New Orleans, LA Tornado Destruction, Jan 1858

From the Picayune, 16th.

At about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon a young tornado burst upon the city, accompanied by rain, which fell in torrents, doing, for the time it lasted, an immensity of damage. Ships and steamboats were torn from their moorings; signs, slates and awnings were hurled from their positions and sent waltzing through space; trees and horses were blown down, and in no less than three instances which have come to our knowledge the tornado was fatal to himan life. One man was blown bodily from the hurricane deck of the steamboat Lacon, and drowned. His body has not been recovered. In another case, a man named MURPHY was killed on board of the steamboat W. W. Farmer by the fall of her chimneys during the storm. He was a native of Ireland, and 35 years of age. The third case was that of a Swedish sailor, named JOHN ANDERSON, who, during the tornado, was blown from the maintopsail yard of the ship Rattler, when furling the sail, and was killed forthwith. He also was 35 years of age. In both of these cases inquests were held, and appropriate verdicts rendered.
The gale proved very severe upon both the steamboats and shipping in our port -- upon almost every interest, indeed, exposed thereto on the river. The amount of damage we are, as yet, unable even approximately to estimate. It must, however, be very great. The gale proceeded from a southwesterly direction, and was but of about five minutes duration. It was, in fact, a hurricane.
The ships Plus Ultra, Joseph Rowen, and the barks Prince of Wales and Jacob Prentiss, were blown from their moorings and drifted down the river. Some of them received considerable damage, having come in collision with the barks Evelyn and Alberta, the bowsprits of both of which were carried away. They finally came to anchor, however, below the Point.
During the gale, and before these vessels had parted their moorings, a man who was standing on the gangway of one was blown overboard and was drowned. We did not learn his name.
The ships Ocean Monarch and Golden Eagle, lying at post No. 42; ships Nuremberg, Gottenberg and Forest Eagle, at No. 43; ships Castine, Pepperill, Picayune and Techernaya, at No. 45; ships Ann Washburn, Houghton and Ellen Stewart, at No. 46; ships N. Larrabee, W. V. Moses and R. D. Sheppard, at No. 47; ships C. C. Duncan and Rochester, at No. 48; and ship Arthur, at No. 49, were all blown from their moorings, carrying away a portion of their wharves, and sustained more or less damage. They drifted down the river and finally came to anchor below the Point. The Ann Washburn lost her bowsprit and sprung her foremast.
A house on Rampart street, near Toulouse, was blown down and two of the inmates were somewhat injured. The house was occupied by MR. A. LOEZ. Two chimneys in the same neighborhood were blown down. We also learn that a kitchen at the corner of Frenchmen and Victory streets was blown down, but the persons who had been in it ran out before it fell.

From the Crescent.
We have rumors of many lives being lost, by the swamping of skiffs in the river and by the falling of stagings of ships and steamboats. We hope these rumors may prove incorrect.
A more terrific storm in a city we never witnessed. We were in the City Hall at the time, and hearing the roar ran to the front. The trees in Lafayette square, though leafless, fairly bent to the earth, while their broken branches were flying on the gale. We watched the lofty spire of the First Presbyterian Church, expecting every moment to see it fall. It vibrated perceptibly at the top, but held its position, firm and clastic as a whipstalk, while the rain, beating upon it in the gale, enveloped it apparently in a wreath of smoke. Crowds of people watched it with the same nervous fear that we did.
We net nobody last evening that did not have his particular story to tell of the violent doings of the storm in his particular part of the city. It was the most violent storm that the city has experienced in many years.
By different sources we have it that the storm was but the tail-end of a tornado which passed along the Gulf Coast.
By the officers of the steamer Lacon -- whose second mate was blown overboard at Jefferson City, but rescued -- we learn that a violent gale had been prevailing south of the city for some days previous to yesterday. The Lacon encountered a violent storm, and was blown ashore on Thursday week at Gorday's Cut-off, near the bay of Bayou Sally. Her chimneys were blown down at the same time, and her passengers and crew were without fresh water for forty-eight hours. She finally got afloat again, and on Sunday was met by another gale, which compelled her to lay be all day. An yesterday afternoon she reached the Stock Landing, above the city, just in time to have her chimneys again blown over, and her second mate blown overboard at the same time, he being rescued without having sustained material damage. The second clerk and pilot also received a hoist, from which they escaped miraculously well. They were both on the hurricane deck. A tarpaulin, lying near them, was caught by the gale. It lapped them in its embrace, sailed away with them, and dropped them in the river fifty feet from the boat. Being good swimmers they got ashore with no other damage than their ducking.
The packet Belle Gates left the city yesterday forenoon for the lower coast, between this city ant the Balize. When opposite PACKWOOD'S plantation she encountered the gale. She was roughly tousled -- had her chimney blown away -- and returned to the city last evening.
We fear that we will have to record news from the Gulf sadder than anything above related.

The New York Times New York 1858-01-25