Before Mark Twain: A Sampler of Old, Old Times on the Mississippi

By John Francis McDermott | Go to book overview

EXPLOSION OF THE STEAMER
PENNSYLVANIA

[At six o'clock on Sunday morning, June 13, 1858, the steamboat Pennsylvania exploded at Ship Island, seventy miles below Memphis. Of three hundred and fifty-five passengers and eighty crew aboard more than two hundred were killed or missing. Among the injured was the third clerk, who was badly scalded and later died-poor fellow, the newspaper did not even spell his name correctly, for the Henry Clements of the first newsstory was the young brother about whom Mark Twain wrote in Life on the Mississippi (Chapter 20). The rather brief first report in the St. Louis Missouri Republican on June 15 was followed the next day by a much fuller statement (reprinted here) from two of the survivors, W. G. Mepham of St. Louis and Henry Spencer, the bar-keeper.]

Additional Particulars
of the
Explosion and Burning of the
PENNSYLVANIA!

Two Hundred Lost and Missing.
STATEMENT OF PASSENGERS.
Incidents of the Disaster, &c.

We published yesterday morning a telegraphic statement of the late terrible disaster to the steamer Pennsylvania, bound from New Orleans to this port.

From passengers of the Pennsylvania who arrived in this city by railroad last evening, we have received full statements, to be found below. They embrace all that was known here last evening concerning this awful calamity, but give very few additional names of the lost, missing or saved.

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