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Dr. Washinton Dodge's Account of the Wrek
The Bulletin - San Francisco, April
Provided by The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
NEW YORK, April 19.—Dr. Washington Dodge of San
Francisco, at the Hotel Wolcott here, gave the following
account of the wreck:
“We had retired to our stateroom, and the noise
of the collision was not at all alarming. We had just
fallen asleep. My wife awakened me and said that something
had happened to the ship. We went on deck and everything
seemed quiet and orderly.
“The orchestra was playing a lively tune. They
started to lower the lifeboats after a lapse of some
minutes. There was little excitement.
“As the lifeboats were being launched, many of
the first-cabin passengers expressed their preference
of staying on the ship. The passengers were constantly
being assured that there was no danger, but that as
a matter of extra precaution the women and children
should be placed in the lifeboats.
“Everything was still quiet and orderly when I
placed Mrs. Dodge and the boy in the fourth or fifth
boat. I believe there were 20 boats lowered away altogether.
I did what I could to help in keeping order, as after
the sixth or seventh boat was launched the excitement
“Some of the passengers fought with such desperation
to get into the lifeboats that the officers shot them,
and their bodies fell into the ocean.
“It was 10:30 when the collision occurred, and
1:55 o’clock when the ship went down,” he
said. “Major Archibald Butt stood with John Jacob
Astor as the water rolled over the Titanic.
CAPTAIN WAS CALM.
“I saw Colonel Astor, Major Butt and Captain Smith
standing together about 11:30 o’clock. There was
absolutely no excitement among them. Captain Smith said
there was no danger.
“The starboard side of the Titanic struck the
big berg and the ice was piled up on the deck. None
of us had the slightest realization that the ship had
received its death wound.
“Mrs. [Isidor] Straus showed most admirable heroism.
She refused in a very determined manner to leave her
husband, although she was twice entreated to get into
the boats. Straus declined with great force to get in
the boat while any women were left.
“I wish you would say for me that Colonel Astor,
Major Butt, Captain Smith and every man in the cabins
acted the part of a hero in that awful night.
“As the excitement began I saw an officer of the
Titanic shoot down two steerage passengers who were
endeavoring to rush the lifeboats. I have learned since
that twelve of the steerage passengers were shot altogether,
one officer shooting down six. The first-cabin men and
women behaved with great heroism.”
OWES LIFE TO STEWARD.
One of the stewards of the Titanic, with whom Mrs. and
Mrs. Dodge had crossed the Atlantic before on the Olympic,
knew them well. He recognized Dodge as the thirteenth
boat was being filled. The steerage passengers were
being shot down and some of the steerage passengers
were stabbing right and left in an endeavor to reach
The thirteenth boat was filled on one side with children,
fully 20 or 30 of them, and a few women. All in the
boat were panic-stricken and screaming. The steward
had been ordered to take charge of the thirteenth, and,
seizing Dodge, pushed him into the boat, exclaiming
that he needed his help in caring for his helpless charges.
Dodge said that when the boats were drawing away from
the ship they could hear the orchestra playing “Lead,
Kindly Light,” and rockets were going up from
the Titanic in the wonderfully clear night. “We
could see from the distance that two boats were being
made ready to be lowered. The panic was in the steerage,
and it was that portion of the ship that the shooting
was made necessary.
“I will never forget,” Mrs. Dodge said,
“the awful scene of the great steamer as we drew
away. From the upper rails heroic husbands and fathers
were waving and throwing kisses to their womenfolk in
the receding lifeboats.”
San Francisco, April 19, 1912