The Sinking of the Titanic: On This Day, April 15

On the night of April 14–15, 1912, the world’s largest passenger steamship, the RMS Titanic, sank in the Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage, with approximately 1,500 people still on board. This letter, written on Carpathia stationery by first-class passenger Doctor Washington Dodge, is a vivid account of the sinking that describes the Titanic’s final hours. It is one of the earliest, most immediate, and compelling accounts of the disaster. In addition, the carelessness of Dodge’s handwriting offers a glimpse into his state of mind as he penned his testimony.


Washington Dodge, Eyewitness account of sinking of the Titanic, April 15, 1912. Awakened about 11:40 by a violent jar . . . I went out to the promenade deck and soon learned that we had run into ice . . . and I had heard a passenger state that he saw an iceberg pass the stern of the vessel . . . about 70 feet above water . . . [I] returned to my stateroom . . . [h]aving been told there was no danger . . . The officers in charge of loading the boats were cool and masterful, preventing as far as possible all disorder and enforcing the command to load care for women and children first. 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 furt other women or children 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 from 3 to about 3 feet in diameter, which was thrown with great force 6 or 8 feet form the ship 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 was had settled several feet at her bow - Both boats were being lowered when our loud cries of warning were heard above & the lowering of both boats arrested - As We had no officer or seaman in our boat to direct us but fortunately were able to disengage an oar, and with it we push the bow of our boat . . .


Read the full letter and find out more about Dr. Dodge