rescued.
The WEST POINT went down in four fathoms of water, about one and a half miles from the Maryland shore, and nothing can now be seen of her but her smoke-stack, masts, and some wrenched up plands on her decks. All of her crew were saved except one fireman, named JOHN RUSSELL.
The brief period during which the WEST POINT remained afloat after striking, and the consternation which prevailed, prevented the efforts to save all from being as successful as could be desired. Capt. DOYLE and Lieut. SCOTT were the last to leave the vessel. Without attributing the blame to either party I give you the statements on both sides.

The following is the statement of WM. F. KERWIN, Pilot of the PEABODY. It is corroborated by Capt. THAYERS, who was on deck at the time of the collision:
The steamship GEORGE PEABODY left Aquia Creek, Aug. 13, for Fortress Monroe, at 4 1/4 o'clock P. M. The steamer proceeded down the river, and when about off Ragged Point, and steering east by south, made an unknown steamer, which was the WEST POINT, on our port bow. I gave one blow of our steam-whistle, which was answered in return by the steamer WEST POINT. When the steamer neared I ported our wheel. The pilot, or whoever had charge of the steamer WEST POINT, starboarded his wheel, and struck our bows on the port side, forward of our water wheel, at five minutes past 8 o'clock P.M.

The following is the statement of Capt. DOYLE, of the WEST POINT:
J. E. G. DOYLE, master of the steamer WEST POINT, certifies that between 8 and 9 o'clock P.M., of August 13, steering from Ragged Point to get soundings, about five miles above Lower Machodie, about west by south across the channel, heard a whistle blow once two points on the starboard bow. I immediately answered it, which signal means, "Keep to the right," our lights all burning at the time, our green light being the only one that could be seen from the other steamer, with which collision occurred. I saw the boat coming down on us, immediately stopped the engine and backed the boat; the other boat apparently going full speed, her port guard and paddle box took our bow and stove it in, taking away about ten feet, leaving us in a sinking condition. I immediately hailed him to stay by, as we were in distress. He passed us, and I advised the pilot to beach the boat immediately, which order was complied with. My steamer headed for the Maryland shore, and sank in about four fathoms water. I did everything to avoid the collision, and used my utmost exertions to save all I could.

Through the kindness of Capt. BLAND, and Post-Quartermaster WEST, of this place, who kindly afforded me facilities for visiting the PEABODY, I am enabled to send you the following partial list of the missing. The entire number missing is seventy-three, of whom a portion may be saved, as a number were picked up by small boats and schooners in the vicinity.
Wife and Child of MAJ. DORT, Sixth New Hampshire.
Wife of Lieut.-Col. SCOTT, Sixth New Hampshire.
Wife of Capt. CUMMINGS, Co. C, Sixth N. H.
______ WAYLAND, Co. H, Ninth New York.
Sergeant SCHANS, Forty-sixth New York.
Private J. B. McCUTCHEON, Co. I.
W. FOX, Co. F, 51st New York.
DR. NEWELL.
L. T. CHESSERTH.
Private THOS. WILLIAMS, Co. B, 48th Pennsylvania.
Sergeant-Major JONES IREDELL.
Sergeant JOHN YOUNG.
Private GEO. MYERS, Co. I.
JAS. GURVINS, Co. G, 51st Pennsylvania.
Privates EZRA GRANT, Co. D; JOHN F. BERRY, Co. K; THOS. BROWN, Co. I, 48th Pennsylvania.
Privates THOMAS McKEEVER, Co. A; SAMUEL WITHEROW, Co. F; JOHN MELLAN Co. H; CHARLES WARREN, Co. M; JNO. JONES, Co. M; ISAAC TRUMP; ANDREW HANNAH; ROBERT CULBERTSON, Co. D; FRANKLIN PINTERTON; THOMAS ARMSTRONG; JOSIAH C. GOLINER, Co. B, One Hundredth Pennsylvania.
Privates C. E. BAKER, Co. E; ______ MANAH, Co. B; P. W. CROSS, Co. K; LUTHER CASS; SAMUEL PLAINTED, Co. A; STEPHEN BROOKS, Co. B; WM. KIMBALL, Co. C; D. H. C. BRYANT, Co. I; JNO. SIMONDS, OLIVER YOUNG, Sergt. GEO. W. DERBY, Co. F, Sixth New Hampshire Volunteers.
Private FRANK WETZEL, Co. A, 48th Pennsylvania.
Corporal JNO. F. GARDINER, Co. D; privates LAWRENCE GIGLINN, Co. I; JNO. H. DANCOE, Co. F; ADAM WALSH, Co. F; JNO. FAUCETT, Co. D; JNO. STYLER, Co. E, 2d Maryland.
Privates MICHAEL SWEENEY, Co. I; JNO. PHALEN, Co. A; JAS. GALLAHER, Co. B; PATRICK COLLINS, Co. F; P. O. B. KITCHEN, Co. G, 28th Massachusetts.
Privates J. W. MYER, Co. K; GEO. WILLIAMS, Co. G; GEO. KLEIN; GEO. KERRIGER, Co. C, 50th Penn.
Private WALTER KALE, Co. K, 4th Rhode Island.
Private GEO. HALE, Co. I, 21st Massachusetts.
JOHN RUSSELL, fireman, steamer WEST POINT.

Ten O'clock P. M.
Two bodies, not identified, have been recovered and buried.
The captains of the two steamers have been put in charge of the Provost-Marshal here, and, on the recommendation of Quartermaster BIGGS, an investigation is now being had as to the parties to which the blame is to be attributed.

The New York Times New York 1862-08-15