By the flickering light of a globe lantern, Coal-heaver John Sutton, earning his $18 a month (as much as a ship’s cook or a coxswain), entered the starboard-side engineer’s storeroom on board the side-wheel steam frigate Missouri at 1950 on 25 August 1843, looking for a pair of beam scales to be used in coaling the ship. As he pulled down the scales, a wrench fell from the shelf, shattering a large glass vessel below containing turpentine. Coal-heaver William J. Williams, working in the engine room directly below, heard dripping liquid.
Historic Fleets - ‘An Ornament to the Navy’
By Robert J. Cressman