A Fatal Slip
The Steamship Saratoga slides into
the river before workers can get out
of the way
From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 9, 1877
CHESTER Pa., May 22 - A terrible accident happened at the launch of the iron steamship Saratoga at Roach's shipyard [Wilmington, Delaware] this morning, at about eight o'clock. About forty men were under the vessel when it went off, and not hearing the order to come out a number were crushed to death. The names of the killed, as far as known, are: Edward Fowley, John Nelsou, Charles Aright and Edward Burke. The wounded are Geo. Woof, mortally, and Barney Cannon and Walter Parkinson seriously.
It is thought that some of the workmen were killed and dragged into the water by the ship. The bodies of the dead are horribly mangled, one being literally cut in halves and other have their legs and arms torn off. The ship yard is thronged with the friends and relatives of the victims and presents a very distressing scene. This is the first accident that has ever happened at a launch since Mr. Roach took the yard, and he has launched some forty vessels.
The total number of dead in consequence of the accident at the shipyard is seven. In addition to those already reported J.J. Crew was instantly killed and George O. Woof and Barney Cannon died at 11 o'clock.
Three persons were wounded, all of the killed and wounded were workmen employed at the yards, and were engaged in knocking blocks from under the keel.
The scene during the time the ship was going off was heartrending, the men being seen struggling to escape while the huge blocks rolled by the ship crushed them to jelly.
No assistance could possibly be rendered by those who were standing by. Instead of a cheer, as usually greets a launch, a wail of anguish went up, and shrieks of pain rent the air.
All images created and produced by Cannonball Press, Brooklyn, NY