Charles J. Slavin – Corporal, United States Army

Practice for the Military Tournament in this City Results Fatally at Fort Myer

WASHINGTON, March 31, 1903 – Zeal of officers and men to make a thrilling display at the Madison Square Garden in New York in April is responsible for the death of one member of the Fourth Battery of United States Artillery and the serious injury of two others yesterday afternoon.

There had been in progress all Winter severe practice drills of the various troops of the Second Cavalry, and the batteries of artillery stationed at Fort Myer.  As the time approached for the competitive drill which was to decide which troop and battery was to go to New York the men went to the limit of daring.

The field guns used in the drill are heavy pieces and they are pulled by four powerful horses, trained to run at the top of their speed.  The drills take place in the riding hall which is hardly large enough for the artillery. There is no especial danger for the cavalrymen, but in tearing up and down and around the hall with the heavy pieces of artillery there is a great danger that in making a turn a caisson will be turned over.

The officers at Fort Myer have been fearful of just what took place. While the battery was making the “figure eight” in turning a corner in one end of the hall, a caisson made a wide veer, slid over the tanbark, and struck the clay soil with great force. The heavy vehicle was upset, hurling its five occupants to the ground.  The carriage rolled over on and disemboweled Corporal Slavin.  He had just saluted as to the order to charge was given.

So great was the impact that the horses went sent whirling to one side. The drivers were thrown, but fortunately escaped serious injury.

Captain Foote had put the battery through two drills and, not satisfied with the speed that had been made, gave the order for an increase of energy.  The injured men were removed and the drill continued for ten minutes to calm down the excited men and horses.

DATE OF DEATH: 03/30/1903

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