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police had gone on board the Taboga, disarmed the passengers and removed the ship's gun.
While the other officials were absent on the above errand, Mr. Center who had remained behind started take a look about the depot. He found the freight room filled with men, women and children, all trying to screen themselves from the firing, then very brisk, and in a state of the wildest excitement. From here he entered the office where he found a group of men trying to keep the outer door closed. He proceeded to assist them, and while doing so saw a man killed before his eyes. On the floor of the office lay four or five of the dead and wounded.
Leaving the scene of the slaughter he next managed to get a plank over the beams of the freight door, and looking out upon the Cienaga, he distinctly saw the police outside the depot firing deliberately into it, Col. Garrido with his sword drawn cheering and urging them on. Proceeding from here to one of the rooms in the upper story
of the station, Mr. Center discovered two of the passengers trying to hold a door shut. Even as he approached them, they were both shot, one dying instantly and the other in a few hours. The natives finally forced a
passage into the freight room, and commenced to rifle and plunder carpet bags, and trunks, while the frightened passengers congregated here, cried for mercy.
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When Mr. Nelson and Capt. McLane reached the station after leaving the Governor, they found the police outside in a very excited state. They claimed they had been fired upon from the upper story of the depot, and were desirous of retaliating in the same manner. Upon Capt. McLane promising investigation, Col. Garrido ordered further demonstrations upon the part of the police to cease, and together they went to the room upstairs in the depot from which the shots were alleged to have come. This room they found filled with women and children, the few men there declaring they had never fired a shot.
About this time the authorities had obtained the ascendancy over the mob, and as soon as possible the remaining women and children were conveyed on board the steamer. Some of the passengers had taken to the bushes in the outskirts of town, and a search party was sent out to round them up. One was met who said he had been robbed by men calling themselves policemen.
An examination of the railroad office after the riot, revealed a terrible sight. The dead and wounded lay about the floor, some of the former horribly mutilated. books. papers and furniture of the company were destroyed. An attempt had been made to break open the large iron safe, a hole having actually been made through the exterior plate. Outside, some of the cars had been damaged, rails taken up, and the telegraph wires cut. The attempt to fire the depot providentially failed. The streets approaching the station were strewn with cut open trunks, and discarded material from the sacked buildings.
The lives of sixteen Americans are known to have been lost in the riot, all but two, passengers of the steamer Illinois from New York. Of these, only four or five were identified. The wounded numbered about fifty. Among the victims of the tragedy was Nathan Preble, a descendant of Commodore Preble, the noted American naval officer. (1)
The U. S. Ship, St. Mary, arrived in Panama Bay on the 23d, following the occurrence, and the "Panama Star & Her. 11" of April 29th, 1856, contains the following correspondence between its commander, Capt. T. Bailey, and the Governor of Panama, with reference to the affair:
"U. S. Ship, St. Mary,
His Excellency, Don F. de Fabrega,
Governor of Panama.
On the 15th inst., several citizens of the United States,
(1). The occurrences herein related are based upon depositions made by Mr. Center and Mr. Wm. Nelson of the Panama Railroad Company, and statement made by Capt. McLane of P. M. S. S. Co., pub. lished in the Star & Herald of April 19th, 1856.--Editor.