Authors: Archibald Gracie
A. Shiers, fireman (Br. Inq., p. 48):
He saw no women left. There were about forty men and women in the boat. There was no confusion among the officers and crew. We did not go back when the
went down. The women in the boat said: ‘Don’t go back.’ They said: ‘If we go back the boat will be swamped.’ No compass in boat.
Paul Maugé, Ritz kitchen clerk (Br. Inq.):
Witness was berthed in the third-class corridor. Was awakened and went up on deck. Went down again and woke up the chef. Going through the second-class cabin he noticed that the assistants of the restaurant were there and not allowed to go on the Boat Deck. He saw the second or third boat on the starboard side let down into the water, and when it was about ten feet down from the Boat Deck he jumped into it. Before this he asked the chef to jump, but he was too fat and would not do so. (Laughter.) I asked him again when I got in the boat, but he refused. When his boat was passing one of the lower decks one of the crew of the
tried to pull him out of the boat. He saw no passengers prevented from going up on deck. He thinks he was allowed to pass because he was dressed like a passenger.
Mrs. Catherine E. Crosby’s affidavit (Am. Inq., p. 1144):
Deponent is the widow of Captain Edward Gifford Crosby and took passage with him and their daughter, Harriette R. Crosby.
At the time of the collision, Captain Crosby got up, dressed, went out, came back and said to her: ‘You will lie there and drown,’ and went out again. He said to their daughter: ‘The boat is badly damaged, but I think the water-tight compartments will hold her up.’
Mrs. Crosby then got up and dressed, as did her daughter, and followed her husband on deck. She got into the first or second boat. About thirty-six persons got in with them.
There was no discrimination between men and women. Her husband became separated from her. She was suffering from cold while drifting around and one of the officers (Pitman) put a sail around her and over her head to keep her warm.
George A. Harder, first-class passenger (Am. Inq., p. 1028):
As we were being lowered, they lowered one side quicker than the other, but reached the water safely after a few scares. Someone said the plug was not in, and they could not get the boat detached from the tackle. Finally, a knife was found and the rope cut. We had about forty-two people in the boat – about thirty women, Officer Pitman, a sailor and three men of the crew. We rowed some distance from the ship – it may have been a quarter or an eighth of a mile. We were afraid of the suction. Passengers said: ‘Let us row a little further.’ They did so. Then this other boat, No. 7, came along. We tied alongside. They had twenty-nine in their boat, and we counted at the time thirty-six in ours, so we gave them four or five of our people in order to make it even.
After the ship went down we heard a lot of cries and a continuous yelling and moaning. I counted about ten icebergs in the morning. Our boat managed very well. It is true that the officer did want to go back to the ship, but all the passengers held out and said: ‘Do not do that; it would only be foolish; there would be so many around that it would only swamp the boat.’ There was no light in our boat.
C.E.H. Stengel, first cabin passenger (Am. Inq., p. 975):
Did you see any man attempt to enter these lifeboats who was forbidden to do so?
I saw two. A certain physician
in New York, and his brother, jumped into the same boat my wife was in. Then the officer, or the man who was loading the boat said: ‘I will stop that. I will go down and get my gun.’ He left the deck momentarily and came right back again. I saw no attempt of anyone else to get into the lifeboats except these two gentlemen that jumped into the boat after it was started to lower.
When you were refused admission into the boat in which your wife was, were there a number of ladies and children there at the time?
No, sir, there were not. These two gentlemen had put their wives in and were standing on the edge of the deck and when they started lowering away, they jumped in. I saw only two.
N.C. Chambers, first-class passenger (Am. Inq., 1041):
Witness referring to boat No. 5 as appearing sufficiently loaded says: ‘However, my wife said she was going in that boat and proceeded to jump in, calling to me to come. As I knew she would get out again had I not come, I finally jumped into the boat, although I did not consider it, from the looks of things, safe to put many more in. As I remember it, there were two more men, both called by their wives, who jumped in after I did. One of them, a German I believe, told me as I recollect it on the
that he had looked around and had seen no one else, and no one to ask whether he could get in, or not, and had jumped in. Witness describes the difficulty in finding whether the plug was in, or not, and recalls someone calling from above: ‘It’s your own blooming business to see that the plug is in anyhow.’
Mrs. C.E.H. Stengel, first-class passenger, writes as follows:
As I stepped into the lifeboat an officer in charge said: ‘No more; the boat is full.’ My husband stepped back, obeying the order. As the boat was being lowered, four men deliberately jumped into it. One of them was a Hebrew doctor – another was his brother. This was done at the risk of the lives of all of us in the boat. The two companions of this man who did this were the ones who were later transferred to boat No. 7, to which we were tied. He weighed about 250 pounds and wore two life preservers. These men who jumped in struck me and a little child. I was rendered unconscious and two of my ribs were very badly dislocated. With this exception there was absolutely no confusion and no disorder in the loading of our boat.
Mrs. F.M. Warren, first-class passenger’s account:
… Following this we then went to our rooms, put on all our heavy wraps and went to the foot of the grand staircase on Deck D, again interviewing passengers and crew as to the danger. While standing there Mr. Andrews, one of the designers of the vessel, rushed by, going up the stairs. He was asked if there was any danger but made no reply. But a passenger who was afterwards saved told me that his face had on it a look of terror. Immediately after this the report became general that water was in the squash courts, which were on the decks below where we were standing, and that the baggage had already been submerged.
At the time we reached the Boat Deck, starboard side, there were very few passengers there, apparently, but it was dark and we could not estimate the number. There was a defeaning roar of escaping steam, of which we had not been conscious while inside.
The only people we remembered seeing, except a young woman by the name of Miss Ostby, who had become separated from her father and was with us, were Mr. Astor, his wife and servants, who were standing near one of the boats which was being cleared preparatory to being lowered.
The Astors did not get into this boat. They all went back inside and I saw nothing of them again until Mrs. Astor was taken onto the
We discovered that the boat next to the one the Astors had been near had been lowered to the level of the deck, so went towards it and were told by the officers in charge to get in. At this moment both men and women came crowding toward the spot. I was the second person assisted in. I supposed that Mr. Warren had followed, but saw when I turned that he was standing back and assisting the women. People came in so rapidly in the darkness that it was impossible to distinguish them, and I did not see him again.
The boat was commanded by Officer Pitman and manned by four of the
’s men. The lowering of the craft was accomplished with great difficulty. First one end and then the other was dropped at apparently dangerous angles, and we feared that we would swamp as soon as we struck the water.
Mr. Pitman’s orders were to pull far enough away to avoid suction if the ship sank. The sea was like glass, so smooth that the stars were clearly reflected. We were pulled quite a distance away and then rested, watching the rockets in terrible anxiety and realizing that the vessel was rapidly sinking, bow first. She went lower and lower, until the lower lights were extinguished, and then suddenly rose by the stern and slipped from sight. We had no light on our boat and were left in intense darkness save from an occasional glimmer of light from other lifeboats and one steady green light on one of the ship’s boats which the officers of the
afterwards said was of material assistance in aiding them to come direct to the spot.
With daylight the wind increased and the sea became choppy, and we saw icebergs in every direction; some lying low in the water and others tall, like ships, and some of us thought they were ships. I was on the second boat picked up.
From the time of the accident until I left the ship there was nothing which in any way resembled a panic. There seemed to be a sort of aimless confusion and an utter lack of organized effort.
No disorder in loading or lowering this boat.
: Mesdames Cardeza and maid (Anna Hard), Davidson, Dick, Graham, Harper, Hays and maid (Miss Pericault), Spedden and maid (Helen Wilson) and son Douglas and his trained nurse, Miss Burns, and Misses Graham and Shutes.
: Messrs Cardeza and man-servant (Lesneur), Dick, Harper and man-servant (Hamad Hassah) and Spedden.
Men who helped load women and children in this boat and sank with the ship
: Messrs Case, Davidson, Hays and Roebling.
: Seamen: Moore (in charge), Forward Pascoe. Steward: McKay; Firemen: ‘5 or 6’; or ‘10 or 12.’
G. Moore, A.B. (Am. Inq., 559):
When we swung boat No. 3 out I was told by the first officer to jump in the boat and pass the ladies in, and when there were no more about we took in men passengers. We had thirty-two in the boat, all told, and then lowered away. Two seamen were in the boat. There were a few men passengers and some five or six firemen. They got in after all the women and children. I took charge of the boat at the tiller.
Mrs. Frederick O. Spedden, first-class passenger’s account:
… Number 3 and Number 5 were both marked on our boat. Our seaman told me that it was an old one taken from some other ship,
and he didn’t seem sure at the time which was the correct number, which apparently was 3.
We tied up to a boat filled with women once, but the rope broke and we got pretty well separated from all the other lifeboats for some time. We had in all about forty in our boat, including ten or twelve stokers in the bow with us who seemed to exercise complete control over our coxswain, and urged him to order the men to row away from the sinking
, as they were in mortal terror of the suction. Two oars were lost soon after we started and they didn’t want to take the time to go back after them, in spite of some of the passengers telling them that there was absolutely no danger from suction. All this accounts for the fact of our being some distance off when the ship went down. We couldn’t persuade the coxswain to turn around till we saw the lights of the
on the horizon. It was then that we burned some paper, as we couldn’t find our lantern. When the dawn appeared and my small boy Douglas saw the bergs around us and remarked: ‘Oh, Muddie, look at the beautiful north pole with no Santa Claus on it,’ we all couldn’t refrain from smiling in spite of the tragedy of the situation.
No more accurately written or interesting account (one which I freely confess moves me to tears whenever re-read) has come to my notice than the following, which I have the consent of the author to insert in its entirety:
When the ‘
’ Went Down
Miss Elizabeth W. Shutes
Such a biting cold air poured into my stateroom that I could not sleep, and the air had so strange an odor,
as if it came from a clammy cave. I had noticed that same odor in the ice cave on the Eiger glacier. It all came back to me so vividly that I could not sleep, but lay in my berth until the cabin grew so very cold that I got up and turned on my electric stove. It threw a cheerful red glow around, and the room was soon comfortable; but I lay waiting. I have always loved both day and night on shipboard, am never fearful of anything, but now I was nervous about the icy air.
Suddenly a queer quivering ran under me, apparently the whole length of the ship. Startled by the very strangeness of the shivering motion, I sprang to the floor. With too perfect a trust in that mighty vessel I again lay down. Someone knocked at my door, and the voice of a friend said: ‘Come quickly to my cabin; an iceberg has just passed our window; I know we have just struck one.’