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A Peculiar Accident at the White House: The Runaway Horse and Carriage of 1897

In 1897, a peculiar accident happened at the White House when a horse and carriage became frightened and dashed against the iron fence. Read the full story of the runaway horse and carriage of 1897!
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Runaway horse and carriage
Runaway horse and carriage

Here’s a crazy one for you. This is an article in the Washington Post from January 29th, 1897.

A peculiar accident happened at the state reception at the White House last night, which will no doubt be the topic for conversation in society circles for some days.

The horse of M. Jules Boeufve, Chancellor of the French Embassy, who was on his way to the President’s reception, became frightened when within half a block of the White House, and dashed at full speed against the iron fence that surrounds the Executive Mansion. The horse struck the fence near the southwestern gate of the grounds at such great speed that the momentum carried it partially up and over the fence. The heavy iron spikes of the iron palings pierced the horses neck, and it hung there half suspended, snorting with pain and vainly struggling to extricate itself. At the end of thirty minutes it was lifted off by main strength, and though suffering from a bad and ugly wound, it was through that its life might be saved.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. M. Boeufve and a lady occupied the coupe attached to the horse, and both alighted safely. The name of the lady could not be learned. Immediately after the accident M. Boeufve escorted his companion on foot to the White House.

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The accident occurred shortly after 9 o’clock. M. Boeufve was on his way to the reception, and being a member of the diplomatic corps, his carriage entered at the southwest gate, near the State, War, and Navy building. Before turning down the side avenue from Pennsylvania avenue the horse took fright and became almost unmanageable. The driver, however, succeeded in turning into the side avenue. The horse was going at full speed, and in attempting to avoid a sleigh coming in the opposite direction, Mr. Boeufve’s driver drove upon the sidewalk. The frightened horse plunged against the iron fence, and the next instant was impaled upon the spikes.

The carriage was overturned, but M. Boeufve sprang out instantly, and assisted the lady from her dangerous position. The coachman sprang to the horse’s head, but could do nothing. The animal, by his frantic plunging, made his position worse. One of the forelegs projected through the fence, and was caught in the palings in such a manner that the horse could not raise itself.

The scene presented to bystanders was one to make strong men shudder and turn away. The blood from the horse’s wounds crimsoned the snow around, and for a time it seemed that the beautiful animal must be shot. Inspector Groff, however, quickly improvised a hoist by putting the long board under the horse and through the fence, with men at either end. At a signal all lifted, the weight on the horse’s neck was lessened, and, with a jerk, he released his head, and sprang to his feet, trembling like a fawn. He was calmed in a minute and taken to the Cairo stables. The credit of saving his life was undoubtedly due to the hack inspector, who managed the affair with skill and very quickly, ably assisted by the police and several strong men in the crowd.

Crazy right? Can you imagine the scene this caused?

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