Richmond Dispatch, 6/7/1861

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From the Richmond Dispatch, 6/7/1861, p. 3

Terrific Explosion. - Shortly after 8 o'clock yesterday morning, the citizens residing in the neighborhood of Clay street M. E. Church were startled by a loud noise resembling the discharge of ordnance, soon followed by the crash of falling timber, bricks and other building material. On repairing to the scene of disaster the noise was found to have been caused but he explosion of about one pound of fulminating powder, in the house of Mr. Edward T. Finch, chemist, residing on the North side of Clay street, corner of Adams, which had entirely destroyed the house by cracking the side walls, overthrowing and upturning the roof, throwing down a large portion of the rear wall, breaking down partitions, blowing out window sash and generally rendering the establishment a complete wreck. Parties who repaired to the assistance of the inmates found Mr. Finch and a negro girl, who was assisting him in preparing the detonating material, entirely covered by the debris of the roof and second story rear room, where the explosion took place. After considerable exertion they were extricated from the mass of matter with which they were covered. It was at first thought both were dead, as neither showed any sign of life till some expedients had been used to restore animation. The other inmates of the house consisting of Mrs. Finch, five small children and a negro woman, who were in the story below the one in which the explosion occurred, suffered no material damage therefrom, but, as may be imagined, were nearly frightened out of their wits.

Drs. Thomas, Tatem, Hundley, Davis, and Wm. E. Anderson, attended Mr. Finch, who was carried to the house of Mr. Chas. Habliston, a neighbor. His injuries were great - laceration of the eye-lids and face, the latter being burned nearly black, and body very much bruised. The forefinger of the right hand was so nearly gone that it was deemed adviseable to amputate it at the root. The thumb of the same hand was also cut off at the first joint, being in such a state that it was deemed impossible to save it. The situation of Mr. Finch was so critical that it is possible that he may not survive his injuries. The sight of both eyes is said to be irretrievably gone, the balls having been destroyed. Mr. Finch was removed to the Infirmary of St. Francis de Sales.

Drs. McClure, Tatem and C. E. Anderson attended the negro girl. It is thought a portion of the brick wall fell on her. She had a long cut down her thigh, and severe cuts in two other places on her leg, which were sewed up by Dr. Tatem, who took from one of her limbs a deeply imbedded piece of hoop skirt. The girl was very badly injured, but will probably recover. The house occupied by Mr. Finch was of brick, and owned by J. Milhiser. The police authorities sent workmen to the scene of disaster, who were engaged all of yesterday in removing the walls, &c., the danger of their falling being imminent. Some of the piping and window glass of the Methodist Church were bent in and smashed up. Mr. Finch, when the unfortunate occurrence took place, was preparing cap powder for the use of the Confederate Army.

Page last updated on 01/15/2008