Text: Arthur Hobson Quinn, “Appendix 11,” Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1941), pp. 755-756


[page 755:]

XI. Poe's Last Journey

The traveller from Richmond to Baltimore had a choice of several routes depending on the day of the week he wished to make the trip. There was the all water route via Norfolk; rail to Frederick and boat to Baltimore; rail to Acqua Creek and boat to Baltimore; also the all rail route, changing trains at Washington. The persistent tradition is that Poe went by boat.

Woodberry's statement that Poe left Richmond at four A.M. on September 27, 1849, which would have been Thursday, has been accepted by later biographers. He gives no supporting evidence, however. A thorough investigation of the earliest authoritative sources, especially the American Railway Guide and Pocket Companion for the United States, for 1851, was made at the request of my brother, Francis McD. Quinn, General Passenger Agent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, by Mr. M. L. Bickel, of the Passenger Department. This information was supplemented by an examination of the Richmond newspapers by Mrs. Ralph T. Catterall of the Valentine Museum, and of the Baltimore papers by Mr. Richard H. Hart.

Poe might have taken one of several routes, but among the many boats scheduled, there are none indicated as leaving at 4 A.M. on a Thursday. The steamer Pocahontas left Richmond every Tuesday at 4 P.M. for Baltimore, and at various times the Richmond Whig and the Enquirer list six other boats as leaving Richmond for Baltimore, but not during the week of September 23, 1849.

A careful check of the Baltimore Sun and the American shows that on Friday, the 28th of September, the steamer Pocahontas, Captain Parrish, arrived from Richmond, but no hour is given. As the running time from Richmond to Baltimore was about twenty-five hours, Poe could have taken this boat, if it left Richmond on Thursday, the 27th. It is not advertised to do so, but it is hardly likely that the boat made only one trip a week. Woodberry might easily have misread 4 P.M. for 4 A.M.

Poe may have broken the journey at Norfolk. The Norfolk, Portsmouth and Old Point Line's steamer Augusta, left Richmond on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6 A.M. No arriving time at Norfolk is given in the Guide, but the distance being approximately [page 756:] one hundred miles, the down trip with the flow of the river would require about eight hours. In the W. H. Koester Collection there is a copy of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (1819) in which Dr. John F. Carter wrote a statement that Poe had left the volume in his office in 1849. At the top of the title page the word “Augusta” is written, not in Poe's hand. The book may have been a parting gift, and the notation may indicate the boat on which Poe left Richmond. But in that case he did not leave on Thursday, September 27th. From Norfolk the steamers Georgia, Herald and Jewess of the Baltimore and Norfolk U. S. Mail Line made daily trips to Baltimore, leaving at 4 P.M. and arriving at Baltimore about 7 A.M.

These boats connected at Norfolk with the Curtis Peck, Mt. Vernon or Augusta. It is possible that Poe left Richmond on a Thursday morning by one of the two first named, but there is no evidence in the Guide that they left Richmond on that day.

The Sun and the American record the arrivals at Baltimore from Norfolk of the Jewess on September 28th and the Herald on the 29th. Poe could have been on either boat.



In the original, the section title is given in all capitals. For the sake of conformity, it has been rendered here in upper and lower case.


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