1861 - DIABOLICAL OUTRAGE.
Hudson, Mo., Sept. 6.
ABE HAGER, P. M. on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, furnishes to the St. Louis Democrat the following account of a diabolical outrage on that road, on the 4th inst.
The passenger express train, bound west, was thrown into Platte River - the timbers of the east end of the bridge over the stream having been burned nearly through. The entire train went down, the engine turning over and the baggage, freight, mail and two passenger coaches piled on top.
The passenger coaches were completely smashed, and I was nearly the only one on the train that escaped unhurt. After getting out of the baggage car, I commenced taking out the passengers that were not killed in the wreck.
The following additional particulars of the terrible disaster are furnished to the St. Louis Republican:
The catastrophe occurred at Little Platte River bridge, 9 miles east of St. Joseph. The bridge was a substantial work of 160 foot span, and about 35 feet above the river. The timbers of the bridge had been burned underneath the track until they would sustain but little more than their own weight, and the fire was then extinguished, leaving the bridge a mere shell.
The train was bringing from 85 to 100 passengers, including women and children. They reached the river at eleven o'clock at night, and the bridge looking secure they passed on, but no sooner had the locomotive measured its length upon the bridge than some 40 or 50 yards of the structure gave way, precipitating the entire train into the abyss below.
All the seats in the passenger cars were torn up and thrown in front, carrying men, women and children in a promiscuous heap down the declivity, and burying them among the timbers or throwing them out, of the cars through the broken windows.
Ragged pieces of flooring impaled some; some were mangled by machinery; several were caught between planks, pressing together like a vice. Others were struck by parts of the roof as it came down with mighty force; still others were cut with pieces of glass; while wounds and blood and agony prevailed all over the frightful scene, and shrieks of pain were mingled with cries of terror.
Only three persons, MR. J. W. PARKER, Superintendent of the U. S. Express, MR. MARS, Mail Agent, and MR. HAGER, were able to afford assistance to the suffering, the remainder of those who were not killed outright being so disabled as to be helpless. After doing all that it was possible to do for those requiring immediate attention, MR. HAGER, at midnight, left the wreck to go to St. Joseph for medical and other assistance. He walked five miles of the way, when he found a hand car, upon which he proceeded the remainder of the journey.
Two hundred yards west of the bridge he discovered a heavy oak railroad tie strongly strapped across the track, and two miles further on he found tressle work over a small stream on fire, which, however, had not as yet been so badly burned that trains could not pass over it, or so far but then it could be easily extinguished.
Arriving at St. Joseph, the alarm was soon spread throughout the city, and although it was one o'clock at night, seventy-five men, including all physicians in the neighborhood, quickly volunteered their services, and at half past three o'clock a train fully supplied with medical stores and other necessaries was at the scene of the disaster.
The wounded had all emerged from the wreck, and were lying on the banks and upon a sand bar in the river. Seventeen dead bodies were recovered, and it is believed that this number embraced all who were killed up to that time.
Fifty miles east of the Platte River, MR. HAGER found another bridge over the south branch almost entirely burned, having been fired after the train had passed west, thus preventing assistance being sent from the east.
Lancaster Wisconsin 1861-09-11
Grant County Herald
September 11, 1861
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