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The San Francisco Daily Morning Call, September 13, 1864


On Wednesday evening last, while Jerome Rice, the well-known auctioneer, of this city, and Rowland B. Gardner, one of his clerks, were on their way to the Warm Springs, near Santa Clara, they lost their way in the hills north of Vallejo Mills, and the night being somewhat dark, they drove over an embankment twenty feet high. Mr. Rice fell upon his head, and the force of the concussion crushed in the base of his skull and fractured his collar bone, a fragment of which pierced one of his lungs. Mr. Gardner's left thigh was broken, and his body considerably bruised. Mr. Rice groaned in pain and muttered incoherent words at intervals, but was never conscious up to the hour of his death, which occurred at two o'clock yesterday morning, nearly three days and a half after the accident. All Wednesday night, and all Thursday and Thursday night, through the blistering sun, and the cold, benumbing air of evening, the two men lay side by side and suffered inconceivable tortures from hunger and burning thirst and the sharp pain of their stiffening wounds; and Gardner spent the lonely hours in calling for the help that never came, for himself and his insensible companion, until he could no longer speak for hoarseness and exhaustion. Think of the raging fires in a throat subjected to such exercise as this, when no water had moistened it for a day and two nights! On Friday morning Mr. Gardner began his terrible journey in search of assistance, and for two days and nights, without food or water, he crawled backwards, by the aid of his hands, in a half sitting, half reclining posture, and dragging his broken leg. Every movement must have caused him exquisite agony; the anguish of such a march cannot even be imagined. And the distance accomplished in those forty-eight hours of suffering was only half a mile. On Sunday morning he reached the vicinity of a field and attracted the attention of a man at work in it, and the two unfortunate men were soon conveyed to a neighboring house, and kindly cared for. When they went after Mr. Rice, one of the carriage horses had long since wandered away; but "Roanoke," an old favorite and the property of Mr. Rice, was found keeping faithful watch over his prostrate master, and gazing upon his face. The noble brute had never deserted his post for three days and a half - hunger and thirst had failed to drive him from his allegiance. If at any time, during the two days his comrade was absent from his side, the unfortunate man awoke from his delirium and realized that he was desolate and alone, and far from human help, it must have been some relief to his tortured mind, in that fleeting moment of consciousness - some balm to his aching wounds, some sense of friendly companionship to him in his loneliness - to see the eyes of his faithful horse looking down into his own, in mute sympathy for his distress. Mr. Rice's head, face and body were swollen in an extraordinary degree, and blackened and blistered by the fervent heat of the sun. After lingering in misery for so many hours, death at last put an end to his sufferings at two o'clock yesterday morning. His wife and family, who have been enduring for four years all the privations and misfortunes that war could entail upon them in a section of Texas desolated alternately by both contending parties, and whom he had not seen and scarcely ever heard from during that time, will arrive here from Boston, (to which port they lately escaped,) day after to-morrow, on the steamer Golden City. After the long separation and the hardships that have fallen to their life, it is cruel now to dash down the cup of happiness when it had almost touched their very lips. Who, among all the brave men that shall read this sad chapter of disasters, could carry, with firm nerve, the bitter tidings to the unsuspecting widow and her orphans, and uncoffin before them a mutilated corpse in place of the loving husband and father they are yearning to embrace? Mr. Gardner is at Centreville, under medical treatment, but the remains of Mr. Rice will be brought to the city and kept until the arrival of the steamer, so that the stricken family may have the sad consolation of looking upon them before they are consigned to the grave.

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