Cincinnati, OH Area Steamboat MOSELLE Explosion, Apr 1838
It happened, unfortunately, that the larger number of the passengers were collected on the upper deck, to which the balmy sir and delicious weather seemed to invite them in order to expose them to more certain destruction. It was understood, too, that the captain of this ill-fated steamer hid expressed his determination to outstrip an opposition boat which had just started ; the people on shore were cheering the Moselle in anticipation of her success in the race, and the passengers and crew on the upper deck responded to these acclamations, which were soon changed to sounds of mourning and distress.
Intelligence of the awful calamity spread rapidly through the city ; thousands rushed to the spot, and the most benevolent aid was promptly extended to the sufferers, or, as we should rather say, to such as were within the reach of human assistance, for the majority had perished. A gentleman who was among those who hastened to the wreck, declares that he witnessed a scene so sad and distressing that no language can depict it with fidelity. On the shore lay twenty or thirty mangled and still bleeding corpses ; while many persons were engaged in dragging others of the dead or wounded from the wreck or the water. But, says the same witness, the survivors presented the most touching objects of distress, as their mental anguish seemed more insupportable than the most intense bodily suffering. Death bad torn asunder the most tender ties ; but the rupture had been so sudden and violent that none knew certainly who had been taken or who had been spared. Fathers were distractedly inquiring for children, children for parents, husbands and wives for each other. One man had saved a son, but lost a wife and five children. A father, partially demented by grief, lay with a wounded child on one side, his dead daughter on the other, and his expiring wife at his feet. One gentleman sought his wife and children, who were as eagerly seeking him in the same crowd. They met, and were re-united !
A female deck passenger who had been saved, seemed inconsolable for the loss of her relatives. Her constant exclamations were, " Oh, my father ! my mother ! my sisters !"
A little boy, about five years old, whose head was much bruised, appeared to be regardless of his wounds, and cried continually for a lost father ; while another lad, a little older, was weeping for his whole family.
One venerable looking man wept for the loss of a wife and five children. Another was bereft of his whole family, consisting of nine persons. A touching display of maternal affection was evinced by a lady, who, on being brought to the shore, clasped her hands and exclaimed, " Thank God, I am safe !" but instantly recollecting herself, she ejaculated in a voice of piercing agony, " Where is my child ?" The infant, which had also been saved, was brought to her, and she fainted at the sight of it.
Many of the passengers who entered the boat at Cincinnati had not registered their names ; but the lowest estimated number of persons on board was two hundred and eighty ; of these, eighty-one were known to be killed, fifty-five were missing, and thirteen badly wounded. It remains for us to give the names of the sufferers, as far as they could be ascertained ; but this list, although we have searched every record of the accident, for reasons which have already been explained is still far from complete.