Who was General Slocum?

June 15th marks the 106th anniversary of the General Slocum disaster, when a paddle steamer packed with mothers and children on a church trip caught fire in the East River. 

More than 1,000 people, mainly residents of the East Village’s huge German community, perished.

Most New Yorkers know of the S.S. General Slocum. But who was General Slocum the man, and why did his name land on excursion boat associated with the greatest loss of life in city history, aside from  9/11?

Henry Warner Slocum was a Union general during the Civil War who fought in Gettysburg. Prospect Park is home to a heroic bronze statue of Slocum on horseback in battle.

After the war, he became a congressman from New York, then served as commissioner of public works for the city of Brooklyn.

When he died in 1894, thousands of Brooklynites paid their respects by lining the streets to watch his funeral procession go from his home on Clinton Avenue to Lafayette Street, South Oxford, Hanson Place, and then Fourth Avenue.

He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery unaware of the horror that occurred aboard his namesake ship. 

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6 Responses to “Who was General Slocum?”

  1. Steve Says:

    Let us not forget the Brooklyn telephone exchange – My number was SLOCUM 6 in Flatbush.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    And there’s a tiny street called Slocum Place not too far from Prospect Park, near the Beverly Road Q stop.

  3. Nabe News: June 7 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] 15 marks the 106th anniversary of the General Slocum disaster in the East River.  A boat on a church trip caught fire, killing 1,000 people, mostly German residents of the Lower […]

  4. Gary Says:

    There was also a Fort Slocum in New Rochelle:


  5. East 26th Street: New York’s “Misery Lane” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] found after the General Slocum disaster were brought here to be identified—as were the horribly burned corpses of Triangle Fire victims […]

  6. A faded memorial marks a horrific 1904 tragedy | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] faded marble fountain dedicated to the 1,021 victims of the General Slocum disaster is not easy to find in Tompkins Square […]

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