Encyclopedia Titanica

Graphic Story of Titanic Survivors' Rescue

Pittsburg Architect, passenger on the Carpathia

Pittsburgh Press

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Sketch made by C.M. Hutchison, showing the scene when the Carpathia arrived to rescue the Titanic survivors.

Pittsburg Architect, a passenger on the Carpathia

Writes Graphic Story of Titanic Survivors' Rescue

Bridge of Ill-Starred Liner Deserted When She Struck

Like a blindfolded horse, the Titanic, the most splendid ship ever constructed, dashed at "full speed" into the midst of floating death traps, and crashed into a mountain of ice, while the look-out was vainly-trying to find some officer who could report the danger and change the vessel's course.

With the bridge deserted by the captain or the subordinates, who should have been on duty, the frantic cries of danger from the seaman who had caught sight of the approaching, glittering menace, never reached the men in charge of the ship's engineers, and without a second's pause of the mighty propellers, or swerved by the fraction of an inch from her path, the mammoth of steamers plunged to her doom.

Such is the condemning statement, drawn from irrefutable facts gleaned at first hand from survivors of the frightful disaster, sent to THE PRESS by Charles M. Hutchison, the Pittsburg architect who, with his bride on a honeymoon trip, was a passenger on tbe Carpathia, bound for Gibraltar, when the big Cunarder was intercepted by the Titanic's wireless desperate calls for help.

In the letter written while the Carpathia was returning to New York with her freight of frenzied survivors, filled with the frantic weeping of women who had seen their loved ones drown before their eyes, Mr. Hutchison tells a graphic story of the wreck which appalled the whole civilized world; pictures, from accounts of the Titanic's passengers, the gayety reigning aboard the doomed vessel quickly changed to the horrifying fear of death.

He tells of men and women laughingly pelting one another with snow balls made from the snow shaken from the iceberg onto the deck of the liner, and a short time later grimly standing by while human beings fought like demons to gain a chance for life. Almost to the time the Titanic sank the passengers were deceived by the ship's officers, who declared "There is no danger."

He tells of the criminally inadequate supply of life-saving appliances. He relates the story just as it happened, drawing a sketch to show the mighty iceflow and the icebergs as they swept past the sinking ship. This, is a story told by an eyewitness of one of the most impressive features of the terrible accident, the funeral services conducted over the spot where the Titanic sank.

Sketch made by C. M. Hutchison, showing; the scene when the Carpathia arrived to rescue the Titanic survivors.

Sent by mail from , New, York -Friday, from the steamer, Carpathia ; arrived in Pittsburg yesterday-

ON board the Carpathia, of the Cunard Line, April 18. The night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, was clear and the stars shining brightly. We were steaming along, some 1,200 miles east of New York on our path to Gibraltar, with not a thought of danger, when just a few minutes before midnight our wireless operator picked up the distress signal, S. O. S., coming from the new giant White Star liner Titanic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

She, in order to make a fast trip, was somewhat off her course and struck an enormous iceberg while running at full speed. I will tell what happened from facts that I have gathered since Monday from people who took part in the scenes that followed.

When the ship Btruck there was only the slightest imaginable shock; so slight indeed that only a few people noticed it. The promenades contained many happy people In high spirits at the approaching end of the trip. In the smoking rooms card games were in full blast.


When the collision occurred, the iceberg seemed simply to brush alongside the ship, and the only result was that some ice and a quantity of snow fell onto the deck. The passengers stared in delighted surprise at their first iceberg, which reared its uneven shape fully 70 feet above the water, and then finding the snow lying about the deck, started to pelt each other with snow balls.

The card players continued their games without pause. It was carelessly reported among the passengers that the ship had run into an ice berg, but the officers assured all that there was no danger, as even at the worst the airtight compartments would keep the ship afloat for a day at least. Most of the passengers had retired, and those who were awakened were told by the officers to go to bed again, as there was no danger.

It later developed that the watch in the crow's nest signaled the bridge that there were icebergs ahead, but found no one there. He signaled again, and finally left to try to get the news to the wheel house himself. By the time he reached there the ship struck the iceberg, astern or amidships.

After some time, although the passengers had been assured there was no danger, Capt. Smith issued orders to send the women oft in the lifeboats. There was difficulty in carrying out this order, as few on board thought there was any danger, and most objected to leaving the vessel.


Sixteen lifeboats and two liferafts were finally sent away from the ship, this being all the lifeboats there were on board. The collapsible rafts failed to work, and sank as soon as launched. These 16 boats and two rafts were picked up by our boat, the Carpathia.

The women were taken off the Titanic first, but when the boats were all launched there were still a great many on board. The loading of the first boats was very slow; none of the women wanted to go. They declared that the officers said there was no danger, and insisted that accordingly they did not want to get into the small boats. Comparatively few got in the first boats, and most of them declared they would be back for breakfast.

It was not a great time, however, before the Titanic began to settle and then the passengers were eager to get in the lifeboats, as they realised the deadly quality of their danger. The result was that the few remaining lifeboats were filled to overflowing, while passengers who failed to get a place, jumped overboard, hoping to be picked up by the life boats.


So great was the damage done by the collision that by 1 o'clock In the morning the Titanic was settling rapidly. When the end came she sank stern first, half broadside, and broke in half. Many of the rescued passengers claim there were 2,500 passengers on board, 710 of whom were rescued by our boat.

There were many thrilling rescues of persons who had jumped overboard in hope of being picked up by the boats. One passenger who had been thrown into the water was drawn under by the suction and raised to the surface, and finally was rescued by one of the boats. Another gentleman on board here, told me he owes his life to the fact that someone pushed him overboard as he was assisting a woman into a boat. When the lifeboats became fewer and the passengers realized their dranger, panic reigned and the captain shot himself. Many of those rescued were still in evening dress, not having yet retired.

As the lifeboats were in the distance, their occupants watching the ship settle in the water, the cry of help from those on board the ill fated ship could be heard. Those in the boats had to sit and watch others dear to them going down with the ship.

The lifeboats were not the ones intended for the Titanic, but were only temporary until. the regular ones could be completed. They contained neither food nor water and not one was supplied with a lantern, while all were poorly manned. Some. boats were launched with but two or three men to do the rowing, and in many instances there were women at the oars. In one boat the plug was lost out of the bottom and a woman stopped the hole with her hand.


That the boats might follow each other and keep; together, bits of paper, letters and handkerchiefs torn into strips were burned. There seems to have been less than a third enough lifeboats on the Titanic to take care of the passengers in case of accident.

Our ship, when she received the wireless, at once turned north, to the location given by the wireless, and we covered some 60 miles before we met the first lifeboats of the Titanic. The giant boat, the most wonderful afloat, was nowhere to be seen on the surface of the wide sea. By this time we were entirely surrounded by an enormous field of ice and icebergs, and at one time I counted 25 of them. It was wonderful how our captain,. A. H. Rostron, steered the ship in and out amongst them. The ice field has been estimated by many on board the Carpathia, at being 25 miles in extent, with icebergs standing up in them as high as 100 feet. Then there were countless floating icebergs, which practically surrounded the ship. I have some eight or ten pictures I took of these icebergs.

After the wireless had been received as to the danger of the Titanic, everything on board the Carpathia was made ready to receive the boats with the passengers of the lost ship. The first lifeboat from the Titanic was sighted, and its passengers were taken on board at 4 o'clock Monday morning, April 15. The last boatload was taken on board by 7 a. m.


The last two boats each contained one dead sailor, dead from cold and exposure. Two others died later in the day. All were buried, at sea, after services held at 3:30 o'clock by Father Anderson, of Baltimore, an Episcopal monk. The iron doors at the side of our boat were opened and a platform let down. The bodies, after being sewed up in sail cloth and weighted at the feet to make them strike the water feet first, were laid on slabs or boards, and covered with a British flag. After a prayer the flag was lifted and the bodies pushed off the slabs feet first, and making as little splash as possible: One, however, struck flat, and I shall never forget the sound of the splash.

Our crew worked heroically, taking the rescued onto our boat, and there wasn't the least sign of confusion. The iron doors at the side of our ship were opened and rope, ladders let down. The women were drawn up on a swing, the men who were able climbed the rope ladder and the children and babies were hauled up after being placed in a canvas sack.

About 12, of the lifeboats of the Titanic were raised to the deck of our ship. The balance, with the liferafts, were set adrift. Our ship, after cruising around in the hope of picking up more lifeboats, returned to the location where the Titanic had gone down, and at the request of our captain, Father Anderson read the prayer of interment, the benediction of interment, the prayer of consolation and the prayer of thanksgiving for those who were saved.


Our captain then decided to return to New York. All the rescued were made as comfortable as possible, and everything, done for them in the way of clothing. We gave up our cabin to Mrs. Smith, daughter of Congressman Hughes, of West Virginia, who lost her husband he being one of the men left on board the Titanic. We doubled up in the cabin of Mr. and Mrs. Iddiols, of St. Louis, Mo.

At noon Monday our ship turned and put back for New York which we hope to reach some time Thursday night or Friday morning. The fog has been heavy and we are delayed.

After we had picked up all the lifeboats from the Titanic we sighted the Californian, a freight steamer. She was signaled to remain in case there might possibly be more lifeboats adrift. Later we sighted the Burma another freight steamer.

The iceberg, which the Titanic struck was enormous in size and reached to the upper deck of the ship, which was 70 feet above the water-line.

- - -

The following letter was sent by Mr. Hutchison to his parents

At Sea
Royal Mail Steamship Carpathia, April 18. 1912.
Dear Mother and Dad: -
I started a letter to you soon after we left New York, but now I will have to write another, as everything has been upset. When we were four days out from New York our boat received a wireless from a ship in distress. It proved to be the new giant White Star liner Titanic, which had struck an iceberg. You have, no doubt, seen by the papers, how our ship rescued 710 of the passengers of the magnificent boat which went to the bottom. It was a wonderful sight and one which we shall never forget, the way our ship rescued the people.

It is estimated that there were close to 2.000 went down with the Titanic. It has been one of the worst disasters in our time. Just think—this great ship, making her first trip, with so many notable people on board, going to the bottom of the ocean. It makes me feel as though the risk of an ocean trip was't worth what we will gain in knowledge. However, we feel now as though we shall go on. You know we are now on our way back to New Jork with the 710 people we rescued from the ill-fated ship. We have made the acquaintance of a Mr. and Mrs. Iddiols from St. Louis. We have doubled up with them, and have given up our cabin to a Mrs. Smith, of West Virginia. She is the daughter of Senator Hughes of West Virginia, and has lost her husband. She told me she knew of 16 women who have lost their husbands. It seems as though the women were taken off first and, when they were all off, there were no lifeboats for the men, so most of the lost were men.

Among the men were John Jacob Astor. Mr. Chase of the Standard Oil Co., and Maj. Butt, aid to the President. Mrs. Astor, who was Madeline Force, Is rescued and is on our ship. We expect to be in New York bv tonight and this will be mailed to you at once. We are safe and enjoyed the trip immensely until we rescued these poor ship wrecked people. Ever since the ship is more like a cemetery than a boat. I have written an account of the disaster, of some 10 pages which I expect to send to THE PITTSBURG PRESS. So you may see the account in that paper. Goodby. Best wishes to all. CHARLES M. HUTCHISON.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) Graphic Story of Titanic Survivors' Rescue (Pittsburgh Press, Sunday 21st April 1912, ref: #469, published 19 May 2021, generated 21st March 2023 11:33:12 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/pittsburg-architect-a-passenger-on-the-carpathia.html