Wilmington, DE DuPont powder mill explosion, Oct 1859


The Explosion at Wilmington.


WILMINGTON, Del., Saturday, Oct. 22.

The explosion of DUPONT'S powder mills, on the Brandywine, yesterday, occurred about 10 3/4 o'clock, A. M., while the men in the lower or hagley-yard were employed in loading powder-dust (as it is called when in a certain condition) at the press-room, to be conveyed to one o the other mills there, to go through another process. A one-horse cart stood opposite the press-room door, partly loaded. The press-room "blew up" with a terrible crash; the composition-room immediately followed; a minute or two later, the glazing-room, and then two rolling mills simultaneously - being five in all.

Seven men were killed, and another had his arm broken. The wind was northwest and high at the time, which deadened the sound so much in the immediate vicinity that the men in the upper yard did not cease work on the instant, and Mr. HENRY DUPONT, who was in the basement of a cotton-mill not far distant, did not think, from the light report, that it was necessary to hurry from the yard to ascertain the damage, if any had been done. Two of the men were blown into the Brandywine, one into a tree, and the headless trunk of another was blown to the opposite side of the creek. Of the others nothing could be ascertained.

A strange feature of the casualty is, that the horse was not killed, although standing in proximity to the press-room when the explosion occurred. The cart to which he was attached, and which was partly loaded with powder dust, was thrown about in fragments; the horse was entirely stripped of his harness, his hair singed off, one eye put out, and one leg broken, and yet, after the smoke and dust cleared away, he was found limping about the yard, exhibiting all the signs of painful agony. He was killed, to relieve him of his sufferings. The names of the killed men were MORAN, SWEENEY, SEBAR, JACOBS, JOHN WELSH, MICHAEL O'DONNEL and E. DOUGHERTY. The coroner visited the scene of the explosion, but could learn nothing, all the witnesses having been killed.

The loss of the mills to Messrs. DUPONT is nothing; the loss of life is the only thing which sinks deep into their hearts, from their inability to restore it.

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Oct 1859