Our readers who heard the fire bells ring between 8 and 9 o’clock, this morning had no idea that just at that time a terrible explosion had taken place in the southern part of the city, and that a number of men and women had been killed as terribly and suddenly as if they had been blown from the mouth of a cannon. The explosion took place at the corner of Tenth and Reed streets, and just above the junction of the Pasayunk road. The fireworks and cartridge manufactory of Professor Samuel Jackson, was blown up, in some as yet, unaccountable manner, the edifice taking fire and in a short time leaving only a few ruins. The building was a one story frame, located, on a lot about one hundred feet square. A portion of it, occupied as an office, was substantially built of brick, and most of the walls are still standing.
Prof. Jackson was engaged in filling a heavy order for cartridges for the United States government, and had about 50 girls and about 24 men working for him. The cause of the explosion is as yet unexplained. Its effects were terrible. The edifice was scattered in ruins; at least four or five of the work people were killed instantly, and two or three of them were blown to minute fragments. The adjacent property also suffered. – Nearly every window pane for a square around were broken, fences were demolished, and fragments of human flesh where flung on top of high roofs and smeared over walls. A head, probably that of a man, was blown nearly a square up town, landing on Ellsworth street. A policeman picked up nearly a barrel full of arms, entrails, legs and other pieces of bodies, just after the explosion. One or two females were blown into Tenth Street, with their clothes all in a blaze. The police and citizens immediately rendered all the aid possible, and the ruins were examined at once. The dead and wounded were carried out and placed in various neighboring dwellings, drug-stores, &c., while some of the injured were taken to the Pennsylvania hospital.
Thus far the bodies of Edward Jackson, the son of the proprietor, and a boy named John Mehaffy, have been recognized. The latter had his head blown off. Young Jackson was shockingly mutilated. His head was partly destroyed and almost all the flesh burned from the bones. Mehaffy resided on Earp street, below Ninth.
The greater portion of the wounded were conveyed to the Pennsylvania Hospital. The extent of the injuries of each has not been ascertained, but the physicians are of the opinion that there are no fatal cases among them.
In addition to those taken to the hospital, quite a number were conveyed to their own residences, after having their injuries dressed at neighboring drug-stores, or in dwelling-houses, in the vicinity, all of which were thrown open for the reception of the unfortunate persons.
The fate of many of the victims of the terrible disaster this morning is still unknown.
Out of the 78 persons employed in the building only 61 have thus far been accounted for, including four known to be killed.
One of the men missing is supposed to have been blown to atoms.
Of the 40 of 50 wounded at the hospitals and at their residence, it is feared that a considera [the rest of the article was cut off when the newspaper was microfilmed.]
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 3