Halifax, NS Steamer ATLANTIC Disaster, Apr 1873


Associated Press Dispatches.


The News in New York.
New York, April 2.

People who had friends on board the ill-fated steamer Atlantic crowded the offices of the White Star line this morning, hoping to learn the names of the survivors; but as no list had been received, no information could be given them. The terrible disaster was the only topic this morning, and a full investigation is demanded by the public and people, that the responsibility for the disaster may be fixed on the proper parties.

Names of Passengers.
Ellen Rheaen, aged seventeen years, Negah, Ireland; Patrick Caughlin, aged twenty-five years, Unistmich, Ireland; Richard Mellvaine, Plymouth, England, and the husband and three children of Mary McDermot, matron of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, are the only persons known to be passengers on the Atlantic. John H. Price, a lawyer of this city, and two ladies in charge, also Peter Brindley, of this city, are supposed to be passengers.

Sending Assistance.
The White Star Company last evening, on receipt of the news of the disaster to the Atlantic, dispatched an agent to relieve the survivors, and instructed him to telegraph names to important points. Two other agents left for Halifax to forward the survivors to their destination. The steamer City of Montreal, which sailed on the same day with the Atlantic (the 20th of March) has a duplicate list of passengers. She is expected to-day.

The Cause.
The company say the catastrophe was caused by mistaking the lights on the coast, and do not attach blame to the officers of the vessel, and that Captain Williams was an experienced seaman. He is about twelve years in the Trans-Atlantic trade, and with the White Star Line since its organization. At one time he was commander of the steamer Colorado, which after he retires from her, was sunk by a collision in the Mersey. Further than the dispatch announcing the wreck, the company has not received any news of the number lost. Those rescued are en-route for Halifax, but as the journey must be accomplished in wagons they are not expected to arrive there until 3 o'clock this afternoon, when particulars will be sent at once to the Company's office in this city.

Over One Thousand Persons on Board.
Boston, April 2,
The following is a special to the the [sic] Evening Traveller [sic] from Halifax:
Only three or four of the cabin passengers are saved from the wreck of the Atlantic; one was an Englishman and two or three Frenchmen. Only one lady passenger attempted to save herself, and she was frozen to death in the rigging and fell into the water.

The purser is among the lost. Some of the passengers arrived in this city to-day, and give harrowing details of the calamity. The Atlantic had 850 steerage passengers and thirty in the saloon. There had been two births during the voyage. The crew numbered (illegible), and fourteen stowaways were discovered. Three hundred in all were saved out of the total number of 1,038.

Captain Williams.
New York, April 2.
A rumor obtained circulation to-day that Captain Williams, of the Atlantic was discharged from the service of Williams & Guion Company for unseamanlike conduct, and Mr. Curtiss, Passenger Agent of that line, says he heard at the time that such was the fact. On the other hand, Mr. Sparks, Agent of the White Star Line, says Captain Williams upon leaving the employ of Williams and Guion, received from that company the most flattering testimonials.

Statement of a Passenger.
Halifax, N. S., April 2.
A steerage passenger makes the following statement -
I turned into my berth about 11 o'clock Monday night. The night was dark, but starlight, and the weather was fine. I knew the ship was going into Halifax for coal. The last I remembered was that two bells, one o'clock, struck. I then went to sleep and woke up with a shock, and remarked to my mate, "there goes the anchor." I thought, of course, we were safe in Halifax harbor, but as soon as she made a second plunge I said, "good God! she's ashore." We got up and dressed. The companionway was thronged with lower steerage passengers. Seeing that the sea was commencing to break over the ship and lower companionway, I got as many as possible to get to the bunks and hold on by the iron stanchions, and there we remained until after daylight. The ship had fallen over, and the steerage was full of water, one side only being out of it. Our only chance to escape was by the ports, and a number of men, probably twenty, got out through the ports to the side of the vessel. I remained until all who were alive were out. There were a great many drowned in their bunks, and others were drowned while trying to reach the ports. I got out through a port and held fast to the side of the ship for about two hours and then went to shore by a life line. When I left the ship, there were still a great many in the rigging.

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Halifax, NS Steamer Disaster, Apr 1873

One of the largest and grandest ships afloat at the time of her loss, SS ATLANTIC sank near Halifax with heavy loss of life on April Fool's day 1873. Until the sinking of Titanic in 1912, it was the worst ocean liner disaster in history. ATLANTIC was a part of a new generation of liners which combined both deluxe accommodation and a brisk passage from Liverpool to New York. The fledgling White Star Line had great hopes that ATLANTIC, and her sisters, (BALTIC, OCEANIC and REPUBLIC) would make them preeminent on the North Atlantic.

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Nova Scotia