Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, Sept 1862 (2-4K Fire in Pittsburg Arsenal)
A Recapitulation of Horrors.
The Telegraph yesterday morning, barely announced the fact of a terrible explosion which took place in Allegheny Arsenal on Wednesday. By the Pittsburg Dispatch of yesterday we have full particulars of the horrible occurrence, from which we condense the following account:
After the explosion, the building took fire, and those of the girls confined by the fragments were burned to death. A number were doubtless killed by the explosion, and their bodies consumed.- Where the heat was the greatest nothing remained of the bodies but the whitened bones.
Thousands of people collected on the grounds, and all were horror stricken at the scene. The charred remains of the victims were lying about in rows in several directions. A number were dying of their injuries and removed by friends.
We noticed two bodies which had been blown from the building, both so horribly mutillated, indeed were all that we saw with but one exception as to render identification impossible. We saw the bodies two young women who evidently had been burned alive in each other’s arms. In one place we counted forty seven bodies, in another ten and turn where you would, blackened trunks of bodies—piles of roasted flesh—met your gaze. Here and there lay the fragment of a skull, or some other part of a body.
Two girls were conversing near where a body lay. One of them had escaped uninjured—the other was in search of a sister, and in describing her, said she wore a red dress. A gentleman standing near pointing to a fragment of a dress handing upon a tree said: "Was it like that?" The girl looked up, saw the fragment and a load scream from her told us that she identified it as part of the dress worn by her sister.
We came in a spot where two girls were dying. Both were terribly burned. One asked it she was really going to die, and desired a priest to be sent for. She appeared less injured than her fellow-sufferer, and spoke in a loud and clear voice, but death soon came. Her companion was removed from the ground still alive, but beyond recovery.
Anxious relatives flitted hurriedly about the grounds, gazing upon the crisped remains, in the hope of discovering some mark of identification. Many of the bodies were encircled with steel bands of hooped skirts.
The building or laboratory was one story high, divided into halls and rooms, with an open space in the centre, like a court. Accounts as to the cause, as well as the particular point at which the first explosion took place, differ materially, and the facts can not be definitely ascertained by a Coroner.
Shortly before the first explosion, three barrels of powder had been brought from the magazine and placed on a porch at the laboratory. The driver of the wagon in which the powder was hauled was knocked down twice by the explosion, hut not seriously hurt. His name is Trick and resides in Lawrenceville.
It was pay-day, and Mr. Bosworth, the paymaster, had paid some fifty of the girls before the occurrence. After the first explosion a number of the girls, who had rushed out of their rooms, went back to see after the others, and thus fell victims.
The firemen were promptly on the ground, and rendered valuable assistance in quenching the fire. For a time past it was unsafe to go near the burning building, owing to the continuous bursting of cartridges and shells.
The exact number of lives lost could not certainly be ascertained last evening. It is possible that the bodies of some were entirely consumed. The number, however, will not be short of seventy.
A scene of terrible excitement occurred at Store House No. 1 situated near Butler street, in which upwards of three hundred girls were employed in preparing paper cylinder musket cartridges. Although in no danger whatever, the girls rushed down the stairs to the front entrance, which was already blocked up with a crowd of men, women, in which were parents seeking after their daughters, there was no ingress or egress and the pressure was frightful. Women were trodden under foot, some injured severely, and the scene was absolutely alarming. Ladders were placed in the upper windows from the outside, by which means a number of the girls got out of the building. It was a considerable time before the outside crowd could be forced back. During the excitement a number of the girls leaped out of the second story windows and in this way were severely injured.
Herald of Freedom and Torch Light
Maryland Historical Society
Sept 10-24, 1862
Maryland Historical Society
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862; Maryland Campaign, 1862; Hagerstown (Md.)--Newspapers.
Washington County, MD. September 1862