By a letter from a gentleman on his way to New Orleans, addressed to his friend in this place, we learn that the earthquake was very violent on the Mississippi — The banks gave way in various directions – 10 to 15 acres of ground have sunk down in a body, and one or two of the Chickasaw bluffs had chiefly fallen in – trees were prodigiously shaken, broken off and torn up by the roots as is usual in the most violent storms.  Nearly all the islands in the river containing from one to two hundred acres have sunk or cracked to a very great extent. — The trees that lay concealed in the river, are said to have been raised erect several feet out of the water, as those shocks succeeded each other.  The atmosphere was also sensibly impregnated with a sulphurous smell.

At New Madrid the shocks have been uncommonly violent—throwing down chimneys and houses and compelling one-third of the inhabitants to remove from the place to the adjacent hills and the remainder to encamp in tents in open fields.  The earth was so convulsed as to render it difficult for one to keep their perpendicular position — the motion being estimated at about 12 inches to and fro.  The shocks were accompanied with a partial darkness, tremendous noise, and sulphurous smell.  Sixty-seven shocks have been witnessed in all, which have split and cracked the earth in an hundred places in the neighborhood.  During the violent shocks the people by their yells and shrieks, discovered their extreme alarm, and upon one of those occasions a lady was known to faint and never recovered! — The face of the country, below, about Little Prairie, has almost entirely changed — large lakes having been converted into dry land, and fields into lakes — the banks of the river fallen in — mills destroyed, and the earth cracked in every direction.  The St. Francis was at one time very low — at another overflowing the surrounding country.  At the Little Prairie the Mississippi is said to have formed an eddy, and presented a retrograde [motion?], and in 15 or 20 minutes afterwards resumed its course and rose about 5 feet.  Seven Indians were said to have been swallowed up in one of those apertures in the earth, one of which only made his escape, who states, that this quandary was foretold by the Shawnee Prophet [Tenskwatawa] for the destruction of the Whites.

Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the
History Department of Hanover College.


How to cite this article:  "Earthquake," Western Spy (Cincinnati, Ohio), 1 Feb. 1812, p. 2, available at