Nathan Rector Explosion at Sewanee Tennessee
The following first hand account of what is known to be the Explosion at Sewanee Tennessee on 8
August 1863. is from the letter that Captain A. Piatt Andrew III wrote to his sister about the explosion;
Karen Niebrzydowski found these items and
shared them; she is a Rector descendant.
Aug. 9, 1863
I feel very little like writing this afternoon, and would not, but I fear you may hear of the misfortune which befell
our company yesterday afternoon from others and may entertain some anxiety concerning me.
We had our ammunition taken from the chests for the purpose of airing it,...when there occurred a
Eight men were badly burnt. Corporals Rector, Hess ...Corporal Hess and
Rector are from Marshall County. Corporal Hess is badly injured, he may survive. Rector I think will recover. He is
in more pain than some others, but I think his injuries are not so disabling.
Love to all.
A. Piatt Andrew
On August 12, he wrote:
"Sunday evening, Corporal Hess died and Monday he was buried with military honors.I will never forget the pitif ul call of my gunner—Corporal Rector—
though life should be spared me a hundred years. Corporal Rector is very badly burnt, dangerously so, and his recovery is very
doubtful. This morning I saw him and he appeared much easier. He is from Marshall County and an honor to it, for a braver,
bettersoldier never left the state of Indiana. He is one of my gunners and I will miss him greatly.
A final letter dated August 22, 1863 states:
“Corporals Hess and Rector of our company,... have died from the effect of burning. ”
Therefore Nathan Rector did not die immediately but was in anguish from the time of the explosion on Aug. 8th until his death
on Aug. 14th.
The Samuel Mitchell Story
Possible sources for theses letters :
Andrew, Abram Piatt Civil War Letters 1925 146 pages. Library of Congress
Andrew, Abram Piatt Letters Indiana Historical Society
Battery Papers and Correspondence Indiana Archives
Other possible accounts avaiable
Title: Letter from Edward Peet Williams, August 13, 1863
Document type: Letter
Accessibility: Paid Only
Repository: Alexander Street Press
Collection: The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries (Subscription only)
Document location: Sewanee, TN
Document date: 13-Aug-1863