Railroad Accident in Virginia; List of Casualties

The New York Times, December 31 1863

Dispatch to the Daily Morning Chronicle,
Manassas Junction, Sunday, Dec. 27, 1863.

Last night, at about 6 o’clock, the second P.M. train from Brandy Station ran off the embankment at Bristoe Station, destroying several yards of the track, the locomotive and four cars, beside killing four men and wounding fifteen.

At the time of the accident, the train was moving at the rate of at least twenty miles an hour.

At Bristoe Station, where there is a switch, the track is in bad condition.  Within eighty yards of the scene of the accident is a bridge of considerable size, which must have given way and the train proceeded farther, thus rendering certain the loss of at least one hundred lives.

It is stated, as the cause of the catastrophe, that the switch having become unmovable further thus to a certain point, the person whose duty it was to change it ran up the track toward the coming train and attempted to stop it; but being unprovided with either lantern or torch, his efforts were fruitless.

Train Derailment at Manassas, by photographer Andrew J. Russell.  Library of Congress
Train Derailment at Manassas, by photographer Andrew J. Russell. Library of Congress

The frequent occurrence of accidents on this military railroad is beginning to attract the notice of the authorities.  The trains are carried at too great a speed over the road, which is in poor condition, and seemingly, not often inspected.  On starting from Rappahannock Station, a car in the same train was thrown from the track and demolished – the passengers merely escaping death from the fact that there were people on the side-roads to signal the engineer.  In this case, as in the more fatal one which succeeded, there was a bridge within a few yards of where the accident occurred.  

Killed – Charles F. Robinson, citizen of Philadelphia, and formerly a Lieutenant in the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers; Henry Young, Co. G, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves; [Moses] Broad, Co. H, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves; one man unknown.

Wounded –  James McCahan, Engineer, face.  Thos. Ford, Co. D, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves, arm; Charles Lensandt, Co. A, 8th New York, slightly; Gillis Dunlap, Co. E, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, leg; Joseph W. Shaw, Co. B, 4th Pennsylvania Reserves, head, slightly.  Orville Minor, Co. K, 11th Reserves, head and ankle; Nathaniel Dickey, Co. D, 10th Reserves, arm; Charles Horn, Co. D, 10th Reserves, arm; Samuel Cook, Co. D, 10th Reserves, both knees; James McPeck, Co. D, 10th Reserves, ankle; William McWilliams, Co. D, 10th Reserves, hip and ankle; Elias Page, Co. D, 5th Reserves, hip; William B. Austin, Co. D, 12th Reserves, back; William Wetzel, Co. H, 12th Reserves, slightly.

The wounded men were at once removed to the hospital of the Third Division, Fifth Corps, under the charge of Dr. Phillips, who, assisted by Dr. Grim, of the Twelfth Reserves, gave them every attention their cases demanded.  They were all doing well this morning.

The track was repaired during the night, and trains are now running as usual.

Had this accident occurred two hours before, the loss of life would have been fearful.

Common humanity demands an investigation of the daily accident on this road, and the prompts punishment of those by whose negligence they are caused.

City Letter Carrier at USPS | augustmarchetti1980@gmail.com | Website | + posts

Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.