October 23, 2011

The Accident at Pittsburgh

Location: Monongahela Wharf, Pittsburgh, PA
From Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, 2/21/1857 (Source)
As mentioned in recent soldiers' letters, the Lancaster County Regiment took its first casualties before even leaving the Keystone State.  Soldiers from Negley's Brigade, which included Col. Hambright's Regiment, had already been packed onto five steamboats, and waited only for an artillery battery with its guns and horses to leave Pittsburgh and travel down the Ohio River.

From Harper's Weekly, November 2, 1861
In the middle of the afternoon on Friday, October 18, an artillery horse being led up the gangway fell off, causing much excitement.  The ensuing commotion led to the collapse of the hurricane deck of one of the steamers and serious injuries to a couple members of the 79th Pennsylvania. The accident was described in detail in the October 21, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

Bearing the brunt of the blame for the accident was "Commodore" William J. Kountz, who was in charge of coordinating the river fleet.  Kountz went on to work with General Grant and apparently continued to infuriate everyone around him, including the boat captains he was appointed by the government to oversee, and getting himself kicked out of General Grant's office in the lead-up to the Fort Henry and Donelson campaigns of early 1862.  From the October 22, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

Of the three most-seriously injured soldiers--Adjutant Charles Frailey, Band Leader Daniel Clemens, and Priv. Daniel Landis--both Clemens and Landis recovered from their injuries to rejoin the regiment.  Frailey's injuries caused him to resign a week later.

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