From the Richmond Dispatch, 8/8/1864, p.1, c. 6
Terrible Explosion of Shell – Eight People Killed. – On Saturday last the town of Manchester was the scene of an accident attended with the most serious and deplorable results. It seems that at about two o’clock on that day, two wagons, loaded with shells taken from the battlefield, drove up to C. Bradley’s foundry in Manchester, near the foot of Mayo’s bridge, at which it was intended to recant them. One of these wagons having been unloaded, was driven off some distance, and its driver returned to assist in unloading the other wagon. – Several persons, among them three white boys, were standing around the wagon. While throwing out the shells, one of them, which unfortunately turned out to be loaded, was exploded, communicating fire to a number of others in the wagon, which, by some terrible mistake or oversight, we also loaded. The report which ensued was distinctly heard in all parts of this city and resembled in sound that of the loudest clap of thunder, succeeded by occasional reports of a less violent character, causing *** the most strange and improbable. Fragments of shells were thrown to the four quarters, some to a considerable distance, others passing through the rear of Mr. Bradley’s Foundry, without, however, inflicting any other damage than that caused by several large holes cut through the house, the workmen escaping without injury. Sad to relate, those who were immediately around the spot fared far differently and every one of them, eight in number, were killed. Three of the number were little white boys, who had been in the habit of playing around the foundry and were repeatedly warned by Mr. Bradley of the danger risked in doing so. Besides the shocking manner in which they were mutilated, the clothes of the victims took fire and burned almost entirely off them.
The following is a correct list of those who were killed:
William Seaward, aged eleven years, son of Joseph E. Seaward, an employee at Bradley’s foundry, had both arms broken, both feet cut off and his body mangled.
John Stywald, aged six years, son of William H. Stywald, Mrs. Bradley’s foreman entrails cut out, legs and arms broken and head mashed.
William Massaker, aged about nine years, son of William Massaker, who is engaged at the Manchester cotton factory, wounded through the body, limbs and head.
Charles Thomas, slave of Mrs. Gee, of Culpeper; Abner Johnson, slave of Alexander Hill’s estate; Davy, slave of ____ Hudson, of this city; Robert, slave of Alexander Moody, of Chesterfield, and Charles, slave of James Cooper, of Manchester. The three last named were employees at the Manchester foundry. The bodies of these negroes were literally blown to pieces, the brains of one of them having been carried in one connected lump to a considerable distance, which fragments of limbs strewed the ground, presenting a spectacle alike ghastly and revolting. At one spot could be seen the head of a negro, as it seemed with the brains scooped out; at others, pools of smoking blood causing the spectator to turn away in horror and sickness of heart. Even the poor animals attached to the wagons did not escape, two of them being severely cut about the legs and another having his eyes entirely put out, while the wagon itself was torn to atoms.
One of the negroes did not die until a few hours after the explosion, though it is remarkable, considering the nature of his injuries, that his death was not instantaneous. Both of his eyes were put out, half of his mouth and chin were cut off, one foot and one hand were cut off, the flesh from his left arm was town off, a hole was cut through his skull large enough to insert an egg, and other ghastly wounds were observable on different parts of his body. Notwithstanding all these wounds, he lay on the ground, struggling and rolling about in his own gore, and occasionally ejaculating, “Oh, Lord,” “Come to me” “Go away,” &c.
Strange to say, all who were struck by the shells were killed, and not another person was wounded, though Mr. Bradley himself, who was in the rear part of his shop, was so near to the scene of the explosion that his face was blackened very much by the powder, and a fragment of shell which entered the building passed within a half an inch of his head. This gentleman lost an arm about three years since by the explosion of a shell with which he was experimenting. His escape from death is truly astonishing.