Lt. Col. Alexander Seton of the 74th Regiment of Foot realised that if the men rushed the lifeboats they would endanger the women and children by swamping their boat, so he ordered the men to stand fast. No one moved even though the ship was breaking up around them. As a result of the failure of the remaining lifeboats to launch, around 445 of the approximately 643 passengers perished, but because of the courage of the soldiers, all the women and children survived.
The sacrifice by the troops who stood fast on deck while the women and children were lowered into one of the only three available lifeboats was an act of unparalleled selflessness and courage. It was from this wreck that the standard "Birkenhead Drill" protocol of "women and children first" was incorporated into maritime moral code.