History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
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The Great Eastern is Coming!

The Great Eastern is Coming!
A Grand Carnival at Hartford, Conn.
on Friday, Sept. 29th, 1865.

The Connecticut State Library at Hartford lists this broadside in its catalog, maker not stated, as a “Satyrical broadside in the form of a playbill ridiculing failure of the attempt in the summer of 1865 to lay an Atlantic submarine telegraphic cable.”

The Terrible was in the company of the Great Eastern when the cable parted and was marked with buoys for future recovery. She steamed on to St. John’s while the Great Eastern returned to England after failing in four attempts to grapple to the surface the parted cable, which was under two miles of water.

The Knights of the Silver Cross was a mutual benefit society; in 1866 its members marched in a parade in Hartford celebrating the 90th anniversary of American independence.

Image from An Atlantic Telegraph: The Transcendental Cable by Robert Dalton Harris and Diane DeBlois. Schoharie, NY, The Ephemera Society of America, Inc., 1994, 80 pp., quarto. Reproduced here by kind permission of the authors.


The Great Eastern is Coming!
A Grand Carnival at Hartford, Conn. on Friday, Sept. 29th, 1865.

Overall size 23" x 9"


The ‘Great Eastern”                 The ‘Terrible”

A Grand Carnival
at Hartford, Conn.
On Friday, Sept. 29th, 1865

Knights of the Silver Cross
will lay
The Atlantic Cable
and receive
Field, DeSauty
And Company with Distinguished Honors.

The Atlantic Telegraph Co. after making two unsuccessful attempts to lay the Cable, have disposed of their interest in the Cable including the entire machinery and apparatus together with the Great Eastern and its attendants to the Knights of the Silver Cross, who having thoroughly remodeled the machinery and re-charged the batteries, will connect the two Continents on the day above mentioned.

The Lost Boy
with the
in his Pocket.
Consternation of the
The "Sodomites"
from "Sodom."
Ye "Santa Anna Guards"
from the City of Mexico.
and the
Owls of the Northern Roos
will all appear in the Procession.

Order of Procession.
Grand Fugler.                 Policemen.                 Aid.
50 Pieces.
With their New and Costly Instruments never before seen in this country. This Band cannot accept any other engagement, as they return to the Old Country in the evening “on the Cable.”

Detachment of the K.S.C.
Magnificent Chariot!
Drawn by richly caparisoned steeds, containing the gentlemen comprising the Telegraph Party. This Chariot is lined with gold and silver, costing millions of dollars, and is worth gong many, many miles to witness.

Carriage Containing Field and DeSauty.
Spendidly decorated with American Flags, and Flags of other Nations.

From Hindoostan, Algeria, Jerusalem, &c., Knights of Arragon, from Cork, and much other Knights.

Drawn by 4 Horned Horses, containing 12 Moonlight Knights.


Owls of the Northern Roost, on Stilts,
From the Fifth Ward.

Carriages containing ye Locals of the City Press, also of the London Times and Paris Moniteur.

MARSHAL                                                 MARSHAL.
Delegation from HEART’S CONTENT, looking for the GREAT EASTERN’s LOST “BOY.”
OTHER THINGS, &c., &c.

The distinguished Gentlemen after having visited the CITY HALL and STATION HOUSE, and other places of note, will be escorted to the “YORK HOUSE,” where a Sumptuous Banquet will be given under the auspices of the “K.S.C.” TICKETS, admitting Gentlemen and Ladies to the Banquet, 5 cents; to be obtained at all the principal Blacksmith’s Shops throughout the City.

Up State to Main, up Main to High, down High to Asylum, through Ford to Trinity, up Trinity to Washington, down Washington to Buckingham, down Buckingham to Main, down Main to Congress, down Congress to Morris, through Morris to Wethersfield Avenue, up the Avenue to Main, up Main to State House, around the Square, thence to the headquarters of the “K.S.C.”

Admission to all parts of the City 35 cts. Reserved Seats Free.

The Hartford Daily Courant was the instigator of this elaborate satire. The newspaper promoted the forthcoming “event” in its issues of 28 and 29 September in the “City Intelligence” section, and the issue of 30 September 1865 had a detailed (if fictitious) report on the supposed proceedings.

The text of the broadside (above) together with this full transcript of the newspaper’s "reports" on this event over three days in September 1865, provide an interesting view of American humor in the 1860s.

28 September 1865

The Jollification To-Morrow.
We shall expect to see many visitors from abroad in Hartford to-morrow to witness the “imposing” demonstrations by the Knights of the Silver Cross in honor of the distinguished heroes of the Atlantic cable, Field, DeSauty, and others, who are to arrive per steamer Great Eastern at 2 p.m. The reception tendered these distinguished personages will, without doubt, be the richest burlesque ever attempted in Connecticut; and those who enjoy a good thing, and believe in fun now and then, should not fail to be on hand and share in the general merriment. We hope by actual count to be able to note the presence of at least one hundred thousand strangers on this most distressing occasion. If all the teams within a circuit of fifty miles of Hartford are engaged to come here, people who are not fortunate enough to have secured one should start to-night and “foot it,” as the exercise of limb on the journey will be beneficial and the shaking of sides afterwards will be better than Parks Porous Prickly Plasters for rheumatic complaints. Don't fail to be here.

29 September 1865

The Carnival.
All persons wishing to join the parade to-day are invited to meet at Charter Oak Hall, South Meadows, as early as half-past 10 o'clock, in order that they may be assigned a place in the line. A general invitation is extended to all by the K.S.C. to join with them in extending a hearty welcome to DeSauty & Co.

Fancy Dress Ball.
A decidedly attractive affair, so far as costumes arc concerned, will be the fancy dress and masquerade ball which is to be given at American Hall this evening by Church & Barnard. It is expected that Field, DeSauty, and other distinguished guests of the Knights of the Silver Cross will attend. Tickets can be procured of Brown & Gross, and C.C. Osborn, American Row.

29 September 1865

The Cable Celebration.—Dispatch from DeSauty.
The news from the Atlantic Cable party received at a late hour last night, was of the most favorable character. The following special dispatch to the Courant from DeSauty explain itself:

Plumb Gut, September 26,
5 o'clock p.m.

Everything is working bully. The cable is sliding out at the rate of two hundred miles a minute, and we expect to reacts Saybrook bar (when all hands will be called abaft the shaft to smile) in season to get to Hartford at 2 p.m. Friday. Field is in the best of spirits; so is Russell of the London Times. The latter has a bottle of Old Rye which he saved during his retreat from under a tree at Bull Run. Insulation couldn't be better. We met with a slight accident yesterday. While we went at dinner the cable parted. There was great excitement. Field shouted at the top of his voice from the main deck to throw the buoy over. There was no much confusion that nobody paid attention. Finally, Field called out to Mike Feeney, who goes before the mast: “Mike, don't you hear me? Throw the buoy over, I say!" “Aye, aye sir,” responded Mike in true sailor style. Soon after Mike came aft. “Did you throw the buoy over?” asked Field. “No, be jabers, I couldn't find the boy, so I threw the cook over!” And sure enough he had. A boat was at once lowered and a much frightened African saved from a watery grave. This incident was exciting. But we got the cable afterwards. A powerful magnet was attached to a rope, and it was fished up and spliced on. Rejoicing followed; so did water, etc., with a little sugar in it. Russell has got all the facts in his diary.

I shall send you dispatches as often as possible on our way up the river. I've just heard that you expect to have one hundred thousand people to welcome us. That’s right; don’t fail to do it.
Gayly yours, DeSauty.

There seems to be no doubt that the party will reach here at 2 p.m. The Knights of the Silver Cross will doe their duty if they perish in the attempt, “Live or die, sink or swim.” So mote it be. After receiving the distinguished visitors, a line of march will be taken up as follows: Up State to Main, up Main to High, down High to Asylum, through Ford to Trinity, up Trinity to Washington, down Washington to Buckingham, down Buckingham to Main, down Main to Congress, down Congress to Morris, through Morris to Wethersfield Avenue, up the Avenue to Main, up Main to State House, around the Square, thence to the headquarters of the “K.S.C.”

30 September 1865

The Cable Celebration
Field, DeSauty, and others received---An immense Crowd---A huge Burlesque.

Yesterday opened bright and pleasant—a splendid "opening" for the Knights of the Silver Cross who were to make their most distressing appearance and give the heroes of the Atlantic cable—Field, DeSauty and others—a reception to the hospitalities of the city. At an early hour people from the country began to arrive, and there was much anxiety to know if the cable party had reached the river. One lad of six years—a most interisting child, with bright auburn hair and blue eyes—was observed crying near the corner of Pratt street at 8:30 a.m. A gentleman with a most sympathetic countenance feelingly addressed him—`”What is the matter my little cherub?” “Bo-hoo! I just heard the cable had broke.” “Nonsense my boy,” responded kind-heartedness; “it’s a foul unmitigated lie, got up to effect the price of putty, and no one but a villian of the deepest dye would dare to circulate such a calumnious report. Take these pea-nuts and dry your tears.” He did as he was bidden, and soon after found his mother who had just discovered he was out, This incident gave rise to unfavorable rumors, which an hour later had circulated with great rapidity among the two hundred thousand strangers, more or less, who had come from far and near to witness the greatest event or the age. Quiet was not restored until dispatches were received at this office from DeSauty, the electrician of the enterprise, and we placed them upon our bulletin board as fast as they arrived, where hundreds and perhaps tens of thousands read and wept tears of joy. It was a sight never to be forgotten, to see gray haired men, lovely women, and infants of tender age, peruse these dispatches as if every line was a grain of gold, and the pen which wrote them the drill of a two hundred barrel oil well. It was indeed a most affecting exhibition of human nature under sudden excitement. The dispatches, which caused this “melting mood” were as follows:

Dispatches from DeSauty

Friday, 6 a.m., Saybrook Bar,
On Board Great Eastern.
The cable is successfully laid from Plum Gut to this point. A dispatch has just been received from them rejoicing at the connection. It is expected blue fishing will be better in consequence next year. “Consequence” is a well-known fishing ground.

Deep River, 8 a.m.
Heavy sea on. Field quite sea sick. Russell of the London Times is busily engaged with a bologna and his diary. Cable going out splendidly at the rate of four miles a second.

East Haddam, 9 a.m.
Large crowd on the wharves as we pass. Field much better, and offers odds of two to one on complete success of the undertaking. Russell has gone aft to indulge in a little Old Bourbon.

Middle Haddam, 9:30.
Much inhabitants here. “Big gun” on the dock; it'll go off presently.

Opposite Dunham’s Grove, Straits, 9:45.
Odor of clams and biled corn: smells coppery. We hasten to pass. Insulation fell off at this point, but is recovering. Field and Russell are pitching pennies for the drinks on the for'ard deck.

Middletown, 10 a.m.
Great excitement here. Four hundred thousand people assembled. Fifty of them in coming down Court street broke their necks owing to defective sidewalk. Funeral at 3 p.m. tomorrow; friends of the family are invited. We shall lay over here till noon. Arthur Bacon will make a speech without preparation, and Field will reply ditto. We are all going to the McDonough  House to a free lunch. Shall be in Hartford at 2 p.m. Don't fail to have a big crowd out. Tell the Knights of the Silver Cross they shall ever be held in grateful remembrance.

Insulation ceased after the Great Eastern left Middletown, and nothing more was heard from her until she reached Colt’s dyke. Russell, of the London Times, however, informs us that everything passed off serenely on the voyage up the river, though in passing near the wharf at Wethersfield, where there were a large number of bouquets piled up there wasn't a dry eye on board, yet paradoxically speaking, everybody was happy and the band played “The Onion Forever.”

At 2 o'clock promptly the distinguished seeds thus transplanted to our shores arrived at the foot of State street in a light draught vessel, a “sick family” of the renowned mud digger, which had breasted the waves below Colt’s for three or four months. It might have been the same craft; probably it was. The cable party were visible to the naked eye standing on the hurricane deck, and they presented a most elegant and poverty stricken appearance. A distinguished disciple of Blackstone, who had borrowed a nose for the occasion, rushed forward, as soon as the boat was moored, and delivered a lengthy speech of welcome written with a crowbar. It was a classic production, and will probably be brought out by the Riverside press in calf and gilt binding. This melancholly exhibition concluded, the Knights of the Silver Cross who were waiting upon the wharf, looking very tired and thirsty, prepared to do their duty, and they did it with a full flourish of trumpets and in a style never before witnessed outside of the realm of the “King of the Cannibal Islands.” The crowd surrounding was immense; the steamer City of Hartford was thronged with spectators, and the wharf and buildings in the vicinity were lined and re-lined with admiring gazers. State street, its entire length, was also packed on either side, on the walks, balconies, etc., with “living freight”; and in the vicinity of the State House square, and in Main street, thousands contested for standing room. We do not believe so great a number of people ever assembled here before. But the occasion demanded it; Knights are not always seen in the day time.

The procession marched up State street, up Main to High, down High to Asylum, through Ford to Trinity, up Trinity to Washington, down Washington to Buckingham, down Buckingham to Main, down Main to Congress, down Congress to Morris, through Morris to Wethersfield Avenue, up the Avenue to Main, up Main to the State House. From here they proceeded to their guarded tent, swapped horses, and mingled again in civilized society.

The vehicles used in the procession looked as if they were made three or four thousand years ago, and the horses were of a pattern much like June shad. One animal, that has had the whooping cough severely, wore pants to prevent him from taking cold. The bipeds who figured in the display were attired in all sorts of costumes.--Those in female dress were particularly attractive. One had on a waterfall which could be seen at a distance before the wearer came in sight. A more ridiculous looking set of mortals can hardly be imagined; but they created lots of fun among spectators, who were probably not sorry they came out to witness the reception and parade. It was taking it all in all the best burlesque over attempted here. Field and DeSauty speak highly of it, and Russell, of the London Times, says he shall put it in his diary, “if nothing intervenes to obviate.” So mote it be.

The September 30th story was repeated on the front page of the Connecticut Courant’s issue of 7 October 1865, occupying almost a full column of text.

Last revised: 1 December, 2016

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