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Connolly Writes His Story Of The Wreck For Post

by James B. Connolly
Boston Post, January 25, 1909

It was about 5:40 Saturday in a black fog, about 190 miles out from New York and 15 miles south of Nantucket, that the Italian emigrant ship "Florida," of Naples, inward bound, and the "Republic," outbound, came together.

The bow of the "Florida" struck the side of the "Republic" and kept on grinding toward the stern. When she at last cleared five state rooms on the saloon deck of the "Republic" and two on the deck below were ripped out.

The rooms on the lower deck, which were against the ship side, were torn out by the flukes of the "Florida's" anchor, which finally was wrenched off the bow and found later in one of the wrecked staterooms.

The rooms on the saloon deck were all inboard, protected by a 10-foot width of deck and yet the "Florida" cut clear through that deck and splintered everything--wash basins, trunks, mirrors--left everything in them a mess and the rooms gaping to the outerworld.

Mrs. Lynch in 34 and Mr. Mooney in 28 were killed almost instantly, cut in pieces by the jagged bow.

Mr. Lynch, husband of the dead woman, had his leg broken while in another of the rooms. Mrs. Murphy, wife of a South Dakota banker, was badly smashed up but will live.

Neither Mrs. Mooney, in a bunk beneath her husband, nor Mr. Murphy, in a bunk above his wife, were injured. The plates of the "Republic" were started below the waterline, and so the engine room was filled almost immediately. In six minutes or so the electric lights went out, which made matters bad for a while threatening to bring on a panic with men and women lightly clad fleeing around the dark passageways.

The ship brought no emergency lanterns in service and only for frequent match sputterings by passengers and a few candle ends produced by stewards, nobody could see anything until daylight came.

The "Florida," which had her bow smashed in flat beneath her forward bulkhead, looked worse than the "Republic."

Three Italian sailors sleeping in the forecastle of the "Florida" were plastered like so much clay against the steel wall and two more injured.

After two hours boats were cleared away and passengers of the "Republic" taken to the "Florida," which stood by. Some trouble came in disembarking, but all were brought over safely. Passengers remained on board the "Florida" till 11 at night and then were transferred to the "Baltic," which had come on scene at 7 o'clock.

Why the "Baltic" did not take passengers off sooner is not made clear.

It took off all night in fog and rain to get off "Republic's" passengers and crew, and the "Florida's" immigrants, of which there were 850, 1,500 all told, transported to the "Baltic."

Many women, possibly 50 in all, collapsed or fainted on reaching the "Baltic's" deck.

Several boats were allowed to knock around in the sea for half or three-quarters of an hour before the "Baltic" was made ready to receive them.

One woman went between the boat and the ship's side, losing her bag of jewels, but was herself saved.

There was quite a small sea on during a part of the time of transfer with rain and fog, making terrible weather.

Earlier in the evening, while the "Baltic" was lying by, the sea was smooth and the sky clear. There seemed to be some difficulty in getting competent men to man the boats and so much delay and some risk to passengers in transfer, which was not completed until daylight in the morning.

The passengers generally behaved well and the 850 of the "Florida's" immigrants behaved splendidly.

The passengers generally are in good condition now, and a few are worn out with anxiety, but nobody is really to be feared for.

Captain Ransom and Purser Palmer flatly refused to allow any press messages whatever to be sent regarding the collision.

The "Republic" was settling in the water when last seen in 10 o'clock yesterday morning.

The "Florida" will proceed to New York under her own steam with the Romanic standing by for emergencies.

Mr. Lynch, with a broken leg, remains on the "Florida," the pain of removal being too great.

The passengers baggage is still on the "Republic" and is lost of course. Barring a general mourning for the loss of clothes everybody is in good spirits.

Both ships were placed in luck to have the accident occur in a smooth sea and a remarkably mild day for this time of year and to have "wireless" at hand, otherwise it would have been a terrible catastrophe.


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