Train Wreck
February 27, 1862

Tracks of the old New Orleans Jackson & Great Northern Railroad
It was very near this place the 7th Mississippi met tragedy. A project to locate the exact site of the wreck is in the works. If this isn't the exact spot it is within a short distance of this location. Thanks to Wayne Dowdle for contributing the photo.

CASUALTY LIST Ron Skellie has again been kind enough to share research and has provided his caualty list for this tragic wreck.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW CASUALTY LIST

New Orleans Jackson & Great Northern train dropping off troops at Camp Moore, LA
CLICK TO ENLARGE

This is a copy of an original sketch done by artist Andrew Persac in 1861. It shows a train on the NOJ&GN railroad dropping off troops at Camp Moore, LA. Whether or not this is the train that was involved in the wreck involving the 7th Mississippi or not is unknown but is within the realm of possibility.

New Orleans Jackson & Great Northern railroad currency

The above photo is of a three dollar bill issued by the New Orleans Jackson & Great Northern Railroad. It has a picture engraved of a steam engine that must have served on this line. For you train buffs I would guess it to be from the Baldwin Locomotive Works but that is just a guess. Any information you may have on this Railroad or its engines would be a welcome addition to our research. The red writing on the currency was made post war and before it came into my possesion.

TRAIN WRECK HISTORICAL MARKER
Louisiana State Historical MarkerThe Louisiana State Historical marker that commemorated the train wreck of February 27, 1862 that involved the 7th Mississippi has been RECOVERED. The marker, which was thought stolen will again be placed on Louisiana State HWY 51 near the actual wreck site. We again wish to extend thanks to Wayne Cosby and the Friends of Camp Moore for their work in getting the marker placed as well as all the other groups and individuals who helped with donations and the labor to get this done.

CLICK TO VIEW ENLARGED IMAGE 1

CLICK TO VIEW ENLARGED IMAGE 2

Author Ron Skellie was kind enough to permit me to post this information about this particular train wreck involving the 7th Mississippi infantry. He told me he has information on two other train wrecks the 7th had the misfortune to be involved in. You can contact Ron Skellie off his email address on the cover page.

The currency was located at and purchased by your webmaster from War Between The States Memorabilia. They are located in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and are some truly nice folks so be sure to give them a visit.

RESEARCH NOTE: Confederate Railroads is the absolute best website I have ever seen for information on the railway lines and railroads that were in the service of the Confederacy. They have helped me personally and are well worth your visit!

In February 1862, the 7th Mississippi infantry had been ordered to proceed from the Gulf Coast to Jackson, Tennessee. This move was made by rail going from the Bay St. Louis, Mississippi area to New Orleans and then northward toward Tennessee. On 27 February, the troop train carrying the 7th crashed head-on into a lumber train headed south.

The following article was transcribed and provided by Lee Kenna
P.O. Box 966,
Kodak, TN.
37764

to

Ron Skellie
2285 Brandon Court
Marietta, GA
30066.

(This is provided just as it was printed in the paper of the day....)

Source: The Enterprise, Ponchatoula, LA. Page 8, Wednesday, October, 29 1975.
The Great Train Wreck of 1862
Ponchatoula, Louisiana. February 27, 1862
By James Perrin

"An eerie screeching of locomotive brakes pierced the thick early morning fog one mile south of Ponchatoula.

The screeching ended in a horrendous collision as two trains crashed head on with full force. The screams and moans of the injured and dying passengers completed the gory scene.

The train wreck, which occurred 27 February 1862 was one of the most tragic affairs of its kind in America's history.

Col. Elias Goode's Seventh Mississippi regiment was mustered into Confederate service at Camp Clark, Bay St. Louis 27 September 1861 and was composed of the Bogue Chitto Guards, the Dahlgren Rifles, the Franklin Beauregards, the Franklin Rifles, the Amite Rifles, the Covington Rangers, the Marions Men, the Quitman Rifles, the Jeff Davis Sharpshooters, and the Goode Rifles recruited in southern Mississippi. They had been organized in Gen. Dahlgren's Brigade on duty guarding the coast until ordered by Gen. Lovell on 22 February to Jackson, TN. to reinforce the army under the command of Gen. Beauregard who was desperately concentrating forces to repel the threat of Union forces poised to head southward after capturing Fort Donelson and Fort Henry in Tennessee.

The regiments boarded steamboats Oregon, Arrow & Grey Cloud the morning of the 25th and proceeded to the landing on Lake Ponchatrain north of the city and remained there until about 2 PM when they marched into the city. After drawing rations that evening, they boarded the cars at about 4AM, sleepy and some showing the effects of strong drink and generally having carefree time.

The tracks of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad ran through the home towns of many of the soldiers. Many were from Osyka, Chatawa, Bogue Chitto, McComb, or Brookhaven. Several were hoping to get one last glance at their home town before arriving in Jackson. Many were still asleep; others that might have enjoyed the view of the swamp were disappointed because of the heavy layer of fog that turned the landscape to a dull gray.

Those who were sleeping or day-dreaming were rudely awakened about 7 AM by the screaming of the engine brakes. A terrible clamorous crash rent the calm morning as the engines of the two trains collided.

Wooden passenger cars splintered into dangerous fragments, men's bodies were broken and thrown about. The scene was one of ultimate chaos as the maimed and bloody survivors crawled from the remnant of the train.

The men of Companies H and K suffered the most from the disaster since their rail car was positioned closest to the engine. Company I, Capt. Fairley, was not aboard being left behind according to Lt. Job Foxworth's diary but at least one member was aboard as attested to by the casualty list.

Official records of the Seventh Mississippi list 22 killed at the scene, 7 others died subsequently of injuries, and 14 received injuries in varying nature, one-half serious enough requiring discharge for disability. Arriving at Jackson, Col. B.F. Johns drew 24 blankets to replace those used to cover the dead that morning.

It was reported that the conductor of the lumber train which was being run out of time carrying timbers for construction of gunboats at New Orleans escaped through the woods and made his escape. This is not true, for the New Orleans Daily Picayune reported on 9 March 1862 that, 'William D. Foster, the conductor of the timber train which caused last Tuesday (sic) such a terrible accident on the Jackson Railroad, was arrested yesterday by Lieutenant Boyland and Special Agent Miller, by virtue of a warrant charging him with man-slaughter.' In the account given in the Picayune on the 28th, Foster is described as the engineer.

Dr. J. N. Thornhill, assistant Surgeon, 7th Mississippi suffered a broken rib in the accident but Dr. G. W. Deveron, superintendent of the New Orleans Marine Hospital on Common Street in New Orleans, happened to be on board and rendered great assistance to the injured. As soon as rail authorities in New Orleans learned of the accident, they dispatched a train of passenger cars to the scene with medical assistance.

The train bearing the injured arrived at New Orleans about 6:30 PM that afternoon and were treated by a number of New Orleans finest surgeons but some were past all hope of recovery.

Such a fearful accident occurring in the war had a profound effect upon the 7th for when they went into battle at Shiloh, Co. H was exempted from the line. Though higher casualties were to be experienced in battles yet to be fought, none approached the shock and grief and disbelief as the Train Wreck of Ponchatoula.

The Seventh went on to fight on every bloody field of battle in the Army of Tennessee from Shiloh to North Carolina but few would soon forget that gory February when they met disaster at Ponchatoula."

NOTE: The conductor, William D. Foster, was reportedly cleared of any criminal act and released. It was determined he simply ran away from fright and shock.

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