The Narragansett had taken on approximately 300 passengers at the North River Pier at Jay St. in New York City at 5:00 pm. Later that evening, at around 11:30 pm, in heavy fog, she collided with the Stonington near the mouth of the Connecticut River. The Stonington was damaged, but was able to return to a port and took no casualties. The Narragansett had a huge gash in the side of her hull, caught fire and burned rapidly. Many of the passengers asleep in their staterooms were unable to escape.
Significant controversy followed the collision, as the captains of the two ships gave different accounts of the accident and the events leading up to it, and the crew of the Narragansett faced accusations of neglecting its duty. Approximately 50 passengers, but only one crewman, lost their lives on the Narragansett.
One of the passengers on the Stonington was Charles J. Guiteau who, just over a year later, assassinated President James A. Garfield. Guiteau was on deck at the time of the collision, and afterwards believed that he had been miraculously spared to punish Garfield.
- "Long Island Sound, CT Two Steamers Collide, June 1880." available online
- New York Times. "THE CRASH ON THE SOUND; INQUIRY INTO THE LOSS OF THE NARRAGANSETT." July 17, 1880. The article summarizes or quotes testimony from both captains. available online
- Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President. New York: Doubleday, 2011, ISBN 9780385526265. (Prologue).