One hundred years ago this weekend, the RMS Titanic sank, claiming the lives over 1,500 passengers and crew. In this account, Dr. Washington Dodge recounts his tale of survival. Written on board the RMS Carpathia during the three-day journey back to New York, this eyewitness account is one of the earliest and most compelling accounts of the disaster. Dodge’s handwriting and sentence phrasing offer a glimpse into his state of mind as he penned his testimony.
When boat 13 was lowered to A deck to be loaded I went to this deck – After 8 or 10 women had been placed aboard, no [struck: furt] other women or  children [struck: resp] were within hearing to respond to the officers call. A number of men then climbed over the rail into the boat, when some one pushed me from behind and shouted get in doctor. I climed in and in a few moments the boat was filled & orders given to lower – As we were lowered boat 15 which had been loaded from the boat deck, was also being lowered – By this we were for a few minutes placed in a perilous position – which threated our destruction – We observed as we neared the water that our boat was being lowered directly into the immense volume of water thrown out from the ships side by the condenser pump – On the Titanic this was a stream [struck: from 3 to 1] about 3 feet in diameter, which was thrown with great force 6 or 8 feet from the ship [struck: s]. It would instantly have swamped our boat – To add to our anxiety boat 15 had swung directly over our heads owing to the fact that the steamer [struck: was] had settled several feet [inserted: into the water] at her bow – Both boats were being lowered when our loud cries of warning were heard above & the lowering of both boats arrested – [struck: As] We had no officer or seaman in our boat to direct us but fortunately were able to disengage an oar, and with it [struck: we] push the bow of our boat, which overhung the threatening waters from the pump, 8 or 10 feet from the ships side when releasing the trigger we dropped into the water & were at once swept away from the steamers side by great force of [inserted: the] water – The ocean being as calm as the waters of a smooth flowing river we rowed off to overtake a boat having a lantern aboard, we being unable to find one in our boat – [struck: At the] Having rowed about 1/4 mile we found ourselves in close proximity to five boats – We observed the closing incidents the gradual submergence of the ship forward – The final extinguishment suddenly of all her lights – The final plunge downward – [inserted: as a shooting star fell from the Zenith visable nearly to the horizon –]
Learn more about the Titanic and Washington Dodge on our Featured Primary Source page with an introduction and full transcript. Discussion questions are available on that page for our Affilate School Program members.
This document is on exhibit through June 3, 2012, at the DiMenna Children’s History Musem at the New-York Historical Society.