Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Fatalities on the steamer General Slocum turned out to be much higher than early reports indicated; in the end, more than 1,000 people died. The captain was later convicted of criminal negligence and served three years of a 10-year term in Sing Sing before being pardoned by President Taft. An excerpt from the Post of June 16, 1904:

One of the most appalling disasters in the history of New York, tragic in its immensity, dramatic in its episodes, and deeply pathetic in the tender age of most of its victims, took place to-day in the East River, at the entrance to Long Island Sound, a short distance from the New York shore and within sight of thousands of persons, the majority of whom were powerless to minimize the extent of the catastrophe.

By the burning to the water's edge of the Gen. Slocum, a three-decked excursion steamer, the largest in these waters, more than 600 persons, the majority of whom were women and children, were burned to death or drowned by jumping overboard or by being thrown into the whirlpools by the lurching of the vessel and the frantic rush of the panic-stricken passengers.

Approximately 500 bodies have been recovered and are now being tagged at the morgues of Bellevue Hospital and Harlem. Divers were still busy at a late hour taking bodies from the hold of the vessel, which they say is choked with the remains of human beings, while the bodies of scores who leaped or were thrown into the river have not been recovered. ...

Great preparations had been made for the seventeenth annual excursion of the Sunday-school of St. Mark's German Lutheran Church, the congregation of which is drawn from the dense population of the lower east and west sides, and the Gen. Slocum had been chartered to carry the excursionists to Locust Grove, one of the many resorts on Long Island Sound. ...

The scene on the decks of the steamer as she proceeded up the East River was one of merrymaking ... The mass of flags fluttered in the June breeze, the bands were playing, and the children were singing, dancing, and waving handkerchiefs and flags ...

At the extreme eastern end of Randalls Island, off 135th street ... just as crowds were watching the gaily decorated steamer from the shore, the Gen. Slocum took fire, and ... was soon a mass of flame.

The fire is said to have broken out in a lunch room ... through the overturning of a pot of grease. The wind was high and all efforts to subdue the fire were futile.

Capt. William Van Schaik, in command of the Gen. Slocum, headed his vessel for North Brother Island, one of Twin Islands near the entrance to the sound some half a mile away, where the boat, partially burned, was beached. She sank near this place at 12:15 o'clock this afternoon, two hours and twenty-five minutes after the fire was discovered.

Long before this the passengers had become panic-stricken and those who were not caught up by the flames rushed to the rear of the vessel, and hundreds jumped overboard into the swiftly-running waters. It is alleged that the life preservers were too securely fastened to their holdings to be available, and stories are told of frantic efforts made by strong men to cut them loose. ... According to several statements no attempt was made to lower boats or life rafts. ...

The after rail gave way and the passengers who had crowded against it were pushed into the river. Mothers and children became separated and frantically sought each other, while in several cases fathers and mothers, gathering their children together, jumped with them into the water. Little children holding each other by the hand jumped together and were afterward found clasped in each other's arms. ...

Gen. Slocum's whistles kept blowing for assistance, but before the whistles began to blow several tugs, the captains of which had seen the outbreak of the fire, started after the vessel, joined by a yacht, while rowboats put out from the shore.

... Men crowded to the rails of the tugs, and caught up the drowning persons as they were borne by the current. There were many thrilling rescues by this means.

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