Baton Rouge, LA Steamboat PRINCESS Disaster, Mar 1859

Drawing of the "Princess"

Terrible Disaster on the Mississippi

New Orleans, Feb. 28.
The steamboat Princess, from Vicksburg for New Orleans, exploded and burned, on Sunday morning last, at Conrad's Point, near Baton Rouge.
Four hundred persons were on board, of whom two hundred are lost and missing mostly residents of Louisiana and Mississippi, a large number of ladies were on board, filling the ladies and half of the gentlemen's cabin.
The following are the names of the killed as far as ascertained: J. W. SEYMOUR of Baton Rouge; CALHOUN of Mayville, Ky.; the pilot and assistant engineer of the Princess; H. B. MURPHY of St. Louis; J. J. HODGES of Miss., and three others unknown.
Missing: MESSRS. CHAS. BANISTER and L. HOWARD, representatives of N. O.; J. CLARK, 2d clerk, and S. WAITS, of Va.
No northern or eastern names are ascertained.
A large number were badly scalded and otherwise injured. The boat and cargo are a total loss; the boat was one of the finest on the river.
A boat which has just arrived from the wreck of the Princess brings a number of the wounded and dead. The weather was foggy at the time of the explosion. She was behind time and had too much steam on. A Baton Rouge despatch[sic] says that the engineer is reported to have said that he would reach New Orleans in a certain time, or blow her up. The engineer was completely cut into pieces by the explosion.
About 100 are wounded, many of them dangerously, and in a dying condition. It is impossible as yet to ascertain the number lost. Several boats saved many passengers. Much excitement prevails here. Numerous recognized bodies are being found.

The Prescott Transcript Wisconsin 1859-03-12

Transcriber's Note: The total of killed in this accident was 70.




A telegram from New Orleans, published on the 1st instant, briefly announced the explosion of the steamer Princess on the Mississippi, and a dreadful loss of life. The New Orleans papers give full particulars of the disaster. The names of the killed had not been fully ascertained, but it is supposed that from seventy-five to one hundred lives were lost. Upwards of one hundred persons were wounded.
The Princess was about four years old, a first-class packet, plying between New Orleans and Vicksburg. She was put in thorough repair last Summer, at a cost of $30,000. On Sunday morning, Feb. 27, at about 10 o'clock, while on her way to New Orleans, her boilers exploded. Out of four hundred passengers on board, over two hundred were killed or injured. The Picayune says that four of the large, powerful boilers exploded at once, driving aft, clearing all before them, and the whole upper cabin, state rooms, hurricane deck and all, fell in almost immediately, and in a few moments the flames burst forth. The shock was so sudden and so tremendous, so utterly unlooked for, as apparently to have bewildered the bravest and most experienced men.
The chief engineer, ANDY SWEENY, had ended his watch at 8 A.M.; when the second engineer, PETER HERSEY, went on, and was attending to his duty when the explosion occurred, he being the first victim. He was cut in two.
The force of the explosion, or some other lucky accident, gave the boat a turn towards the bank. She soon struck on a sand bar that jutted out into the river from the shore, and where she grounded. The mate on duty, with several of the crew, jumped on the bar and succeeded in making the boat fast. In the mean while, those who were uninjured, busied themselves in endeavoring to rescue their unfortunate companions buried in the burning ruins of the cabin and gathered in which were many ladies and children. All who could be moved, wounded or not, were taken on the sand-bank, there to await, in a state of agony and horror that can faintly be imagined, the hand of rescue from some passing vessel.
The companion packet to the Princess, the steamboat Natchez, which left here on Saturday afternoon, was the first boat to near the disastrous scene.
The Natchez laid by the wreck for some hours, her officers, crew and passengers exerting themselves to the utmost to give all the relief in their power, and soon this steamer started on her way up the river, her decks filled with mattresses, on which reclined the blackened forms of those who, but a day before, had left their homes to spend the last joyous week of the Carnival in the Crescent City.
The boat is a total loss. No papers, books, or other property was saved. Captain THOMASSON, of the steamboat Magnolia, arrived last night from Vicksburg, informed us that he laid by the sand bar some time, but nothing of the wreck could be seen; and the same bar itself was deserted. Nothing remained to tell of the accident but a few collon bales floating about, here and there.
No complete lists of the killed and wounded are published. The following are all the names yet ascertained:
J. W. SEYMOUR, of Baton Rouge.
MR. CALHOUN, of Maysville, Ky.
MR. HODGES, of Franklin County, Miss.
MR. PERRIGUE, cigar maker, of Baton Rouge.
COLLIN M. KINGSTON, passenger.
EDWARD QUIGG, barkeeper.
CAREY, assistant barkeeper.
HENRY BROWN, assistant barkeeper.
REUBEN URE, (colored).
Three persons names unknown.
S. H. LURDY, of Bayou Sara, La.
MESSRS. HUARD and ATKINSON residences not ascertained.
A. W. DELIE, of Clinton, La.
GEORGE AVARS, of Natchez.
JOSHUA JOHNS, third engineer.
PETER HERSEY, second engineer.
WM. MARSCHAR, deck hand.
H. WILCOX, of Ashwood, La. -- Total, so far as known, 23.
Dangerously Injured:
MR. N. B. PHILLIPS, of Bayou Sara, is reported to be in a dying state.
JUDGE FARRAR, of Point Coupce, is dangerously injured.
JAMES IZOD, Clerk of the Princess.
L. D. BREWER and W. B. PHILLIPS of Bayou Sara.
JOS. CLARK, second clerk.
J. F. SCOTT, of Tensas.
AUGUSTUS DE LEE, of Clinton.
F. SURGET, of Natchez.
J. J. HODGES, of Franklin, Miss.
MR. COCKBURN, connected with the house of Cakey & Hawkins, of New Orleans.
MR. HARBOUR, Point Coupce.
M. VIGNE, Point Coupce.
F. A. CHEATHAM, Baton Rouge.
J. M. CARR, New Carthage.
H. B. MURPHY, St. Louis.
ANCESSON, colored waiter.
C. M. KINGSTON, of New Orleans.
SAMUEL WAITS, of Virginia.
MR. BAXTER, of Rapides.
JUDGE BRYCE and Nephew.
J. D. CORNEAUX and MR. MURPHY of Baton Rouge.
MR. ALLEY, of Baton Rouge.
The officers of the Dale report that MR. C. F. WILLIAMS, of Houston, Texas, was found on the sand bar so badly injured that he was near the point of death.
A Son of W. B. STUART, of Fayette, Miss.
MR. BRANDON, Clerk of the Court, Natchez.
Two Brothers, of the name of MARKS, of Fayette, Miss.
JAMES YALE and W. L. GLOVER, of Natchez.
COL. COFFEY, of Grand Gulf.
DR. RICHARDS, of Printe Coupee.
JOHN M. BELL, of New Orleans.
H. W. SHERBOURNE, of Baton Rouge.
CHARLES BANNISTER, Representative from New Orleans.
L. HUARD, Representative from New Orleans.
CAPTAIN JACKSON, of Baton Rouge.
MR. JOHN CLARK, of Baton Rouge.
MR. CLAXTON TAYLOR, of Baton Rouge.
The Picayune gives long lists of persons slightly injured, who will recover. It adds:
The list of the lost, so far as ascertained, can be found elsewhere; but melancholy additions, it is feared, must be made to it; while we have hopes that some reported to be lost may yet be restored, having been picked up by other boats or escaped, by some happy intervention, to the shore.
Northing has been heard of the fate of MESSRS. HUARD and BANNISTER, members of the Legislature from New Orleans. Parties went down today in search of these gentlemen.
When the House met today MR. LAWRASON moved that it adjourn, in respect to the absent members, MESSRS. BANNISTER and HUARD, whose fate was yet unascertained. The motion was agreed to, and the House adjourned. A similar motion was made in the Senate by MR. TUCKER, and was accepted at once.
JOHN M. BELL, is thought to be certainly lost, and there is no man among us who could be more generally regretted. He was one of our oldest men of business, and has carried on for a long series of years undertakings of great extent and vast responsibilities.
The population all along the line from this to Natchez is generally of a wealthy and refined class. They are hospitable, and receive many guests. They interchange visits with each other, and they come frequently to the city, especially at Carnival times, when there are so many gayeties. This trip of the Princess, moreover, was expected to bring down a considerable number of members of the Legislature, in their customary visit to the city after a week's adjournment. She was, therefore, known to be full of passengers -- mostly well known in New Orleans -- and many of them closely connected with families here. When, therefore the rumor spread that she had been burned up, with a great loss of life, the consternation and alarm were great.
The following incidents are narrated:
DR. VAUGHAN and MR. BIRD instantly jumped into a skiff, with some negroes to row, and pulled over. DR. V. insisted on landing, that he might help those on shore; and MR. B. pulled down stream and picked up five persons from the water or clinging to the cotton bales.
The first person DR. V. met was MRS. COFFEY, herself safe, but frantic at the fact that her husband was on board, and burning up. And of that there is not a doubt. DR. V. heard not a cry on board the burning wreck; but those which arose from the river and from the shore were so awful in their nature that he cannot rest or sleep from their wringing in his ears. He was half across the river before the fire broke out in the ladies' cabin; but before he landed the flames were breaking out at the stern.
MR. AMEDE LANDRY, of West Baton Rouge, was very active in saving the sufferers. He got into a skiff on the west side of the river, and pulled at once below the wreck, and he and the others with him saved seven or eight lives.

The New York Times New York 1859-03-10