|MISSISSIPPI STEAMBOAT MEN IN MARK TWAIN'S WRITINGS|
Henry Clemens, Sam's younger brother, died June 21, 1858 as a result of injuries received in the explosion of the PENNSYLVANIA on June 13, 1858. Sam related the incident in Chapter 20 of Life on the Mississippi. After an altercation with Pilot William Brown, Sam left the PENNSYLVANIA in New Orleans on June 5. Henry continued on in his capacity as a "mud clerk" with the PENNSYLVANIA and was on board when the boat exploded.
Clemens' comments: I had found a place on the PENNSYLVANIA
for my brother Henry, who was two years my junior. It was not a place of profit,
it was only a place of promise. He was "mud" clerk. Mud clerks received
no salary, but they were in the line of promotion. They could become, presently,
third clerk and second clerk, then chief clerk - that is to say, purser.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography
Survivors of the PENNSYLVANIA explosion were taken ashore at Memphis, Tennessee. On June 16, 1858 the Memphis Eagle and Enquirer reported on the arrival of Samuel Clemens who had rushed to be at Henry's side after the disaster:
We witnessed one of the most affecting scenes at the Exchange
yesterday that has ever been seen. The brother of Mr. Henry Clemens, second
clerk of the Pennsylvania, who now lies dangerously ill from the injuries received
by the explosion of that boat, arrived in the city yesterday afternoon, on the
steamer A. T. LACY. He hurried to the Exchange to see his brother, and on approaching
the bedside of the wounded man, his feelings so much overcame him, at the scalded
and emaciated form before him, that he sunk to the floor overpowered. There
was scarcely a dry eye in the house; the poor sufferers shed tears at the sight.
This brother had been pilot on the Pennsylvania, but fortunately for him, had
remained in New Orleans when the boat started up.
- Memphis Eagle and Enquirer, 16 June 1858
Illustration of Sam at his dying brother's bedside. From SUNDAY MAGAZINE, March 29, 1908.
In undated newspaper clipping Clemens later wrote:
He lingered in fearful agony seven days and a half, during which time he had
full possession of his senses, only at long intervals, and then but for a few
moments at a time. His brain was injured by the concussion, and from that moment
his great intellect was a ruin. We were not sorry his wounds proved fatal, for
if he had lived he would have been but the wreck of his former self.
- "My brother, Henry Clemens..." incomplete and unidentified newspaper located in Clemens' papers at the Mark Twain Project at the University of California, Berkeley
|After Henry's death, the steamer HANNIBAL CITY transported Samuel Clemens and the body of his dead brother from St. Louis back to Hannibal, Missouri for burial.|
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