The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.
it was practically incandescent, and to move about the deck in this burning mass was not only difficult but absolutely perilous.  I am only now able to begin thoroughly to clear and search the ship for any damage done by this volcanic rain, and to see if there are any corpses in out-of-the-way places.  For instance, this morning, I found one body in the peak of the forecastle.  The body was horribly burned and the sailor had evidently crept in there in his agony to die.

“On the arrival of the Roddam at St. Lucia the ship presented an appalling appearance.  Dead and calcined bodies lay about the deck, which was also crowded with injured helpless and suffering people.  Prompt assistance was rendered to the injured by the authorities here and my poor, tortured men were taken to the hospital.  The dead were buried.  I have omitted to mention that out of twenty-one black laborers that I brought from Grenada to help in stevedoring, only six survived.  Most of the others threw themselves overboard to escape a dreadful fate, but they met a worse one, for it is an actual fact that the water around the ship was literally at a boiling heat.  The escape of my vessel was miraculous.  The woodwork of the cabins and bridge and everything inflammable on deck were constantly igniting, and it was with great difficulty that we few survivors managed to keep the flames down.  My ropes, awnings, tarpaulins were completely burned up.

“I witnessed the entire destruction of St. Pierre.  The flames enveloped the town in every quarter with such rapidity that it was impossible that any person could be saved.  As I have said, the day was suddenly turned to night, but I could distinguish by the light of the burning town people distractedly running about on the beach.  The burning buildings stood out from the surrounding darkness like black shadows.  All this time the mountain was roaring and shaking, and in the intervals between these terrifying sounds I could hear the cries of despair and agony from the thousands who were perishing.  These cries added to the terror of the scene, but it is impossible to describe its horror or the dreadful sensations it produced.  It was like witnessing the end of the world.

“Let me add that, after the first shock was over, the survivors of the crew rendered willing help to navigate the ship to this port.  Mr. Plissoneau, our agent in Martinique, happening to be on board, was saved, and I really believe that he is the only survivor of St. Pierre.  As it is, he is seriously burned on the hands and face.


“Master British Steamship Roddam.”


The British steamer Etona, of the Norton Line, stopped at St. Lucia to coal on May 10th.  Captain Cantell there visited the Roddam and had an interview with Captain Freeman.  On the 11th the Elona put to sea again, passing St. Pierre in the afternoon.  We subjoin her captain’s story: 

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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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