Sixteen Hundred Lives Lost on the “Titanic”
The Ill-Fated Steamship “Titanic " (Vessel With Four Funnels) Leaving Southampton, England, on Her Maiden Voyage, Which Ended With Disaster off Newfoundland. Some Idea of the Magnitude of This Leviathan of the Ocean May Be Gained From the Fact That as She Was Drawing Away From Her Dock at Southampton, and Before She Had Attained Anything Like Her Maximum Speed, Which Was Twenty-Six or More Miles an Hour, the Tremendous Suction Caused by Her Great Displacement and Momentum Dragged the Steamship " New York ” (Vessel With Two Funnels ) From Her Moorings, Tearing Her Enormous Hawsers Apart as Though They Were Mere Threads. A Serious Collision Was Narrowly Averted by the Tugs in Attendance Upon the Larger Vessel. GGA Image ID # 17049466cc
The full measure of the horrors that marked the sinking of the Titanic, as well as stories of heroism that are not surpassed in the world’s records of the fearless and intrepid acts of men in dire emergency, was made known on the arrival in New York, on April 18th, of the ship of rescue, the Carpathia.
The Titanic Rescue Ship, RMS Carpathia of the Cunard Line. Leslie's Weekly 2 May 1912. GGA Image ID # 1705c510c8
This Cunard liner bore 705 persons—a majority of them women and children—saved from the lifeboats of the Titanic found drifting in the ice floes after the great steamship, mortally stricken, had disappeared in the deep. The rescuers found that many of the women and children in the boats were unconscious from the combined agony of their experiences and the freezing atmosphere, and four members of the Titanic’s crew, among those told off to man the boats, were dragged to the decks of the Carpathia lifeless. They had been frozen to death, and their homy hands were stiffened about the oars.
No imagination can picture the mental suffering of these survivors of the calamity. Wives had parted from husbands, children from fathers, at first believing in the ultimate safety of the dear ones left behind. But even while the lifeboats, cruising about aimlessly for a time, were within sight of the doomed vessel, she sank with more than sixteen hundred unfortunates to the bottom of the sea.
Illustration of the RMS Titanic Striking an Iceberg in the North Atlantic on 15 April 1912. Leslie's Weekly, 2 May 1912. GGA Image ID # 1706936f01
From stories told by the survivors, it was learned that the Titanic was running in a fair sea when she crushed into a submerged iceberg. The shock was not generally alarming. It was near midnight, and a majority were in their cabins. The band was still playing, for many had not retired. The ship’s crew ran about to allay any fear that might be felt. Some passengers who had emerged to the decks returned to their quarters. The engines slowed up and assurances of safety were repeated.
Suddenly the great ship began to list. There were cries of authority from officers. Passengers were ordered to the decks with life belts, and then confusion began, for the masses of men and women realized that danger was imminent. The alarm that spread was increased in those who saw the sailors working with expert speed at the lifeboats.
All at once came the order, "Women and children to the boats!" As the boats were filled and lowered—the sailors helping those nearest to this means of safety —excitement grew. Yet some men stood about unconcerned, jesting, seemingly assured that the great ship could never go down.
The Titanic continued to list to port, and fear and excitement soon became general. Women and children were rushed to the lifeboats, which were lowered as quickly as possible, while officers and crew thrust aside men who, in the confusion that ensued, lost their reason. Other men revealed the noblest heroism. Husbands forced their wives into the boats, and some of them at the same time fought off men who tried to save themselves at the expense of the weak. The scenes grew more terrible as the moments passed.
Only sixteen lifeboats were floated with their precious freight. The last to be launched, a collapsible boat, overturned, but was used as a raft, upon which a number of men and women were finally saved. While a great number of women were rescued, many were ingulfed with the ship. These were of the poorer class in the steerage, unable to reach the upper decks, many in the cabins who refused to leave their husbands, and servants of families left in the frenzied haste of the last few moments of the preliminaries of rescue. Some of these, with many of the ill-fated men who had remained below with a feeling of security which nothing, but the listing of the ship could dissipate, were seen frantic upon the decks just before the climax to the catastrophe.
As stories of individual heroism were telling, the rescue of a comparatively large number of men was not understood until it was learned that, while the earlier lifeboats were being launched, few women had appeared to fill them, and men present were forced into them. When it became apparent to all who remained that the Titanic was doomed, frenzy and riot marked the lowering of the latest boats. This was largely due to an accession of stokers and men from the steerage, who fought their way to the upper decks and engaged with cabin passengers in a struggle for precedence.
Officers of the ship—as noble a body of men as ever crossed the sea—stood by and continued to enforce the law as to women and children by the exercise of the only type of force that could be effective. They calmly shot down the foremost who sought to leap into boats already loaded to the limit. First Officer Murdock, who was on the bridge when the Titanic struck, shot himself when he realized the ship was doomed. Captain Smith leaped Into the sea and fought off a cook of the vessel, who sought to drag him into a boat, sinking before the Titanic finally went down.
Colonel John Jacob Astor died a hero's death, standing calmly on the deck and awaiting his fate after seeing his young wife to safety in a boat. The ship’s barber, Alfred Whitman, who jumped from the ship and was taken aboard a lifeboat, was the last to speak with Astor, whom he besought to leap overboard. “No, thank you,” was the reply. “I think I’ll have to stick.”
Isidor Straus and Mrs. Straus did not appear on deck until a second alarming order had been given below. Mrs. Straus refused to enter a boat, preferring to risk her life with her husband, and they were seen calmly awaiting their fate together. Major Butt, President Taft’s aid, was said to have been seen at a critical moment with an iron bar in his hands, repelling the attempts of stokers and steerage men to enter a boat, to the danger of women.
Distinguished Dead Among the “Titanic’s ” Heroes. Leslie's Weekly 2 May 1912. GGA Image ID # 1705104474
The Titanic’s passenger list included a very large number of persons of great distinction and prominence, an appalling number of whom are among the lost. Included with the hundreds of the dead are Colonel John Jacob Astor, one of the wealthiest of Americans; Jacques Futrelle, popular American novelist; Charles M. Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway Company; Henry R. Harris, one of the most prominent of American theatrical managers; Major Archibald Butt, military aid to President Taft; William T. Stead, the famous English journalist and reformer; Benjamin Guggenheim, of the noted family of capitalists; F. D. Millet, a celebrated artist; Isidor Straus, the merchant and philanthropist of New York, and his wife; John B. Thayer, vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad; Colonel Washington Roebling, of the family of distinguished engineers; G. D. Widener, of the prominent Philadelphia family, and his young son; Washington Dodge, Clarence Moore, H. S. Harper, Dr. Henry W. Frauenthal, J. G. Reuchlin, managing director of the Holland-American Steamship Line, and others.
It is known now that, out of 390 first-cabin passengers, 202 were saved, 164 of whom were women and children. In the second cabin, 116 out of 270 were saved, 102 of them women and children. Only 178 out of the 800 steerage passengers survive, of whom 83 are women and children. Of 985 officers and crew, 210, of whom 22 are stewardesses and maids, are now alive. The total number on board the Titanic was 2,181 of whom 1,635 are dead.
The passengers who were interviewed just after the Carpathia had landed her sad and pitifully small complement of survivors agreed that, almost without exception, the men of the Titanic, passengers and sailors, had totally effaced selfishness that the women and children might live.
Drawings of the RMS Titanic Aftermath. Leslie's Weekly 2 May 1912. GGA Image ID # 170652f9c5
At first the putting off of the women and children into the small boats was considered by many as a joke. Husbands kissed their wives good-by with an “I’ll see you in half an hour,” “You’ll have to come back here soon.” and "I think I’d rather stick to the ship.’’ Only the ship’s officers and crew and some of the intuitively keen among the women knew at first the real menace and how hard hit the Titanic must be for the passengers to be ordered to the small boats.
That so many men from among the passengers were saved, with the exception of one or two to whom, as has been well established, self-consideration was paramount, is due to the different instructions of the officers in charge of the port and starboard boat loading. On the port side only the women and children and sailors enough to man the boats were allowed overboard. On the starboard side all the husbands who came up to the boats with their wives were not only permitted but encouraged to enter them.
Almost without exception, however, the men of the Titanic were men. As they came to realize, with the gradual settling of the ship and an ever-increasing list to port, that they were indeed doomed, they stopped their pacing of the deck and gathered in little knots along the rail, looking out over the ice-dotted ocean at the cockleshell boats in which their loved ones were moving to safety.
Gradually the Titanic sank deeper and deeper, one deck after another being submerged, those left aboard mounting ever upward as the water crept upon them. About two hours after the Titanic had rammed the iceberg, the ship’s band appeared with its instruments on the wave-lapped boat deck. Erect, with bared heads, they played “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The passengers aboard the ship took up the hymn.
Those in the small boats, helpless themselves, heard the song. From apparently the same emotion, everyone in the lifeboats refrained from singing, while they listened, in choking inability to aid, the “Morituri, te salutamus” of their loved ones still aboard the stricken liner. With the eyes of many in the boats fixed upon her in anguish and terror, the Titanic plunged to her ocean bed, 12,000 feet below.
Three of the survivors died on the Carpathia on the way to New York. Many on arrival were seriously ill, and several had continued in a hysterical condition for days. Among the survivors picked up were several babies, thrown overboard from the Slavic by their frenzied parents and picked up by the boats. Their identity may never be known.
Among the survivors were thirty women who had been widowed by the disaster. The men rescued all had their wives with them. The scenes as the Carpathia landed with the survivors wrung the hearts even of spectators drawn to the pier by curiosity.
J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the board of directors of the International Mercantile Marine and managing director of the White Star line, was among the saved. Upon arrival In New York he was at once summoned to testify before a congressional committee investigating the disaster.
All stories told of the catastrophe dwell upon the great bravery of the noted men who lost their lives.
Colonel Astor, after his wife had been placed in a lifeboat, was busy assisting women to safety, and he placed a woman's hat, lying on the deck, on the head of a boy to disguise him as a girl that he might be taken aboard.
Major Butt was, in effect, made an officer of the doomed ship by Captain Smith after she struck, and steadily rendered valuable aid in preserving order and aiding women to escape.
The story of the Spartan-like conduct of Isidor Straus and his wife is reiterated again and again. Benjamin Guggenheim, with his secretary, an Armenian named Giglio, were active on deck and bravely met their fate. One report was that, just before the ship plunged to the bottom, Colonel Astor and William T. Stead leaped into the sea and caught on to wreckage, but were finally so benumbed by the cold that they relaxed their hold and sank.
The material losses by the disaster have been estimated at $16,000,000, of which sum $8,000,000 represents the cost of the Titanic. The Post-office Department reports the loss of 3,460 bags of mail matter.
Again—and more strikingly than ever —has been demonstrated the incalculable value of wireless telegraphy in marine emergency. To that alone was due the saving of the 706 persons who were picked up by the Carpathia. Howard Thomas Cottam, the wireless operator on the Carpathia, had finished his work on that vessel for the night, but went back to his instrument before retiring, from curiosity as to general news that might be in the air, and caught the call of the Titanic's operator for help. The Carpathia at once sped on her way to the stricken ship. Phillips, the head wireless operator on the Titanic, went to his death on duty. Harold Bride, a subordinate operator on the ill-fated ship, was rescued. Upon arrival in New York, he was removed to St. Vincent's Hospital.
The Mackay-Bennett, a cable steamer, sent from Halifax to search for bodies, carried ministers, undertakers, embalmers and coffins. She recovered sixty-four bodies that were identifiable. Other bodies past identification were buried at sea. The bodies were recovered about sixty miles from the spot where the Titanic disappeared.
Fourth Officer Boxhall, of the Titanic, stated that shortly before the Titanic sank he saw the red side lights of a ship five miles away coming toward the liner. He signaled with rockets and by Morse to the ship, which veered off without answering.
It is said that six of the lifeboats, with a combined capacity of 390 persons, put off from the Titanic with but 192 persons in them, and that many more might have been saved had the crew of the ship shown adequate training. The crew were picked men, but it is apparent that they had not been drilled in emergency duties.
The disaster has demonstrated that the ship carried too few boats for the safety of its passengers, although it had the usual complement of ocean liners of the day. Already, in response to public demand, ship companies are increasing their lifeboat capacity. Moreover, the more prominent transatlantic companies have agreed to change the ship lanes to more southern courses at this season of the year, making the ocean trip from 160 to 200 miles longer.
"Sixteen Hundred Lives Lost on the TItanic -- With Photos," in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly: The People's Weekly. The Oldest Illustrated Weekly in the United States -- All the News in Pictures. New York: The Leslie-Judge Company, Publishers, Vol. CXIV, No. 2956, Thursday, 2 May 1912, p.506.
A. T. Merrick, "April 14, 1912. 11:45 p.m., Latitude 41 Degrees, 46 Minutes, Longitude 50 Degrees, 14 Minutes -- Drawing," in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly: The People's Weekly. The Oldest Illustrated Weekly in the United States -- All the News in Pictures. New York: The Leslie-Judge Company, Publishers, Vol. CXIV, No. 2956, Thursday, 2 May 1912, p. 502.
Henryk Arctowski, "The Deadly Meanace of the Iceberg -- With Photos," in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly: The People's Weekly. The Oldest Illustrated Weekly in the United States -- All the News in Pictures. New York: The Leslie-Judge Company, Publishers, Vol. CXIV, No. 2956, Thursday, 2 May 1912, p. 507.