Washington, DC Fireworks Accident, July 1845


Washington, July 4, 10 o'clock, P.M.
Mr. Harper: -- I have just returned from the scene of a sudden and terrible accident, and have seated myself, full of intense excitement, to give you a hasty sketch of it.
The interesting exercises of this memorable day were closed this evening by a most magnificent exhibition of fireworks at the rear of the President's House. The whole grounds and the large green between the House and the place where the works were situated, were crowded with all the fashion and gayety of the city. Thousands thronged the vast area around. While the fireworks, which were truly splendid, were in the midst of their progress, by some mismanagement or carelessness, several large rockets, instead of rising into the air, as was intended, were thrown out of their course and into the centre of the mass of people around.
One of them came, with a terrible force, against the wall in the rear of the Presidential mansion, on which were seated and standing an immense crowd, and buried itself in the body of one man, burning several others slightly. The explosion, the crash of the rocket, the instantaneous death of the man, and the sudden rushing back of the people from the burning sparks, were the work of a moment. From gayety, pleasure and enjoyment, all was, at once, changed into confusion, terror and distress. Whether or not others have been killed, I cannot say certainly, as I have hastened, with the rest of the spectators, from the place; but from the path of the rocket, before it reached the wall, which was through a large crowd, I think it but too probable, that it has done much more injury.

10 1/2 o'clock. P.S. Besides the man killed, whose name is KNOWLES, a carpenter, I have just heard that one woman was very badly, probably mortally, wounded, and a man had his arm badly lacerated, by name M'GEE, baker, besides several others somewhat hurt. I write in great haste, and uncertainty as to the actual amount of injury done. The dead and wounded were carried, at once, into the President's House.
All is excitement and alarm.
Your's truly, H.E.N.

We since learn, by the papers, that the woman who was injured by the rocket on the 4th, died on Monday night. MR. M'GEE, it is thought, will recover.

The Adams Sentinel Gettysburg Pennsylvnaia 1845-07-14