Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pennsylvania Tragic Prisoner Train Wreck-- Part 1

From the July 15, 2011, Pocono (Pa) Record "Prisoner train wreck during the Civil War near Shohola recalled as tragedy for both sides" by John Punola.

The Elmira, NY induction center had been converted into a prison for Confederates.

Confederate prisoners captured at the Battle of Cold Harbor, mostly recruits, were sent by train to Jersey City, NJ and transferred to the Erie RR destined for Port Jervis, NY, and a final destination of Elmira.

They arrived at Port Jervis July 15, 1864 on locomotive No. 171, following the West 23 Train as an extra.  The train consisted of a mixture of passenger and freight cars, a locomotive, caboose, a Union guard detail and the prisoners.

They were running along a single track at 20 mph and had warning flags for other trains to give the right of way.  There were sharp curves along the Delaware River.  At Lackawaxen, a station where a branch railroad connected, the telegraph operator, Douglas Kent, noted that West 23 had flags showing that there was a train behind it.

At 2:30 PM, coal train Erie 237 arrived at the junction pulling 50 cars of coal.  Kent mistakenly gave the all clear sign, turned the switch and the coal train headed east.  The prisoner train and 237 collided at King & Fuller's Cut, a blind curve.

A Calamity.  --Old Secesh

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