Note at this time period, newspapers would often reprint reports from other newspapers, citing the original date. When Nuttli's appendix was converted to HTML, the date of the appearance of the report in the newspaper is highlighted by the H2 heading tags. In addition, the newspapers referenced are separated by horizontal rules (R. B. Herrmann, February 1995)
On Monday morning last, about a quarter past two, St. Louis and the surrounding country, was visited by one of the most violent shocks of earthquake that has been recorded since the discovery of our country.
As we were all wrapt in sleep, each tells his story in his own way. I will also relate my simple tale.
At the period above mentioned, I was roused from sleep by the clamor of windows, doors and furniture in tremulous motion, with a distant rumbling noise, resembling a number of carriages passing over pavement- in a few seconds the motion and subterraneous thunder increased more and more: believing the noise to proceed from the N. or N.W. and expecting the earth to be relieved by a volcanic eruption, I went out of doors & looked for the dreadful phenomenon. The agitation had now reached its utmost violence. I entered the house to snatch my family from its expected ruins, but before I could put my design in execution the shock had ceased, having lasted about one and three fourth minutes. The sky was obscured by a thick hazy fog, without a breath of air. Fahrenheit thermometer might have stood at this time at about 35 or 40 (degrees).
At forty seven minutes past two, another shock was felt without any rumbling noise and much less violent than the first, it lasted near two minutes.
At thirty four minutes past three, a third shock nearly as tremulous as the first, but without as much noise, it lasted about fifty seconds, and a slight trembling continued at intervals for some time after.
A little after day light, a fourth shock was felt, but with less violence than any of the others, it lasted nearly one minute.
About 8 o'clock, a fifth shock was felt; this was almost as violent as the first, accompanied with the usual noise, it lasted about half a minute: this morning was very hazy and unusually warm for the season, the houses and fences appeared covered with a white frost, but on examination it was found to be vapour, not possessing the chilling cold of frost: indeed the moon was enshrouded in awful gloom.
At half past eleven, a slight shock was felt, and about the same hour on Tuesday last, a smart shock was felt - several gentlemen declare, they felt shocks at other intervals.
No lives have been lost, nor has the houses sustained much injury, a few chimneys have been thrown down, and a few stone houses split.
In noticing extraordinary events, perhaps no attendant circumstances should be deemed unimportant: This is one of that character, and a faithful record of appearances in such cases as these, may form data for science. Viewing the subject in this way, it may not be amiss to notice the reports of those who have explored the extensive plains and mountains of the West.
On the margin of several of our rivers pumice and other volcanic matter is found. At the base of some of the highest of the black mountains, stone covers the earth, bearing marks of the violent action of fire. Within -0 miles of the great Osage village on the head waters of their river, and 1-0 miles from this town, it is said that a volcano had ceased to burn for the last three years, and it is thought to have now broke out in some quarter of our country. Upon the whole, this has been an uncommon year; the early melting of snow to the north raised the Mississippi to an unusual height. The continued rains in the summer and the subsequent hot weather, and consequent sickness amongst the inhabitants, rendered that period somewhat distressing. - Autumn, to this time, has been unusually mild, and health ____ the ____ in every quarter.
Since writing the above, several slight shocks were sensibly felt, to the number ten or twelve.
Our correspondent at Cape Girardeau has forwarded us with the following notice of the Earthquake.
"The concussions of the Earthquake which commenced at
two o'clock on Monday morning still continue. We have experienced five severe shocks which split two brick Houses and
damaged five brick chimneys in this place."
The Earthquake was felt at Nashville, Ten. with like effects, and about the same moment it was felt here.
The editor of the St. Vincennes paper, notices an earthquake to have been felt there on the same morning as with us -- and at 3 o'clock.
The earthquake of Dec. 16 &c was felt in the states of Ohio and Kentucky, some houses has been thrown down but no lives lost.
On Thursday morning last, between 2 & 3 o'clock, we experienced the most severe shock of earthquake that we have yet felt, many houses are injured, and several chimneys thrown down; few hours pass without feeling slight vibrations of the earth. Should we ever obtain another mail, we shall be attentive in recording the progress in every quarter.
Saturday, February 15, 1812
A number of our readers having expressed a wish to become acquainted with the opinions of the learned, on the subject of earthquakes, we have principally devoted this number to the theories which are held in the highest estimation, and which the editors of the (last edition) of the Encyclopedia have selected from the volumes written on geology.
From what we have read on that subject, we cannot find an instant, where the earth's vibration has extended to such a vast portion of country as of the last two months concussion: travellers say that it has been felt in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia: In Kentucky and the state of Ohio its effects were more distinctive to buildings than in Louisiana. Hunters from the west, three or four hundred miles from this place, aver that the shock felt on the 16th of Dec. was extremely violent in the headwaters of the White river. From these circumstances it would appear, that it is not limited to a particular portion of country; its extent, we believe, will be ascertained to be more wide, than any instance of such phenomena on record.
Natchez, Jan. 2
Arrived here on Monday last, the Steam Boat from Pittsburgh which had on account of low water been some time detained at the falls of the Ohio; and is destined to run between this place and New Orleans as a regular trader. She was only 221 hours under way from Pittsburgh to this place, a distance of near two thousand miles.
No very satisfactory account of the shocks of Earthquake, and their effects, which have lately happened could be expected; that received from the gentlemen on board, is rather more to than we anticipated.
The shake or jar, produced by the powerful operation of the engine, rendered the shocks imperceptible, while the boat was under way. While at anchor five or six shocks were felt, two or three more severe than the rest. On enquiry at New Madrid, a small town about 70 miles below the mouth of Ohio, they found that the chimnies of almost all the houses were thrown down, and the inhabitants considerably alarmed. - At the little Prairie, thirty miles lower down, they were bro't to by the cries of some of the people, who thought the earth was gradually sinking but declined to take refuge on board without their friends, whom they wished to collect. Some distance below the little Prairie the bank of the river had caved in to a considerable extent, and two islands had almost disappeared.
From the Evening Ledger
Mr. Evans - The repeated shocks of Earthquakes, which have been felt in this place since the morning of the 16th, having drawn forth some speculations and hypotheses from the scientific. I shall take the liberty of giving as perfect an account of the phenomena as they occurred, as my own observations, assisted by that of others, will enable me to do.
About 3 o'clock of the morning of the 16th, a shock was felt which produced an oscillating movements of the houses, and lasted for nearly a minute. It was not preceded by any noises which usually portend this phenomenon, nor was its approach announced by any other appearance than a great serenity in the atmosphere. An hour afterwards another shock was felt, but of shorter continuance than the other and a person then up, has said, that he observed at the same time a tremulous undulating motion of the earth like the rolling of waves. At 8 o'clock a noise resembling distant thunder was heard, and was soon after followed by a shock which appeared to operate vertically, that is to say, by a heaving of the ground upwards - but was not sufficiently severe to injure either furniture or glasses. This shock was succeeded by a thick haze, and many people were affected by giddiness and nausea. Another shock was experienced about 9 o'clock at night, but so light as not to be generally felt - and at half past 12 the next day (the 17th) another shock was felt, which lasted only a few seconds and was succeeded by a tremor which was occasionally observed throughout the day effecting many with giddiness. At half past 8 o'clock a very thick haze came on, and for a few minutes a sulphurous smell was emitted. At nine o'clock last night, another was felt, which continued four or five seconds, but so slight as to have escaped the observation of many who had not thought of attending particularly to the operations of this phenomenon. At one o'clock this morning (23d) another shock took place of nearly equal severity with the first of the 16th. Buried in sleep, I was not sensible of this, but I have derived such correct information on the fact that I have no reason to doubt it; but I have observed since 11 o'clock this morning frequent tremors of the earth, such as usually precede severe shocks in other parts of the world.
It is something extraordinary, that these shocks so numerous should not be attended with more formidable effects, or that they should not have increased in their severity. There is nothing extraordinary in their frequency, but as in other countries, not so much subject to the influence of the sun as this is, such frequent shocks usually have ended in mischief and desolation, we ought to have calculated upon similar effects from similar causes.
The mildness of those we have felt can be attributed only to the distance of the cause by which they have been produced. On this subject, of the cause of earthquakes, there are numerous and discordant opinions from the ancient philosopher. An __xagoras, to sir William Hamilton or Mr. Oplomien.
According to the hypothesis of some, earthquakes are occasioned by subterranean fires throwing down the arches or vaults of the earth; according to others the rarefaction of the abyss waters, interior combustion and fermentation, volcanic operations, and lately by the electric fluid.
The latter hypothesis seems to be the most accredited, as it evidently is the most rational. The instantaneous effects of ____ earthquakes prove beyond doubt that electricity __iss be the principal agent in this alarming and terrible phenomenon. Whether according ___ ___, this electricity is superficial, or is buried in and pervades the bowels of the earth, as is supposed by others, is among those ____ of nature, which human wisdom may be never able to ascertain.
The most rational hypothesis to me seems to be, that earthquakes are produced by an ____ of terrestrial and atmospheric electricity, as by the former the heaving of the ground upwards is easily explained as the corruscations and explosions which sometimes precede and accompany earthquakes may be accounted for by the influence of the other.
Volcanic operations may have their influence in the production of earthquakes, by giving an extraordinary impulse to the electric matter which everywhere pervades the interior of the earth, and as no bounds can be fixed to the progress of that subtle fluid, the impulse which may be given by a volcano of the Andes would reach us in the course of an hour, or sooner, in proportion to the quantity of electric fluid affected by the contact.
The celebrated earthquake in 1755 appears from all the facts, as they have been carefully compiled, to have travelled four millions of square miles in about one hour and ten minutes.
From the nature, quality and direction of the shocks felt in this city I am induced from a variety of circumstances to suppose, that they may be traced to some of the volcanic operations of the Cordillera de los Andes, and if the hasty remarks which I now do myself the pleasure of submitting are deemed sufficiently interesting for publication, the subject will be renewed with more method and reflection.
Saturday, February 22
By a gentleman just from Arkansas, by way of White river, we learn that the earthquake was violent in that quarter that in upwards of 500 places he observed coal and sand thrown up from fissures in the earth, that the waters raised in a swamp near the Cherokee village, so as to drown a Mr. Carrin who was travelling with his brother, the latter saved himself on a log. - In other places the water fell, and in one instant it rose in a swamp near the St. Francis 25 or 30 feet; Strawberry a branch of Black river, an eminence about 1-1/2 acres sunk down and formed a pond.
The Earthquake noticed in our list has been felt in various parts of the country. The paper from Richmond, Falenton(?), Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah, mention the phenomenon-- In Charleston, six distinct shocks were felt; the first and most violent about 3 o'clock, and one minute and a half in duration. It was very severe and alarming; indeed, the vibration was so great as to see some of the church bells ringing- the pendulums of the clocks stopped, and the picture glasses in many houses were broken.
New Orleans, December 26
A letter from Fort Stoddert mentions, that on the morning of the 16th past, two shocks of an earthquake had been felt. This is precisely the time it was felt at Natchez. It is evident that our being on an island and resting on the water, prevented us from feeling part of the shocks.
Cape Girardeau, Feb. 15th, 1812
The concussions of the earthquake still continue, the shock on the 23rd ult. was more severe and larger than that of the 16th Dec. and the shock of the 7th inst. was still more violent than any preceding, and lasted longer than perhaps any on record, (from 10 to 15 minutes, the earth was not at rest for one hour.) the ravages of this dreadful convulsion have nearly depopulated the district of New Madrid, but few remain to tell the sad tale, the inhabitants have fled in every direction. It has done considerable damage in this place by demolishing chimnies, and cracking cellar walls. Some have been driven from their houses, and a number are yet in tents. No doubt volcanoes in the mountains of the west, which have been extinguished for ages, are now opened.
Orleans, January 13
By a gentleman who came on the Steam Boat we are informed that this convulsion of nature, (the first, we believe that has ever been felt on the Mississippi since the settlement of the country by the whites,) has destroyed several islands in the Mississippi, and has thereby endangered its navigation very considerably. He also states that it has sunk the land in a number of places on the margin of the river.
I here give you an extract of a letter, dated Orleans January 16th, from my friend John Bradbury. It will be found to contain some information relative to the effects of the earthquake of 16th Dec. on the Mississippi river and its banks; permit me to add that you have no information from any source which can be more implicitly relied on.
"Our voyage was from various causes tedious and disagreeable, we being 28 days from St. Louis to this place, Mr. Comegys has fared worse, being two months. Our progress was considerably impeded by an alarming and awful earthquake, such as has not I believe, occurred, or at least has not been recorded in the history of this country. The first shock which we experienced was about 2 o'clock on the morning of the 16th Dec. at which time our position was in itself perilous, we being but a few hundred yards above a bad place in the river, called the Devils Race Ground:* in our situation particularly, the scene was terrible beyond description, our boat appeared as if alternately lifted out of the water, and again suffered to fall. The banks above, below and around us were falling every moment into the river, all nature seemed running into chaos. The noise unconnected with particular objects, was the noise of the most violent tempest of wind mixed with a sound equal to the loudest thunder, but more hollow and vibrating. The crashing of falling trees and the loud screeching of wild fowl made up the horrid concert. Two men were sent on shore in order to examine the state of the bank to which we were moored, who reported that a few yards from its summit, it was separated from the shore by a chasm of more than 100 yards in length. Jos. Morin, the patron, insisted on our all leaving the boat which he thought could not be saved, and of landing immediately in order to save our lives: - this I successfully combatted until another shock took place, about 3 o'clock, when we all left the boat, went on shore and kindled a fire. Between the first shock and daylight, we counted 27. As day broke we put off from the shore, at which instant we experienced another shock, nearly as violent as the first, by this the fright of the hands was so much increased, that they seemed deprived of strength and reason: I directed Morin to land on a sloping bank at the entrance of the Devil's Race Ground, intending to wait there until the men should be refreshed with a good breakfast. While it was preparing, we had three shocks, so strong as to make it difficult for us to stand on our feet; at length recovered from our panic we proceeded; after this we felt shocks during 6 days, but none to compare with those on the memorable morning of the 16th. I made many and minute observations on this earthquake, which if ever we meet, I will communicate to you, &c."
* 120 miles below N. Madrid
Extract of a letter from Orleans dated Feb. 11, to a gentleman in this place.
"This city has experienced some slight concussion of earthquake, particularly on the 9th, whilst a number of persons were at the theatre and the ball, some of whom were much alarmed, tho' the shock was not severe, nor had done any damage."
Saturday, March 14, 1812
The Earthquake of the 16th of December last was felt as far North as Charlestown, New Hampshire.
The Indian mode of worship, as happened in consequence of the late Earthquakes.
This alarming phenomenon of nature struck with such consternation and dismay, those tribes of Indians, that live within and contiguous to that tract of country, on the Mississippi, where the severity of the earthquake appears to have been the greatest, that they were induced to convene together in order to consult upon the necessity of having recourse to some method of relief, from so alarming an incident; when it was resolved to fall upon the following expedient to excite the pity of the Great Spirit. [There follows a description of the religious ceremony of the Shawnees.]
We are informed from a respectable source that the old road to the post of Arkansas, by Spring river, is entirely destroyed by the last violent shocks of earthquake. Chasms of great depth and considerable length cross the country in various directions, some swamps have become dry, others deep lakes, and in some places hills have disappeared.
Pittsburgh, Feb. 14
On Friday morning the 7th inst. about 4 o'clock, a shock of an Earthquake was severely felt in this town. The effects of this convulsion were much more sensibly felt, than the one which happened on the 16th of December. Many of the houses were violently shaken.
Accounts from la Haut Missouri, announces a general peace among the Indians, it is said that the earthquakes has created this pacification.
Slight shocks of Earthquake continue to be felt here. On Wednesday night last, several who were awake declare, they felt a strong vibration of the Earth.
THE LOUISIANA GAZETTE AND DAILY ADVERTISER (NEW ORLEANS)
No mail north of Natchez yesterday. Letters from that city state that a small earthquake had been felt there some days ago. From the principles of earthquakes we are surprised it was not felt here. Earthquakes have generally been felt in southern mountainous countries; sometimes located to a small portion of country sometimes more extended. Different nations, near the Adriatic and Mediterranean, have felt the shock of an earthquake at the same moment.
The Comet has been passing to the westward since it passed its perihelion - perhaps it has touched the mountain of California, that has given a small shake to this side of the globe - or the skake which the Natchezians have felt may be a mysterious visitation from the Author of all nature, on them for their sins - wickedness and the want of good faith have long prevailed in that territory.
Sodom and Gomorrha would have been saved had three righteous persons been found in it - we therefore hope that Natchez has been saved on the same principle.
A letter from Fort Stoddert mentions, that on the morning of the 16th inst. two shocks of an earthquake had been felt.- This is precisely the time it was felt at Natchez. It is evident that our being our island and resting as it were on the water, prevented us from feeling part of the shock.
From the Natchez Weekly Chronicle
THE EARTHQUAKE - A hasty Sketch
Natchez, Dec. 18th, 1811
Having made a few observations with respect to the Earthquake, which has drawn the attention of the citizens of this place and its vicinity within a few days past, I present them, to you thrown together in a hasty way for publication, if you think fit, under the impression that they may not be uninteresting to your readers.
On the morning of Monday last the 16th inst. several shocks were felt - four have been ascertained by an accurate observer to have been felt in this city. The principal one, as near as can be collected, was about ten minutes past two o'clock, A.M. There was no noise heard in the atmosphere but in a few instances in certain situations-- The shock was attended by a tremulous motion of the earth and buildings - felt by some for about one and a half minutes; by others about five; and my own impression is, that I am conscious of its lasting at least three, having been awakened from my sleep. Several clocks were stopped at two or about ten minutes after. Several articles were thrown off the shelves; crockery was sent rolling about the floor; articles suspended from the ceiling of the stores vibrated rapidly without any air to disturb them, for about nine inches; the plastering in the rooms of some houses was cracked and injured; the river was much convulsed, so much that it induced some of the boatmen at the landing, who supposed the bank was falling in, to cut adrift. The shocks in the morning were at about six or half after, one of them considerable. The vibration of suspended articles was, whenever room would admit them, east to west. Accounts from Louisiana state, that the first shock was felt about ten minutes past 2, A.M. at Black river, thirty miles distant, and at different places on the road to Rapids, where the trees were violently agitated. It was also felt on the river at a considerable distance above and below Vidalia. - The shock was also felt as far up as the Big Black, and at the different intervening towns; in the vicinity of Washington the trees were observed to be much convulsed, nodding their heads together as if coming to the ground.
Another shock was experienced yesterday of fifteen minutes past eleven o'clock, A.M. The houses in several instances shook considerably, and the suspended articles in the stores were violently convulsed. Some clocks were again stopped, and in one of the stores a cowbell was heard to tinkle.
The earthquake that was felt at Natchez on the 16th of December, has been severely felt above and below the mouth of the Ohio - we may expect detailed accounts of the damages soon. Travelers who have descended the river since, generally agree that a succession of shocks were felt for six days; that the river Mississippi was much agitated; that it frequently rose 3 and 4 feet, and fell again immediately; and that whole islands and parts of islands in the river sunk.
We have the following description of the Earthquake from gentlemen who were on board a large barge, and lay an anchor in the Mississippi a few leagues below New Madrid, on the night of the 15th of December. About 2 o'clock all hands were awakened by the first shock; the impression was, that the barge had dragged her anchor and was grounding on gravel; such, were the feelings for 60 or 80 seconds, when the shock subsided. The crew were so fully persuaded of the fact of their being aground, that they put out their sounding poles, but found water enough.
At seven next morning a second and very severe shock took place. The barge was under way - the river rose several feet; the trees on the shore shook; the banks in large columns tumbled in; hundreds of old trees that had lain perhaps half a century at the bottom of the river, appeared on the surface of the water; the feathered race took to the wing; the canopy was covered with geese and ducks and various other kinds of wild fowl; very little wind; the air was tainted with a nitrous and sulphureous smell; and every thing was truly alarming for several minutes. The shocks continued to the 21st Dec. during that time perhaps one hundred were distinctly felt. From the river St. Francis to the Chickasaw bluffs visible marks of the earthquake were discovered; from that place down, the banks did not appear to have been disturbed.
There is one part of this description which we cannot reconcile with philosophic principles, (although we believe the narrative to be true,) that is, the trees which were settled at the bottom of the river appearing on the surface. It must be obvious to every person that those trees must have become specifically heavier than the water before they sunk, and of course after being immersed in the mud must have increased in weight. - We therefore submit the question to the Philosophical Society.
The earthquake was felt at Pittsburg, Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh, and various other parts of the United Sates.
A slight shock of an earthquake was felt in this city yesterday morning, about nine o'clock. The wind was from the southward, light and gentle, and the morning fine-- it lasted but few seconds & but few felt it. At that time all is bustle in the city - but many proofs, such as clocks stopping, glass shades, and different kinds of glass ware and crockery shaking, the feelings of many who were either writing or reading, prove the fact. We may expect to hear more on the subject from the northward & eastward
THE PITTSBURGH GAZETTE
On Monday morning last, about three o'clock, the citizens of this town were greatly alarmed by the shock of an Earthquake; a number of persons from the shaking of their houses, were so much alarmed as to jump out of bed. About 7 o'clock, the same morning, there was another shock, though not so evident as the first.
By accounts from Meadville, and Waterford, we are informed, that severe shocks of an earthquake were felt at those places on Monday morning the 16th inst. at the same time of those experienced here. At Meadville, the one which happened at 3 o'clock was so sensibly felt, that many persons were awaken by the rocking of their beds, and the trea - - ious motion continued from 10 to 15 minutes - the one at 8 o'clock was nearly as severe, but did not continue so long - the top of the trees in the town were seen to vibrate for about a minute, and the puddles of water in the streets appeared in waves as if a sudden blast of wind had passed over them. On Tuesday about the middle of the day, a third shake was felt, but was slighter than the others.
Extract of a letter from a gentleman on his way to New Orleans, to a friend in this place (Lexington, Ky.) - dated 20th December.
"We entered the Mississippi on the morning of the 14th, and on the night of the 15th came to anchor on a sand bar, about ten miles above the Little Prairie - half past 2 o'clock in the morning of the 16th, we were aroused from our slumber by a violent shaking of the boat - there were three barges and two keels in company, all effected the same way. The alarm was considerable and various opinions as to the cause were suggested, all found to be erroneous; but after the second shock, which occurred in 15 minutes after the first, it was unanimously admitted to be an earthquake. With most awful feelings we watched till morning in trembling anxiety, supposing all was over with us. We weighed anchor early in the morning, and in a few minutes after we started there came on in quick successions, two other shocks, more violent than the former. It was then daylight, and we could plainly perceive the effect it had on shore. The bank of the river gave way in all directions, and came tumbling into the water; the trees were more agitated than I ever before saw them in the severest storms, and many of them from the shock they received broke off near the ground, as well as many more torn up by the roots. We considered ourselves more secure on the water, than we should be on land, of course we proceeded down the river. As we progressed the effects of the shock as before described, were observed in every part of the banks of the Mississippi. In some places five, ten and fifteen acres have sunk down in a body, even the Chickasaw Bluffs, which we have passed, did not escape; one or two of them have fallen in considerably.
The inhabitants of the Little Prairie and its neighborhood all deserted their homes, and retired back to the hills or swamps. The only brick chimney in the place was entirely demolished by the shocks. I have not yet heard that any lives were lost, or accident of consequence happened. I have been twice on shore since the first shock, and then but a very short time, as I thought it unsafe, for the ground is cracked and torn to pieces in such a way as made it truly alarming; indeed some of the islands in the river that contained from one to two hundred acres of land have been nearly all sunk, and not one yet that I have seen but is cracked from one end to the other, and has lost some part of it.
There has been in all forty-one shocks, some of them have been very light; the first one took place at half past 2 on the morning of the 16th, the last one at eleven o'clock this morning, (20th) since I commenced writing this letter. The last one I think was not as severe as some of the former, but it lasted longer than any of the preceding; I think it continued nearly a minute and a half. Exclusive of the shocks that were made sensible to us in the water, there have been, I am induced to believe, many others, as we frequently heard a rumbling noise at a distance when no shock to us was perceptible. I am the more inclined to believe these were shocks, from having heard the same kind of rumbling with the shocks that affected us. There is one circumstance that has occurred, which if I had not seen with my own eyes, I could hardly have believed; which is, the rising of the trees that lie in the bed of the river. I believe that every tree that has been deposited in the bed of the river since Noah's flood, now stands erect out of the water; some of these I saw myself during one of the hardest shocks rise up eight or ten feet out of water. The navigation has been rendered extremely difficult in many places in consequence of the snags being so extremely thick. From the long continuance and frequency of these shocks, it is extremely uncertain when they will cease; and if they have been as heavy at New Orleans as we have felt them, the consequences must be dreadful indeed; and I am fearful when I arrive at Natchez to hear that the whole city of Orleans is entirely demolished, and perhaps sunk.
Immediately after the first shock and those which took place after daylight, the whole atmosphere was impregnated with a sulphurous smell."
New Orleans, December 26.
A letter from Fort Stoddert mentions, that on the morning of the 16th inst. two shocks of an earthquake had been felt. This is precisely the time it was felt at Natchez. It is evident that our being on an island and resting on the water, prevented us from feeling part of the shock.
Fort St. Stephens, December 24.
On Sunday night the 15th inst. the earth shook here so as to shake the fowls off their roosts, and made the houses shake very much, again it shook at sunrise and at 11 o'clock next morning, and at the same time the next day, and about the same time the third day after.
Accounts are brought in from the nation that several hunting Indians who were lately on the Missouri have returned, and state that the earthquake was felt very sensibly there, that it shook down trees and many rocks of the mountains, and that everything bore the appearance of an immediate dissolution of the world! - We give this as we got it - it may be correct - but the probability is that it is not.
Friday, February 14, 1812
Nashville, (Ten.) January 21
From Mr. James Fletcher, in whose statement we place the utmost reliance we have received the following narrative: - At the Little Prairie, (a beautiful spot on the west side of the Mississippi river about 30 miles from New-Madrid), on the 16th of December last, about 2 o'clock, A.M., we felt a severe concussion of the earth, which we supposed to be occasioned by a distant earthquake, and did not apprehend much damage. Between that time and day we felt several other slighter shocks; about sunrise another very severe one came on, attended with a perpendicular bouncing that caused the earth to open in many places - some eight and ten feet wide, numbers of less width, and of considerable length - some parts have sunk much lower than others, where one of these large openings are, one side remains as high as before the shock and the other is sunk; some more, some less; but the deepest I saw was about twelve feet. The earth was, in the course of fifteen minutes after the shock in the morning, entirely inundated with water. The pressing of the earth, if the expression be allowable, caused the water to spout out of the pores of the earth, to the height of eight or ten feet! We supposed the whole country sinking, and knew not what to do for the best. The agitation of the earth was so great that it was with difficulty any could stand on their feet, some could not - The air was very strongly impregnated with a sulphurous smell. As if by instinct, we flew as soon as we could from the river, dreading most danger there - but after rambling about two or three hours, about two hundred gathered at Capt. Francis Lescuer's, where we encamped, until we heard that the upper country was not damaged, when I left the camp (after staying there twelve days) to look for some other place, and was three days getting about thirty miles, from being obliged to travel around those chasms.
Previous to my leaving the country I heard that many parts of the Mississippi river had caved in; in some places several acres at the same instant. But the most extraordinary effect that I saw was a small lake below the river St. Francis. The bottom of which is blown up higher than any of the adjoining country, and instead of water it is filled with a beautiful white sand. The same effect is produced in many other lakes, or I am informed by those who saw them; and it is supposed they are generally filled up. A little river called Pemisece, that empties into the St. Francis, and runs parallel with the Mississippi, at the distance of about twelve miles from it, is filled also with sand. I only saw it near its bend, and found it to be so, and was informed by respectable gentlemen who had seen it lower down, that it was positively filled with sand. On the sand that was thrown out of the lakes and river lie numerous quantities of fish of all kinds common to the country.
The damage to stock, &c. was unknown. I heard of only two dwelling houses, a granary, and smoke house, being sunk. One of the dwelling houses was sunk twelve feet below the surface of the earth; the other the top was even with the surface. The granary and smoke house were entirely out of sight; we suppose sunk and the earth closed over them. The buildings through the country are much damaged. We heard of no lives being lost, except seven Indians, who were shaken into the Mississippi. - This we learned from one who escaped.
Previous to the shocks coming on, we heard a rumbling noise like that of thunder. They continued until I left the country - some very sincere. - I cannot tell how many there were.
The above account is confirmed by letters from the country. A gentleman attempting to pass from Cape Girardeau to the pass of St. Francis, found the earth so much cracked and broke, that it was impossible to get along. The course must be about 50 miles back of the Little Prairie. Others have experienced the same difficulty in getting along, and at times had to go miles out of their way to shun those chasms.
We have no idea that the principal cause of the shocks originated on the Mississippi - we have not yet heard the worse."
On Friday morning, the 7th inst. about 4 o'clock, a shock of an earthquake was severly felt in this town. The effects of the convulsion were much more sensibly felt, than the one which happened on the 16th of December. Many of the houses were violently shaken.
The following extract, taken from a letter received from Mr. Zadock Cramer, to his friend in this place, dated Natchez, Jan. 23, 1812 serves to corroborate the account hitherto received besides noting other remarkable phenomena in nature, with which we have not before become acquainted.
"This morning at eight o'clock, another pretty severe shock of an earthquake was felt. Those on the 16th ult. and since done much damage on the Mississippi river, from the mouth of the Ohio to Little Prairie particularly. Many boats have been lost, and much property sunk. The banks of the river, in many places, sunk hundreds of acres together, leaving the tops of the trees to be seen above the water. The earth opened in many places from one to three feet wide, through whose fissures stone coal was thrown up in pieces as large as a man's hand. The earth rocked - trees lashed their tops together. The whole seemed in convulsions, throwing up sand bars here, there sinking others, trees jumping from the bed of the river, roots uppermost, forming a most serious impediment to navigation, where before there was no obstruction - boats rocked like cradles - men, women and children confused, running to and fro and hallooing for safety - those on land pleading to get into the boats - those in boats willing almost to be on land. This damning and distressing scene continued for several days, particularly at and above Flour island. The long reach now, though formerly the best part of the river is said to be the worst being filled with innumerable planters and sawyers which have been thrown up from the bed by the extraordinary convulsions of the river. Little Prairie, and the country about it, suffered much - new lakes having been formed, and the bed of old ones raised to the elevation of the surface of the adjacent country. All accounts of those who have descended the river since the shocks give the most alarming and terrific picture of the desolating and horrible scene."
Friday, March 13, 1812
Mississippi River, Natchez
February 18, 1812
Your being editors of the useful guide, the Ohio and Mississippi Navigator, induces me, for the sake of the western country traders to inform you as early as in my power the wonderful changes for the worse in some parts of the Mississippi river, occasioned by the dreadful earthquake which happened on the morning of the 16th of December last, and which has continued to shake almost every day since. As to its effects on the river I found but little from the mouth of Ohio to New Madrid, from which place to the Chickasaw Bluffs, or Fort Pickering, the face of the river is wholly changed, particularly from Island No. 30, to island No. 40; (see page 185) this part of the river burst and shook up hundreds of great trees from the bottom, and what is more singular they are all turned roots upwards and standing upstream in the best channel and swiftest water, and nothing but the greatest exertions of the boatmen can save them from destruction in passing those places. I should advise all those concerned to be particular in approaching Island No. 32, where you must warp through a great number, and when past them, bear well over from the next right hand point for fear of being drawn into the right schute of Flour Island, Island 33, which I should advise against, as that pass is become very dangerous unless in very high water. Two boats from Little Beaver are lately lost, and several much injured in that pass this season. Boats should hug the left shore where there is but few sawyers, and good water and fine landing on the lower point of the island, from there the next dangerous place is the Devil's Race Ground, Island No. 36, (page 187). Here I would advise boats never to pass to the left of the island and by all means to keep close to the right hand point, and then close round the sandbar on the lower end of the schute is very dangerous and the gap so narrow that boats can scarcely pass without being dashed on some of the snags, and should you strike one you can scarcely extricate yourself before you receive some injury. From this scene you have barely time to breathe and refresh, before you arrive at the Devil's Elbow, alias the Devil's Hackle, Islands No. 38 and 39 (p. 188) by far the worst of all; in approaching this schute you must hug close around the left hand point until you come in sight of the sand bar whose head has the appearance of an old field full of trees, then pull for the island to keep clear of these, and pass through a small schute, leaving all the island sawyers to the right, and take care not to get too near them, for should you strike the current is so rapid it will be with great difficulty you will be able to save, your boat and cargo.
I shall advise all those descending the river not to take the right hand of Island No. 38, as it appears entirely choked up with drift and rafts of sawyers. When through these bad places the worst is over, only fuller of snags, but mind well the directions in the Navigator and there will be no danger. Run the Grand Cut-off No. 55, (p. 192) in all stages of the water, and hug close the right hand point, this pass is good. Take the left of St. Francis No. 59, left of No. 62, right of large sand bar and Island No. 63, and right of No. 76, in all the different stages of the water. All these channels are much the best and safest. Should this be the means of saving one boat load of provisions to an industrious citizen, how amply shall I feel rewarded for noting this, whilst with gratitude I acknowledge the obligation we as boatmen are under to you for your useful guide, that excellent work the Ohio and Mississippi Navigator, much to be valued for its accuracy and geographical account of this immense country.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen, your sincere friend and humble servant.
"SIGNS OF THE TIMES"
Has such a succession of Earthquakes as have happened within a few weeks been experienced in this country five years ago, they would have excited universal terror. The extent of territory which has been shaken, nearly at the same time, is astonishing - reaching on the Atlantic coast from Connecticut to Georgia and from the shores of the ocean inland to the State of Ohio. What power short of Omnipotence, could raise and shake such vast portion of this globe? What a tremendous natural agent must have ( sed) to produce such mighty effects as stated that in North Carolina a volcano has appeared, and that in an eruption a few days since, a flood of lava poured out which ran to the distance of three quarters of a mile. - The period is portentous and alarming. We have within a few years seen the most wonderful eclipses, the year past has produced a magnificent comet, the earthquakes within the past two months have been almost without number - and in addition to the whole, we constantly "hear of wars and summons of wars." May not the same enquiry be made of us that was made by the hypocrites of old - "Can ye not discern the signs of the times."
Wednesday, December 25, 1811
Richmond, (Vir.) Dec. 16.
An earthquake was witnessed by many people in the city - about three o'clock in the morning there were three successive shocks; another about 6; and again about 8. Several persons were under a persuasion that thieves had broken into their houses; and in one of the most elevated houses of the city, the bells, both above and below, were set a ringing.
Norfolk, December 16.
This morning two distinct shocks of an earthquake were felt in this place: The first, and (according to most accounts) the most violent, was about 3 o'clock. It was so severe as to awaken a number of persons out of their sleep. The shock, at two very short intervals, might have continued about a minute. The shaking of the beds is described as if a strong man had taken hold on the posts, and shook them with all the violence in his power. Several clocks were stopped. The houses were shaking with great violence. Again about eight o'clock another shock was felt by a great number of persons, as many had risen; this was also very violent. The most sensible effect produced by this, that we have yet learned, was that of throwing a pipe of wine off the skids, in a warehouse, in Commerce street.
Charleston, Dec. 16
An Earthquake - This morning, a few minutes before three o'clock, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt in this city. Its duration is supposed to have been between two and three minutes. For an hour previous, though the air was perfectly calm, and several stars visible, there was, at intervals of about five minutes, a rumbline noise, resembling distant thunder; which increased in violence of sound, just before the shock was felt. The vibrations of St. Phillip's steeple caused the clock bell to ring about 10 seconds. Two other shocks were felt this morning, one a little before 8 o'clock, and the other ten minutes after that hour; both slighter than the first, and of shorter duration: the vibrations of the second lasted probably rather more than a minute, and of the last two or three seconds. Many of the clocks were stopped; and the water of the different wells was much agitated. We have not heard of any damage having been done by these repeated shocks; nor have we heard how far they have extended into the country; except that they were felt at Rantowle's.
Such phenomena, until lately, were very rare. One is remembered to have happen on the 19th May, 1754, about 11 o'clock, A.M.; but it was very slight. Another slight one was felt on the 11th April, 1799, about 1 o'clock in the morning. In the year 1811, on the 13th January, another occurred, and was felt at Columbia and Granby, in this state, and in Augusta in Georgia, but not in Charleston.
Alexandria, Jan. 24.
A shock of an Earthquake was distinctly felt in this town yesterday morning, about 20 minutes after nine o'clock. Its duration was sopposed to be about 30 seconds, and its motions from N.W. to S.E. Considerable sensation was excited by this event.
New York, January 24.
Another Earthquake - A correspondent at Jamaici (L.I.) under date of this day, says - "Yesterday morning, at fifteen minutes after nine o'clock, a shock of an earthquake was sensibly felt in this village. Every thing suspended in my store was set in motion for more than a minute. The motion was a steady swinging backward and forward. The shock was felt also by my family, and by several of our neighbors."
We understand that the shock was noticed by many people in this city.
Arkport, (N.Y.) Jan. 6
Messrs. Miner & Butler,
A very singular phenomenon took place near Angelica, in the country of Allegany, on Monday morning the 16th of December, which I will state, as related to me by one of the eye witnesses. Early in the morning, about sunrise as sitting at breakfast, he had a strange feeling, and supposed at first that he was fainting, but as his sight did not fail, he then concluded that he was going into a fit, and removed his chair back from the table. - He then had a sensation as though the house was swinging and observed clothes hanging on lines in the room were swinging, as also a large kettle hanging over the fire. He observed that his wife and family appeared to be greatly alarmed, and still supposing that it was in consequence of his apparently falling into a fit, but on enquiry found that all felt the same sensation. This continued as he supposed for at least 15 minutes. There was no noise or trembling, nor any wind, but only an appearance of swinging or rocking, as he supposed, equal to the house rocking two feet one way and the other. - One of his neighbors felt the same, and on the opposite side of the river, at the farmhouse and dwelling house of Phillip Church, the same motions and sensations were felt. Mrs. Church was in bed, and when she first felt the motion, and a strange sensation as if suffocating, she jumped out of bed, supposing the house was on fire. The motion was so considerable as to set all the bells in the several rooms a ringing, and an inside door was observed to swing open and shut.
The same motions were felt up the river, about eight miles above, at a house near a small brook; the people ran out of the house, and observed the water to have the same motion. Accounts state, that the same motions have been felt at sundry other places 30 miles distant.
I could relate many other similar motions felt and perceived at the same time, but leave it for the present. How to account for it I know not. If you think it worthy of notice, you may make it public, and if the same or similar motions have been felt at other places, doubtless it will be communicated. I should like to hear it accounted for on rational principles.
Baltimore. Jan. 27
Extract of a letter dated West River, January 23.
"This morning, at about 9 o'clock, a friend of mine, Captain Franklin, miss Webster, and myself, had just sat down to breakfast, when Captain F. observed, "What's that? An Earthquake!" at the same instant, we felt as if we were in the cabin of a vessel, during a heavy swell. This sensation continued for one or two minutes, possibly longer. For although I had the presence of mind to take out my watch, I felt too sick to accurately observe its duration. The feeling was by no means tremulous, but a steady vibration. A portrait, about four feet in length, suspended from the ceiling by a hook and staple, and about five eights of an inch from the side wall, vibrated at least from eighteen inches to 2 feet each side, and so very steady, as not to touch the wall. My next neighbour and his daughter felt the same sensation about the same time. The father supposed it was the gout in his head. The daughter got up and walked to a window, supposing the heat of the fire had caused what she considered a faintness. Two others that I have seen mentioned to have felt the same, but none of them had thought of an earthquake. The two last being mechanics, and up late, mentioned that they were much alarmed at about 11 o'clock last night, by a great rumbling, as they thought, in the earth, attended with several flashes of lightning, which so lighted the house, that they could have picked up the smallest pin - one mentioned, that the rumbling and the light was accompanied by a noise like that produced by throwing a hot iron into snow, only very loud and terrific, so much so, that he was fearful to go out to look what it was, for he never once thought of an earthquake. I have thrown together the above particulars, supposing an extract may meet with corroborating accounts, and afford some satisfaction to your readers.
P.S. - The lightning and rumbling noise came from the south - I have just heard of its being felt in several other houses, but not any particulars more than related.
Easton, (Md.) . Jan. 25.
The Earthquake - Last Thursday morning, about nine o'clock, the shock of an Earthquake was very sensibly felt in this place. The vibratory motion, which continued nearly a minute, seemed to be north and south, and was so violent that the pendulums of several clocks stopped vibrating, and the weights were thrown into an irregular and confused motion. Considerable giddiness, some nausea, much wonder, and a little terror, were among the consequences.
Annapolis, Jan. 23.
An Earthquake - A severe shock of an earthquake was experienced by a number of persons in this city yesterday morning, the 22nd inst. about sixteen minutes before ten o'clock. Its duration is supposed to have been about two or three minutes, from beginning to end, and its direction apparently from E. to S.W. This phenomenon was dissimilar in its nature and effects from any of the kind that we have heretofore heard of, as it was not accompanied or preceded by the usual rumbling noise, nor any sudden concussion of the earth, but a continued roll, similar to that of a vessel in a heavy sea. One circumstance which renders its effect more singular is, that it was very sensibly felt by some, while others altho' in same room, and perhaps within a few feet of them, were not in the least affected by its operation, and those who were in the street, or open air, were insensible as to any extraordinary motion of the earth. The first intimation to those who experienced its effects was from the motion of every thing around them, and a sudden and deadly sickness, accompanied with a giddiness in the head. We judge of the severity of the shock from the motion which was given to substances saspended from the ceilings of houses. The fairest opportunity that was presented (to our knowledge) of judging of its force and direction, was from an ostrich egg which was suspended by a string of about a foot in length from a first floor ceiling, which was caused to oscillate at least four inches from point to point. We are informed that the steeple of the State House, which is supposed to be 250 feet in height, vibrated at least 6 or 8 feet at the top, and the motion was perceptible for 8 or 10 minutes. A number of clocks were stopped, and the ice in the river and bay cracked considerably. Some persons, who were skaiting, were very much terrified, and immediately made for the shore. In the lower part of the city it appears to have been most forcible, some people abandoning their homes, for the purpose of seeking safety in the open air. It is said that a noise like distant thunder was heard about 4 o'clock in the morning, and a slight motion of the earth observed about 8, but neither were very sensibly heard or felt.
There was nothing extraordinary in the atmosphere, except that it was remarkably calm, and rather inclined to be warm, altho' there was a deep snow on the ground, and for several days past it had been extremely cold.
FROM THE NORFOLK HERALD
Extract of a letter from a gentleman who in descending the river Mississippi, to his father in Norfolk, dated Chickasaw Agency, Dec. 17, 1811.
"On the 13th we reached the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi; and on the 14th we entered the father of rivers, on the 15th we passed New Madrid, a small settlement in the upper Louisiana, and at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 16th, we sensibly felt the jar of a distant convulsion, which we conjectured to be an earthquake, caused by eruption of some operations far to the west of the Mississippi. - We hope in God that its seat was far from human habitation. - We have frequently heard a distant noise like thunder since; the 16th was indeed a solemn, awful, and gloomy day; but now all seems quiet and serene; safety has returned our cheerfulness to us, and our hearts are warmed with grateful thanks to the Supreme Ruler of Nature for our preservation. From Natchez or New Orleans I will write you a full and minute account of the convulsions."
Raleigh, (N.C.) Jan. 24
The Earthquake. - A letter has been received in this city, from a gentleman of the first respectability in Tennessee, which states that the Earthquake, so generally felt on the 16th of Dec. was so violent in the vicinity of his residence, that several chimnies were thrown down, and that eighteen or twenty acres of land on Piney river had suddenly sunk so low, that the tops of the trees were on a level with the surrounding earth. Four other shocks were experienced on the 17th, and one or more continued to occur every day to the 30th aft., the date of the letter.
A slight shock of an Earthquake was felt in this city about eight o'clock yesterday morning. It continued only a few seconds.
From the New York Evening Post
Yesterday morning, at half past four o'clock, a smart shock of an earthquake was felt in this city. During the last two-months, this city, and every town in the U. States to the Southward of us, have been visited with one or more earthquakes.
From Poulson's American Daily Advertiser
Several distinct shocks for undulations of the earth were felt in this city on Friday morning, a few minutes before 4 o'clock. To several persons it appeared as if their bedsteads were raised under them by a pressure below.
One gentleman described it, as being so violent as to force open the folding doors of a wardrobe in his bed chamber, and others, state, that their chamber doors were thrown open, and articles loosely suspended from the ceilings and walls were kept in a state of oscillation for more than a minute. The undulations were more sensibly felt in the southern, than in the northern part of the city.
THE EARTHQUAKE which happened this morning was, by my watch, at 4 h. 24 m. A.M. - I find by T. Parker's regulator, that my watch was slow 3 M. 30 s. This will give the correct time, 4 h. 27 m. 30 s. A.M. The duration of the trembling was at least 1 m. 30 s. probably 2 m. with short intervals of quickness. The person who awakened me at the commencement stated, that it began with a noise resembling the very quick passage of a dray over hard ground. The motion appeared to be from West to East, or from East to West.
All the furniture in my chamber was much agitated, particularly the bed on which I slept, and the drawer handles of a desk and book case, standing on the west side, which continued rattling for some seconds after the motions of the bedstand had ceased.
I send you these remarks with the assurance that you may depend on the correctness of the time. - Perhaps some other persons may have made similar observations, in different places; by comparing which together an idea may be formed, of the centre from which the numerous late shocks have proceded. Yours, Sc. W.V. Feb. 7, 1812
We are informed (says the Baltimore Federal Gazette of Friday last) by several persons of respectability, that a shock of an Earthquake was very sensibly felt here this morning about half past four o'clock.
From the Lexington Reporter
Extract from a letter to a gentleman in Lexington, from his friend at New Madrid, (U.L.) dated 16th December, 1811.
"About 2 o'clock this morning we were awakened by a most tremendous noise, while the house danced about and seemed as if it would fall on our heads. I soon conjectured the cause of our troubles, and cried out it was an Earthquake, and for the family to leave the house; which we found very difficult to do, owing to its rolling and jostling about. The shock was soon over, and no injury was sustained, except the loss of the chimney, and the exposure of my family to the cold of the night. At the time of this shock, the heavens were very clear and serene, not a breath of air stirring; but in five minutes it became very dark, and a vapour which seemed to impregnate the atmosphere, had a disagreeable smell, and produced a difficulty of respiration. I knew not how to account for this at the time, but when I saw, in the morning, the situation of my neighbours' houses, all of them more or less injured, I attributed it to the dust and sot (?), &c which arose from the fall. The darkness continued till day-break; during this time we had EIGHT more shocks, none of them so violent as the first.
"At half past 6 o'clock in the morning it cleared up, and believing the danger over I left home, to see what injury my neighbours had sustained. A few minutes after my departure there was another shock, extremely violent - I hurried home as fast as I could, but the agitation of the earth was so great that it was with much difficulty I kept my balance - the motion of the earth was about twelve inches to and fro. I cannot give you an accurate description of this moment; the earth seemed convulsed - the houses shook very much - chimnies falling in every direction. - The loud hoarse roaring which attended the earthquake, together with the cries, screams, and yells of the people, seems still ringing in my ears.
"Fifteen minutes after seven o'clock, we had another shock. This one was the most severe one we have yet had - the darkness returned, and the noise was remarkably loud. The first motions of the earth were similar to the preceding shocks, but before they ceased we rebounded up and down, and it was with difficulty we kept our seats. At this instant I expected a dreadful catastrophe - the uproar among the people strengthened the colouring of the picture - the screams and yells were heard at a great distance.
"One gentleman, from whose learning I expected a more consistent account says that the convulsions are produced by this world and the moon coming in contact, and the frequent repetition of the shock is owing to their rebounding. The appearance of the moon yesterday evening has knocked his system as low as the quake has leveled my chimnies. Another person with a very serious face, told me, that when he was ousted from his bed, he was verily afraid, and thought the Day of Judgment had arrived, until he reflected that the Day of Judgment would not come in the night.
"Tuesday 17th - I never before thought the passion of fear so strong as I find it here among the people. It is really diverting, or would be so, to a disinterested observer, to see the rueful faces of the different persons that present themselves at my tent - some so agitated that they cannot speak - others cannot hold their tongues - some cannot sit still, but must be in constant motion, while others cannot walk. Several men, I am informed, on the night of the first shock deserted their families, and have not been heard of since. Encampments are formed of those that remain in the open fields, of 50 and 100 persons in each.
"Tuesday, Dec. 24th - The shocks still continue - we have had eight since Saturday - some of them very severe, but not sufficiently so to do much additional injury. I have heard of no lives being lost - several persons are wounded. This day I have heard from the Little Prairie, a settlement on the bank of the river Mississippi, about 30 miles below this place. There the scene has been dreadful indeed - the face of the country has been entirely changed. Large lakes have been raised, and become dry land; and many fields have been converted into pools of water. Capt. George Roddell, a worthy and respectable old gentleman, and who has been the father of that neighborhood, made good his retreat to this place, with about 100 souls. He informs me that no material injury was sustained from the first shocks - when the 10th shock occurred, he was standing in his own yard, situated on the bank of the Bayou of the Big Lake; the bank gave way, and sunk down about 30 yards from the water's edge, as far as he could see up and down the stream. It upset his mill, and one end of his dwelling house sunk down considerably; the surface on the opposite side of the Bayou, which before was swamp, became dry land, the side he was on became lower. His family at this time were running away from the house towards the woods; a large crack in the ground prevented their retreat into the open field. They had just assembled together when the eleventh shock came on, after which there was not perhaps a square acre of ground unbroken in the neighborhood, and in about fifteen minutes after the shock, the water rose round them waist deep. The old gentleman in leading his family, endeavoring to find higher land, would sometimes be precipitated headlong into one of those cracks in the earth, which were concealed from the eye by the muddy water through which they were wading. As they proceeded, the earth continued to burst open, and mud, water, sand and stone coal, were thrown up the distance of 30 yards - frequently trees of a large size were split open, fifteen or twenty feet up. After wading eight miles, he came to dry land.
"I have heard of no white person being lost as yet - Seven Indians were swallowed up; one of them escaped; he says he was taken into the ground the depth of 100 trees in length; that the water came under him and threw him out again - he had to wade and swim four miles before he reached dry land. The Indian says the Shawnee prophet has caused the earthquake to destroy the whites."
Washington, Feb. 29
More of the Earthquakes - The following interesting extract of a letter, on these phenomena, is from a gentleman in Tennessee to his friend in this city, dated
"This morning we were again alarmed by a most tremendous concussion of nature's elements, equal, if not more terrifying than those of the 15th of last month. Its continuation was from 20 to 30 minutes - it shook off the top of one chimney in this town, and unroofed some small buildings in the neighbourhood. It was succeeded by three or four small shocks in the course of an hour. About 4 o'clock, P.M. another was sensibly felt, but in a much lighter degree. The cause of all these phenomena appears to originate a little south of a due west course; which will render the information just received still more probable.
"A gentleman who was near the Arkansas river, at the time of the first shock in Dec. last, states, that certain Indians had arrived near the mouth of the river, who had seen a large lake or sea, where many of their brorhers had resided, and had perished in the general wreck; that to escape a similar fate, they had travelled three days up the river, but finding the dangers increase, as they progressed, frequently having to cut down large trees, to cross the chasms in the earth, they returned to the mouth of the river, and from them this information is derived.
Monday evening - Since Thursday last we have felt 3, 4 and 5 shocks of a day and night, but not very severe."
Russelville, (Ken.) Feb. 26
Arrived in this place on Friday morning last. Mr. John Vettner and crew, from New Madrid, from whom we learn, that they were on shore five miles below the place on Friday morning the 7th instant, at the time of the hard shock, and that the water filled their barge and sunk it, with the whole of its contents, losing every thing but the clothes they had on. They offered, at New Madrid, half their loading for a boat to save it, but no price was sufficient for the hire of a boat. Mrs. Walker offered a likely negro fellow for the use of a boat a few hours, but could not get it. - The town of New Madrid has sunk 12 feet below its former standing, but is not covered with water; the houses are all thrown down, and the inhabitants moved off, except the French, who live in camps close to the river side, and have their boats tied near them, in order to sail off, in case the earth should sink. It is said that a fall equal to that of the Ohio is near above New Madrid, and that several whirls are in the Mississippi river, some so strong as to sink every boat that comes within its suck; one boat was sunk with a family in it. The country from New Madrid to the Grand Prairie is very much torn to pieces, and the Little Prairie almost entirely deluged. It was reported when our informants left it, that some Indians who had been out in search of some other Indians that were lost had returned, and stated that they had discovered a volcano at the head of the Arkansas, by the light of which they travelled three days and nights. A vast nomber of sawyers (?) have risen in the Mississippi river.
No pencil can paint the distress of the many movers! Men, women and children, barefooted and naked! without money and without food.
From the Bairdstown Repository
Sir - The effects produced on the Mississippi, by the Earthquake on the 7th of February, are so great as to render it highly interesting to the community in general, and more particularly so at this crisis, when so many of our fellow citizens are about to adventure their property down that river. Under this impression I have procured the enclosed written statement of Matthias M. Speed, just returned from New Madrid, with a view of giving it publication thru' the medium of your paper. The account I am told is substantially corroborated by another man, who passed through Bairdstown a few days ago. I am, very respectfully, your humble servant,
In descending the Mississippi, on the night of the 6th February, we tied our boat to a willow bar on the west bank of the river, opposite the head of the 9th Island, counting from the mouth of the Ohio we were lashed to another boat. About 3 o'clock, on the morning of the 7th, we were waked by the violent agitation of the boat, attended with a noise more tremendous and terrific than I can describe or any one can conceive, who was not present or near to such a scene. The constant discharge of heavy cannon might give some idea of the noise for loudness, but this was infinitely more terrible, an account of its appearing to be subterraneous.
As soon as we waked we discovered that the bar to which we were tied was sinking, we cut loose and moved our boats for the middle of the river. After getting out so far as to be out of danger from the trees which were falling in from the bank - the swells in the river was so great as to threaten the sinking of the boat every moment. We stopped the outholes with blankets to keep out the water - after remaining in this situation for some time, we perceived a light in the shore which we had left - (we having a lighted candle in a lanthorn on our boat,) were hailed and advised to land, which we attempted to do, but could not effect it, finding the banks and trees still falling in.
At day light we perceived the head of the tenth island. During all this time we had made only about four miles down the river - from which circumstance, and from that of an immense quantity of water rushing into the river from the woods - it is evident that the earth at this place, or below, had been raised so high as to stop the progress of the river, and caused it to overflow its banks - We took the right hand channel of the river of this island, and having reached within about half a mile of the lower end of the town, we were affrightened with the appearance of a dreadful rapid of falls in the river just below us; we were so far in the sock (?) that it was impossible now to land - all hopes of surviving was now lost and certain destruction appeared to await us! We having passed the rapids without injury, keeping our bow foremost, both boats being still lashed together.
As we passed the point on the left hand below the island, the bank and trees were rapidly falling in. From the state of alarm I was in at this time, I cannot pretend to be correct as to the length or height of the falls; but my impression is, that they were about equal to the rapids of the Ohio. As we passed the lower point of the island, looking back, up the left channel, we thought the falls extended higher up the river on that side than on the other.
The water of the river, after it was fairly light, appeared to be almost black, with something like the dust of stone coal - We landed at New Madrid about breakfast time without having experienced any injury- The appearance of the town, and the situation of the inhabitants, were such as to afford but little relief to our minds. The former elevation of the bank on which the town stood was estimated by the inhabitants at about 25 feet above common water; when we reached it the elevation was only about 12 or 13 feet - There was scarcely a house left entire - some wholly prostrated, others unroofed and not a chimey standing - the people all having deserted their habitations, were in camps and tents back of the town, and their little watercafts (mispelled), such as skiffs, boats and canoes, handed out of the water to their camps, that they might be ready in case the country should sink.
I remained at New Madrid from the 7th till the 12th, during which time I think shocks of earthquakes were experienced every 15 or 20 minutes- those shocks were all attended with a rumbling noise, resembling distant thunder from the southwest, varying in report according to the force of the shock. When I left the place, the surface of the earth was very little, if any, above the tops of the boats in the river.
There was one boat coming down on the same morning I landed; when they came in sight of the falls, the crew were so frightened at the prospect, that they abandoned their boat and made for the island in their canoe- two were left on the island, and two made for the west bank in the canoe - about the time of their landing, they saw that the island was violently convulsed - one of the men on the island threw himself into the river to save himself by swimming - one of the men from the shore met him with the canoe and saved him. - This man gave such an account of the convulsion of the island, that neither of the three dared to venture back for the remaining man. The three men reached New Madrid by land.
The man remained on the Island from Friday morning until Sunday evening, when he was taken off by a canoe sent from a boat coming down. I was several days in company with this man - he stated that during his stay in the island, there were frequent eruptions, in which sand and stone, coal and water were thrown up. - The violent agitation of the ground was such at one time as induced him to hold to a tree to support himself; the earth gave way at the place, and he with the tree sunk down, and he got wounded in the fall. - The fissure was so deep as to put it out of his power to get out at that place - he made his way along the fissure until a sloping slide offered him an opportunity of crawling out. He states that frequent lights appeared - that in one instance, after one of the explosions near where he stood, he approached the hole from which the coal and land had been thrown up, which was now filled with water, and on putting his hand into it he found it was warm.
During my stay at new Madrid there were upwards of twenty boats landed, all of whom spoke of the rapids above, and conceived of it as I had done.
Several persons, who came up the river in a small barge, represented that there were other falls in the Mississippi, about 7 miles below New Madrid, principally on the eastern side - more dangerous than those above - and that some boats had certainly been lost in attempting to pass them - but they thought it was practicable to pass by keeping close to the western shore.
From what I had seen and heard I was deterred from proceeding further, and nearly gave away what property I had. On my return by land up the right side of the river, I found the surface of the earth for 10 or 12 miles cracked in numberless places, running in different directions - some of which were bridged and some filled with logs to make them passable - others were so wide that they were obliged to be surrounded. In some of these cracks the earth sank on one side from the level to the distance of five feet, and from one to three feet there was water in most of them. Above this the cracks were not so numerous nor so great - but the inhabitants have generally left their dwellings and gone to the higher grounds.
Nothing appeared to have issued from the cracks but where there was sand and stone coal, they seem to have been thrown up from holes; in most of those, which varied in size, there was water standing. In the town of New Madrid there were four, but neither of them had vented stone or sand - the size of them, in diameter, varied from 12 to 50 feet, and in depth from, 5 to 10 feet from the surface to the water. In travelling out from New Madrid those were very frequent, and were to be seen in different places, as high as fort ,Massac, in the Ohio.
Earthquake of March 25, 1812 killed about 10,000 inhabitants of Caracas.
Lexington, (Ken) April 4 - We are informed from a respectable source, that the old road to the port of Arkansas, by Spring river, is entirely destroyed by the last violent shocks of earthquakes - chasms of great depth and considerable length cross the country in various directions; - some swamps have become dry, others deep lakes, and in some places hills have disappeared.
Richmond, (Vir.) April 24
A few minutes before 4 o'clock, on Wednesday morning, an earthquake was distinctly felt and heard by several persons in and near this city. The sound was like the rumbling of distant thunder. Pendulous bodies swung, beds were shaken, and several roused from their slumbers. How fortunate are we, that we are so far removed from the scene of convulsion - and saved from the frightful disaster - which has laid the wretched Carracas in ruins.
Louisville, (Ken.) May 1
Earthquake - At forty-five minutes after three o'clock A.M. on Friday last, a shock of an earthquake was very sensibly felt, and at forty minutes after ten o'clock P.M. another slight shock was distinctly perceived; the vibration appeared to be from North to South, or rather West of North and East of South; - duration of first shock, about minute, of second shock, about half a minute.
Richmond, Dec. 17
Our city has been sensibly shocked at intervals, for the last two days, by an earthquake. It was first felt on Monday morning at three o'clock. In the most elevated parts of the city, the citizens were alarmed by the violent concussion, and the house bells in some places set a ringing. On yesterday, at eleven o'clock another violent shock was felt.
It was felt at Norfolk at 3 and 8 o'clock on Monday morning, at which the Hearald says, "The clocks were all stopt, and doors, and things suspended from the ceilings of the shops and stores, oscillated violently, though a dead calm prevailed. Its course was from West to East." It is remarkable that although the higher parts of this city were much agitated, and a gentleman who was then shaving himself was obliged to discontinue the operation, those who live below the hill never felt it at all.
Charleston, Dec. 17
Earthquake - Yesterday morning, about three o'clock, a severe shock of an Earthquake was felt in this city. It was preceded by a blowing noise, resembling that made by smith's bellows. The agitation of the earth was such that the bells in the church steeples rung to a degree that some supposed there was fire. The houses shook so sensibly as to induce many persons to rise from their beds. The clocks generally stopped. Another slight shock was felt about fifteen minutes after, and again at eight o'clock, which last shook to such a degree as to make a very considerable rattling among glass, china and other furniture. A looking glass, about three feet in length, hanging against a West wall, was observed to vibrate two or three inches from North to South.
Georgetown, December 18
Earthquake - Several shocks of an Earthquake were experienced in this town between the hours of three and eight o'clock on Monday morning. Great indeed was the consternation of the inhabitants, on the awful occasion. So severe were the shocks that the parade ground of the fort settled from one to two inches below its former level. A tub of water sitting on a table in the barracks was upset by the jarring of the building.
Another severe shock was felt yesterday at 12 o'clock,.
Raleigh, (N.C.) Dec. 13. (18?)
Several slight shocks of an earthquake were felt in this place on Monday morning.
Charleston, Dec. 18
Earthquake - A slight shock was felt on Monday evening, and another yesterday at 20 minutes after 12. They continued but a few seconds. We have now had six of these awful visitations in two days.
Savannah, Dec. 17
Four shocks of an Earthquake have been sustained by our town, and its neighborhood, within the last two days. The first commenced yesterday morning between two and three, preceded by a meteoric flash of light and accompanied with a rattling noise, resembling that of a carriage passing over a paved pathway, and lasted almost minute. A second succeeded, almost immediately after, but its continuance was of much shorter duration. A third shock was experienced about eight o'clock in the morning, and another today about one.
Persons from White Bluff, (about eight miles from town, southwardly) felt it very sensibly; and several who were up at the time, state that the movement of the earth made then tether as though they were on ship board in a heavy swell of the sea. Those who were up at the time conceive its direction to have been from southwest to northeast.
On Monday morning, the 16th inst. about three o'clock, the citizens of the town of Pittsburgh, (Penn.) were greatly alarmed by the shock of an Earthquake; a number of persons from the shaking of their houses, were so much alarmed as to run out of bed. About 7 o'clock, the same morning, there was another shock, though not so violent as the first. - Philad. pap.
From the Annapolis Maryland Republican
An Earthquake- A severe shock of an earthquake was experienced by a number of persons in this city yesterday morning, the 22nd inst. about sixteen minutes before ten o'clock. Its duration is supposed to have been about two or three minutes from beginning to end, and its direction apparently from E. to S.W. This phenomenon was dissimilar in its nature and effects from any of the kind that we have heretofore heard of, as it was not accompanied or preceded by the usual rumbling noise, nor any sudden concussion of the earth, but a continued roll similar to that of a vessel in a heavy sea. One circumstance which renders its effects more singular is, that it was very sensibly felt by some, while others, although in the same room, and perhaps within a few feet of them, were not in the least affected by its oscillation, and those who were in the street or ____ air, were insensible as to any extraordinary motion of the earth. The first intimation to those who experienced its effects, was from the motion of every thing around them, and a sudden sickness accompanied with a giddines in the head. We judge of the severity of the shock from the motion given to substances suspended from the ceilings of houses. The fairest opportunity that was presented (to our knowledge) of judging of its force and direction, was from an ostrich egg which was suspended by a string of about a foot in length from a first floor ceiling, which was caused to oscillate at least four inches from point to point - - - We are informed that the State House, which is supposed to be 250 feet in height vibrated at least 6 or 8 feet at the top, and the motion was perceptible for 8 or 10 minutes. A number of clocks were stopped and the ice in the bay and river cracked considerably. Some persons, who were skaiting, were very much terrified, and immediately made for the shore. In the lower part of the city it appears to have been most forcible, some people being in the act of abandoning their houses, for the purpose of seeking safety in the open air. It is said that a noise like distant thunder was heard about 3 o'clock in the morning, and a slight motion of the earth observed about 8, but neither were very sensibly heard or felt.
There was nothing extraordinary in the atmosphere, except that it was remarkably calm, and rather inclined to be warm, although there was a deep snow on the ground and for several days past it had been extremely cold.
Charleston, Jan. 24
Earthquake - Yesterday morning, at fifteen minutes after nine o'clock, another shock was felt in this city. The vibrating motion was more severe than any we experienced last month, and continued for one minute. The pavements in several of the streets are cracked, by the loosening of the cement; and a three Story Brick House in King-Street, belonging to Mr. Brownlee, has received very considerable injury. The walls are cracked from the top to the bottom, and the wooken work and the plastering in the inside, are split and broken. Many persons in different parts of the city were sensible of a shock at eight o'clock in the morning- Several families left their beds. Both these concussions were unaccompanied with any noise.
A report prevailed in town yesterday, that a part of the town of Natchez had been sunk by an Earthquake, and that four thousand persons perished.- We trust that this report will prove to be unfounded; but if such a deplorable circumstance has taken place, it could not have been on the morning of the 16th December, as a letter dated on that date at Natchez, and published some time since at the city of Washington says "A considerable shock of an Earthquake was felt here last night", without adding anything further; which most undoubtedly would have been done, had any fatality attended it.
Natchez, Jan. 2
Important Arrival - Arrived here on Monday last, the steam-boat from Pittsburgh, which had on account of low water been some time detained at the falls of the Ohio; and is destined to run between this place and New Orleans as a regular trader. She was only 221 hours under way from Pittsburgh to this place a distance of near two thousand miles.
No very satisfactory accounts of the shocks of Earthquake, and their effects, which have lately happened, could be expected; that received from the gentlemen on board, is rather more so than we anticipated.
The shake or jar, produced by the powerful operation of the engine, rendered the shocks imperceptible, while the boat was under way. While at anchor five or six shocks were felt, two or three more severe than the rest. On enquiry at New Madrid, a small town about 70 miles below the mouth of Ohio, they found that the chimnies of almost all the houses were thrown down, and the inhabitants considerably alarmed. At the Little Prairie, 30 miles lower down, they were bro't to by the cries of some of the people, who thought the earth was gradually sinking; but declined to take refuge on board without their friends, whom they wished to collect. Some distance below the Little Prairie, the bank of the river has caved in to a considerable extent, and two islands had almost disappeared.
We also understand that letters have been received from Louisville, Falls of Ohio, which state, that the houses have suffered considerable damage in that place.
From the Richmond Enquirer, Jan. 25.
Another Earthquake was most distinctly felt in this city on Thursday morning last [Jan. 23] , about nine o'clock. Some persons were rocked in their chairs. Some staggered as they stood. Hanging keys oscillated. Doors and windows flapped. Bedsteads and tall articles of furniture were moved to and fro. Those who were at breakfast saw a violent ripple on the surface of tea and coffee. A few ran out of their houses in great alarm. The convulsion was more sensibly felt on the hill than below it; in high than low houses. We distinctly felt two of these convulsions, within the lapse of 15 or 20 minutes between them.
The following very interesting communication is from an intelligent friend at N. Orleans. - It is, we presume, the most particular and satisfactory account of the earthquakes on the Mississippi, which has, as yet, been published: And Mr. Pierce being an ear and eye witness to the scenes he describes, the authenticity of his narrative cannot be doubted.
To the Editor of the New-York Evening Post
Big Prairie, (on the Mississippi, 761 miles from N. Orleans,) Dec. 25, 1811.
Desirous of offering the most correct information to society at large, and contributing in some degree to the speculations of the Philosopher, I am induced to give publicity to a few remarks concerning a phenomenon of the most alarming nature. Through you, therefore, I take the liberty of addressing the world, and describing, as far as the inadequacy of my means at present will permit, the most prominent and interesting features of the events, which have recently occurred upon this portion of our western waters.
Proceeding on a tour from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, I entered the Mississippi, when it receives the waters of the Ohio, on Friday the 13th day of this month, and on the 15th, in the evening, landed on the left bank of this river, about 116 miles from the mouth of the Ohio. The night was extremely dark and cloudy, not a star appeared in the heavens, and there was every appearance of a severe rain - for the three last days, indeed, the sky had been continually overcast, and the weather unusually thick and hazy.
It would not be improper to observe, that these waters are descended in a variety of small craft, but most generally in flat bottomed boats, built to serve a temporary purpose, and intended to float, with the current, being supplied with oars, not so much to accelerate progress as to assist in navigating the boats, and avoiding the numerous bars, trees and timber which greatly impede the navigation of this river. In one of these boats I had embarked - and the more effectually to guard against anticipated attacks from the savages, who are said to be at present much exasperated against the whites, several boats had proceeded in company.
Precisely at 2 o'clock on Monday morning, the 16th instant, we were all alarmed by the violent and convulsive agitation of the boats, accompanied by a noise similar to that which would have been produced by running over a sand bar - every man was immediately roused and rushed upon deck. - We were first of opinion that the Indians, studious of some mischief, had loosed our cables, and thus situated we were foundering. Upon examination, however, we discovered we were yet safely and securely moored. The idea of an earthquake then suggested itself to my mind, and this idea was confirmed by a second shock, and two others in immediate succession. These continued for the space of eight minutes. So complete and general had been the convulsion, that a tremendous motion was communicated to the very leaves on the surface of the earth. A few yards from the spot where we lay, the body of a large oak was snapped in two, and the falling part precipitated to the margin of the river; the trees in the forest shook like rushes; the alarming clattering of their branches may be compared to the affect which would be produced by a severe wind passing through a large cane brake.
Exposed to a most unpleasant alternative, we were compelled to remain - here we were for the night, or subject ourselves to imminent hazard in navigating through the innumerable obstructions in the river; considering the danger of running two-fold, we concluded to remain. At the dawn of day I went on shore to examine the effects of the shocks; the earth about 20 feet from the waters edge was deeply cracked, but no visible injury of moment had been sustained; fearing, however, to remain longer where we were, it was thought much advisable to leave our landing as expeditiously as possible; this was immediately done - at a few rods distance from the shore, we experienced a fifth shock, more severe than either of the preceding. I had expected this from the louring appearance of the weather, it was indeed most providential that we had started, for such was the strength of this last shock, that the bank to which we were (but a few moments since) attached, was rent and fell into the river, whilst the trees rushed from the forests, precipitating themselves into the water with a force sufficient to have dashed us into a thousand atoms.
It was now light, and we had an opportunity of beholding, in full extent, all the horrors of our situation. During the first four shocks, tremendous and uninterrupted explosions, resembling a discharge of artillery, was heard from the opposite shore; at that time I imported them to the falling of the river banks. This fifth shock explained the real cause. Whenever the veins of the earthquake ran, there was a volcanic discharge of combustible matter to a great height, as incessant rumbling was heard below, and the bed of the river was excessively agitated, whilst the water assumed a turbid and boiling appearance - near our boat a spout of confined air, breaking its way through the waters, burst forth and with a loud report discharged mud, sticks, &c, from the river's bed, at least thirty feet above the surface. These spoutings were frequent, and in many places appeared to rise to the very Heavens. - Large trees, which had lain for ages at the bottom of the river, were shot up in thousands of instances, some with their roots uppermost and their tops planted; others were hurled into the air; many again were only loosened, and floated upon the surface. Never was a scene more replete with terrific threatenings of death; with the most lively sense of this awful crisis, we contemplated in mute astonishment a scene which completely beggars all description and of which the most glowing imagination is inadequate to form a picture. Here the earth, river, &c. torn with furious convulsions, opened in huge trenches, whose deep jaws were instantaneously closed; there through a thousand vents sulphureous streams gushed from its very bowels, leaving vast and almost unfathomable caverns. Every where nature itself seemed tottering on the verge of dissolution. Encompassed with the most alarming dangers, the manly presence of mind and heroic fortitude of the men were all that saved them. It was a struggle for existence itself, and the mede (?) to be purchased was our lives.
During the day there was, with very little intermission, a continued series of shocks, attended with innumerable explosions like the rolling of thunder; the bed of the river was incessantly disturbed, and the water boiled severly in every part; I consider ourselves as having been in the greatest danger from the numerous instances of boiling directly under our boat; fortunately for us, however, they were not attended with eruptions. One of the spouts which we had seen rising under the boat would inevitably sunk it, and probably have blown it into a thousand fragments; our ears were continually assailed with the crashing of timber, the banks were instantaneously crushed down, and fell with all their growth into the water. It was no less alarming than astonishing, to behold the oldest trees of the forest, whose firm roots had withstood a thousand storms, and weathered the sternest tempests, quivering and shaking with the violence of the shocks, whilst their heads were whipped together with a quick and rapid motion; many were torn from their native soil, and hurled with tremendous force into the river; one of these whose huge trunk (at least 3 feet in diameter) had been much shattered, was thrown better than an hundred yards from the bank, where it is planted into the bed of the river, there to stand, a terror to future navigators.
Several small islands have been already annihilated, and from appearances many others must suffer the same fate. To one of these, I ventured in a skiff, but it was impossible to examine it, for the ground sunk from my tread, and the least force applied to any part of it seemed to shake the whole.
Anxious to obtain landing, and dreading the high banks, we made for an island which evidenced sensible marks of the earthquake; here we fastened to some willows, at the extremity of a sunken piece of land, and continued two days, hoping that this scene of horrors was near over - still, however, the shocks continued, though not with the same frequency as before.
On Wednesday, in the afternoon, I visited every part of the island where we lay. It was extensive, and partially covered with willow. The earthquake had rent the ground in large and numerous gaps; vast quantities of burnt wood in every stage of alteration, from its primitive nature to stove coal, had been spread over the ground to very considerable distances; frightful and hideous caverns yawned on every side, and the earth's bowels appeared to have felt the tremendous force of the shocks which had thus riven the surface. I was gratified with seeing several places where those spouts which had so much attracted our wonder and admiration had arisen; they were generally on the beach; and have left large circular holes in the sand, formed much like a funnel. For a great distance around the orifice, vast quantities of coal have been scattered, many pieces weighing from 15 to 20 lbs. were discharged 160 measured paces- These holes were of various dimensions; one of them I observed most particularly, it was 16 feet in perpendicular depth, and 63 feet in circumferences at the mouth.
On Thursday morning, the 19th, we loosed our cables, with hearts filled with fervent gratitude to Providence, whose protection had supported us through the perils to which we had been exposed.
As we descended the river every thing was a scene of ruin and devastation; where a short time since the Mississippi rolled its waters in a calm and placid current, now subterranean forests have been ushered into existence, and raise their heads, hard and black as ebony, above the surface of the water, whose power has been so wonderfully increased, that strength and skill are equally baffled. Our boat was borne down by an irrestible impulse, and fortunately escaped uninjured; we passed thousands of areas of land which had been cleft from the main shore and tumbled into the water, leaving their growth waving above the surface. In many places single trees, and whole brakes of cane, had slipped into the river. A singular instance of this kind peculiarly attracted my observation; a large sycamore had slipped from its station on the bank, and had so admirably preserved its equilibrium, that it has been left standing erect in the river, immersed about 10 feet, and has every appearance of having originally grown there.
The shocks I conceive were most sensibly experienced upon the islands, and numbers of them have been much shattered, for I observed where the stratum of earth was fairest, it did not crack, but undulated excessively. At Fort Pickering in the extremity of the fourth Chickasaw Bluff, and 242 miles from the mouth of the Ohio, the land is strong and high; here, however, the earth was extremely agitated, and the Block-house which is almost a solid mass of hewn timber, trembled like the aspen leaf.
The obstructions in this river, which have always been quite numerous, are now so considerably increased as to demand the utmost prudence and caution from subsebuent navigators. Indeed I am very apprehensive that it will be almost impassable in flood water; for until such time it will be impossible to say where the currents will hereafter run, what portion (if any) of the present embarrassments will be destroyed, and what new sand bars, &c. may yet be caused by this portentous phenomenon.- Many poor fellows are undoubtedly wrecked, or buried under the ruin of the banks. Of the loss of four boats I am certain.
It is almost impossible to trace, at present, the exact course of this earthquake, or where the greatest injuries have happened. From numerous enquiries, however, which I have made of persons above and below us at the time of the first shock, I am induced to believe, that we were very nearly in the height of it. The ruin immediately in the vicinity of the river is most extensive on the right side in descending. For the first two days the veins appeared to run a due course from W. to E. afterwards they became more variable, and generally took a N.W. direction.
At New Madrid, 70 miles from the influence of the Ohio, and on the right hand, the utmost consternation prevailed among the inhabitants; confusion, terror and uproar presided; those in the town were running for refuge to the country, whilst those in the country fled with like purpose towards the town. I am happy, however, to observe, that no material injury has been sustained.
At the Little Prairie, 103 miles from the same point, the shocks appear to have been more violent, and were attended with severe apprehensions. The town was deserted by its inhabitants, and not a single person was left but an old negro man, probably too infirm to fly: everyone appeared to consider the woods and hills most safe, and in these confidence was reposed. Distressing, however, as are the outlines of such a picture, the latest accounts are not calculated to increase apprehensions. Several chimnies were destroyed, and much land sunk, no lives however have been lost.
A little below Bayou River, 103 miles from the same point, and 130 miles from the spot where we lay, the ruin begins extensive and general.
At Long Reach, 146 miles, there is one continued forest of roots and trees, which have been ejected from the bed of the river.
At the near Flour Island, 174 miles, the destruction has been very great, and the impediments in the river much increased.
At the Devil's Race ground, 193 miles, an immense number of very large trees have been thrown up, and the river is nearly impassible. The Devil's Elbow, 214 miles, is in the same predicament; below this the ruin is much less, and indeed no material traces of the earthquake are discoverable.
The western country must suffer much from this dreadful scourge; its affects will I fear be more lasting than the fond hopes of the inhabitants in this section of the union may at present conceive. What have already been the interior injuries I cannot say. My opinion is, that they are inferior in extent and effect.
The continuance of this earthquake must render it conspicuous in the pages of the Historians, as one of the longest that has ever occurred. From the time that the first shock was felt, at 2 o'clock in the morning of the 16th until the last shock, at the same time in the morning of the 23rd, was 168 hours. Nothing could have exceeded the alarm of the aquatic fowl: they were extremely noisy and confused, flying in every direction, without pursuing any determinate course. The few Indians who were on the Banks of the river, have been excessively alarmed and terrified. All nature indeed seemed to sympathize in the commotion which agitated the earth. The sun rarely shot a ray through the heavens. The sky was clouded, and a dreary darkness brooded over the whole face of the creation. The stars were encircled with a pale light, and the Comet appeared hazy and dim. - The weather was incessantly varying from oppressive heat to severe cold, and during many of the shocks some rain fell.
I subjoin the ensuing table of the shocks, with the exact order of time in which they occurred, as extracted from my minutes.
16th December - the first shock followed by 3 others at two o'clock in the morning. 7 A.M. happened a very severe shock - 8, nine shocks in quick succession - 9, three more shocks - 10 minutes after 11, one shock - 25 after 11, another - 5 after 12, a violent shock - 25 after 1 P.M. another - 31 after 1, a long and violent shock - 42 after 1, a shock - 10 after 5, a very severe shock - 42 after 5, a shock - 10 before 6 do. - 15 after 7 do- 35 after 7 do. - 10 of 8 do. - 5 after 8 do. - 5 of 9 do. - 25 after 9 do.- 20 of 10 do. - 15 of 10 do. - 10 of 10 do. - 15 to 20 of 11, three do. - 12 of 11, great shock - 28 after 11, severe shock. 17th December, 30 minutes after 5, a shock - 5 in the morning, a great and awful shock followed, with 3 others; 5 after 12 meridian, a long and dreadful shock, appearances extremely threatening; 18 after 11 P.M. two severe shocks - 24 after 11 a shock - 26 after 11 do. - 35 after 11 do. - 48 after 11 do. 18th December, 17 minutes of 3, A.M. a shock; 17 after 3 do. - 30 after 3 do. - 5 of 4 do. - 10 after 4 do. - 10 after 5 do. - 35 after 5 do. very severe - 5 after 6 do. - 45 after 6 do. - 7 of 8 do. - 10 after 12 meridian - 10 after 1 P.M. do - 25 after 2 do. severe - 30 after 2, five shocks in succession - 3 o'clock, a shock - 15 minutes after 3 do. severe - 43 after 4 do. - 8 after 10 do. - 10 after 11 do. very severe. 19th December, 30 minutes after 5 A.M. 4 shocks in succession- 17 of 9 severe shock - 30 after 1 P.M., a shock - 17 of 2 do. - 30 after 8 do. - 30 after 9 do. - 30 after 11 do. 20th December, 30 minutes after 9 A.M. a shock - 10 after 11, a long and tremendous shock. 21st December, several reports of shocks or distant thunder were heard. 22nd December, 11 o'clock A.M. a slight shock. 23rd December at 2 in the morning a very severe shock.
Thus we observe that there were in the space of time mentioned before, eighty-nine shocks - it is hardly possible to conceive the convulsion which they created, and I assure you I believe that there were many of these shocks, which had they followed in quick succession were sufficient to shake into atoms the firmest edifices which art ever devised.
I landed often, and on the same shore, as well as on several islands, found evident traces of prior eruptions, all of which seem to corroborate an opinion that the river was formed by some great earthquake - to me indeed the bed appears to possess every necessary ingredient, nor have I a doubt but that there are at the bottom of the river strata upon strata of volcanic matter. The great quantities of combustible materials, which are undoubtedly there deposited, tend to render a convulsive of this kind extremely alarming, at least, however, the beds of timber and trees interwoven and firmly matted together at the bottom of the Mississippi, are tolerable correct data from which may be presumed the prior nature, &c. of the land. The trees are similar to the growth upon the banks, and why may not an inference be drawn that some tremendous agitation of nature has rent this once a continued forest, and given birth to a great and noble stream. There are many direct and collateral facts which may be adduced to establish the point, and which require time and investigation to collect and apply.
It is a circumstance well worthy of remark, that during the late convulsions the current of the river was almost instantaneously and rapidly increased. In times of the highest floods, it rates from 4 to 5 knots per hour. The water is now low, and when we stopped on the 16th inst. at half after 4 P.M. we had then run from that morning 52 miles, rating at 6 knots generally. This current was increased for two days, and then fell to its usual force. It is also singular that the water has fallen with astonishing rapidity. The most probable and easy solution of this fact, which presented itself to my mind, was, that the strength of the Mississippi current was greater than the tributary streams could support. Either this must have been the case, or some division of waters above has occurred, destruction below has created some great basin or reservoir for the disemboguing (?) of the main body of water. The latter presumption I apprehend cannot be correct, as our progress towards the mouth of this river is marked with little or no injury.
Thus, my dear sir, I have given you a superficial account of this awful phenomenon; not so much to convey instruction upon a very interesting subject, as to gratify the curiosity of the public relative to so remarkable an event. At some more convenient season it is my intention, from facts which I had the opportunity of collecting, to canvas the subject more in detail; you are therefore at liberty to make whatever use you please of this brief sketch; and publish the whole, or extract such parts as you may deem best adapted.
Should other interesting circumstances occur relative to this phenomenon, I will do myself the pleasure of mailing you another communication.
With much respect, I am, sir
New Orleans, Jan. 13, 1812
Agreeably to my promise, in the last communication which I had the pleasure of making you, I present a further detail of the late earthquake.
Its range appears to have been by no means confined to the Mississippi. It was felt in some degree throughout the Indiana Territory, and the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. I have conversed with gentlemen from Louisville and Lexington, (in Kentucky,) who state that it was severe in both of those places. At the latter, indeed, it continued for 12 days, and did some inconsiderable injury to several dwellings. From thence it ranged the Ohio river, increasing in force until it entered the Mississippi, and extending down that river to Natchez, and probably a little lower. Beyond this it was not perceived.
It is a singular, but well authenticated fact, that in several places on the Mississippi, where the shocks were most severe, the earth was rent (as it were) by two distinct processes. By one it was burst asunder, and instantaneously closed, leaving no traces whatever of the shock; by the other it was rent, and an elective flash ran along the surface, tearing the earth to pieces in its progress. - These last were generally attended with an explosion, and streams of matter, in a liquid state, gushed from the gaps which were left open when the shock subsided, and were in many instances of an immense depth.
It is also reported, through the medium of some Indians, from the country adjacent to the Washita, who arrived a few days since at the Walnut Hills, some distance above Natchez, that the Burning Mountain, up the Wichita river, had been rent to its base. This information I received from a settler at the Hills, and his appearance was such as to attach credit to his information. - Your obedient servant,
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
Washington, House of Representatives, Friday, February 7
About eight minutes after four o'clock this morning a shock of an earthquake was very sensibly felt here. It was more severe than that of a fortnight ago yesterday. Many people were awakened by it. It continued upwards of two minutes, unaccompanied with any noise.
Wednesday, February 12, 1812
Alexandria, Feb. 8
There was another shock of an Earthquake felt at this place, at about 4 o'clock yesterday morning - its motion was about north and south - a gentle undulation about the same in degree with that felt the 23rd ult.
Tuesday, February 18, 1812
Richmond, Feb. 8
At 4 o'clock in the morning of the 7th inst. this city was again shocked with an Earthquake, which was much more violent than the two which so lately agitated this continent. A gentleman informed us, that he and his family were awakened by the undulating motion of the earth, swinging or rocking of the beds; and that on lighting a candle, the pictures suspended by one hook, were seen to oscillate violently for about fifteen minutes. He hoisted a window, and observed the tops of some Lombardy poplars in the yard to be much agitated, although the air was still. The top of one chimney was thrown down. We have heard of no other accidents.
At 11 o'clock at night the same day, another shock equally violent was felt. The furniture in the houses, window shutters, &c. were so shaken as to occasion considerable noise. We are informed that a side board in the house of Mr. Payton Randolph, was put in such motions as to throw off a waiter which happened to be on it. Another gentleman stated to us that he was awaked by shock not long before day this morning, which continued for a minute. These different shocks which have been felt so sensibly by those living in the higher parts of the city, have scarcely affected those who live in low situations and low built houses.
Yesterday morning about 4 o'clock, there were some very violent earthquake shocks felt here. - Many persons extremely alarmed rose from their beds, and ran to the streets. In some parts of the town, the people were heard to scream with terror. Flashes of light, similar to those seen on the 16th of December, were perceived towards the south-west. The last concussions were greater than any of those that were felt here before.
There was, another slighter shock last night, between 10 and 11 o'clock.
Thursday, March 5, 1812
Augusta, (Geo.) Feb. 13
Again we are bound to notice what is very justly considered as among the most astonishing and alarming phenomena in nature.
On Friday last [Feb. 7] at 20 minutes before four o'clock in the morning, another severe shock of an earthquake was experienced here, and throughout the country in every direction from which we have yet heard; and in most places we believe with more severity than any preceding shock, it continued between three and four minutes. About 20 minutes before 11 o'clock in the evening of the same day, a smart shock was also felt, and though considerably less severe, was to many more alarming than the former one - this might have arisen from apprehensions previously excited, and from the repetition of an occurrence so peculiarly calculated to create astonishment and terror. Indeed since the settlement of this place, we venture to say, that a large proportion of our inhabitants, never lay down at night, with feelings similar to those they experienced when going to bed during the past week. Light tremulous motions of the earth continue occasionally to be felt.
By a gentleman from Jefferson we are informed, that on the plantation of Mr. Ephraim Ponder, near Brier Creek, about 18 miles from this place, a body of earth about ninety feet in circumference, sunk, as was supposed on Friday night last - that the earth being held on one side by the roots of a tree at the edge of the opening sunk in a sloping direction, and that the lower part of it was covered with water, in which bottom was not found with a sixteen foot pole. The gentleman saw this opening, but does not know of any other attempt to find bottom was made, there being no pole at hand, when he was there, longer than the sixteen foot one.
From the accounts we have received we believe the Earthquake on Friday morning last was more severe in several parts of the country than in this place - at General Twiggs, about 9 miles below this place, the agitation of the house was so violent as to break fifty squares of glass in the windows, and throughout the neighborhood, the concussion created general alarm.
Savannah, Feb. 10
The inhabitants of our city, had hardly recovered from the alarms excited by the frequent shocks lately experienced, when they were again aroused on Friday morning by a severe and tremendous Earthquake which commenced at about 4 o'clock and continued for two minutes; this awful and most impressive visitation, was preceded by a loud rumbling, resembling the noise of a number of carriages following each other, and the motion of the earth was so violent as to occasion numbers to rush from their beds to their doors, to avoid the danger which might arise from falling buildings. We are happy to state, however, that no injury has been done. The horrizon immediately after the undulation of the earth had ceased, presented a most gloomy and dreadful appearance; the black clouds, which had settled around it, were illuminated as if the whole country to the westward was in flames and for fifteen or twenty minutes, a continued roar of distant, but distinct thunder, added to the solemnity of the scene. A storm of wind and rain succeeded, which continued until about six o'clock, when a vivid flash of lightning was instantaneously followed by a loud peal of thunder; several gentlemen who were in the market at the time distinctly perceived a blaze of fire which fell between the centre and south range of the market. To those who have made the wonders of nature their study, we leave the calculation whether an eruption has taken place in some distant part, or whether we are again to experience still severer trials.
A slight motion sufficient to cause vibrations was distinctly felt at ten minutes before nine on the night succeeding the above, and at eleven another smart shock took place - the clocks, the pendulums of which vibrated North and South stopped, and several rents have been discovered in brick buildings were without doubt occasioned by it.
New Orleans, Feb. 8
There was another shock of an earthquake felt in this city, yesterday morning about half past 3 o'clock - It is said to have been much more strong than the one felt some time ago.
Wednesday, March 11, 1812
Russelville, (Ken.) Feb. 19
We have seen a statement made by a couple of gentlemen just from New Madrid, which says that that place is much torn to pieces by the late Earthquake; so much so, that it is "almost" impossible to get along in any way, but entirely so on horseback. The houses of brick, stone and log are torn to pieces, and those of frame thrown upon their sides. The ground near that place for 100 acres has sunk so low that the tops of the tallest trees can hardly be seen above the water; in other places more than half the length of the timber is under water. The citizens have fled to the mountains, and were, when the informants left there, waiting for an opportunity to move to Kentucky. It is said that they are near one-thousand in number! Merciful God! What a horrid situation. ---
Friday, January 24, 1812
Earthquake - The agitation of the earth described in the subjoined articles was sensibly felt, about the same time as is mentioned below, by many persons in this city, tho' not so violent as it is stated to have been in other places.
A considerable shock of an earthquake was felt on the morning of the 18th (?) inst. at Hackensack, (New Jersey.) It took place a few minutes after 8 o'clock, and continued about 30 seconds. Those who were standing, experienced sensations of dizziness & vertigo. Several ladies who were sitting, complained that they felt as if sitting on a poise, and were afriad of falling from their seats. In an upper chamber, something suspended from the wall was observed to flip sensibly against it.
Monday, January 20, 1812
Alexandria, Dec. 18
On Monday morning last two shocks of an earthquake were sensibly felt in this town, the first between 2 and 3 o'clock, the latter about 8. We do not find it was attended by any peculiar circumstances of portentous effect, but being a circumstance of that rare kind with us, it excited as much curiosity in the inquisitive and wonder in the credulous, as did the stranger's nose in Strasbourg, so satirically related by Sterne. There appeared to be but one shock each time, and its undulations might have continued nearly 30 seconds - It had force enough to shake the furniture in houses and doors upon their hinges, and we have heard some instances of shocks(?) being stopped by its throwing their pendulums out of their regular course of vibration.
A severe shock of an Earthquake was felt at Charlestown, S. C. about the 16th which lasted minutes and caused some of the clocks to stop, the bells to ring and removed houses to such a degree, as to cause the walls to crack.
Monday, February 10, 1812
We are informed that a smart shock of an Earthquake was felt at William Henry, on the 23 ult.
Saturday, February 1, 1812
We are informed that a smart shock of an Earthquake was felt at William Henry, on Thursday se'ennight.
Saturday, February 8, 1812
Another Earthquake - On Thursday morning (says the National Intelligencer) about 10 minutes past nine, another shock of an earthquake was felt in this city, by most of the inhabitants. It appears to have affected some parts of the city more than others; for whilst some were seriously alarmed by it, there are many who did not perceive it - The cups and saucers on breakfast tables were heard to rattle; and picture frames, &c. hanging in the walls, were seen to vibrate.