September 19, 1845 Article 2
LATE FROM CORPUS CHRISTI.
Steamboat Explosion — Important Texan Ordinance.
The steamship Alabama arrived at an early
hour yesterday, having sailed from Aransas on the 15th inst.
She brought us the news of a deplorable steamboat catastrophe, which we
laid before our readers in a second edition yesterday, as fully as the
time would allow. We now proceed to add thereto such other particulars
as have come to our knowledge.
On the 12th inst. the steamer
Dayton burst her boilers when about half way between Corpus Christi and
St. Joseph’s island. There were between thirty and forty persons on
board, including United States soldiers and the hands attached to the
boat. Ten individuals were killed on the spot, including among them
Lieuts. Higgins and Berry of the 4th regiment of Infantry.
Seventeen were wounded, some of whom were not expected to survive their
injuries. Captain Crossman, the Quarter Master was on board, together
with two other officers. They were blown to the distance of one hundred
yards, but were not severely injured. — Capt. C. had one of his legs
somewhat bruised, but the next day was able to walk and attend to his
business. We have been unable to obtain a list of those who were killed
We make an extract from a private letter
which we have received from an officer of the 7th Infantry.
Corpus Christi, Texas, Sept. 12th,
My Dear Sir.
— Gloom like a pall hangs over our whole camp. The steamer Dayton,
while on her way from this to Aransas, to-day, burst her boiler when
about fifteen miles from here, and sunk in about eight feet water; seven
persons were killed and seventeen injured. Among the killed were
Lieutenants Higgins and Berry, of the 4th Infantry. The
other names I do not know, some of the bodies not yet having been
found. These, though, were all the officers.
The explosion took place at half-past 12
o’clock, in day time, and Dr. Crittenden, who was on board (slightly
injured) informs me that she sunk in fifteen minutes after, and as she
went down, (covered by the water) another boiler exploded, with a most
Another body (deck hand) has just been
Yours in haste.
Letters of a subsequent day inform us that
the bodies of all those lost had been recovered. — One of the wounded (a
colored deck hand) died the next day; the other sixteen were less
injured than was at first apprehended and no fears were entertained for
them. We trust that the number killed will not exceed eight. The
steamboat itself is an utter loss.
Since writing the above, we regret to
learn that eleven in all were killed, namely: Lieuts. Higgins and Berry,
one sergeant, one corporal, two discharged soldiers, one deck hand, and
the rest not stated. Lieut. Wm. Gordon, of the 3d Infantry, was one of
the officers standing with Capt. Crossman. His injuries are slight.
Lieut. Graham, of the 4th Infantry, was slightly scalded.
Dr. Crittenden, of the 7th Infantry, was thrown down and much
bruised by timbers which fell upon him, but he was again about.
Capt. West, the clerk of the boat, was
badly scalded. The cook a lad, was so severely burnt and scalded that
it was thought on the 15th he could not possibly survive.
The pilot of the boat had an arm broken. Capt. Nicholls, of the Texan
sloop Cutter, who was on board the boat, had one of his legs broken. A
Mr. Graves was also baly burnt and scalded. The remains of those who
perished had been decently interred.
The Dayton was an old boat, which ran on
the Ohio in 1834. She is represented as having been a mere shell prior
to this dreadful calamity. She has been for some time in the pay of the
Government, transporting stores and troops from St. Joseph’s to Corpus
There is no important news from the army
under Gen. Taylor. They receive almost all their intelligence from this
city. The U. S. sloop of war St. Mary’s arrived at the Bay of Aransas
on the 15th inst., with a bearer of despatches on board for
Gen. Taylor from Washington. One the evening of the same day, the U. S.
brig Porpoise hove to off the bar and communicated with the St. Mary’s.
In half an hour thereafter she sailed towards Vera Cruz. Nothing a to
their purposes or intelligence transpired.
One the morning of the 14th
instant a company of traders arrived at Gen. Taylor’s camp. — They
reported tha they had seen, within two days’ march of the camp, about
two hundred Lipans and as many Camanches on their way to Metamoros (by
invitation from Mexico) to join the forces to be directed against Gen.
Taylor. The report of the traders was but half credited.
Gen. Taylor sent out Lieut. Scarritt with
an escort of forty dragoons to reconnoitre for 30 or 40 miles about, to
ascertain everything possible, and he no doubt has spies pushed further
The report as to the health of the troops,
both volunteers and regular, is entirely favorable. Not a word had been
head, save via New Orleans, of Gen. Arista, nor was there any
expectation of hearing of him the shape of an attack. Gen. Taylor,
however, was ever on the alert.
The Government has in its employ the
steamboats White Wing and Nova, the sloops Sarah Foyle and Tom Jack, and
the schooners Denmark and Carolina, all plying between Corpus Christi
and St. Josephs. The old steamer Monmouth continues in difficulty. She
leaks so badly that it is feared she cannot be got round to New Orleans
for repairs. The schrs. E. S. Lamdin and Mary Wilkes had both sailed
for this port.
Our papers by this arrival come down to
the 6h inst. only from Galveston. They are principally occupied with
the labors of the Convention for forming a State Constitution. That
body terminated its sittings on the 28th ult., and the
President of Texas immediately issued his proclamation, in pursuance of
its provisions for submitting the same to the people.
We have received an entire copy of the
State Constitution of Texas as adopted by the Convention. Attached to
it is an ordinance of vast importance in regard to grants of Texas
lands. It will be submitted to the people at the same time as the
Constitution. We copy it entire.
Whereas, various contracts have been
entered into by the President of the Republic of Texas with divers
individuals, with the expressed intention of Colonizing an enormous
amount of the public domain of Texas; and Whereas, it is believed that
said contracts are unconstitutional, and, therefore, void from the
beginning, and if carried out would operate as a monopoly of upwards of
seven millions of acres of the public domain of Texas, in the hands of a
few individuals – when, in truth, the citizen-soldiers and creditors of
the Republic of Texas had, by the laws and constitution of said
Republic, a clear and indisputable previously subsisting right to locate
upon public domain thus attempted to be assigned to said contractors:
Sec. 1. Therefore, it is hereby
ordained and declared, That it shall be the duty of the Attorney
General of the State or the District Attorney of the District in which
any portion of the colonies may be situate, as soon as the organization
of the State shall be completed, to institute legal proceedings against
all colony contractors who have entered into contracts with the
President of Texas; and if, upon such investigation, it shall be found
that any such contract was unconstitutional, illegal or fraudulent, or
that the conditions of the same have not been complied with according to
its terms, such contract shall be adjudged and decreed null and void:
Provided, however, that all actual settlers under such contract,
shall be entitled to their quantity of land as colonists – not to exceed
six hundred and forty acres to the head of a family, and three hundred
and twenty acres to a single man. And in all suits brought by, or
against any contractors, or any person claiming under, by or through
them, or either of them, it shall be lawful for the adverse claimant to
set forth any plea that it would have been competent for the State to
plead; and the party may introduce testimony to prove the claim or title
to have been forfeited, as well for frauds, or illegality, or
unconstitutionality, as on account of a failure to comply with the
conditions of the original grant or contract; and any such pleas shall
be deemed good and valid in law, in all such suit or suits in this
Sec. 2. Be it further ordained,
That the Legislature is hereby restrained from extending any contract
for settling a Colony, and from relieving a contractor from the failure
of the conditions, or the forfeiture accruing from non-compliance with
Sec. 3. And be it further ordained,
That this Ordinance shall be presented to the people for their adoption or
rejection, at the same time this Constitution shall be presented to them,
and the returns of the votes, taken on this Ordinance, shall be made to
the office of Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas, at the same
time the votes for the Constitution may be returned.
Adopted in Convention, this twenty-seventh
day of August, one thousand eight hundred and forty-five.
Thomas J. Rusk, President
Attest: — Jas. H. Raymond, Sec’y of Con.
Source: The Daily Picayune, September
19, 1845, p. 1, col. 6 and p. 2, col. 1.