Wilmington, DE Steamer ERICKSON Sinking, Feb 1898


Steamer That Left Baltimore Founders In A Gale In The Delaware River.


He Is Supposed To Be James Murphy, Of This City.

Exciting Rescue Of The Crew And Of Thirty-Nine Passengers---Wind And Waves Were Too Rough For Lifeboats, And Terrible Loss Of Life Was Narrowly Averted.

[Special Dispatch to the Baltimore Sun.]

WILMINGTON, DEL. Feb. 16.---- The steamer Ericsson, of the Ericsson Line, bound from Baltimore for Philadelphia, was caught in a northeast gale in the Delaware river, half a mile above Wilmington creek, at 6 o'clock this morning and sank.

Capt. John W. Grace and his crew of twenty-one officers and men were saved, as were all the forty passengers who were on board when the accident happened except one. The missing man is supposed to be James Murphy, of Baltimore, who went below decks to look after a horse, which was being taken to Philadelphia on the vessel.

The Ericsson left Baltimore yesterday afternoon. Besides her crew and passengers she had a general cargo. It consisted of 400 barrels of oysters, 300 barrels of crackers and biscuits, 300 barrels of whiskey, canned goods, fruits and three horses.

During the voyage up the bay the vessel breasted a terrific gale, which reached the velocity of a hurricane. When she reached a point opposite the Christina lighthouse Captain Grace saw that it was impossible to pass through the storm in safety and gave orders to steer for the Delaware shore.

The steamer had scarcely passed out of the channel when the hurricane struck her, causing her to careen on the starboard side. The passengers were in their bunks when the accident happened. The listing of the vessel awoke them. Water began to pour through the holes in the side of the steamer, and soon the staterooms were submerged.

The passengers rushed to the hurricane deck, and an attempt was made to lower the lifeboats, but in vain. The wind was too high and the waves were too rough.

Captain Atkins, of the tug Jason, was at the Wilmington and Northern pier, a mile away. He saw the Ericsson flying signals of distress and at once put out to the rescue. The Jason had in tow a large sand barge. Captain Atkins succeeded in bringing it alongside the Ericsson, which was fast sinking to the bottom, and a wild rush for the tug and barge followed. Passengers, clad only in their night clothes, ran madly down the gang plank and on the Jason. Half of them were women, whose shrieks were pitiable. The captain and crew were the last to leave the steamer.

From the Jason the passengers were transferred to the tug Laura B. which took them to Philadelphia.