But on February 19, 1863, they fought and died in the cold icy waters that submerged the locomotive a little before daybreak
Severe flooding at that time had caused debris to build up against the bridge. The weight of the debris caused the bridge to shift, leaving it six inches out of alignment. Attempts to warn the train failed and the bridge collapsed as the train crossed it.
The First Battalion of Choctaw Indians, under the command of Major S. G. Spann, was based at a Confederate military training camp near the crash scene. The Indians rushed to the scene and due to their heroic acts 60 of the passengers were rescued.
Most of the passengers who had been killed were buried in trenches on a farm, two miles east of Hickory Station.
Willis Norman lived to tell this story. He recalled that he was in the nearest car to the engine. After being thrown to the bottom of the stream in about 15 feet of water, he rose to the surface with the fragments of the broken car. He suffered a broken collarbone, internal injuries and an injury to his leg.