It was supposed to be the greatest ship in history, a gargantuan marvel of modern engineering and unparalleled luxury. But the Titanic was doomed long before it ever set sail.
Late on the night of April 14, 1912, around 11:40 p.m., an Irishman named Eugene Daly suddenly awoke with a start in his steerage cabin on the RMS Titanic as a great crash echoed through the length of the vessel. He and other passengers then began wandering the ship’s halls to see what was the matter, but crew members assured them that all was well. Daly, a musician who had boarded the ship at Queenstown, Ireland, alongside two women — his cousin Maggie, and a neighbor, Bertha — was hardly put at ease.
In fact, it quickly became clear that disaster had struck — or, more aptly, that the Titanic had struck disaster in the form of a large iceberg in the North Atlantic about 400 miles south of Newfoundland.
As the gravity of the situation grew more clear and the frantic evacuation began, Daly, Maggie, and Bertha prayed together on the upper deck. Then, passengers began to surge toward the lifeboats, so Daly climbed into one with the two women — only to be dragged out by the ship’s officers, who told him it was women and children first.
Stranded and alone, the Irishman joined other steerage and second class passengers in trying to get onto a different lifeboat, but he was threatened by an officer with a gun, who Daly claims shot at the panicked crowd. “Two men tried to break through and he shot them both,” Daly recalled. “I saw him shoot them. I saw them lying there after they were shot.”
Finally, as water smashed across the doomed ship’s deck, Daly was forced into the dark and frigid ocean. Clinging to a lifeboat, he watched in horror as the ship’s mighty stern suddenly swung upward, the nose of the vessel pointing straight into the starry sky above, framed against the heavens — then it began to sink below the surface of the sea, taking some 1,500 people with it. It stands as one of the most horrific disasters in modern history.
But how did the Titanic, the so-called unsinkable ship, get to this point?
Before it set sail, the world waited with bated breath for the launch of the Titanic, a great vessel said to be the height of modern engineering and luxury. However, in truth, the ship likely never stood a chance, and the seeds of its destruction were sewn right from the very start.