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Full text of "Steamboat disasters and railroad accidents in the United States : to which is appended accounts of recent shipwrecks, fires at sea, thrilling incidents, etc."

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.Vfiiv. 



STEAMBOxlT DISASTERS 



AND 



RAILROAD ACCIDENTS 
IN THE UNITED STATES. 

TO WHICH IS APPENDED 

ACCOUNTS OF RECENT SHIPWRECKS, FIRES 
AT SEA, THRILLING INCIDENTS, cVc. 




BY S. A. KOWLAND. 



SECOND EDITION. 



WORCESTER: 
PUBLISHED BY DORR, HOWLAND & CO. 

1840. 



Entered "according to Act of Congress, in the year 1840, by 
Dorr, Rowland & Co. 

In the Clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusetts. 



SpooNER & Rowland, PriuierS; Worcester. 



I 



CONTENTS 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Explosion of the jEtna, in New York harbor, May 15, 

1S24, — and loss of several lives, 139 

Destruction of the Ben Sherod by fire and explosion, 

on the Mississippi river, May 8, 1837, — with the loss 

of nearly two hundred lives, .94 

Burning of the steamboat Belle, on the Mississippi 

river, near Liberty, Illinois, November, 1839, . . 157 
Loss of the steamer Bedford, on the Missouri river, 

April 27, 1840, .231 

Thrilling narrative of the escape of the steam packet 

Charleston from being wrecked, during the same 

storm in which the steamer Home was lost, . -. . 38 
Explosion on board the steamboat Chiriton, n^ar St. 

Louis, July 27, 1837, ; I40 

Escape of the steamer Constitution, in a tremendous 
^ gale on Lake Erie, October, 1S37, . . . ' . - . , 229 
Explosion on board the Dubuque, on her passage from 

St. Louis to Galena, Aug. 15, 1837, ..... 162 
Explosion of the steamer Franklin, at Mobile, March 

13, 1836, 161 

Accident on board the Flora, on her passage from 

Louisville to Wheeling, on the Ohio river, Novem- . 

ber 17, 1836, ..... .^ 224 

Explosion on board the steamboat George Collier, on 

the Mississippi river, near New Orleans, May 6, 

1839, — by which twenty-six lives were lost, . . . 137 
Loss of the General Jackson, a New York steam ferry 

boat, August 23, 1836, I59 

H 



XII CONTENTS. 

Wreck of the schooner Mary, Sept. 14, 1837, . . .284 
Wreck of the schooner Pennsylvania, Sept. 16, 1837, 289 
Conflagration of the Poland, May 18, 1840, .... 299 
Wreck of the schooner Prospect, March 11, 1840, . 319 
Wreck of the brig Pocahontas, Dec. 23, 1839, . . .369 
Wreck of the brig Palmer, Dec. 27, 1839, .... 376 
Interesting narrative of the escape of the U. S. ship 

Peacock from shipwreck, Sept. 21, 1835, .... 391 
Wreck of the brig Eegulator, Feb. 5, 1836, ... 275 
Preservation of the crew of the Scotia, Dec. 5, 1839, . 330 

Wreck of the brig Trio, Feb 20, 1837, 283 

Wreck of the brig Tariff, March 26, 1840, . . . . 316 
Escape of the ship United States from being wrecked 

in the gale of Dec. 15, 1839, 360 

Shipwrecks and other disasters in the vicinity of Bos- 
ton and Cape Ann, in the gale of Dec. 15, 1839, . 334 

Disasters in Boston harbor, Dec. 15, 1839, . ... 334 

Disasters in Gloucester harbor, Dec. 15, 1839, . . . 337 

Disasters at other places on the shores of New England, 
in the same gale,-^at Newburyport, Marblehead, Co- 
hasset, and Provincetown, 354 

Another disastrous gale, Dec. 27, 1839,— its eflfects at 
Boston, Charlestown, Newburyport, Gloucester, Sa- 
lem, and Provincetown, 365 

An aggregate of the loss of life and property on the 
coast of New England, during a part of the months 
of December, 1839, and January, 1840, . . . .373 

Remarks on the means and importance of improving 
Cape Ann harbor, 374 

Extracts from the laws of the United States respecting 
the management of steamboats, 234 

An abstract from the steamboat law in force ,ia the Ter- 
ritory of Wisconsin, . .^ . . . 235 

Notice of an improvement with regard to safety% j:ail- 
road travelling, T . 262 

A thrilling description of the burning of the lio-ht-house 
on Cape Florida, July 23, 1836, . . . T . . ^^ 401 

Account of the great tornado at Natchez, May 6, 1840^ 405 



PREFACE. 



The object of the following pages is not only to 
preserve an authentic history of the many disasters 
that have occurred on our waters since the introduc- 
tion of steam navigation, and, as far as practicable, 
the principal causes that led to such disasters, but 
also to perpetuate the memory of those who have 
been the innocent sufferers thereby, — whose graves 
are in the trackless deep, — and whose only monu- 
ments of recollection are in the feelings and hearts 
of their bereaved friends and relatives. 

There is nothing that more tends to excite feelings 
of interest in the human mind, — less imbued with 
self, and more productive of true compassion and 
charityj — than the perusal of the fate of those, who 
fearless of the grasping waves that roll beneath, while 
trusting with full confidence to the care, the skill and 
experience of their fellow-men, and confiding in the 
strength of the frail bark that bears them on, have 
been suddenly plucked from their usefulness in soci- 
ety, or cut off in the midst of the enjoyments of life, — 



TI 

hapless victims, perchance, to the explosion of an 
overcharged boiler, as in the aggravated case of the 
Moselle, — or to an awful conflagration in the midst 
of the wide waste of waters, far removed from the 
utmost efforts of human aid, — as seen in the deplora- 
ble catastrophe that befell the Lexington. That 
heart must be callous, indeed, that turns not from 
scenes like these with awakened and better feelings, 
and, looking back on past sufferings as beyond the 
reach of help, extends not the hand of charity to re- 
lieve those of the present, — sufficient of which ever 
exist around us. 

The work is decidedly American, and comprises 
authentic accounts of all the various disasters on 
steamboats and rail-roads that have occurred, during 
many years, throughout the United States. In re- 
viewing its contents, it will be founS, with but very 
few exceptions, that none of it has ever before been 
published in an embodied form, and, consequently, 
can be found in no other volume. 

And yet, though tlit3 many disasters by steam oc- 
cupy a large portion-of this volume, there is left space 
sufficient for interesting, narrativeSs of all the recent 
shipwrecks and fires at sea, — together with accounts 
of the great gales on the eastern coast of New Eng- 
land in December, 1839, — and a condensed yjew of 
the terrific tornado at Natchez in May, 1840, — to all 
of which is added a thrilling narrative of the burning 
of the light-housjg^fCt.Gape Florida by the Seminole 
Indians, writt^^^lhe keeper, vJl^o was miraculously 



vn 



^ preserved, while on the summit of the blazing tower, 
from the raging fire on the one side, and the deadly 
rifles of the Indians on the other. 

The whole is embellished with many fine engrav- 
ings on wood ; in speaking of which engravings the 
compiler would remark, that they are considered by 
adequate judges to be .of a high and spirited order, 
and therein, it is hardly necessary to mention, of a 
vastly different and superior character to those usually 
found in books of this descriptu^n. They Avere de- 
signed and engraved, expressly for this work, by 
Mr. S. E. Brown, one of the first artists in the city 
of Boston. 

Great care has been taken to render the accounts, 
in' their detail, correct. Errors, however, may pos- 
sibly have crept in ; should any such be discovered, 
they will be corrected in future editions. 

In collecting the materials which form the body of 
the work, the compiler has been largely indebted to 
many of the various journals of the day for the prin- 
cipal facts contanied therein. In preserving these 
facts, however, the language in which they were 
clothed has mostly been remodeled, — the accounts 
shorn ofj^much that was unimportant, and otherwise 
condensed, — and, by culling from one source what- 
ever seemed of interest, and so blending it with that 
of another which was imperfect in some of its details, 
he hsi been enabled to render a more full, connected, 
and ihterestin<? narrative of each. In doing this, he 



VIII 

has also aimed to give to the whole a decidedly moral, 
influence, by appropriate reflections and remarks of 
his own, as well as by selections from others, which 
he has introduced wherever it could be done with ad- 
vantage, and where the peculiar circumstances of the 
narrative seemed to demand it. 



\ 



\ 



— -^ 




WRECK OF THE STEAM PACKET HOME, 

On her passage from New York io Charleston ^ Oct. 

9, 1837j hy which melancholy occurrence ninety- 

jive persojis perished. 

An occurrence so awful as the loss of the steam- 
boat Home, excites in the mind of a civilized and hu- 
mane community, the most intense and painful inter- 
est. In a vessel for passage, whole countries are rep- 
resented among those who have trusted their lives 
upon the deep, divided from eternity by a single plank, 
and directly committed to His Providence who holds 
the waters in the hollow of His hand, but who some- 
times sees fit, for purposes in His dispensation, be- 
yond the ken of mortals, to visit the wanderer upon 
the deep with sudden and awful death. The loss of 
a vessel engaged in the common pursuits of commerce, 
with no more souls on board than are requisite to her 
guidance and management, is a paiiiful event, which 
2 



14 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

calls for the commisseratioii of all to whose ears the 
tidings are borne. 

The parents, the wives and children whose hopes 
and whose dependence are all embarked with " they 
that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in 
great waters," are stricken to the earth by the tidings 
of their loss ; but the great public can only pity the 
little circle of mourners without sharing their sorrows. 
Not so, when from the climes of the sunny South — 
from the towns and cities of the North — from the val- 
ley of the father of waters, and from the cities on the 
seaboard, a company are gathered together it would 
seem for destruction, as in the case of the ill-fated 
boat of whose loss we speak. The funeral wail rises 
from one extremity of the country to the other — ev- 
ery state, and almost every community has a claim to 
assert in the loss of persons connected by ties of 
blood, of friendship or of business. The awful reali- 
ties of the dangers to which a large portion of the 
human family is daily exposed are brought home to 
every bosom ; and the sympathies of the whole pub- 
lic are touched. It is the intense interest felt in the 
fate of the " Home," that has induced us to present 
to the public a full and accurate account, so far as we 
have been able to collect from various sources, of the 
melancholy wreck, and the circumstances connected 
with the boat, and her history. 

The steamboat Home was launched from the yard 
of Messrs. Brown & Bell in April, 1836. She was 
finished in January 1837, and laid at the foot of Del- 
ancey street. until April. The length of her keel was 
198 feet — her beam was 22, and the depth of her hold 
12 feet. Her length on deck was about 220 feet, and 
her burthen 550 tons. She was an elegantly con- 
structed vessel, and cost $115,000, only 35,000 of 
which was insured. She was built for Mr. James B. Al- 
laire, of New York City, and had made only two voy- 
ages to Charleston. That she was not the kind of 



THE HOME. 15 

vessel to withstand the tempestuous gales of the At- 
lantic, has proved fearfully true. We have no evi- 
dence that in her model or timbers any reference was 
had to a capacity for encountering the perils of the 
ocean ; but candor compels us to say that her model, 
the time of her lying unemployed, and other circum- 
stances, induce the conviction that she never loas in- 
tended for a sea boat. If she was so intended, then 
those who had charge of her construction should nev- 
er again attempt to plan a vessel. In the minor 
points of elegance and convenience — minor compared 
with the great consideration of safety — the Home was 
all that could have been wished, and would have 
made an elegant and safe steamer for the river, or the 
summer navigation of the Sound. She was calcula- 
ted to accommodate one hundred and twenty persons 
with berths or state rooms. In her appointments and 
finish, she ranked with the "floating palaces" for 
which our American waters are famed, and in speed, 
another characteristic of American ship building, she 
was unsurpassed. 

Her second passage to Charleston was made in six- 
ty-four hours — a shorter passage than was ever made 
before by any vessel. Communication with Charles- 
ton was regarded as almost as direct as that with the 
nearer cities which are brought within a day's travel 
by steamboat and rail road. Numbers who, under 
other circumstances, would hardly venture upon a 
journey from one city to the other, were induced by 
the rapidity and comfort of the conveyance to make 
the jaunt. Circumstances Avarranted us in supposing 
that the North and South were thus to be connected 
by the annihilation of distance, and pride in our na- 
tional enterprize and resources, pointed exultingly to 
the fact that a distance which had occupied our an- 
cestors weeks in its passage, could now be compassed 
in less than three days. It was even hinted, after she 
was finished^ the Home would essay a trip across the 



15 STEA»fBOAT DISASTERS. 

Atlantic, in advance of the completion of a line of 
packets designed for that great route. The public 
mind anticipated great things from the success of the 
first trips of the new and splendid vessel ; and be- 
came so much familiarized with the subject of ocean 
steam communication, and so devoid of fear as to its 
danger, that the whisper of apprehension was met 
with a reproving smile. 

Owing to the speed of the Home, her very excel- 
lent accommodations, and the high character of Capt. 
White as a commander, the number of passengers 
who started in her on this, her last and ill-fated voy- 
age, was very great. In addition to those whose 
names we have been able to collect, there were we 
understand a number who went on board, only a vei*y 
short time before she started, — also several deck, or 
forward passengers, whose names, we have been 
unable to obtain.- 

On the seventh of October the Home left New York, 
upon her third trip. She had on board, as near 
as can be gathered from her berth book, and judged 
from the numbers who took passage at the last mo- 
ment without previously securing berths, ninety pas- 
sengers. Her crew, including' ofRcers and servants, 
male and female, numbered forty-five ; in all, about 
one hundred and thirty-five souls. Among them 
were between thirty and forty females. 

Geiltlemen from the North going South, and South- 
ern gentlemen returning from excursions of business, 
pleasure or health at the North — ladies impatient to 
return to thagi^nds from whom circumstances had 
separated thMffbuoyant with hope, and confident of 
safety and a quick passage from the reputation which 
the packet had thus early acquired ; children, trust- 
ing in their parents, and willing to leave to them all 
questions as to danger or safety — a happier company 
never assembled together. It seemed more like a de- 
parture upon a pleasure excursion than the commence- 



THE HOME. 



17 



ment of what was once deemed a serious voyage. 
With hope elate, and with the sorrow of parting with 
friends here, swallowed up in joyous anticipation of 
meeting others at the end of a short and pleasant pas- 
sage, the passengers on board the Home bade adieu to 
New York. 

The following is a list of the passengers, as full as 
we have been able to obtain, although some of them 
are probably not correctly spelled. 



Messrs. C. C. Cady, 

— Woodburn, 
W. H. Tileston, 
J. Johnson Jr., 
T. Smith, 

J. M. Roll, 
P. Anderson, 
James Cokes, 

— Vanderzee, 
J. D, Roland, 
W. S. Read, 
Capt. Hill. 

— Kennedy, 
C. Drayton, 

— Walker, 

— Fuller. *■ 
P. H. Cohen, 

— Benedict, 
A. liovegreen, 
J. Holmes, 

J. Boyd, 
M. Sprott, 
James B. Allaire, 
G. H. Palmer, 

A. C. Bangs, 

— Whiting, 

Rev. G. Cowles &• Lady, 

B. B. Hussey 6c Lady, 

2* 



H. B. Croom & Lady, 

Miss Croom, 
H. Anderson, 

— Weld, 

O. H. Prince, 

— Clock, 
J. Paine, 

R. F. Bostwick, 
Miss Levy, 
Mrs. Camack, 

" Whitney, 

" Hill, 

'' Slow, 
Miss Roberts, 
Miss Croom, 
P. Solomons, 
Mrs. Prince, 

'' Boyd, 

'' Yaugh, 

" Flynn and two daugh- 
ters, 

" Miller,g^ 

" Schrodflt, 

'' Bondo,^^ 

'' Riviere, 

" Lacoste, 
A. Desabye, 
C. Willeman, 



18 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Mr. Desabye, Lady P. Domingues, 

and servant, Broquet & Lady, children, 
F. Desabye, & servant, 

Capt. Salter, — Labedie, 

Prof. Nott & Lady, — Walton, 

Master Groom, — Hazard, 

C. Ctuinn, — Cawthers, 

Mr. Smith, — Finn. 
— Laroque, 

The first disaster was striking upon the Romer 
Shoal, where she remained three or four hours. The 
accident was occasioned by mistaking one of the 
buoys designating Capt. Gedney's new channel, for 
the buoy on the Romer. It was thought that the 
boat sustained no injury by the accident, but esoape 
from all injury we conceive can have been hardly pos- 
sible. On the night of the ninth instant she went to 
pieces, about six miles north of Oglethorpe Light, and 
as presenting the principal circumstances of the dis- 
aster, we publish the following letter, written on the 
10th instant, by Capt. White, to Hon, James P. Al- 
laire, the owner ot the vessel : 

OcRAcoKE, N. C. Oct. 10, 1837. 
Mr. James P. Allaire, New York, 

Dear Sir: I have now the painful duty of inform- 
ing you of the total loss of the steam packet Home, 
and the lives of most of the passengers and crew : 
The following passengers are saved: 
H. Vanderzee, New York. 
Capt. J^^Salter, Portsmouth, N. H. 
Capt. Afpp Hill, do. do, 

I. S. Cohen, of Columbia, S. C. 
Andrew A. Lovegreen, Charleston. 
Charles Drayton, do. 

B. B. Hussey, do. 

Thomas J. Smith, do. 



'I'HE HOME. 19 

Mrs. Lacoste, Charleston. 

Mrs. Schroeder, do. 

Mr. C. C. Cady, Montgomery, Ala. 
J. D. Rowland, New York. 
James Johnson, Jr., Boston. 
John Bishop, New York, 
Darnis Clock, Athens, Geo. 
William S. Read, New Haven, Conn. 
Jabez Holmes, New York. 
John Mather. do. 

Conrad Q,uinn, Jersey City. 
Hiram Anderson, New York. 
Twenty passengers saved, is all we can find. 
The following persons of the crew : 
Firemen. 
Levi Miller, Stamford, Conn. 
William Bloom, New York. 
Thomas Smith, do. 
Timothy Stone, do. 

Deck Hands. 
Michael Burns, James DufFee, John Trust, James 

Jackson, Samuel , Calvin Marvin, (boy) f^ew 

York, David Milne, steward. 

And six waiters, (names not given,) making 19 be- 
longing to the boat. 

20 passengers, 19 hands, 1 captain, — 40 souls saved. 
There can be very little saved from the wreck. 
We had a heavy gale of wind after leaving New York, 
from N. E. The boat sprung a leak a little to the 
Northward of Hatteras ; at first we were able to pump 
the water out as fast as it came in, but the leak soon 
increased, so that it gained very fast on us. We scut- 
tled the cabin floor, and all hands, passengers, gentle- 
men and ladies, commenced bailing with buckets, 
kettles, &c. but the water soon came up to the furna- 
ces, and put the fires out, and we were obliged to run 
under sails only. By the time we came to the shore, 
the water was over the cabin floors : we run her head 



20 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

on but owing to her having so much water in, she 
stopped in the outward breakers. The first sea that 
came after she struck, stove the weather quarter boat, 
and all the houses on the deck were stove in, and 25 
minutes after she struck, she was all to pieces, and I 
suppose about 80 souls were drowned. Both mates, 
all three of the engineers, and James B. Allaire are 
lost. Most of the passengers saved have lost nearly 
all their baggage. I have lost everything ; having 
nothing but one pair of pantaloons, and a shirt that I 
had on when I washed ashore. 

In haste, yours respectfully. 
(Signed) CARLETON WHITE. 

The weather was not very favorable on the 7th of 
October, but it was presumed it would clear off by 
the next morning, and the passengers went on board 
with light hearts, many to visit friends from whom 
they had been long absent, on business or pleasure ; 
some who had left their homes for the recovery of 
their health, others who had been usefully passing 
long months of study, to prepare themselves to take 
a better part in the business of life, and all filled with 
joyous expectation of a pleasant and speedy return to 
their friends ; none dreaming that the adieus made 
here, were the last, or that those who looked up(m 
them while leaving port, ^' would see them no more, 
forever." 

The following account of the sailing and wreck of 
the Home, was written by Mr. John D. Roland, now 
of Alabama, formerly of New York, who was a pas- 
senger. JVhen Mr. Roland told the heart rending tale, 
oft would the big tear steal into his eye, as he re- 
counted the horrors of that awful scene. 

He went on board a total stranger to every person. 
He states that the boat left the dock at about 5 
o'clock on Saturday afternoon, with a light wind, 
rather cloudy, and that in going out, after passing the 



THE HOME. 21 

Narrows, the boat struck on tlie Romer, where she 
lay four or five hours. He understood the next mor- 
ning that the boat got off about ten o'cldtik the pre- 
vious night, whether the boat received any injury 
while she lay on the Romer or not, he does not know. 
The Home then ran out past Sandy Hook and con- 
tinued her course during Sunday, without any thing 
happening worthy of notice, the weather being fine. 
At 10 P. M. the weather changed to the northeast, 
blew hard, and the boat labored much and leaked 
some. On Monday morning made the land about 23 
miles to the northward of Cape Hatteras, the sea very 
rough. The boat was then put off shore, and she 
ran out to sea for the purpose of getting round the 
Cape, and sheltering under the lee in smooth water. 
She stood to sea until 2 P. M. All hands during the 
time were at the pumps, and the passengers, women 
included, were bailing with buckets, pails, pans, &c. 
&c., the leak however increasing constantly. It was 
then calculated that they had passed the outer Cape 
of Hatteras, and the boat was turned to shore to beach 
her, for the preservation of all on board. The sails 
were set, and wind on shore,- but the engine was work- 
ing very slowly, and the boat was settling fast. With 
every possible exertion the water gained constantly. 
The boat worked, and bent like a reed. The bows 
would work up and down three or four feet, and those 
best acquainted with her expected that she would 
break in two every molnent — that she would go 
down, and all on board would perish. During the 
whole of this time the passengers cut up the blankets 
into slips, for the purpose of lashing them to spars, 
and to whatever else there might be in the way. 
Notwithstanding the men were working with pieces of 
cords and blankets around their bodies, the leak in- 
creased and the boat was settling fast, yet the women 
as well as the men kept on bailing, with the faint 
hope of ultimate safety. All labored like heroes and 



22 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

rational beings^ and no consternation or unnecessary 
alarm was. manifested. At 6 P. M. the water reach- 
ed the engine, to the alarm of all, and extinguished 
the fires, when of course the machinery stopped. 
The boat was still out of sight of land, but was run- 
ning with sails, the gale severe, and she laboring 
dreadfully. The greatest efforts were aU the time 
made, by bailing, &c., and all were actively engaged, 
until 10 P. M., when the boat struck about a quarter 
of a mile from, but in sight of the outer breakers. 

In an instant after the strike all was utter confu- 
sion and alarm ; men, women, and children scream- 
ing in the most agonizing manner. The scene was 
most heart-rending ; women clinging to their hus- 
bands, children to their mothers, and death, almost 
certain death before them. It was apparent that the 
boat could hold together but a very few moments, 
and that few, very few could under any circumstan- 
ces be saved. The wind blew a gale — the sea was 
high, and there were only three boats, and one of 
them had been staved. 

All were engaged in efforts to save their lives, — 
some lashing themselves to spars on board, and oth- 
ers making what struggle they could. Our informant 
made his calculations, that his only chance was in 
swimming ashore, and he accordingly threw off all 
his clothes but his sliirt and pantaloons ; and before 
any had left the wreck, threw himself into the water. 
He found the sea so high that he could with difficul- 
ty encounter it, and on reaching the surf, he came 
near perishing. He, however, landed in safety, 
though the current took him about a mile and a half 
to the ^^outhward of the wreck. 

On reaching. the shore, Mr. Rowland found all 
manner of pieces thrown up, from which it was evi- 
dent that the boat had broken up. One man he pull- 
ed out of the surf. Only two persons on board had 
life preservers, both of whom were saved ; one of 



THE HOME. 23 

them however, had no use for his, as he went ashore 
on the forecastle ; the other person (although he could 
not swim,) was saved by means of his life preserver. 

The boat fortunately had a high forecastle, on 
which a number of the crew and passengers had col- 
lected. This parted entire, and all or nearly all on it, 
some eight or ten persons at least, went ashore and 
were saved — Capt. White among the number. 

The boat, almost immediately on striking, went to 
pieces. Her keel and kelson both drifted ashore 
about a mile from the wreck. About twenty bodies 
were found men, and women — among them an in- 
fant and the chief mate. The shore, for some miles 
to the southward, was covered with fragments. The 
boilers of the boat were to be seen, but every vestige 
of the vessel had parted from them. 

Of the three small boats belonging to the Home, 
one was staved by the violence of the gale as she hung 
in the davits, one other filled alongside, and tlhe oth- 
er was cast off with a number of passengers in her, 
but she upset in the surf, and only one person was 
saved. One of the stewards swam safe ashore naked, 
but he nearly perished afterward with cold. 

The scene the next morning was too horrid to de- 
scribe, the boiler being the only unbroken relic of 
what was the beautiful packet Home. The shore^ 
was lined with bodies constantly coming up. All 
hands were engaged in collecting them together. 
The survivors in groups, were nearly naked, and fam- 
ished and exhausted. The few inhabitants appeared 
friendly, but many of the trunks that came on shore 
were empty. 

Mrs. Lacoste, the aged lady that was saved, is 
about 70. She is very fleshy, and almost helpless. 
She was found in the surf, but how she got there nei- 
ther herself nor any other person cQuld give any ac- 
count. Mr. Hussey, who was saved, lashed his wife 
to a spar, but she was forced off^ by a sea and lost. 



24 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Mr. H. afterward lashed himself to a spar and reached 
the shore. It is the opinion of our informant that a 
large portion of the passengers were lost together, 
soon after she struck, when the boat separated. All 
the children on board were lost except one lad about 
13 years old. 

Ocracoke Island, to which place the survivors were 
washed or swam, is principally inhabited by pilots. 
Mr. Littlejohn, a Southern planter who was spending 
the summer there, Mr. Howard, who resides also on 
the Island, Capt. Pike, and other gentlemen paid eve- 
ry attention to the survivors, and to the interment of 
those bodies which were washed on shore. Within 
two days after the fatal occurrence, which time 
Messrs. Rowland and Holmes were obliged to wait 
for a conveyance, about twenty bodies, among which 
were those of two or three of the ladies, were washed 
on shore and buried. 

After the survivors reached the shore, they separa- 
ted in various directions — some to Raleigh, N. C. oth- 
ers to Newbern — two as before stated, came to New 
York, and the remainder made their way towards 
Charleston, by the best conveyances they could find. 

Mr. Vanderzee, who has arrived at Charleston, 
communicated the following facts for publication. 
He says : 

At 11 o'clock at night, the Home grounded, about 
100 yards from the shore. The ladies had all been 
requested to go forward, as the place where they 
were more likely to reach the shore, being nearest the 
beach, but a heavy sea struck her there, and swept 
nearly one half of 'them into the sea and they were 
drowned. One boat was stove at this time. Anoth- 
er boat was launched, with two or three persons in it, 
but capsized. The long-boat was then put overboard, 
filled with persons, twenty-five in number, it is sup- 
posed,- but did not get 15 ieei from the side ot the 
steamer before she jpset, and it is the belief of our 



THE HOME. 25 

informant, that not one of the individuals in her ever 
reached the shore. The sea was breaking over the 
boat at this time with tremendous force, and pieces of 
her were breaking off at times, and floating towards 
the shore, qn some of which persons were chnging. 
One lady with a child in her arms \yas in the act of 
mounting the stairs to the upper deck when the smoke 
stock fell, and doubtless killed her and her child, on 
the spot. Some few of the ladies were lashed to the 
boat, Mrs. Schroeder was confined in this manner to 
one of the braces of the boat, and another lady was 

tied to the same piece of timber. Mr. was 

standing near them, when the latter lady slipped 
along the brace so that the water broke over her. 
Mr. V, seized hec by the clothes, and held her up for 
some time, and made every exertion that was possible 
to release her, but failed. She herself, endeavored to 
unloose the rope, but was unable to do so, and shortly 
afterwards the brace broke off frpm the boat, and 
went towards the shore, Mrs. Schroeder still fastened 
to it, while her unfortunate companion, slipped off 
and was lost. Mrs. S. after striking the beach, Avith 
great presence of mind, drew the timber up on the 
beach so far as to prevent it from being washed 
away by the waves, and was thus saved. 

The hull of the boat broke into three pieces, and 
the shore was completely strewed with portions of 
the wreck, baggage, 6&c. for four or six miles in ex- 
tent the next morning. 

Captain White, with six or seven other persons 
clung to a piece of the forward part of the boat and 
reached the beach in safety. Mrs. Lacosto floated 
ashore nearly exhausted, and had she not been taken 
up would most probably have perished. 

Mr. Lovegreen was on the upper deck, and tolled 
the bell until almost every one kad left her, when he 
sprung off and swam ashore. 

Mrs. Lacoste, one of the ladies saved, is quite large, 
3 



26 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

and is, we learn, nearly seventy years of age. When 
on shore she walks about with considerable difficulty ; 
her preservation is almost miraculous. She was not 
aware by what means she got ashore, but it is under- 
stood that she was lashed to a settee, and. upon it was 
washed over the surf. 

Mr. Kennedy of Charleston, was a member of the 
Sophomore Class, in Yale College. 

Mr. S. G. Fuller of South Carolina was about 28 
years of age, and has friends residing in Brooklyn 
where he spent much of his time. 

Professor Nott and Lady were on their return to the 
south, after passing the summer recess of the Colum- 
bia (South Carolina) college in our more healthy re- 
giop. Mr. Nott was a person of peculiar amiableness 
anCintelligence. He had travelled extensively, and 
his writings after his return to his native land, had 
gained him much celebrity. It was in Belgium that 
he' formed his matrimonial alliance, and Mrs. Nott, 
though a native of that country, died with many 
friends in ours, which she some years ago adopted as 
her own. The Professor himself, was a native of 
South Carolina, where his father was a judge. They 
left a young family behind them ; and numberless 
friends of their lamented parents, will deeply sympa- 
thize in their bereavement. 

Mr. A. C. Bangs, was a very promising young 
man, about 19 years of age, son of Rev. Heman 
Bangs of Hartford^ Conn, and nephew of Rev. Dr. 
Bangs of New York. 

Mr. Philip S. Cohen of Charleston, S, C. who was 
lost, was the youngest brother of Mr. Isaac S. Cohen, 
of Columbia, who was fortunately preserved. Both 
brothers were on board the Wm. Gibbons when she 
was wrecked, and narrowly escaped with their lives. 
We understand that their friends at home were very 
urgent in their solicitations that they should not re- 
turn in the Home. Alas ! that their entreaties were 
of no avail. 



THE HOME. 27 

Hon. Geo. H. Prince and Lady, who with their 
servants were lost, had spent the summer at the north, 
where Mr. Prince was superintending the pubhcation 
of the Laws of Georgia. He was formerly U. S. Sen- 
ator from that state, and was highly esteemed for his 
virtues, talents and learning. 

Mr. P. Anderson was a merchant, belonging to Co- 
lumbia, S. C. 

Miss Henrietta Groom, was 16 years of age, a 
young lady of great personal accomplishments. She 
was a native of North Carolina, and had been about 
three years in New York, where she had acquired an 
excellent education at the boarding school of Madame 
Cheganay. 

Mr. and Mrs. Groom, who were lost, were the pa- 
rents of the young lady above mentioned. Their son, 
a fine youth, also perished. The father of Mr. H. B. 
Groom was a member of the Lyceum of Natural His- 
tory in Nev/ York, and a very worthy man. He was 
a resident of Florida, but being in feeble health, gen- 
erally spent his summers at the north. Of this entire 
family, all we understand are now gone. 

Mrs. Levy of Charleston with her two lovely and ac- 
complished daughters were returning home, after having 
spent the summer in New York. One of the daugh- 
ters had come to the north for the recovery of her 
health. She had recovered and was returning perfectly 
happy. On the day before the Home sailed. Captain 
Cohen called on them. He told them he was return- 
ing in the Home. " I should like to go in the Home," 
said Mrs. Levy. Capt. Cohen after a great deal of 
intreaty, persuaded the ladies to return in the Home, 
they are now in the grave — he, the Captain, was 
saved. 

Mr. Wm. H. Tileston of New York was going 
south on a business tour, for the house with which he 
was connected. He had with him business notes fur 
collection amounting to upwards of one hundred thou- 



28 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

saiid dollars. He was a young man of much promise, 
and greatly beloved by all who knew him. 

Mr. Sprott was of the house of Munday and 
Sprott of Benton. Alabama. 

Mrs. Alfred Hill, was the wife of Capt. Hill, who 
is among those saved from the devouring sea. Capt. 
H. when the boat struck, secured a spar, upon which 
he and his wife endeavored to reach the shore. 
They had almost gained the beach, when a sea.struck 
them rolled both over the spar, and the husband was 
doomed to see the wife of his bosom carried from be- 
yond his reach, just at the moment when he had be- 
lieved they had escaped the horrible fate of so many 
of their companions. Mrs. Hill Avas a Welsh lady, 
about 24 years of age, and has left a little child, too 
young as yet to feel its loss. She was much esteem- 
ed by all who knew her. Capt. Hill has several 
times before this escaped the perils of shipwreck — and 
about seven years since was the only person saved on 
board a vessel taken by pirates, in the Gulf of Mexi- 
co. Every one else was murdered; he was saved by 
concealing himself in the hold ,• and as the vessel grad- 
ually filled with water, (having been scuttled by.vthe 
pirates,) he floated out on a plank, and swam on 
shore, exposed to continual danger from sharks, and 
then had to walk twenty miles through mangrove 
bushes (fee, before he came to any human habitation. 

Mrs. BouDo, was a most estimable widow lady, 
whose loss will be deeply deplored by large numbers 
both in New York, and in Charleston. She kept an 
extensive jewelry and fancy store in ICing-street, 
Charleston. 

Mrs. Riviere also belonged to Charlestdai, where 
she was well known and much respected. She kept 
a millinary establishment in King-street. 

?tlr. Geo. H. Palmer was a son of Mr. Wm. Pal- 
mer of Jamaica, Long Island, who is in business in 
New York. 




THE HOME. 29 

Mr. P. Solomons of Columbia, S. C. is also among 
tlie plumber to be added to the unfortunate array of 
names of those, thus suddenly launched into eternity. 

Mr. Jas. Paine, was a resident of Mobile, aged 
about 25 years. 

Mr. Thos. SxMith, 30 years of age, a merchant of 
South Carolina. 

Mr. James B. Allaire of New York, was also a 
passenger. Many are there who will long remember 
the numerous virtues of this estimable young man. 
He was a nephew of the owner. 

We have also learned .that a young man was on 
board Ifelonging to Middletown, Conn, whose name 
was on the list ; of him' we have gathered no particu- 
lars. 

Mr. H. Yanderzee was going south on the busi- 
ness' of the house of Parish & Co. of New York, with 
whom he is connected. He had a large amount of 
notes with him for collection, which he took the pre- 
caution to secure around his body. He jumped over- 
board when the boat struck, and was driven by the 
tide and surf a great distance. When almost exhaust- 
ed, and about to give himself up to despair, a piece of 
the wreck was fortunately thrown in his way, by 
which he was enabled to support himself until he was 
washed ashore. 

Mr. Roland stated, that a large number of trunks 
which came on shore, broken to pieces, either by the 
crushing of the boat, or by being knocked about in 
the surf. Very little of the baggage was saved to 
those whose lives were spared. 

W"e may here remark, that several gentlemen who 
had relatives or friends on board, immediately started 
south, in the hope their bodies might be found, and 
they could be enabled to pay them the last earthly 
tribute of affection — that of seeing their remains prop- 
erly consigned to the bosom of our common mother. 

Rev. George Cowles, for two or three years until 
3* 



30 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

his health failed, was pastor of a Congregational 
Church ill Danvers, Mass. His amiable lady \a{|is a 
sister of the Rev. Mr. Adams, of the Broome street 
Church in New York, and daughter of the venerable 
Preceptor of Philips Academy, Andover. 

The following memorial of the Rev. George Cowles 
and Lady, is furnished by a friend. — Amid the gene- 
ral gloom and distress occasioned throughout this 
community, by the loss of the steamboat Home, great 
interest has been felt in many circles on account of 
the premature death of the Rev. George Cowles and 
wife, who perished in that disaster. Weie their lo^s 
a private affliction only, great and irreparable as it is 
to immediate relatives, the following facts would 
never be obtruded upon the public notice, but left to 
that grief which seeketh secresy, and "knowethits 
own bitterness." It had fallen, however, to theft- lot 
to occupy an important station in the church of 
Christ ; they were extensively known and loved ; a 
very numerous and affectionate people, over whom 
they long and faithfully watched, deplore their loss ; 
and it has been impossible to furnish a full and satis- 
factory reply to all the letters which have been writ- 
ten for information concerning their melancholy end, 
by " Zion's friends and ours." Under these circum- 
stances I have, taken the liberty of requesting you to 
publish the following facts, as the most convenient 
method of communicating the same to their many 
friends ; hoping at the same time that some of them 
may not be without interest to all who live in expec- 
tation of the coming of the Son of Man, as they afford 
another testimony to the reality and stability of that 
support which Christ extends to his followers in the 
hour of peril and death. 

Mr. and Mrs. C. arrived in N. York, September 22d, 
intending to pass the winter with a brother and sister 
in Augusta, Georgia. They were long doubtful what 
means of conveyance to choose. They had a most 



THE HOME. 31 

decided aversion to a passage in the steamboat. In- 
deed, such Jiad always been their strong and invinci- 
ble dread of the sea, that they would have chosen to 
journey the whole distance by land, if it had not been 
thought unsafe to travel so early in the season 
through the low countries of the South. During 
their visit in New York, the Home completed her sec- 
ond trip from Charleston ; the first in 62, the last in 
64 hours. The speed, comfort, and safety of this boat 
were so highly extolled, that both were led to think 
more seriously of taking passage on her return ; and 
after a personal inspection of her accommodations, 
and learning that on previous passages she had taken 
the inner channel, thus avoiding Cape Hatteras alto- 
gether, their berths word secured. 

On Saturday afternoon, Oct. 7th, they were accom- 
panied to the boat, in moie than ordinary health and 
spirits, excepting some natural tears on leaving home 
and friends, and, (in the case of one, there can be no 
doubt,) because of her instinctive and unpartillelled 
fear lohen upon ihe xcater. ^ 

For several successive days the weather was re- 
markably fine ; many who had friends on board the 
Home watched it day and niglit, and on rising Tues- 
day morning congratulated themselves and the voy- 
agers, on account of their safe arrival at Charleston. 

How great the shock, when, on the subsequent 
Tuesday, the awful tidings arrived that the Home had 
foundered at sea, and the large majority of passengers, 
including Mr. and Mrs. C. were in eternity! 

It was the first impulse of all, on recovering suffi- 
cient composure, to converse with the survivors, and 
obtain from them, if possible, more definite informa- 
tion concerning their particular friends and relatives. 
The first and only individual who was able to make 
any report of Mr. and Mrs. C. was Mr. Jabez Holmes, 
an amiable and pious young gentleman of the house 
of Cornelius Baker & Co. He had no personal ac- 



33 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

quaintaiice with either. He knew them not by- 
name. But when told that Mr. C. was a clergyman 
he identified him at once, describing his dress and 
that of his wife so accurately as to preclude all possi- 
bility of his being mistaken. He had considerable 
conversation with both during the fatal storm ; and 
his recollections of them were the more distinct, be- 
cause of the very remarkable composure which they 
exhibited ; which word, added the same gentleman, 
failed to express. all that their words and countenan- 
ces indicated. It was something more than compos- 
ure, it was happiness, whan they spoke of their con- 
fidence in God ! 

The characteristic and precious remark made by 
Mr. C, as overheard by Mr*. H. was enough to re- 
move all those terrific images of distress, and pale- 
ness, and runnings to and fro, by which the minds of 
surviving friends were before agitated by day and 
night. 

The remark of Mr. C. referred to above, was ad- 
dressed fe) the stev/ard and clerk of- the boat, to see 
whom, was judged very desirable, as he was observed 
to be in frequent conversation with Mr. and Mrs. C. 
up to a late hour. 

The steward of the Home was Mr. David M. Milne, 
the son of a deceased clergyman, and who was saved, 
in. a manner almost miraculous, to rejoice a pious 
mother, and a sister on missionary ground. From # 
him the following facts were afterwards obtained. 

The gale commenced on Sabbath morning, and 
continued to increase all the day. At night the boat 
labored much and leaked considerably, but not enough 
to excite apprehensions of danger. On Monday A. 
M. there was no concealment of the fact that all were 
in imminent peril. The general expectation was, 
that the boat would sink with all on board, when fif- 
teen miles ofi^ Cape Hatteras. Mr. C. who, during 
two years of feeble health, had often been told by 



THE H03IE. 33 

physicians that he must die, without a perceptible 
quickening of his pulse, or one distracting fear in his 
heart ; and his wife, who had often stood at his side 
in the very presence of the pallid king, were now, 
throughout this day of awful suspense, to exemplify 
the effects of their previous discipline, when suddenly 
called to face death in one of its most terrific forms. 

Mr. Milne states that he has a more distinct recol- 
lection of Mr. and Mrs. C. than of any other passen- 
gers, because of the religious conversatio7i lohich they 
addressed to him. In the midst of the perils of that 
eventful day, Mr. C, who was compelled by sick- 
ness to keep his berth, requested Mr. M. to read aloud 
certain portions of Scripture, among which was that 
singularly appropriate and sublime passage, the 24th. 
chapter of Matthew ; and then, (many of the passen- 
gers gathering around, and listening with profound 
interest) commended them all to God in audible 
prayer. Never, says Mr. M. were individuals more 
perfectly composed than Mr. and Mrs. C. Several 
distinct times, Mr. C. gave vent to his gratitude on 
account of the calmness and peace of his wife, who 
he had expected would be greatly terrified. Both 
expressed a great degree of interest for the welfare of 
others. To one individual, the direct inquiry was 
proposed in the kindest manner of Christian fidelity., 
whether he was a Christian, and if he did not admit 
at such a time, that it was of all things safe and im- 
portant to have God for a refuge. Concerning anoth- 
er, who, in a state of desperation, and under the influ- 
ence of intoxicating liquors, uttered some horrible im- 
precations, Mr. C. remarked, ." how much better 
would it be for that man to be in prayer for his soul, 
than to blaspheme his God." The remark was after- 
wards communicated to the individual himself, under 
very affecting circumstances. He survived his wife 
no that dreadful night. 

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when it was evident 



34 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

that the boat could not long hold together, Mr. and 
Mrs. C, who had hitherto declined going up, on the 
plea that their doing so would be of no service, were 
summoned to the dining cabin on the main deck. 
Mr. M. himself assisted Mrs. C. out of her berth, and 
again heard her declare, when dressing for her death, 
her joy and sense of security in confiding on Almighty 
love. To him the remark was made by Mr. C, " He 
that trusts in Jesus is safe, even amid the perils of the 
sea." 

At 8 o'clock in the evening, when nearing the 
shore, another effort was made to lighten the boat by 
bailing. And as it was necessary for all to aid, the 
ladies and among them Mrs. C, formed a line for pass- 
ing the empty buckets, in which occupation htr cheer- 
ful appearance was observed by many,and tended not a 
little to inspire others with hope. Mr. C. expressed re- 
gret that, owing to his great feebleness, he was unable 
to afford much aid. but seated on a trunk, did what he 
could, in passing the empty pails. Notwithstanding 
all their exertions, the leak gained very rapidly, the 
fire under the boliers had long ago been extinguished, 
the engines were useless, the cabin floor was deeply 
flooded, and all further effort was abandoned. All 
was silence ; most were providing themselves with 
whatever presented the least hope of safety. Mr. and 
Mrs. C. sat together in calm expectation. At ten 
minutes before 11, the boat struck. The moon was" 
shrouded by thick clouds, but it was not so dark, but 
that the shore could be seen at the distance of a quar- 
ter of a mile. Orders were immediately given for 
all the passengers to go forward. A life-line was 
passed from the bow aft, to which they were advised 
to cling in a sudden emergency. Mr. C. was seen to 
go forward with his arm around his wife. They 
were seen no more. Probably, the first breaker 
which struck the boat, after she swung to the sea, 
swept them together to their watery grave. 



THE HOME. 35 

" Lovely were they in their lives, and in death 
they were not divided." Who can doubt that it 
would have been the choice of both, if either was to 
be taken, not to be separated in such a death ? Both 
were taken to their home and refuge at the same mo- 
ment. Blessed be God for all those calm supports 
which He extended to them in prospect of death — el- 
evating the one above the reach of a more than ordi- 
nary timidity, and thus comforting the .hearts of 
many on sleepless pillows, when the dark and driving 
storm carries their frighted thoughts to the sea. 

We have the melancholy satisfaction of adding, 
that the body of Mrs. C. was found the morning after 
the fatal disaster, carried to the residence of Mr. 
William Howard, there shrouded by the humane 
hands of Mrs. H. and other ladies, whose tender and 
feeling conduct deserves the highest praise of the com- 
munity, as it has evoked the blessing of rhany bleed- 
ing hearts, and thence removed to an adjoining place 
of sepulture, and decently interred, with a board, bear- 
ing her name, to mark the spot. It is probable that be- 
fore this the remains of Mr. C. have also been identi- 
fied ; but it should be borne in mind that owing to 
the distance of the fatal spot from any post-office, a 
long time must elapse before all desirable intelligence 
can be transmitted. Every possible measure was 
taken immediately after hearing of the shipwreck, to 
ascertain whether the remains of these two had been 
identified, and to obtain such information as would 
facihtate their removal, at a proper time, to a resting 
place beside those graves at home, which they had 
so often visited and bedewed with tears. The people 
over whom they were placed, have already signified 
their wish to erect a monument to their memory, in 
the quiet church-yard, where, with funeral rites, they 
had deposited so many of their flock. ^But their rec- 
ord is on high ; their memory will live in the warm 
and loving hearts of thousands. 



36 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

THE WRECK OF THE HOME. 

Morn on the waters — not a cloud 

Is resting in the azure heaven, 
And, where the storm in fury bowed, 

A halcyon calmness now is given. 
On Carolina's wave- washed shore, 

The spirit of Columbia's waters, 
Now chants a mournful requiem o'er 

Her country's much loved sons and daughters. 

Nor those alone — for on that bark, 

Which rode the waves at yester-even, 
Braving the tempest fierce and dark, 

In hopes to reach the destined haven, 
Were strangers from a distant clime, 

The talented, the generous hearted. 
The wise and learned of their time, 

Who on a high career had started. 

One,* from the shores of sunny France, 

Across the ever-heaving ocean. 
Bore o'er that water's wide expanse, 

A woman's holy, deep devotion. 
That husband fond — that gentle wife. 

Whose days on golden pinions glided, 
Were " loved and lovely in their life. 

And in their death were undivided." 

Oh ! when destruction's angel passed, 

Across the ocean's troubled bosom, 
More fatal than the simoon's blast 

To Joy's bright bud and Hope's fair blossom, 
Few were the sad survivors, borne 

Across that dark, tempestuous water, 
In heartfelt loneliness to mourn 

A moth^t's loss, a wife, or daughter. 

* The wife of Professor NoU was a French Lady. 



THE HOME. 37 

And here, to one* I dearly loved ; 

My spirit turns in mournful sadness, 
Whose friendship and whose faith were proved, 

In sorrow's hour, and pleasure's gladness. 
Peace to thy memory ! gentle one ; 

He in whose sight the just find favor, 
We trust, has early called thee home, 

To dwell, forever, with thy- Savior. 

How precious to each memory, 

The ample and sincere oblation. 
From feeling's fount of sympathy, 

Now gushing forth throughout the nation. 
As on that rude and dangerous strand. 

We seem to hear their funeral dirges, 
The requiem of that fated band, 

Entombed beneath the swelling surges. 

Oh ! may that God of sovereign power. 

Of every blessing, still, the giver, 
Through every dark, desponding hour. 

Sustain each lone and sad survivor ; 
And, bowed beneath his chastening hand. 

Whose judgments are in mercy given. 
In every trial may they stand 

Resigned to Him who reigns in Heaven. 

Mary, wife of B. B. Hussey, and daughter of Thos. Woodward of N. York. 




35 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



THRILLING NARRATIVE. 

Extract of a letter from a passenger on hoard the 

Stea7n Packet Charleston^ from Philadelphia^ 

during the same storm^ in which the Home 

was ivrecked. 

First day afteriiooiij 10 mo. (Oct.) 8. — The wind 
and swell of the sea have increased considerably, 
and the appearance of the ocean is awfully grand. 
The waves tower above the upper deck, while the 
gulf which yawns below seems as though it would 
swallow us up. Our course is in the trough of the 
sea, with the winds and waves on our side, which 
makes the boat roll excessively, and the force of the 
waves striking the boat makes her tremble from end 
to end. We have shipped some seas on our forward 
deck, which covered it several inches in water, and 
altogether, it may be considered quite a storm. The 
seamen are now reefing our square-sail to be ready 
for rounding Cape Hatteras, where we are to expect 
a rough time. The boat rolls so that I have to hold 
on with one hand, while I write with the other. 

10 mo. 11. The gale, of which I spoke in what I 
wrote on first day, rapidly increased in fury towards 
night, and the terrific appearance of the billows, with 
the howling of the wind, convinced me that our situ- 
ation had become most serious and dangerous. We 
were off Cape Hatteras, between 20 and 30 miles 
from land, in one of the most dangerous parts of the 
coast of North America. I retired to my berth very 
late, and was so fully impressed with our danger that I 
could not sleep, and the tremendous lurching of the 
boat would hardly allow me to lay in my berth. A 
little before two o'clock in the morning, a sea broke 



^5^ THE CHARLESTON. S9 

over the stern of the boat hke an avalanche ; the con- 
cussion was so great as to break in the bulk heads, 
and shatter the glass in some of the windows, far 
from where it struck. It broke in the sky-lights in 
the after cabin, and pouring into it in torrents, made 
a clear sweep over the after deck, as deep as the bul- 
warks, nearly four feet. Tjie violence of the sea, 
lifted the deck fore and aft of the wheel house, mak- 
ing an opening about one inch wide the whole length 
of the boat, through which the water poured into her 
sponsons every time she shipped a sea, and she rolled 
like a log in the water. The weather side, moreover, 
took so much more than the other, that it occasioned 
her to list over very much, and deranged the work- 
ing of the engines. Had these failed, all hope would 
have been at an end. The Captain behaved with re- 
markable coolness and decision. He had been on the 
upper deck, at the helm, all the day and night, expos- 
ed to the fury of the winds and waves without any 
shelter. When we shipped the sea, at 2 P. M., he 
ran down into our cabin, said he could not be absent 
from the helm, and that if we wished to save our 
lives, we must turn to bailing out water, or he great- 
ly feared the boat would be swamped, she was so^ 
loaded with it. 

At this moment four sky-lights, each eight inches 
by thirty, were pouring down columns of water, the 
wliole cabin afloat, and trunks, settees, bonnet boxes, 
&c., were dashing from side to side, as the vessel 
heaved in the trough of the sea. Buckets were pro- 
cured, and we commenced as fast as we could, but 
every sea we shipped brought in vastly more than all 
of us could bail out, and the water soon became so 
deep as to run into the top of my boots. It was evi- 
dent some other means must be resorted to. The 
passengers and crew behaved with great calmness 
and propriety — none, who were able, refusing to work. 
We took our matrasses and pillows and stuffed them 



40 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. ■ 

into the lights, but the returning waves washed them 
out. We then barricaded them with settees, station- 
ed men to hold them in ; this succeeded in part, but 
no sooner was this accomplished, than a tremendous 
sea struck us on the other side, and opened a way 
for the water in there, and into the ladies' cabin. It 
now become necessary to put some stopping on the 
outside, but the boat was shipping such tremendous 
seas, that it was a work of great hazard. A man, 
however, was procured to go, who was lashed to the 
stanchions by a strong rope, but such was the depth 
of the water on the deck, from the continual wash- 
ing of the waves, that he could do but little. The 
boat rolled and pitched so dreadfully that we could 
scarcely stand even when holding on, and she had 
shipped so much water that she leaned on the side 
towards the sea, exposing her to its full action. I 
stood bailing and handing. water from the time it first 
broke into the cabin, until eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing, wet to the skin, and nearly ready to sink with 
fatigue. As the day dawned, the storm raged more 
furiously, the billows rose as high as our smoke-pipe, 
and as they curled and broke, fell on us with amaz- 
ing power. About 10 o'clock the engineer told us 
he thought the e'ngine could not hold out much long- 
er, she was so disarranged and injured by the heavy 
shocks of the sea. We knew that, as far as regarded 
outward means, this was our only hope of safety, and 
this intelligence was appalling. Our captain was col- 
lected and energetic, but the winds and waves laugh- 
ed at the puny power of man, and defied all his ef- 
forts. 

At half past ten, A. M., a sea of immense volume 
and force, struck our forward hatch, towered over the 
upper deck, and swept ofl^ all that was on it. It 
broke the iron bolts that supportod the smoke pike, 
stove in the bulwarks, tore up the iron sheathings of 
the engine^ and made almost a wreck of the upper 



THE CHARLESTON. 



41 



works. On the main deck it tore away the guards 
several inches square, demohshed the windows of the 
main hatch in the men's cabin, and poured down a 
torrent of water which filled it nearly two feet deep. 
It engulfed the fire under the boiler of the engine on 
that side, and lifted the machinery so as to permit 
the escape of a volume of steam and smoke, that near- 
ly suffocated us, and so shifted the main shaft of the 
engine that it no longer worked true, but tore away 
the wood work, and almost destroyed its further use- 




TUe wUoIq sea vtm while wiUi waiij,' 



fulness. It swept all the rooms on both sides, and 
threw them open to every succeeding wave. The 
crash was awful, the boat trembled and quivered as 
though she was wrecked, and the big bell tolled with 
the shock, as though sounding the funeral knell of 
all on board. I never had an adequate idea of a 
storm before, the whole sea was white with foam, 
and the wind blew up the water in such quantities 
that the atmosphere was thick with it. Every sea 
stove in some new place ; windows and doors gave 
4* 



42 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

way with awful crashes, and several times the fires 
were nearly extinguished. The captain, who had 
stood at his post near the helm, now came down 
from the upper deck and told us the fury of the 
storm was such that he feared he could not save the 
vessel, that her upper works were fast becoming a 
wreck, and as soon as they went she would fill and 
sink ; therefore, if it met the approbation of the pas- 
sengers, he would endeavor to run her ashore, in the 
hope of saving our lives. He said all would depend 
upon the character of the beach, and on our self-pos- 
session and calmness to act with judgment at the try- 
ing moment, and assured us that he would lose his 
life to save ours. He told us to continue working at 
the pumps and buckets, and in handing wood for the 
engines, as long as we could possibly stand ; and to 
avoid giving way to im. proper excitement ; that 
when the vessel should strike, we must make for the 
bow after the first sea had swept her decks. He also 
directed us where to place those articles we should 
most want if we survived. He then went to the 
women's cabin, and calling them all together, stated 
his apprehensions that the vessel could not be saved, 
giving them much the same charges he had done 
to us. All this was done with as much apparent 
calmness as though all was well. He then ordered 
the carpenter to be ready with the axe to cut away 
the mast the moment she should strike, and having 
made these arrangements, resumed his station at the 
helm. The boat now rolled more than ever, shipped 
nearly every sea that struck against her^ and swung 
round from the shock, so as not to obey the helm. 
An almost constant stream of water swept the decks, 
and at every stroke of the sea the boat groaned, and 
the bell rung with a sound that seemed peculiarly 
awful. 

We all procured ropes and fastened them around 
our bodies, for the purpose of lashing ourselves to 



THE CHARLESTON. 43 

the wreck, and having embraced each other, prepared 
to take our part in the work, and to meet the awful 
impending catastrophe. T. G. D., B. W. W., and 
myself, stood together for a few moments looking on 
tlie terrific display around us, and both secre/ly and 
openly, I believe, putting up our prayers. After this 
deeply ajffecting scene, 1 went to work and continued 
at it until eight o'clock at night, pumping, bailing, or 
handing out water, and carrying wood for the fires. 
As we were then 25 or 30 miles from shore, the cap- 
tain's anxiety was, to put the boat in as soon as possi- 
ble, before she became unmanageable or began to 
sink. He steered for Cape Lookout, in North Caroli- 
na, though he could not tell certainly where he was, 
but concluded it must be the nearest land, and that 
it would be as good a place to be wrecked on as any. 
But a merciful and kind Providence knew better than 
we, and at that awful moment was watching over us, 
and frustrating our designs for our good. The land 
lay N. N. W., and the gale blowing heavily N. E., so 
that he could not steer her in ; finding this, he came 
down and desired the engineer to raise steam with 
wood, to enable him to steer in, or otherwise all hope 
was gone. Accordingly we all went to handing 
wood for the engine, but so much had been washed 
over that we had hardly enough for three hours ; the 
sea had broken down the doors and windows, &c., 
on deck, and we carefully collected these and put 
them in to keep up the fire. But with all the steam 
we could raise, we could not steer for shore, the 
wind and current carrying us down along shore, but 
not in towards it ; and this proved our safety, for with 
the tremendous sea, which we afterwards saw setting 
on the coast, near which we aimed to ground, we 
must all have perished had we succeeded in our at- 
tempt. As it was, the wind, current, and steam, just 
served to carry us, under the guidance of a gracious 
Providence, we knew not whither, but into stiller 



44 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

water. About 9 o'clock at night the sea began to be 
more cahn, though the fury of the storm was not les- 
sened; by which the captain was induced to believe 
that we had doubled the cape and were coming under 
its lee. By incessant exertions we now nearly cleared 
the hold and cabin of water, and as the boat shortly 
came into comparatively smooth water, the captain 
thought he would try to weather the night at anchor, 
thinking the storm might abate by morning. Some 
protested against this and insisted upon running on 
shore at once, but the captain would not, as he 
thought vs^e should all perish in the dark. He there- 
fore steered in towards it, and g,fter running two 
hours dropped two anchors which held the boat. On 
weighing these in the morning we found 'that the 
largest one had broken short off, and our safety during 
the night had depended on a small, and, as we should 
have thought, very insutficient one. Thus a succes- 
sion of merciful providences attended us, which I shall 
rejoice to recount when we meet. 

Our captain called a consultation of the passengers 
on third clay morning, in which nearly all agreed that 
we should run into Beaufort, to refit. As he did not 
know the channel, it was necessary to sound contin- 
ually ; but after a few hours a pilot came off to us and 
steered us in handsomely. 

After refitting at Beaufort they proceeded on their 
voyage and arrived in Charleston on fifth day. — lOlh 
Month, 1837. 



THE PULASKI. 47 



LOSS OF THE STEAM PACKET PULASKI, 

which exploded and sunk on the coast of North 
Carolina^ on her passage from Charleston 
to Baltimore, June 14, 1838, hy which 
disastrous event nearly one hun- 
dred persons perished. 

The following' Narrative is from information de- 
rived from J. H. Couper, Esq. of Glynn Co., Geor- 
gia, andMaj. James P. Heath of Baltimore, who were 
among the sm-vivers. 

The steam packet Pulaski, Capt. Dubois, sailed 
from Savannah, on Wednesday, the 13th of June, 
having on board about 90 passengers. She arrived 
at Charleston the same afternoon, and sailed the next 
morning with 65 additional passengers. In the after- 
noon the wind was fresh from the east and produced 
a heavy sea, which retarded her progress and requited 
a full pressure of steam. At half past 10, the wind 
continued fresh with a clear starlight, and there was 
every promise of a fine night. At 11 o'clock, the 
starboard boiler exploded with tremendous violence, 
blowing off the promenade deck above, and shattering 
the starboard side about midships — at the same time 
the bulk-head between the boilers and forward cabin 
was stove in, the stairway to it blocked up and the 
bar-room swept away. The head of the boiler was 
blown out, and the top rent fore and aft. In conse- 
quence of the larboard boiler and works being com- 
paratively uninjured, the boat heeled to that side, and 
the starboard side was kept out of the water, except 
when she rolled, when the sea rushed in at the breach. 
The boat continued to settle rapidly, and in about 40 



48 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

minutes the water had reached the promenade deck 
above the ladies' cabin. Previous to this period, 
the ladies, children, and the gentlemen who were in 
the after part of the boat, were placed on the promen- 
ade deck. About the time that the water reached 
that point, the boat parted in two with a tremendous 
crash, and the bow and stern rose somewhat out of 
the water: but the latter again continued to sink 
until the water reached the promenade deck, when it 
separated in three parts, upset, and precipitated all on 
it into the water. Many then regained the detached 
portions. The gentlemen who occupied the forward 
cabin, took refuge on the extreme point of the bow, 
when the boat broke in two, and clung to it and the 
foremast ; others had placed themselves on settees, 
and the fragments of the wreck. 

There were four boats belonging to the Pulaski ; two 
being swung to the sides, and two placed on the top 
of the promenade deck. The side boats were both 
lowered down, within five minutes after the explosion. 
In that on the starboard side the first mate, Mr. Hib- 
bert, Mr. Swift, and one other person had placed 
themselves ; — in that on the larboard side were Mr. 
J. H. Couper, with Mrs. Nightingale and child, and 
Mrs. Frazer and her son, who were under his charge. 
Capt. R. W. Pooler and son, and Mr. William Rob- 
ertson, all of Georgia, Barney and Solomon belonging 
to the crew, and two colored women. By direction 
of the mate two of the crew launched one of the deck 
boats and got into her j but as, from her long expos- 
ure to the sun, her seams were all open, she immedi- 
ately filled, and Mr. Hibbert removed the men to his 
boat. The boats met, when those in the second pro- 
posed to Mr. Hibbert to strike for the land, as it had 
on board as many as it could safely carry ; this he 
declined to do, as he said he was determined to stay 
by the wreck until daylight, and had yet room for 
more persons. Both boats then continued to row 



THE PULASKI. 49 

about the wreck until the mate's boat had picked up 
as many as she could cany, when Mr. Hibbert yield- 
ed to the propriety of consulting the safety of those 
in the boats, by going to the land, as their further 
stay would endanger them, without affording any aid 
to their suffering friends, and they left the wreck at 
3 P. M. The boats took a N. W. course, being fa- 
vored by a heavy sea and strong breeze from S. E. f* 
At 12 o'clock they made the land, and at 3 P. M. 
were near the beach. Mr. Hibbert then waited until 
the second boat came up, and informed them that those 
who were in his boat refused to row any farther and 
insisted on landing ; — Mr. Couper united with him ia 
protesting against this measure, as, from the heavy 
breakers which were dashing on the beach, as far as 
the eye could reach, it was obviously one of great 
peril. Being overruled, they submitted to make the 
attempt. The mate, who had previously taken the 
two colored women from the second boat, then pro- 
posed to lead the way, and requested Mr. Couper to 
lie off, until he had effected a landing and was pre- 
pared to aid the ladies and children. The first boat 
then entered the surf, and disappeared for several 
minutes from those in the other boat, having been 
instantly filled with water. Six of the persons in her, 
viz. :— Mr. Hibbert, Mr. Swift, Mr. Tappan, Mr. 
Leuchtenburg, and West and Brown of the crew land- 
ed in safety. An old gentleman supposed to be Judge 
Rochester, formerly of Buffalo, N. Y., but recently of 
Pensacola, Mr. Bird of Georgia, the two colored wom- 
en, and a boat hand, whose name is unknown, were 
drowned. The other boat continued to keep off until 
about sunset, when, finding the night approaching, 
and there being no appearance of aid, or change in the 
wind, which was blowing freshly in to the land, and 
the persons in the boat having previously refused to 
attempt to row any farther, Mr. Couper reluctantly 
consented to attempt the landing. 
5 



50 STEA.IHBOAT DISASTERS. 

Before making the attempt, it was thought neces- 
sary, to prevent the infant of Mrs. Nightingale, which 
was only seven months old, from being lost, to lash 
it to her person, which was done. Just as the sun 
was setting, the bow of the boat was turned to the 
shore, and Mr. Couper sculling, and two men at the 
oars, she was pulled into the breakers — she rose with- 
out difficulty upon the first breaker, but the second, 
coming out with great violence, struck the oar from 
the hand of one of the rowers. The boat was thus 
thrown into the trough of the sea, and the succeeding 
breaker striking her broadside, turned her bottom up- 
wards. Upon regaining the surface, Mr. Couper laid 
hold of the boat, and soon discovered that the rest of 
the party, with the exception of Mrs. Nightingale, 
were making for the shore ; — of her, for a few mo- 
ments, he saw nettling, but, presently, feeling some- 
thing like the-dress of a female touching his foot, he 
again dived down, and was fortunate enough to grasp 
her by the hair. The surf continued to break over 
them with great violence, but, after a struggle, in 
which was spent the last efforts of their strength, they 
reached the shore, utterly worn out with fatigue, 
watching, hunger, thirst, and the most intense and 
overwhelming excitement. Besides this,^ the ladies 
and children were suffering severely from the cold. 
The party proceeded a short distance from the shore, 
where the ladies laid down upon the side of a sand 
hill, and their protectors covered theni, and their chil- 
dren with sand, to prevent them from perishing. 
Meantime, some of the party went in quest of aid, and 
about 10 o'clock the whole of them found a kind and 
hospitably reception, shelter, food, and clothing, under 
the roof of Siglee Redd, of Onslow county. . 

Mrs. Nightingale is the daughter of John A. King, 
Esq., of New York, and a grand-daughter of the late 
distinguished Rufus King. During the whole of the 
perils through which they passed, she and Mrs. Fra- 



THE t»ULASKI. 51 

ser displayed the highest quahties of fortitude and 
heroism. They owe the preservation of their own 
and their children's lives, under Providence, to the 
coolness, intrepidity, and firmness of Mr. Couper and 
his assistants, and to the steadiness with which they 
seconded the wise and humane efforts of that gentle- 
man in their behalf. 

On Monday they reached Wilmington, where they 
found a deep sympathy for their misfortune pervading 
the whole city, and generous emulation among its in- 
habitants to render them every possible assistance* 

The forward part of the boat, after separation, con- 
tinued to float. There remained on it. Major Heath 
and twenty-one others. We have 'had a long conver- 
sation with Major Heath, in which he related with 
great minuteness every thing attending the preserva- 
tion of the persons who were on the wreck with him. 
It is impossible" to convey in words any thing more 
than a faint idea of the suffering they underwent, or 
of the many harrowing and distressing circumstances 
which occurred during the four days they were on the 
wreck. 

But a short time previous to the explosion it was re- 
marked, by one of the passengers, to Major Heath, 
that the gauge showed thirty inches of steam. On 
the attention of the engineer being called to this fact, 
he replied that it would bear, with safety, forty inches. 
Major Heath had just retired in the after cabin. A 
number of passengers were lying on the settees ; and, 
when the boiler burst, the steam rushed into the •'cab- 
in, and, it is thought, instantly killed them, as they 
turned over, fell on the floor, and never were seen by 
him to move afterwards. He had, on hearing the 
noise of the explosion, got out of his berth and ran to 
the steps, the steam meeting him in the cabin — he 
retreated under them, as also did Mr. Lovejoy, of Geo., 
and they were thus shielded from its effects. 

In a few moments Major Heath went on deck, 



52 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

where he found all in darkness. He called for the 
captain, and receiving no answer, made for the mast, 
as he felt the boat to be sinking. Before he could 
secure himself, the sea burst over him and carried 
him away. Fortunately, however, a rope had caught 
aromid his le^, and with this he pulled himself back. 
The mast, as soon as he had been washed from it, fell 
and crushed one of the passengers, Mr. Auze, a French 
gentleman, of Augusta. The boat had now broken 
in two parts, with a tremendous crash, and the deck, 
forward of the mast, was carried away from the rest 
of the vessel, seemingly, very swiftly. Nothing moxe 
was seen after this by Major Heath, of the yawl, or 
the after part of the boat-; but, in about half an hour, 
he heard a wild, shrill scream, and then all was quiet. 
This must have been when the promenade deck turn- 
ed over, with at least one hundred human beings upon 
it! 

When day light broke, he found that there were 
22 on the wreck with him — among them was Captain 
Pearson, who had been blov/n out into the sea, but 
who had caught a plank, and succeeded in reaching 
them during the night. 

The danger of their -situation v.^as at once fully re- 
alized. The heavy mast lay across the deck on which 
they rested, and kept it about twelve inches under 
water, and the planks were evidently fast parting ! 
Capt. Pearson, with the rest, set himself to work to 
lash the wreck together, by the aid of the ropes on 
the mast — letting the ropes sink on the side of the 
raft, which, passing under, came up on the other side, 
and by repeating this operation they formed a kind of 
net work over it. They also succeeded in lashing 
two large boxes to their raft, which served as seats. 

Friday passed without any vessel coming in sight. 
Their thirst now became intense. The heat of the 
sun was very oppressive, its rays pouring down on 
their bare heads, and blistering their faces and backs, 



THE PULASKI. 



53 




Maj. Heath, anil 22 others, oa the Low of the bout. 



— some not having even a shirt on, and none more 
than a shirt and pantaloons. 

The sufferings of the younger portion of then- com- 
pcjjPy at this time became very great. Major Twiggs, 
of the United States army, had saved tiis ciiild, a 
boy of about 12 years of age. He kept him in his 
arms nearly all the time ; and when he would call 
on his mother, who was safe at home, and beg for 
water, his father would seek in vain to comfort him 
by words of kindness, and by claspitig him closer to 
his heart. 

On Saturday they fell in with another portion of 
the wreck, on which were Mr. Chicken and three 
others, whom they took on their raft. Towards the 
close of the evening they had approached within half 
a mile of shore, as they thought, and many were 
anxious to make an effort to land. This was object- 
ed to by Major Heath, as the breakers ran very high, 
and would have dashed the raft to pieces on the 
shore. Mr. Greenwood, from Georgia, told the Major 
5* 



54 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

that he was one of the best swimmers in the country, 
and that he would tie a rope around him and swim 
to the shore. "No, no," replied the major, '• you 
shall not risk your life for me under these circum- 
stances ; and in such an attempt you would lose your 
life. No ! I am the oldest man in danger, and will 
not increase the risk of others." All hope of landing 
then was soon given up, as a light breeze from shore 
was found carrying them farther out into the bosom 
of the trackless sea. Despair now seemed to seize on 
some, and one suggested, that if relief did not soon 
reach them, it would be necessary to cast lots ! The 
firmness and decision of Major Heath soon put this 
horrid idea to flight. " We are Christians," he said, 
" and we cannot innocently imbrue our hands in the 
blood of a fellow creature. A horrible catastrophe 
has deprived hundreds of their lives, and brought sor- 
row to many a hearth, and thrown us upon the mer- 
cy of the winds, and waves. We have still life left — 
let us not give up all manliness, and sink to the brute. 
We have all our thoughts about us, and should face 
death, which must sooner or kiter overtake us, wiyi 
the spirit that becomes us as Christian men. When 
that hour arrives, I will lay down my life without a 
murmur, and I will risk it now for the safety of any 
one of you ; but I will uever stand by and see another 
sacrificed that we may drink his blood and eat his 
flesh !" With such words as these did he quiet and 
reconcile them to await the issue. The day again 
wore away without the sight of a vessel to cheer 
their drooping spirits. 

On Sunday morning it commenced raining, with a 
stiff breeze from the Northeast, which soon increased 
to a severe gale. Every effort was made to catch 
some of the falling rain in the piece of canvass which 
they had taken from the mast, but the sea ran so high 
that the little they did catch was nearly as salt as the 
Bpray of the ocean. Still the rain cooled them, and 



THE PULASKI. 5o 

in their situation, was found refreshing and grateful. 

On Monday morning they saw four vessels. They 
raised on a pole a piece of the flag that was attached to 
the mast, and waved it, but in vain. The vessels 
were too far off, and hope was nearly lost as they 
watched them, one alter another, pass from their 
sight. They had now been witliout food or water 
for four days and nights ; their tongues were parched 
— theit flesh burnt and blistered by the suu, their 
brains fevered, and many of them began to exhibit 
the peculiar madness- attendant on starvation. Nei- 
ther could they sleep, as the raft was so much under 
Avater, and it required continu'al watchfuhiess to keep 
themselves from being washed over by the sea. Ma- 
jor Heath tells us that never, for one moment, did he 
lose his consciousness ; and we hear from others, that 
his cheerful spirit and encouraging conversation kept 
alive the hope of safety, and banished despair from the 
minds of his fellow-sufferers. 

On the morning of Tuesday, a vessel hove in sight, 
and her%ack seemed to lie much nearer them than 
those they had seen the day before. They again 
waved their flag, and raised their feeble voices. Still 
the vessel kept on her course, which now appeared to 
carry her away from them. " She is gone," said one 
of the crew, a poor fellow who had been dreadfully 
scalded, and he laid himself down on one of the box- 
es, as he said, " to die." Captain Pearson, who had 
been closely watching the vessel, cried out, " She 
sees us ! She is coming towards us !" And so it 
proved. All sails set, and full before the wind, the 
vessel made for them. It proved to be the schooner, 
Henry Camerdon, Capt. Davis, bound from Philadel- 
phia to Wilmington, N. C. As soon as the captain 
came within speaking distance, he took his trumpet 
and cried out, " Be of good cheer — I will save you !" 
It#was the first strange voice that had reached their 



QQ STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

ears for five days; — but to them, were not those five 
days as an age ! 

When the schooner came along-side, they all rush- 
ed franticly on deck, and it was with some difficulty 
that the captain could keep them from the water 
casks. He furnished them with moderate portions of 
sweetened water, and by his prudence, doubtless, 
preserved their lives. During the morning Major 
Heath and his company had seen another portion of 
the wreck, with several persons on it, and as soon as 
the captain of the Henry Camerdon was told of it, he 
sailed in the direction it had been seen, and shortly 
afterwards came in sight. On this wreck,- which 
was a part of the promenade deck, were Miss Rebec- 
ca Lamar ; Mrs. Noah Smith, of Augusta ; Master 
Charles Lamar, of Savannah ; and Mr. Robert Hutch- 
inson, of Savannah. The two ladies were much. ex- 
hausted, and Master Lamar iiearly dead. Every pos- 
sible attention and comfort was bestowed by Cap- 
tain Davis ; and Major Heath, in behalf of those who 
were saved with him, afterwards publicly*%eturned 
the .deep and heartfelt thanks of the beii^gs whom 
he had rescued from a condition of such misery and 
peril, that the heart sickens at the contemplation of 
it. 

When the promenade deck was separated from the 
hull, many persons took refuge on this portion of it. 
Among them was Mr. G. B. Lamar of Savannah, and 
two children, the Rev. Mr. Woart and lady of Flori- 
da, and a child of Mr. Hutchinson, and'. the second 
mate of the Pulaski. On Saturday morning, finding 
that there was no other hope of safety, the mate pro- 
posed to take the boat which they had secured — be- 
ing the second deck boat — and with five of the most 
able of those on the raft, to endeavor to reach the 
shore, and to send out some vessel to cruise for them. 
This being assented to^ the mate, with Mr. Laniar 
and four others, took their departure, and on Wed- 



THE PULASKI. 57 

nesday morning they reached New River Inlet in 
safety. The passengers remaining on the raft, with 
the exception of the four mentioned as being taken 
off by the John Camerdon, died from exhaustion ; 
among them were the Rev. Mr. Woart and lady, 
whose Christian resignation to their fate excited the 
tdmiration of all around them. 

It was; ascertained at Wilmington, on Wednesday 
^norning, that eight other persons from the wreck had 
reached New River Inlet, but their names, with two 
exceptions, are unknown. 

The passengers who escaped, were almost all, with- 
out exception, habited in no other dress than that in 
which they were sleeping on the night of the catastro- 
phe, and consequently suffered very severely from the 
blistering efiects of the sun, and the chilly wind of the 
night. They had been entirely destitute of water or 
food of any kind. Those who were last saved were 
most of them in a dreadful state of ulceration ana de- 
bihty. 

The cause of this fatal disaster was obviously the 
neglect'if the second engineer, in permitting the wa- 
ter to boaKofF, or to blow off in the starboard boiler, 
and then luting in a full supply of water on the heat- 
ed copper. One of the hands saved had, a few mo- 
ments before )he explosion, examined the steam 
gauge, and found it fluctuating rapidly from twenty- 
six to twenty-nine inches. •Another had just left the 
engine room when he heard the shrill whistling sound 
which is produced by an unusual pressure of steam. 
In a few seconds the explosion took place. Capt. 
Dubois was seen asleep in the wheel house ten min- 
utes before the catastrophe. Captain Pearson, the 
second captain, was blown out of his berth into the 
sea, as was also Mr. Chicken, the first engineer. 
They both regained the bow of the boat. 

The following is a recapitulation of the number 
saved at different times. 



58 



STEAJtBOAT DISASTERS* 




In the two boats, 


16 


On the two rafts, 


30 


In the boat with Mr. G. B. Lamar, 


5 


On other fragments, 


8 



•59 

The following statement was gathered from the 
first mate, Mr. Hibbert, who had charge of the Pulas- 
ki at the time. He states, that at about 10 o'clock 
at night he was called to the command of the boat, 
and that he was pacing the promenade deck in front 
of the steerage-house ; that he found himself, shortly 
after, upon the main deck, lying between the mast 
and side of the boat ; that^ upon the return of con- 
sciousness, he had a confused idea of having heard 
an explosion, something like that of gunpowder, im- 
mediately before he discovered himself in his then 
situation. He was induced, therefore, to rise and 
walk aft, when he discovered that the boat midships 
was blown entirely to pieces ; that the head of the 
starboard boiler was blown out, and the top torn open ; 
that the timbers and plank on the starboard side were 
forced asunder, and that the boat took in water when- 
ever she rolled in that direction. 

He became immediately aware of the horrors of 
their situation, and the danger of letting the passen- 
gers know that the boat \^s sinking, before lowering 
the small boats. He proceeded, therefore, to do this. 
Upon dropping the boat, he was asked his object, and 
he replied it was to pass round the steamer to ascertain 
her condition. Before doing this, however, he took 
in a couple of men. He ordered the other boats to be 
lowered, and two were shortly put into the water, but 
they leaked so much in consequence of their long ex- 
posure to the sun, that one of them sunk, after a fruit- 
less attempt to bail her. He had, in the meantime, 
taken several from the water, until the number made 



THE PULASKI. 59 

ten. In the other boat afloat there were eleven. 
While they were making a fruitless attempt to bail 
the boat, the Pulaski went down with a dreadful 
crash, in about forty-five minutes after the explosion. 

The following is a list of the passengers in the Pu- 
laski, on her leaving Charleston, as published in the 
papers of that city : — 

Mrs. N^htingale and servant ; Mrs. Fraser and 
child ; Mi's. Wilkins and child ; Mrs. Mackay, child 
and servant ; Mrs. Wagner, child and servant ; Miss 

A. Parkman, Miss C. Parkman, Miss T. Parkman ; 
Mrs, Hutchinson, two children and servant ; Mrs. La- 
mar, Miss R. Lamar, Miss M. Lamar, Miss R. J. La- 
mar, Miss E. Lamar, Miss C. Lamar ; Mrs. Dunham ; 
OTs. 'Gumming and servant ; l^rs. Woart ; Mrs. Stew- 
art and servant ; Mrs, Taylor ; Miss Drayton ; Mrs. 
Pringle and child; Miss Pringle and nurse; Mrs. 
Murray, Miss Murray ; Mrs. Brltt ; Miss Heald ; Mrs. 
Rutledge, Miss Rutledge ; Mrs. H. S. Ball, nurse, 
child and servant ;• Miss Trappier ; Mrs. Longworth ; 
Mrs. Edings and child : Miss Mikell ; Mrs. Coy and 
child ; Miss Clarke ; Mrs. B. F. Smith ; Mrs. N. 
Smith ; Mrs. Gregory ; Mrs. Davis ; Mrs. Hubbard ; 
Mrs. Merrett ; Miss Greenwood ; Col. Dunham ; Col.^ 
Hodson ; Gen. Heath ; Dr. Wilkins ; Dr. Cumming ; 
Dr. Stewart; Dr. Ash; Rev. E. Crofts; Rev. Mr. 
Murray ; Major Twiggs ; Judge Rochester ; Judge 
Cameron ; Messrs. S. B. Parkman ; G. B. Lamar ; 
C. Lamar ; W. Lamar ; T.. Lamar ; R. Hutchinson ; 
R. Brower ; 'S. Livermore ; B. W. Fosdick ; H. El- 
dridge : C. Ward ; G. Huntington ; J. H. Couper ; 
H. B. Nichols ; L. Bird ; A. Lovejoy ; W. W. Foster ; 
J. L. Woart ; W. A. Stewart ; A. Hamilton ; S. Mill- 
er ; R. W. Pooler Jr. ; W. C. N. Swift ; A. Burns ; N. 
H. Carter; E. P. Pringle ; Rutledge ; H. S. Ball ; 

B. W. Pooler ; Longworth ; F. M'Rea ; T. C. 

Rowane ; W. Edings ; R. Seabrook ; J. Seabrook ; 
S. Keith; G. W. Coy; T. W. Whaley ; O. Gre- 



60 STEAMBOAT I>ISASTERS. 

goire ; N. Smith ; B. F. Smith ; Davis ; R. D. 

Walker; E. W. Innis ; Hubbard; J. Anze ; 

Bennett : Clifton ; — — Merritt ; R. L. ^ 

Greenwood ; Evans ; Freeman ; Master 

Murray, and Master Parkman. Total 128. 

Passengers saved in the two yawls. Mrs. P. M. 
Nightingale, servant and child, of Cumberland Island ; 
Mrs. W. Eraser and child, St. Simons, G^p. ; J. H. 
Cooper, Glynn, Geo.; P. W. Pooler, Savannaji, Geo.; 
Capt. Pooler, sen.; William Robertson, Savannah, 

Geo.; Elias L. Barney, N. C; Solomon ; S. Hib- 

bert, 1st mate of the Pulaski ; W. C. N. Swift, New 
Bedford ; Z. A. Zeuchtenberg, Munich ; Charles B. 
Tappan, New York ; Gideon West, New Bedford, 
boatswain ; B. Brown, Norfolk, steward. 

Persons drowned in landing. Mr. Bird, of -iBryan 
county, Georgia ; an old gentheman from Buffalo, N. 
Y. and recently from Pensacola ; a young man, name 
miknown ; Jenny, a colored woman ; Priscilla, a col- 
ored woman, stewardess. • 

The persons by the name of Parkman, were the 
family of S. B. Parkman, of Savannah, and former- 
ly of Westborough Mass. Mrs. Ball was a daughter 
of Walter Channing, Esq., of Boston. The old gen- 
"tleman from Buffalo, drowned in landing, was Judge 
Rochester, formerly a member of Congress from Bal- 
timore. Many of the passengers were of the most 
respectable families of the South. 

Mr. B. W. Fosdick, of Boston, one of the surviving 
passengers on board the Pulaski, has written a letter 
describing the horrors of the scene with a graphic 
pen. The particulars agree mainly with those we 
have already given the reader. He had retired to 
rest, not feeling very well, and was awakened about 
11 o'clock at night by a loud report, followed by a 
tremendous crash. He supposed the vessel had run 
ashore, and finding himself uninjured, he arose and 



THE PULASKI. 61 

dressed himself, when a person came down the cabin 
calling for fire buckets, and giving the alarm that the 
boat was on fire. This person, he believes, was Mr. 
Sherman ^liller, whom he never saw afterwards. 
When he reached the deck, he found that the boiler 
had burst. The confusion was very great — husbands 
and wives running about and calling for each other. 
He saw one person among^ the ruins of the engine 
moaning and c^ing aloud, ''gone! gone! gone! 
fireman help me — fireman help me !" He was one 
of the firemen, Mr, Fosdick escaped by getting on 
a piece of the wreck, and, in company with two of 
the deck hands, was driven ashore on the Saturday 
afternoon after the accident, near New Inlet, N. C. 
The following is extracted from Mr. Fasdick's -let- 
ter :— 




'• Friday morning came — and discoyered to us our 
situation. We were but of sight of land. Three 
rafts we saw at a distance. They were too far off 
for us to discern the persons upon them, but they all 
had signals flying. Upon our little raft we found a 
small cliest, (belonging to one of the firemen, and 
which afterwards served us as a seat,) — two mattres- 
ses, a sheet, a blanket, and some female wearing ap- 
parel. 

The mattreses we emptied of their contents, and 
6 



52 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

with the covering of one of them we made a sail, 
which, with a good deal of difRcLiUy. we succeeded 
in putting up, but which did us much service, for by 
noon we had almost lost sight of the other rafts : and 
in the afternoon, nothing was seen as far as the eye 
could reach, but sky and water. 

But our spirits did not flag, for we thought that by 
morning we must certainly fall in with some fishing 
boats. We also found o'n the raft a tin box — the 
cover gone — containing some cake^ wrapped up in a 
cloth. This was completely satqrated with salt wa- 
ter, but we took a mouthful of it in the course of the 
day, and found it pretty good. There ^yas also a 
keg. which floated on to the raft, containing a little 
gin ; but this was of little service — for by some means 
or other it became mixed with salt water. The night 
came, the wind and sea increased, and we were 
obliged to take down our little sail. Daring the night 
the waves were constantly washing over ou| raft, and 
the water at all times stood a foot deep upon it. 

We sat close together upon the chest, which we 
lashed as well as we could to the raft, and wrapped 
ourselves up in the wet blanket and clothes — for the 
night air felt very cold, after having been exposed, as 
we were all day, to the broiling sun. 

We were much fatigued, and once during the night 
we fell asleep, and were awakened by the upsetting 
of our seat, which nearly threw us overboard. Anx- 
iously we watched the rising of the moon, which rose 
some hours after midnight; and still more anxiously 
the break of day and the rising of the sun, which we 
hoped would disclose to our weary eyes the sight of 
some distant sail. 

The sun at last did arise — hut there was nothing in 
sight. For the first time we began to feel a little 
discouraged — still the hope that we should soon see 
land impressed itself forcibly upon us — aiM eagerlyw. 
we cast our eyes land-ward, every now and then, as 



♦the PULASKI. 63 

the sun continuecl to rise. And, joyful sight! about 
6 o'clock we thought we did see land — and in anoth- 
er half hour were sure of it. 

Now we redoubled onr exertions, — we paddled, — - 
we held up in onr hands pieces of cloth, — we did ev- 
ery thing to propel our craft — for we feared the wind 
might change and blow off shore, and then all hope 
would" be lost ; for our raft, we felt sure, could not 
hold together another day. As we neared the land, 
we found the surf was running pretty high, — but 
there was a sandy shore, and we felt no fear of this, 
for we saw the landj and we knew that our suspense 
would soon be at an end. 

About 4 o'clock, P. M. on Saturday, we reached 
the breakers. The first breaker came over us with 
great violence — and so did the second — the third 
broke the raft into pieces — but we clung to the frag- 
ments — and soon found we could touch the bottom 
with our feet ; arid in a few minutes we were safe 
upon terra firma, considerably bruised and sun-burnt ; 
but with our lives. And grateful did we feel to that 
Almighty Arm, which, in the hour of danger, was 
stretched over us to save and protect ! And it was 
only by the mercy of a Divine Providence that we 
were thus saved from a watery grave. 

Among the survivors of the frightful disaster which 

befel the steamboat Pulaski, was Mr. Merritt, of 

Mobile, from whom is derived the additional account 
which follows: 

When the explosion took place, Mr. Merritt indul- 
ged the hope that the boat would continue to float, 
and after hastening to his wife and child in the la- 
dies' cabin, returned towards the middle of the boat, 
to ascertain more distinctly the extent of the damage, 
and to take such measures as might be within the pow- 
er of the passengers to adopt, in order to prevent the 
water from coming in on the side where the boiler 



64 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

had exploded. A few moments, however, served to 
convince him that the boat must sink. He found the 
water entering on both sides, and also apparently 
through the bottom, and all hope of checking its in- 
gress was abandoned. He then hastened back to the 
ladies' cabin, and on requesting them to dress them- 
selves and be in readiness to meet the impending per- 
il, a scene of terror and anguish ensued, which was 
well calculated to melt the stoutest heart. Women 
clung round him with entreaties that he would save 
them ; while mothers as importunately begged_, not 
for themselves, but for the preservation of their chil- 
dren. In a short time the inmates of the ladies' cab- 
in, together with a number of gentlemen, were assem- 
bled on the promenade deck, whither they had taken 
refuge, in consequence of the continued settling of 
the hull in the water. The further sinking of the 
hull, and the parting of the promenade deck, threw 
those who were on it into the sea, and among them 
Mr. Merritt, his wife, and child. Being an excellent 
swimmer, he was enabled to sustain both, although 
the difficulty of so doing was greatly increased by rue 
close cling of the mother to the child. 

While thus engaged, a boy of twelve or fourteen 
years old, caught hold of him for help, and he too 
was sustained, until Mr. M. proposed to him to mount 
a fragment of the wreck floating near. The boy ac- 
cordingly mounted on it, and seemed to be so well 
able to maintain himself, that Mr. M. asked him to 
take his child on the fragment, which the lad readily 
acceded to. Mr. M. was now able to bestow his 
whole strength in sustaining his wife — when, to his 
horror, he felt himself clasped from behind, around 
the lower part of his body, by the iron grasp of a 
stout, athletic man, evidently struggling for life. An 
instant was sufhcient to satisfy Mr. M. that the grasp 
of the man would drown them all ; and telling his 
wife that this would be the case without he could ex- 



THE PULASKI. * 65 

tricate himself, he asked her to rally her strength for 
an effort to Teach a piece of the wreck close by, to 
which she consented. Giving her a jmsh towards it 
with as much power as his peculiar situation would 
allow him to do, he%aw lier gain it. In the mean 
time,, his own case called for immediate relief, but he 
found himself, on making the effort, utterly unable 
to gain a release from the powerful hold which was 
fastened around his body with an iron firmness. 
There was but one hope left, and there was not a 
moment allowed him to deliberate on it. Mr. M. 
had been an expert swimmer and diver when a boy, 
"and to sink under the waves with a man clinging to 
him was the last, the only resort remainirig. They 
went down logelher, and tlie man relaxed his hold 
before Mr. M.'s breatli became exhausted. On rising 
again towards the surface, he struck against pieces of 
the wreck which were now floating over him, and af- 
ter some difficulty cleared them so as to breathe 
again ; but, on looking around, he could discover nei- 
ther his wife, nor his child, nor the boy. What had 
occurred during the brief space that he was beneath 
the waves" he knew not — but he neither heard nor 
saw them any more. 

Soon after, he reached what he supposed was a 
hatchway, and this sustained him pretty well. 
While thus floating, he discovered near him a man 
on a smaller fragment, evidently much exhausted. 
He called to him to come to the hatch as a place of 
greater safety ; and, after no little effort, his fellow 
sufterer was placed upon it. The weight of the two, 
however, was found to be rather too much for the 
hatch to sustain, and subsequently, when they fell in 
with a larger fragment, they drew the hatch upon it, 
and thus were enabled to float without being im- 
mersed. On this the two remained from Friday 
night until Sunday, having on Saturday experienced 
a heavy gale, which, for hours, threatened to destroy 
6* 



66 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

their frail float, and engulph them in the ocean. On 
Sunday they neared the land, and were, finally cast 
ashore on the beach, on the North Carolina coast. 

Mr. Merritt left his companion on the beach per- 
fectly exhausted, and, although himself nearly worn 
out, went forward to discover a house. He had not 
proceeded very far, when, to his inexpressible joy, he 
descried a small hut, the sight of which renewed his 
strength and .hopes. Bracing himself for a final ef- 
fort, he pushed forward, although with tottering steps, 
and arriving at the door, found it to be a fisherman's 
hut — but empty, and apparently deserted ! Over- 
come by fatigue, hunger and disappointment, he fell 
lifeless to the ground, and when he came to himself, 
found at his side three -fishermen, who had arrived at 
the hut soon after he had entered it, and having kin- 
dled a fire, had warmed and restored him to anima- 
tion. Mr. M. immediately informed them of his com- 
rade on the beach, and indicated, as well as he could, 
the direction, but the search proved ineffectual, al- 
though prolonged until dark. 

On the following morning, however, a farmer, who 
had heard some rumors of the wreck, in riding to- 
wards the shore on an errand of mercy — if possible he 
might find any who needed it — discovered an object 
crawliug over one of the sand hills on the beach, 
which on a nearer approach, he found to be a human 
being. It was the companion of Mr. M. who had lain 
on the beach all night, too much exhausted to move. 
He was immediately conveyed to a place of shelter, 
where every kindness was shown to both the suffer- 
ers. 



The following statement is from Mr. Ossian Greg- 
ory ; another of the survivors^ who lost his wife, and 
his wife's sister, by the wreck of the Pulaski : — Amid 
the numerous notices of the disastrous wreck of the 
Pulaski, l^ave seen nothing descriptive of the ac- 



THE PULASKI. 67 

tions of Capt. Davis, of the schooner Henry Camer- 
don, who took thirty people from two portions of the 
wreck. It seems to me scarcely proper that it should 
go unnoticed. After Capt. Davis had taken us on 
board, he prepared a large quantity of switchel, (mo- 
lasses and water,) and biscuits ; then, while we were 
gathered around him, imf)aticntly waiting the much 
needed refreshment, he sank on his knees, and thank- 
ed God that he had heard his prayers, (uttered the 
day before, when he had seen pieces of the wreck,) 
that he might be the means of rescue to those who 
might yet be living of the sufl'erers, — he asked that 
the sufferings we had endured and the escape we had 
made, might impress on our hearts a deep sense of 
the divine mercy and goodness ; he then gave us 
what he had prepared. His schooner was unprovi- 
ded with spirits of any sort, he being a temperance 
man ; but we found that heated vinegar answered 
every purpose in reviving those who were nearly ex- 
hausted. That Capt. Davis's vessel should have been 
the only one, of all those seen by us, that came|^to our 
assistance, that he should not only have prayed but 
likewise have watched for us, are matters not to bo 
forgotten. 



affecting incidents, relative to the loss of the 
Pulaski. 

Many interesting as well as painful incidents, con- 
nected with the fate Of the Pulaski, have been rela- 
ted by those who have seen and conversed with per- 
sons saved fi'om the wreck. Amongst others, the fol- 
lowing is told of a Mr. Ridge, from New Orleans, and 
a Miss Onslow, from one of the Southern States, two 
of the unfortunates who were picked up on the fifth 
day. It is stated of the gentleman, that he had been 
sitting on the deck alone, for half an hour previous to 
the. accident. Another gentleman who was walking 



6S STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



near him at the time of the explosion, was thrown 
overboard, and himself was precipitated nearly over 
the side of the boat and stunned. He recovered im- 
mediately, as he supposed, when be heard some one 
remark, ^'' get out the hoats^ she is sinking.^'' He 
was not acquainted with a solitary individual in the 
boat. Uuder such circumstances, it is as. natural to 
suppose that he would feel quite as much concern for 
himself, as for any one else. He was consequently 
among the foremost of those who sought the small 
boat for safety, and was about to step into it, when he 
discovered a young lady, whom he recognized as one 
whose appearance had at sundry times during the 
passage, arrested his attention. Her protector was the 
gentleman who while walking on deck had been 
blown overboard. He sprang tovvards her, to take 
her itito the small boat, but in the crowd and confus- 
ion, he lost sight of her, and supposed she was with 
some other friend. During his fruitless search, the 
small boat shoved off. The wreck was fast sinking. 
The night rang with the prayers and shrieks of the 
helpbss and drowning. He turned away in despair, 
and tumbled over a coil of small rope. Hope like an 
expiring spark, brightened again. He caught up the 
rope — lashed together a couple of settees — threw them 
upon a piece of an old sail and a small empty cask, 
and thus equipped, launched upon the element. It 
was all the work of a moment. He believed death 
inevitable, and that effort was the last grasp at life. 
His vessel bore him up much better than he expected, 
and he was consoling himself with his escape, such 
as it was, while others were perishing all around him, 
Vv^hen he discovered a female struggling for life almost 
within his grasp. He left his ark — swam twice his 
length — seized his object, and returned safely to his 
craft again — which proved sufficient to sustain them 
both, but with their heads and shoulders only above 
water. The female was the young lady for whom 



THE PULASKI. 69 

he had lost his passage in the small boat. She fan- 
cied their float would be unable to support both, and 
said to him, " You will have to let me go to save 
yourself." He replied, " We live or we die togeth- 
er." Soon after, they drifted upon a piece of the 
wreck, probably a part of the same floor or partition 
torn asunder by the .explosion. This, with the aid of the 
settees, fastened beneath it, proved sufficient to keep 
them out of water. About this time, one of the small 
boats came towards them, but already heavily loaded. 
He implored them to take in the young lady. But she 
said, no, she could but die — he had saved her life, 
and she could not leave him. They were fairly at 
sea, without the least morsel to eat or drink, in a 
scorching climate ; the young lady in her night 
clothes, and himself with nothing, upon him but his 
shirt and a thin pair of pantaloons, already much torn. 
Of the boat which bore them all in quiet and safety, 
but half an hour before, nothing was to be seen but 
scattered pieces of the wreck. The small boat was 
on her way to the shore ; their own craft bein.?; light 
and lightly loaded, drifted fast away from a scene in- 
describably heart-rending, and which he still shud- 
ders, to think of. At day-light, nothing was visible to 
them but the heavens and a waste of water. In the 
course of the day, they came in sight of land, and for 
a time were confident of reaching it — but during the 
succeeding night the wind changed, and soon after 
day-light next morning it vanished again^viand with it 
their hopes of escaping from their dreadful dilemma. 
On the third day, a sail hove in sight, |>nt she was en- 
tirely beyond hailing distance. When found, they 
were sadly burned by the sun, starved and exhausted, 
though still in possession of their faculties, and able 
to move and talk. But their pain and sufl'ering was 
not without its pleasures and enjoyment. The ro- 
mantic part of the story ot their expedition is yet to 
come, and there is no telling how much longer they 



70 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



would have subsisted on the same food that seems to 
have aided at least in sustaining them so well such 
an incredible length of time. The intrepidity he dis- 
played — the risk he run — -the danger he incurred for, 
and, above all, the magnanimity he evinced in sav- 
ing her life, strangers as they were to each other, at 
the imminent hazard of his own, elicited from her at 
once the warmest feelings of gratitude towards him, 
and, before the tortures of hunger and thirst commenc- 
ed, kindled that passion which burns nowhere as it 




burns in woman's bosom. On the other hand, her 
good. sense, her fortitude and presence of mind at the 
most perilous moment, and particularly her readiness 
to meet and share with him the fate which awaited 
them, excited on his part an attachment which was 
neither to be disguised nor conquered. And there, 
upon the "waters wild," amid the terror which sur- 
rounded, and the fate which threatened them, in the 
presence only of an all-seeing God, did they pledge 
their mutual love, and declare if their lives were spar- 
ed, their destiny which misfortune had united, should 



THE PULASKI. 71 

then be made as inseparable, as escape from it now 
seemed impossible. After their^escue, he informed 
her that a sense of duty imi:>elled him to apprise her, 
that by the misfortune that had befallen them, he had 
lost every dollar he possessed on earth, (amounting to 
about $25,000,) that he was in "poverty to his very 
lips " — a beggar amongst strangers, without the means 
of paying for a single meal of victuals, and painful as 
was the thought of separation to him, he offered to 
release her from the engagement, if it was her choice 
to leave him. She burst into tears at the very thought 
of separation, and asked him if he thought it was pos- 
sible for the poverty of this world to drive them to a 
more desperate extremity than that which they had 
already suffered together. He assured her of his wil- 
lingness to endure for her the same trial again — and 
of the joy, more than he could express, which he felt 
at finding her so willing to fulfil her engagement, 
which was soon after consummated. It was not till 
then that he was made acquainted witli the fact, that 
his lady love was heiress to an estate worth ,^200, 000. 
AVho would not be shipwrecked ; and henceforth, 
who will say, '^matches are not made in Heaven. " 

The following incident from one of the survivors, 
is deeply affecting. The day before those on the 
wreck of the promenade deck were picked up by Cap- 
tain. Davis, the persons on that wreck had descried at 
a distance what they took for a sail. They waited 
for some time in hopes that it would near them, but in 
vain. It seemed to be stationary, knd they had no 
means of propelling their crazy raft towards it. At 
length, one of them, Mr. Noah Smith, of Augusta, 
Georgia, announced his intention to swim to it for aid. 
He plunged into the water, and for a while buffeted 
the waves with a lusty stroke. His wife, one of the 
tenants of the raft, watched his efxertions with an 
anxious eye and a beating heart. He seemed on the 



72 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

point of succeeding in his gallant and perilous enter- 
prise. All at once, however, his progress appears to 
be arrested. His efforts grow fainter and fainter. 
He is evidently struggling to keep himself upon the 
surface. His strength fails. He sinks, and the 
waves hide him from the fond gaze of his distracted 
wife forever. The object which he took for a sail 
was Major Heath's raft — and it is supposed, that 
wheu he came near enough to discover his mistake, 
his hopes, his spirit and his strength failed together. 

The incident recorded below will move every 
heart — the rather, as it is to be feared the gallant boy 
perished : 

Nearly three hours after the disaster, Mr. Hibbert 
and the others in the small boat, saw a single individ- 
ual upon a small fragment of the wreck, to whose res- 
cue they went. This was Judge Rochester. When 
taken on board the boat, he informed them that when 
the Pulaski went down, he saved himself with a set- 
tee, to which he clung for about an hour, when he 
drifted in contact with a fragment of the wreck, 
which sustained a boy who came in company with 
him from Pensacola. The boy, seeing that the set- 
tee scarcely buoyed him up, insisted upon changing 
places — saying that he, being young and strong, was 
best able to save himself on the settee. Judge Roch- 
ester expressed great solicitude for the safety of this 
generous boy, but nothing. is known of his fate. He 
informed Judge R. that Mr. Cameron had started with 
him, but that his strength failing, he had lost his hold 
and sunk. 

When the news of the explosion of the Pulaski first 
reached New 'York, and it was believed that all on 
board had perished, the father of one of the ladies 
who was known to have taken passage on board that 
boat, proceeded immediately to Baltimore, where he 



THK PULASKI. 73 

arrived without hearing further fcpna the wreck. On 
entering the public house, he inquired of the landlord 
whether he had received any later intelligence from 
the Pulaski. *'None," was the answer. ''Were 
none saved ?" *' None, it is believed, but the sixteen 
first mentioned.*' "Do you know their names?" '-I 

do not remember them all, but the first was Mrs. 

She and the others are safe and well." The inquir- 
er fainted — it was his daughter. 

THE DEAD OF THE PULASKI. 

The appropriate and touching remarks which fol- 
low, were made in the course of a sermon on the super- 
mtending providence of the Creator, delivered by the 
Rev. S. G. Bulfinch, in the Unitarian church iu 
Washington, the next day after the news had been 
received of the loss of the steamer Pulaski. The 
preacher, having long resided in the South, was ena- 
bled to speak with personal knowledge of many 
among the victims of this awful event. 

'' When, as at the present time, the sympathies of 
a nation are called forth by an event which has filled 
hundreds of hearts with agony ; when suddenly 
whole families have been summoned from this life, 
and the honored, the energetic, the lovely, the inno- 
cent, have found a common grave in the depths of 
the ocean, it is only in the recognition of a Supreme 
Disposing Power that we can find aught to cheer us 
in the saddening view which is thus presented of hu- 
man destiny. Long will extensive portions of our 
community feel the loss of those to whose wisdom 
and public spirit, they had entrusted interests of high 
importance. Long will many a heart feel a pang in 
the memory of the wise and kind physician now no 
more. Long will they who have, in previous afflic- 
tions, listened to the consolations of the faithful pas- 
tor, think sadly on that spot of the wild ocean, where 
eloquence and piety found an early grave. And lon^, 
7 



74 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

when the young and the lovely meet, will the bright 
and innocent smile *of youth be saddened at the re- 
membrance of those, as young and as lovely as they, 
whom none shall behold again till the sea gives up 
its dead. They are gone ! and one, to whom many 
of them were well known, may be permitted to testi- 
fy that a richer harvest of all that was noble and love- 
ly in character has seldom with equal suddenness 
been gathered into the treasure-house of God. 3ut 
was not His providence there ? Yes ; though their 
prayers seemed to rise in vain, let none believe that 
the Creator, in that awful hour, beheld not his suffer- 
ing children. He heard their cries ; He witnessed 
their distress ; and though He interrupted not the or- 
der of Nature, for their rescue, we may yet believe 
that He was present to sustain the courage and 
strength of the survivors, and to receive the dying to 
that mercy which they then with agony invoked. 
While we take warning to be ready for that hour which 
may come to us when we think not of it, we com- 
mend to the Father of mercies, in humble trust, the 
spirits of His children, and in this, and in all His dis- 
pensations, we acknowledge and adore the God of 
Providence." 



LOSS OF THE PULASKI. 

Behold yon steamer, gayest of the gay, 
As o'er the main she proudly skims her way ; 
Stately she moves, with a majestic grace, 
And lofty bearing, to her destined place ; 
And where is that ? vain mortals, do you know ? 
Where is she bound ? to pleasure or to wo ? 
She wends her way, and lifts her lofty prow,— 
At her approach the obsequious waters bow, — 
The sea gods view her with their eager eyes. 
Intending soon to take her by surprise; 
But she, regardless of their foul intent. 
With banners flying, o'er the surface went. 
" Night, sable goddess, from her ebon throne," 
pad o'er the watera her dark mantle thrown ; 



THE PULASKI. 75 

The moon was waning, and the stars looked sad, 
And nature seemed in mourning garments clad ; 
And while this steamer ploughs upon the deep, 
Where are her inmates? safely locked in sleep. — ■■ 
One dreams of love, another of his gold, 
His heart's dear idol, half the sum untold, — • 
One forms his plans for grandeur and display, — 
Another dreams of pleasures light and gay, — 
The infant slumbers on its mother's breast, 
In happy innocence by her caress'd ; 
The maiden dreams — of what I cannot tell — 
But Morpheus holds her in his drowsy spell, 
Yet some, perchance, were not in his embrace, — 
He flies the wretched, wheresoe'er the place. 

But now comes on my horror-stricken tale ! 

Shrink back my muse ! no wonder that you fail. • 

A scene like this can never be pOrtray'd : 

O, come, ye Nine, and lend your tuneful aid *, 

When nought Avas heard except the ocean's dash, — 

None thought of danger till they heard the crash ! 

Tremendous ! then simultaneous shrieks, and prayers, and cries, 

Ascend at once to Him who rules the skies. 

In frantic agony a mother wild, 

Clasps to her breast a dear and only child, — 

He lifts his hands, and, with imploring eye, 

Cries, " mother, mother, must we, must we die V* 

Alas I the mother has not power to save, — 

They sink together 'neath the foaming wave. 

" My soul's best darling !" cries a doating wife, ,. 

"Help, help, my husband ! save, O, save my life. 

And our sweet child ! 0, God of heaven, save." — 

They sink together while they mercy crave. 

An urchin boy clings to his father's side. 

His curly locks all dripping with the tide.- 
" WI.U.V la ii, mtiici r ucii iiic MKj, 1 pray, 

And O ! dear father, do not go away." 

" I'll leave thee not, my son, my joy and pride,"— 

And the rude billiows could not them divide. 

The maiden fair, the youth, and hoary heads, 

All lie promiscuous in their coral beds. 

Some few were saved to tell the mournful tale 

Of those whose loss so many hearts bewail. 

And Where's the moral ? cannot we discern ? 

Have we that useful lesson yet to learn, 

That God is just ? and we're at His command, 

Who holds the mighty waters in his hand ? — 

And though his judgments are above our sight, 

'Tis ours to bow, and own His ways are right. 



76 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



EXPLOSION OP THE STEAMER MOSELLE, 

at Cincinnati J April 26, 1838, by which more than 

two hundred persons lost their lives. 

The new and elegant steam-boat, ^Moselle, 
Capt. Perkin, left the wharf in Cincinnati, (full of pas- 
sengers,) for Louisville and St. Louis ; and, with the 
view of taking a family on board at Fulton, about a 
mile and a half above the quay, proceeded up the riv- 
er, and made fast to a lumber raft for that purpose. 
Here the family was taken on board; and, during 
the whole time of his detention, the captain had mad- 
ly held on to all the steam that he could create, with 
the intention; not only of showing off to the best ad- 
vantage the great speed of his boat, as it passed down 
the river the entire length of the city, but that he 
might overtake and pass another boat which had left 
the wharf for Louisville, but a short time previous. 
As the Moselle was a new brag boat, and had recent- 
ly made several exceedingly quick trips to and from 
Cincinnati, it would not do to risk her popularity for 
speed by giving to another boat^ (even though that 
boat had the advantage of time and distance,) the 
most remote chantie of being the first to arrive at the 
destined port. Triijia ;»ocv»o jv^iu^-, *!»;« y>oo» tx^ati- 
tion of proprietors and captains, has almost always 
inevitably tended to the same melancholy results- 
The Moselle had but just parted from the lumber raft 
to which she had been made fast — ^her wheels had 
scarcely made their first revolution, — when her boil- 
ers burst with an awful and astounding noise, equal 
to the most violent clap of thunder. The explosion 
was destructive and heart-rending in the extreme, — 
heads, limbs, and bodies, were seen flying through 
the air in eve^. directi^i^-?Kittended with the most 




7# 








fe 



TBE MOSELLE. 79 

horrible shrieks and groans from the wounded and 
dying. The boat, at the time of the accident, was 
about thirty feet from the shore, and was rendered a 
perfect wreck. .It seemed to be entirely shattered as 
far back as the gentlemen's cabin ; and her hurricane 
deck, the whole length, was entirely swept away. 
The boat immediately began to sink, and float with 
a strong current down the river, at the same time re- 
ceding farther from the shore, — while the passengers, 
who yet remained unhurt in the gentlemen's and la- 
dies' cabins, became panic-struck, and most of them, 
with a fatuity which seems unaccountable, jumped into 
the river. — Being above the ordinary business parts of 
the city, there were no boats at hand, except a few 
large and unmanageable wood- floats, which were car- 
ried to the relief of the sufl'erers, as soon as possible, 
by the few persons on the shore. Many were 
drowned, however, before they could be rescued, and 
many sunk, who were never seen afterwards. There 
was one little boy on the shore who was seen wring- 
ing his hands in agony, imploring those present to 
save his father, mother, and three sisters, — all of 
whom were struggling in the water to gain the shore, 
— but whom the little fellow had the awful misfor- 
tune to see perish, one by one, almost within his 
reach ; an infant child, belonging to this family, was 
picked up alive, floating down the river on one of the 
fragments of the hurricane deck. 

The boat sunk, about fifteen minutes after the ex- 
plosion, leaving nothing to be seen but her chimneys, 
and a small portion of her upper works. 

The Moselle was crowded with passengers from 
stem to stern, principally Germans, bound for St. 
Louis. Nearly all on board (with the exception of 
those in the ladies' cabin,) were killed or wounded. 
Most of the sufl'erers were among the hands of the 
boat, and the steerage passengers. The captain was 
thrown by the explosion into the street, and was 



80 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

picked up dead and dreadfully mangled. Another 
man was forced through the roof of one of the neigh- 
boring houses ; the pilot was thrown about a hun- 
dred feet into the air, whence he fell and found his 
grave'in the river, — and many were the limbs, and 
other fragments of human bodies, which were found 
scattered about upon the river, and far along the 
shore. .^^^ 

A public meeting, on account of this terrible catas- 
trophe, was held at the council chamber in Cincin- 
nati. A communication was read from one of the 
clerks of the boat, stating that there were in all on 
board, about 280 persons. 86 of them being cabin pas- 
sengers. 

A gentleman who w^as an .eye witness, thus remark- 
ed : ''We have just returned from the scene of hor- 
ror occasioned by the explosion ; and the account 
heretofore published, instead of being in the slightest 
degree exaggerated, as has been intimated by a few, 
falls far short of the dreadful reality. The frag- 
ments of human bodies are now lying scattered all 
along the shore, and we saw the corpses of a number 
so mangled and torn, that they bear scarcely any re- 
semblance to the human form. We also saw several 
with their heads and arms entirely blown off; others 
with only a part of their heads destroyed, and some 
with their lower extremities shattered to an apparent 
jelly. 

" Fragments of the boilers, and other portions of 
the boat were thrown from fifty to two hundred yards 
on the shore, some of them having passed entirely 
over the two rows of buildings on the street, and a 
portion of the boilers tearing away the gable end of a 
stable situated high up the steep hill in the rear of 
the houses, at least two hundred yards from the boat. 
Other parts of the boat were driven through a large 
house on the street, entering by the windows on one 



THE MOSELLt. 81 

side, and passing out at the other. It is positively stat- 
ed that one man was picked upon the Kentucky side, 
having been blown completely across the river. 

" We conversed a while- ago with Mr. Broadwell, tlie 
agent of the boat, who says, positively, that" there 
were ninety-five deck passengers, whose names were 
entered on the boat's register at Pittsburg, Wheeling, 
and other towns on the river above*this place, [Cin- 
cinnati,] for Louisville, St. Louis, and other places 
below. Here then are one hundred and thirty pas- 
sengers that must have been on board, exclusive of 
the very large number Avho took passage at this place 
[Cincinnati.] The boat was unusually crowded, and 
Mr. Broadwell thinks that the whole number on 
board, at the time of the accident, could have been 
but little, if any, short of tJiree hundred. From the 
best information we can gather, it does not appear 
that more than thirty or forty o>f this -number are 
known to have been rescued. It is, therefore, prob- 
able, that the whole number drowned or destroyed, 
is somewhat in the neighborhood of two hundred^ or 
two hundred and thirty or forty persons ! It is im- 
possible that any accurate detail of the dead and mis- 
sings can ever be made, or the precise number ascer- 
tained. A very large portion of them were deck pas- 
sengers, whose humble sphere in life will doubtless 
preclude the possibility of their names ever being dis- 
covered. 

" Tho blamo prinr.ipally rcsts upon the captain, 
who had ordered all the steam to be put upon hnr tliat 
could be gathered. It is stated that her engine has 
been strained ever since she commenced running, 
and that she was one of the strongest and best boats 
ever built here, or she must inevitably have met with 
a similar accident before." 

One who was on board at the time, stated, that an 
engineer who had landed, cried out to those on board^ 



63 STfiABiBOAT DISASTER^. 

that they had too much steam, and must look out or 
they would blow up. On which he and his compan- 
ion walked to the stern, on the hurricane deck, when 
the explosion took place almost immediately,— they 
escaping. He went to the ladies' cabin and found 
every thing in confusion ; but in the midst of all, two 
of the ladies were, with cool fortitude, laboring to 
assist the rest. " But the wreck of the boat, and the 
escape of those who lost neither life nor friends, were 
as nothing compared with the touching scenes in 
which were seen the wounded, the dying, and dis- 
severed friends. Here lay a father, partially derang- 
ed, Avith a scalded child on one side, a dead daughter 
upon another, and a wounded \vife at his feet. One 
man had saved a son, and lost a wife and five chil- 
dren, — others had lost their whole families. 

One gentleman, who was wounded, was seeking 
his wife and children — v/hile, happily, they, on the 
other side of the crowd, were in search ot him, and 
thus unexpectedly, they were re-united. Unexpect- 
edly indeed ! — of all the numerous families, alive to 
every impression of pleasure and hope, and happy in 
the confidence of present security and comfort, who 
but a short time since had crowded the deck of this 
ill-fated steamer,— of all these, was it not a miracle 
that one small group should have be^n preserved, 
who were left not entirely miserable ! It was but a 
solitary ray of light struggling amid overwhelming 
darkness — amid the mental gloom and liunui cieaiea 
by this frightful disaster. Among the passengers from 
Massachusetts, were Calvin R. Stone, Esq., and his 
son, of Shrewsbury, and Mr. Nathaniel Tead, of Wor- 
cester. Mr. Stone was instantly killed, while his son 
and Mr. Tead were providentially saved. Mr. Stone 
was on his way to St. Louis, where he was connect- 
ed with a firm doing a large mercantile business ; he 
was highly respected wherever he was known, and 
has left a wife and large family, besides a numerous 



THE MOSELLE, 83 

circle of friends to mourn his awfully sudden and un- 
timely departure. Dr. Wilson Hughes, of the United 
States army, and Mr. Powell, a merchant of Louis- 
ville, were also among the passengers lost. 

One of the Cincinnati editors, in speaking of the 
explosion of the Moselle, thus remarked :— 

" For this sad result, we, in part, take blame ; we 
plead guilty, in common with other presses, of having 
praised the speed and power of the boat — a circum- 
stance which doubtless contributed to inflate the am- 
bition of its captain and owners to excel others in ra- 
pidity** We feel confident that, if the public are to 
have any security against steamboat accidents, the 
press must change its tone. Boats must be praised 
for their comfort, convenience, and the care and dis- 
cretion of their commanders, — but not for their speed. 
They will always have as much speed as their ma- 
chinery will bear, without the aid of foreign excite- 
ment. Safety is better than speed." 

The Last Sad Ceremonies. The description of 
the funeral obsequies of the victims of the explosion 
on board the Moselle, is thus graphically described by 
a spectator : — 

'•' On Saturday afternoon, April 28, the mournful 
duty of committing to the grave nineteen of the suf- 
ferers in the destruction of the Moselle, was perform- 
ed in this city, [Cincinnati,] associated with a solemn 
funeral service, upon account of all the sufferers. 

" As the calamity was peculiar and transcendent in 
its horrors, so were the funeral obsequies solemn and 
imposing beyond anything we have ever seen. At 3 
o'clock, upon the first toll of the bell, every place of 
business was closed. It is believed there was no ex- 
ception. Apparently the whole city was a moving 
mass to the foot of Broadway, where the procession 
was forming. This was accomplished according to 



g4 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

previous regulations. The deceased, enclosed in 
proper coffins, were placed in the hearses of the city, 
which not being sufficient to convey the whole, the 
necessary number of carriages were added. When 
the procession was prepared to move, Broadway to 
Fourth street, and the contiguous approaches of the 
intersecting streets, were literally choked with *one 
crowded jam of human beings. Among all these no 
word was spoken, no look of levity was indulged. 
The universal feeling was too deep for any such sen- 
sation to be felt. 

^' The progress of the procession, so vast in number, 
so solemn in manner, made every where on its' line of 
movement the deepest impression. Sad and sor- 
rowful faces, hundreds of them bedewed with tears, 
crowded to windows, doors, and all places of observa- 
tion. 

" The interment took place in the public burial 
ground, and at this last act of respect and kindness 
that can be performed by the living to the dead, some 
most touching scenes occurred. Those to be deposit- 
ed in their last earthly rest were all strangers. Some 
of them were members'of the same family, and, in one 
or two instances, surviving relations were present. 
One mother, a German, whose husband is among the 
lost, cast herself upon the coffin of her two only chil- 
dren, in agonies seldom witnessed. But we must 
omit a detail of such scenes. 

" The impressive funeral service of the Episcopal 
church was read by the Rev. Mr. Brooke, and a brief 
but most pertinent and affecting address made by the 
Rev. Mr. Sohon, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 
Our narration here ends, and we presume not to break 
its effect with any reflections. 

'' A host of the citizens of the towns of Newport 
and Covington, and of the surrounding country, join- 
ed in the procession. It is estimated that more than 
twenty thousand persons were present." 



THE ROYAL TAR. 8T 



CONFLAGRATION OF THE ROYAL TAR, 

of St. Joh)i, N, B., on her passage to Portland^ Me. 

Oct. 25, lS36j — Jiaving on board a menagerie 

of wild animals. 

The fine steamer, Royal Tar, 400 tons burthen; 
commanded by Capt. Reed, and which had been ply- 
ing for some months, between St. John, N. B., and 
Portland, Me., took fire on her passage to Portland, at 
2 o'clock, P. M., on the 25th of October, 1836, in Pe- 
nobscot Bay, within two miles of the Fox Islands, 
and was destroyed. The fire originated under deck, 
and had obtained such ascendency before it was dis- 
covered, that the' fire engine, which was also u'nder 
deck, cotdd not be got out on account of the intense 
heat, which also prevented the men below from work- 
ing 'the steam engine sufficiently long to run her 
ashore. 

The Royal Tar left St. John, N. B., on the 21st, 
with from 90 to 100 persons on board, including the 
crew. On deck, were an elephant, two camels, sev- 
eral horses, and a number of animals in cages, compos- 
ing a traveHng caravan. O^ the 25th, when crossing 
Penobscot Bay, and about two miles oft" tlie entrance 
of Fox Island Thoroughfare, it was found that the 
water was out of the boilers, angL^ the wind was 
blowing a heavy gale from the north-west, the boat 
was anchored for the purpose of filling the boilers. 
In about half an hour after, she was discovered to be 
on fire, aft ; the engineer, with fifteen others, imme- 
diately jumped into the largest boat, and made for the 
nearest land to the leeward, which they safely reached 
in about four hours. Capt. Reed took the only re- 
maining boat, and took a position at a distance to the 
windward. Three gentlemen passengers, good swim- 



88 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

mers, swam towards the boat, and were taken up. 
The cable was slipped, and sail made on the boat, 
with the hope of reaching the shore ; but the flames 
spread so rapidly, that her mainsail was destroyed in a 
few minutes, and her tiller ropes burnt away. She 
then came broadside to the wind, and was drifting 
directly to sea. A signal of distress had been made, 
and it was fortunately discov^ed by the U. S. rev- 
enue cutter, stationed at Castine, then four or five 
miles to windward, which bore down to her relief. 
Capt. Reed put on board her the persons in his boat, 
and commenced taking off those on board the steamer. 
At this time she was on fire nearly from stem to stern. 
A small place forward, which had not taken fire, was 
crowded with the survivors, as well as the bowsprit, 
bobstay, &c. Those on the quarter deck were driven 
over by the flames, and such as survived, were hang- 
ing to the davit tackles, and to the chains and ropes 
attached to the rudder. Many were suspended on 
ropes secured on deck, but, as the flames reached 
their frail dependence, they were precipitated into the 
sea, and perished. 

The cutter, unfortunately, had no boat sufficiently 
large to render assistance in taking off" the suff'erers ; 
and as Lie at. Dyer did not deem it prudent to ap- 
proach very near the wreck, on account of his vessel 
being an armed one,fearing the fire might communicate 
to his powder, the work of rescue was slow. Capt. 
Reed, however, firmly and resolutely persevered with 
his boat, though it was with some difficulty that he 
could obtain an efficient boat's crew to approach the 
wreck, they fearing that the elephant would come 
overboard and destroy the boat. The last boat left 
the wreck a little before sunset, with one solitary 
frantic female, the last on board, whose sister and 
child had both perished before her eyes. 

The prompt and praiseworthy decision of Capt. 
Reed in securing the boat, was the only means by 



THE ROYAL TAR. 89 

which the Hfe of a single individual remaining on 
board the boat, could have been saved. 

The elephant, camels, and horses, jumped over- 
board, ai}d all the animals in cages, were burnt. No 
baggage was saved. Many of the trunks and port- 
manteaus were thrown overboard, in the hope that 
they might be picked up. The cutter landed the 
survivors about 8 o'clock, P. M.', at Isle au Haut, 
where they received the most hospitable treatment 
from' the inhabitants. 

ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS. 

The whole number of passengers on board the Royal 
Tar was So, of whom 2S were lost — 20 males and 8 
females. Four persons attached to the boat were also 
lost, making 32 in all. Four of the persons attached 
to the caravan were among those lost. But one per- 
son was burnt, and 31 were drowned. The person 
burnt was an aged Irish woman, who was not seen 
on deck at all. Capt. Waite. of Portland, held on to 
a rope until it burnt off. He then swam to the rud- 
der, got his arm into the chain, and for an hour and 
a half thus sustained himself and a lady and a gentle- 
man — holding the former by her hand, while the lat- 
ter held on to his leg. 

From $50,000 to §100,000 in money was lost. 
One gentleman had §10,000 in money and drafts — all 
lost. The whole loss is estimated at nearly §200,000. 

The animals on board were an elephant, six horses, 
two dromedaries, two lionesses, one leopard, one Ben- 
gal tiger, one gnu, a pair of pelicans, and a number of 
other creatures belonging to the caravan, besides Bur- 
gess's collection of serpents and birds, Dexter's loco- 
motive museum, with its six horses and valuable 
contents, and all the musical histruments belonging to 
the band. The unfortunate caravan men were paid 
off at St. John, and were bringing home the proceeds 
8* 



90 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

of their summer's expedition in specie, — all of which 
they lost, and were left penniless. 

Six horses, belonging to the caravan, were backed 
overboard ; three of them instinctively swam towards 
the nearest land ; the other three swam- around the 
boat until they sank exhausted. A large ele- 
phant, belonging to the menagerie, having retreated 
to a part of the boat which the fire had not reached, 
mounted his fore feet upon the rail, in which position 
he remained till about 4 o'clock, apparently calculat- 
ing, with the characteristic sagacity of the animal, the 
prospects of escape, when it became too hot for him, 
and he leaped overboard, carrying with him, 51s he slid 
down the vessel's side, several of the passengers who 
were still clinging there. His immense weight proba- 
bly carried him to the bottom ere he rose, as he re-ap- 
peared after some time, at considerable distance. 
This animal also instinctively swam towards the 
nearest land; but as the boat was by this time drifted 
four or five miles out to sea, he must have perished. 
The rest of the menagerie, consisting of lions, tigers, 
&c., were allowed to "become a prey to the flames, 
as, on account of their ferocity, it was deemed dan- 
gerous to loose them. 

Annexed is a list of the passengers and crew lost : 
Passengers lost. — Edward C. Curtis, Stamford, 
Conn. ; John Siller, Boston ; John Ryan, Newcastle, 
N. B. ; WiUiam, -(boy,) Halifax; William Prince, 
Merrimachie, N. B. ; Mary Dorrough ; Sarah Smith ; 
Mary Smith and child ; Peggy Cochran ; Mary Caton ; 
Charles Curt!iin ; Mary Curtain and child ; Mary Ho- 
gan ; Nicholas Phremba ; Thomas Mehony ; Dennis 
O'Brien ; Mary Hickley ; Fanny O'Brien ; old lady ; 
child ; John Hogan, and Eliza Hogan. Crew lost. — 
John Day, seaman ; Charles Ford ; Mary Bnnn, stew- 
ardess. 

List of the persons saved. — H. H. Fuller, Bedford, 
Mass. ; H. R. Fuller, Bedford, Massr ; John Gousan, 



THE ROYAL TAR. 91 

Lowell, Mass.; George Hodges, and Cornelius Fuller, 
Boston, Mass. ; William Cipp and Edward Stephens, 
New York ; E. H. Mahlman, Charlestown ; Ezra H. 
Carron, Amesbury ; J. W. Wentworth, Oswego, N. Y.: 
Capt. Fowler ; Wm. Sherwood, British consul, Port- 
land ; Miss Mary Linton, St. Andrews, N. B. ; Ed- 
ward White, St. Andrews ; Mrs. Ames, St. Andrews ; 
Capt. Atkins and son, pilot, St. Andrews ; W. Black, 
mate ; E. Brown, steward, and all the boat's crew, six 
in number ; a boy and seven deck passengers ; Capt. 
John Hammond, East Greenwich, R. L ; Joshua Bur- 
gess, Boston ; Oliver H. Patten, Greenfield ; John 
Lowry, Charlestown ; George Willaughway, an Eng- 
lishman ; John Dayton, Exeter, N. H. : Oliver Mc- 
Glirkey, Gorham, Me. ; Miles Mamply, Frederickton, 
N. B. ; N. Marshall, engineer, St. John ; George Ea- 
ton, St. Andrews, N. B. ; Andrew Garrison, John 
Ansley, and Stimson Patten, St. John, N. B. ; Henry 
R. Wheeler, Oxford, N. H. ; John McKeely, boy, be- 
longing to boat, St. John ; W. McFaggon, colored boy, 
belonging to boat. 

The following incidents are related on the author- 
ity of a passenger : The Royal Tar had been four 
days out, having experienced contrary winds. The 
chief engineer had been up all night, and was in his 
berth, and the engine was under the direction of N. 
Marshall, the second engineer, who, at the time of the 
disaster, had entrusted the care to a fireman, who was 
acting as his assistant. The son of the pilot discov- 
ered that the lowest cock refused to yield water, 
which indicated a deficiency. The lad told his father, 
who notified Marshall, but the latter disregarded the 
information, and gave both pilot and boy to under- 
stand that he knew his own business best. In a few 
minutes the empty boiler became red hot, and ignit- 
ed a couple of wedges placed on it to aid in support- 
ing the elephant. The moment Capt. Reed looked 



92 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

down the grating, he perceived that the utter destruc- 
tion of the steamer was inevitable, and gave orders 
to slip the anchor, hoist distress signals, and let down 
the boats. He took charge of the first, and lay along 
side a few minutes, and then took on board as many 
passengers as she could carry. Sixteen others jump- 
ed in pell mell into the long boat, hanging to the 
cranks, and cut the ropes and let her go. At this 
moment the revenue cutter rounded Fox Island. 
The hands on board of Capt. Reed's small boat, when 
the cutter was first descried, refused to pull, for her, as 
it was against the wind. He, however, peremptorily 
commanded their obedience, exclaiming — " I was cap- 
tain of the big boat, and I will be captain of the small 
one ; and if any one refuses to run for the cutter, I'll 
throw him overboard." The schooner soon perceived 
the condition of the steamer, and bore down towards 
her with a fair wind, but dared not to approach very 
near as. she had powder on board. The captain of 
the cutter was not on board, and, for a time, Capt. 
Reed seized her helm. Capt. Reed then returned to 
the steamer, in his boat, and took ailother freight. 
The pilot of the cutter was despatched with her gig, 
but though he passed under her stern, within thirty 
feat, and saw the perishing creatures hanging to the 
ropes, and calling on him to come near enough to take 
tliem off, he was so much terrified that he returned 
without a single soul. We have conversed with Mr. 
Fuller, who was thus situated. Some clung to the 
ropes thrown over the stern, two hours. Mr. H. H. 
Fuller's strength failing him, he took a turn of the 
rope round his neck ; it was necessary to cut the rope 
to clear him from the burning wreck. No less than 
four persons fastened upon Mr. Fuller, who relieved 
the pressure on his neck, by getting a twist of the 
rope around one of his legs, and a female made fast to 
his other leg. This was the second time that the 
British consul at Portland, Mr. Sherwood, had been 



fHE ROYAL TAR. 



93 



burnt out of a steamboat near the same place, having 
been on board the steam brig New York, which was 
burnt thirteen or fourteen years since on her passage 
from Eastport to Portland. 

Capt. Reed, in his letter to the agent of the compa- 
ny, thus remarked, " I have no blame to attach to 
any body as regards the fire. Had our iire engine been 
on deck, we could have put the fire out easily. It is 
a great oversight, having a fire engine to work be- 
low." 




94 STEAMBOAT DISASTDRS 



DESTRUCTION OF THE BEN SHEROD, 

by fire and explosion^ on the Mississippi River, May 

8, 1837, — with the loss of nearly 200 lives. 

The steamer Ben Sherod, Capt. Castleman, left 
New Orleans on Sunday morning. May 7, bound to 
Louisville ; and on the night of the 8th, when about 
thirty miles below Natchez, she was discovered to 
be on fire, and in a few minutes after, the whole boat 
was enveloped in flames. 

Being in the stream, and her wheel-ropes burnt off, 
it was impossible to run her ashore; and no alterna- 
tive was left to the persons on board, but to jump in- 
to the water and-attenipt to save themselves by swim- 
ming, or floating on such articles as they could find, 
or to perish in the flames. In the confusion and 
alarm, many, who 0!^uld not swim, sprang overboard, 
without taking the precaution to provide themselves 
with a plank or box, and were drowned ; but many 
more, it is feared, were burned to death. 

So rapid was the spread of the fire, and^o destitute 
were those on board of all means of escape^ that noth- 
ing could be saved, not even the register of the b(?at ; 
thus rendering it impossible to state with certainty 
how many were lost, or what were their names. 

The fire is believed to have originated from the 
fuel being piled up near the boiler. The story of the 
disaster was related to us by a young man who was a 
cabin passenger, and it is awfully interesting, and his 
own escape almost miraculous. When .he awoke, he 
put on his clothes, and leaped into the yawl which was 
hanging at the stern, and was followed by about forty 
other men, one of whom cut the rope connecting the 
stern of the steamer to the bow of the yawl, when 
the latter canted over, and hung in a perpendicular 



THE BEN SHEROD. 97 

position, the bow towards the water. All on board 
were precipitated into the water, and are believed to 
have been drowned, with the exception of the narra- 
tor, — and he saved himself by clinging to the thwarts. 
In a few minutes, about twenty of the crew made 
their way to the stern of the steamer, and placed 
themselves in the boat, suspended as she was. One 
of them imprudently took out his knife, and cut the 
rope which attached the steamer to the stern of the 
yawl, and she plunged, as might have been expected, 
full twenty feet under water. All that had been 
hanging to her were missing, except four, and the in- 
dividual who relates the story ; he says, when ho 
rose to the surface he found himself under the yawl, 
and she was lying bottom up. Being strong, active, 
and expert at swimming, he worked his way from un- 
derneath and mounted on her bottom, where he was 
soon joined by the four other men who had saved 
themselves ; and in this situation they floated twelve 
miles down the river, before they were picked up by 
the Columbus. 

Capt. Castleman, by vigorous exertions, saved his 
wife and one child — two of his children and his fa- 
ther were lost. A Mr. Smith had the luck to save 
his wife and one child— but lost one of his children. 

There was some powder on board, — in what quan- 
tities was not known, — but the knowledge thatit was 
there, seemed to have paralyzed the efforts of the 
crew, and its explosion added to the deep horrors of 
the scene. There were nine ladies on board, only 
two of whom were rescued. 

The survivors of this terrible disaster have unani- 
mously concurred in their expressions of gratitude to 
the commanders of the steamers Columbus and 
Statesman, for their activity in saving them from a 
watery grave, and for their kindness to them while 
on board their boats. On the conduct of Capt. Lit- 
tleton, of the steamboat Alton, the public censure of 
9 



98 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

the surviving sufferers was published in the newspa-- 
pars of the day. — The reckless manner in which he 
drove his vessel through the crowd of exhausted suf- 
ferers, thereby drowning many, even while calling 
for help, and turning a deaf ear to the cries and plead- 
ings of all, cannot soon be forgotten by an indignant 
community, or the record of its truth be obliterated 
from public print. 

There were 235 persons on board, of whom not 
more than 60 escaped — leaving 175 drowned and 
burned, including the captain's father and two chil- 
dren, — his wife was picked up by a flat boat, badly 
burnt. The following are the names of some of the 
ladies who were lost : — Mrs. McDowell, of Belfont, 
Ala.; Mrs. Gamble, (and three children,) of N. Or- 
leans ; Miss Frances Few, of Belfont, Ala. 

The following are the names of the passengers 
saved : — Jas. Smith, lady and son ; Thomas Cook ; 
Wm. H. Cloud; Wm. Beattie ; Amos Brundell ; 
Thomas Larmer ; Samuel Ray ; Lister Sexton ; Mr. 
Gamble and son, N. Orleans ; Samuel Squinnes ; Asa 
Gates ; John Horbins ; Thomas Duvall, Ind.; Mat- 
thew-M. Orme, Natchez ; Thomas W. Blagg, Ala.; 
J. S. Lowe, Tenn.; C. W. Andrus, Natchez ; Cantin 
Macon, Cincinnati ; Wm. Wallace, N. York ; John 
Montgomery, Ind.; James O. PhiUips, Ind.; J. W. 
Brent, Pecan Point ; John Dassau ; Edward Bush- 
man ; Edward H. Burns, Ind.; John N. Williams, 
John Blanc, New Orleans ; John A. DaviSj Florence, 
Ala.; Daniel Marshall, Moscow, Ind.; Erastus Griggs, 
Marietta, Ohio ; A. Randall, Rocky Springs, Miss.; 
John P. Wilkinson, Richmond, Va.; Ephraim Stan- 
field, Richmond, Ya.; Rosson P. Andrus, Natchez ; 
A. H. Hartley, Arkansas; John Lowney, Indiana; 
Hugh Sirnpson, Tennessee ; Constantino Mahan, 
Ohio ; Patrick H. Wadkins, Va. 

The following is a statement from part of the pas- 
sengers, as published at the time ; — 



THE BEN SHEROD. 99 

^'We, the undersigned, part of the passengers saved 
from the wreck of the steamer Ben Sherod, on the 
night of the 9th inst., feel it a duty we owe to the 
officers of the steamboats Columbus and Statesman, 
to say that they deserve the praise of every friend^f 
humanity for their untiring exertions in rescuing the 
suffering passengers whom they found afloat in the 
current. Many of the passengers owe their lives to 
tlie kindness of the officers of these boats. . 

'' We feel it also due to the public to state, and oiu 
hearts sicken within us when we assert the steamboat 
Alton, Capt. Littleton, passed through the midst of 
the sinking crowd, all hands crying for help, and al- 
though within a few feet of some, covering them 
with her waves, she did not even stop her headway 
until she arrived at Fort Adams, ten miles below, 
where she could have rendered no assistance. 
Signed, Hugh Simpson, Carlinsville, Tenn. 

Thos. Duvall, Shelby Co. Ind. 

John Blanc, New Orleans. 

John P. Wilkinson, Richmond, Va. 

Ephraim Stanfield, Richmond, Va. 

Danl. Marshall, Moscow, Ind. 

Rosson P. Andrus, Natchez. 

Asa S. Smith, do. 

Charles W. Andrus, do. 

M. M. Orme, do. 

Natchez, May 18, 1837." 

This awful occurrence should teach the community 
the immense importance of the character of a steam- 
boat. After the wanton disregard of life evinced by 
the captain of this boat some weeks ago at Vicksburg, 
by which ten or twelve persons were drowned, not a 
single individual, who had any regard for his life 
should have ventured on that same boat while under 
such a reckless commander. A man who would re- 
fuse to bring his boat to. for the purpose of landing a 



100 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

dozen individuals, would not scruple to run a race 
with two hundred passengers on board, and fire his 
boat by the red heat of his boilers. The Ben Sherod 
had been on fire twice during the race on that same 
mght, previous to the final conflagration. 

• Capt. Castleman published the following vidication 
of his conduct : — 

" Merely to show how things will be exaggerated, 
not that it can alter in any way the circumstances, I 
would mention that the number of persons on board 
the Ben Sherod at the time that she was burnt, did 
not exceed from 150 to 160. I think 150 would 
probably come the nearest to it, including the crew, 
children, and servants and all ; and from all I could 
learn before I left New Orleans, and at Natchez on 
my way up, I do not think there were more than 60 
or 65 lost, instead of from 100 to 200 as is stated in 
so many different reports. I, myself, clung to the 
hope of getting the boat to the shore and saving all, 
until it was too late to save my own family, and 
thereby lost my father and two children, and got my 
wife burnt so badly that she was not expected to live. 
I was burnt myself slightly ; one child was burnt to 
death and in my wife's arms when I got hold of her, 
and the other drowned. 

"As to the report of my oflicers and crew being in 
a state of intoxication, the barrel of whiskey with the 
head knocked out, or set out for the men to have ac- 
cess to, is all in the imagination. Drunkenness is 
the only misdemeanor for which I allowed a man to 
be discharged without first consulting me ; but the 
clerks, the mates, the engineers, all had full authority 
to drive any man of the crew off the boat, either in 
or out of the port, if he was the least drunk, as was 
the case the first trip, when we first made up our 
crew. Some of that crew got drunk, and were dis- 
charged, and replaced by sober men until we had a 
good crew j and I feel positive that we have not had 



THE BEN SHEROD. lOl 

a drunken man amongst our crew for three months 
before the fatal accident. 1 had not loft the deck in 
the fore part of the night. The firemen were sing- 
ing and dancing about as they always do when on 
duty, but there were none of them the least intoxica- 
ted so far as I could see, and the watch that were on 
dpty at the time, (the first watch having retired,) had 
not been out of their beds long enough to get drunk,, 
if they had wanted to — We ahc ays gave our men, 
black or white, as much as they wanted, kept a barrel 
of whiskey tapped on the boiler deck for them, have 
always done so, and generally let one of the watch that 
was on duty, go to it and draiv for his watch ivhenev- 
er they ivantcd it. — He is called the captain of the 
watch. I have always done the same for the last ten 
yearS; and my acquaintances, I think will vouch for 
my discipline about drunkenness, as well as other 
things, being severe and rigid enough. Indeed, I am 
generally blamed for being too particular about such 
things, and too rigid with my hands." 

FURTHER PARTICCLAR9.* 

One gentleman, Mr. Cook, floated down the river 
some miles before he was picked up. He hailed some 
wretched and despicable character who had put off in 
a yawl from the shore, and begged his assistance. 
The infamous scoundrel, who was intent only on 
picking up boxes, &c., asked with the utmost sang 
froid, " How much will you give me ?" To the en- 
treaties of others for help, he replied, "O, you are 
very well off there ! Keep cool, and you'll come out 
comfortable !" Whether the captain of the Alton de- 
serves the censure that has been heaped upon him we 
know not, nor will we pretend to say positively until 
we have -seen his statement ; but it does appear that 
if the captain of the Columbus had acted in a similar 
manner to that of the Alton, there would not have 
9^ 



102 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

been half a dozen souls left to tell the tale of the ca- 
lamity. 

Poor Davis the pilot, Avho was at the wheel during 
the fire, was conversing with a friend of ours just be- 
fore he left the city, about the burning of the St. Mar- 
tinville, and the burning of her tiller rope, three or 
four years since ; " If ever I'm in a boat that takes 
fire," says Davis, '• if I don't run her ashore, it will 
be because I shall be burnt up in her !" Poor fellow ! 
his statement has been verified ; he was burnt up in 
the Ben Sherod. 

Out of nine ladies that were on board, only two 
have been saved, the captain's wife and Mrs. Smith 
of Mobile, — their husbands threw hen coops into the 
river, jumped off the wheel-house, — the ladies follow- 
ed their example, and were saved. 

One scene was distressing in the extreme ; a young 
and beautiful lady, whose name we could not learn, 
on hearing the cry of fire, rushed out of the ladies' 
cabin, in her loose dress, in search of her husband, at 
the same time holding her infant to her bosom ; in 
endeavoring to go forward, her dress caught fire and 
was torn from her back to save her life ; after wit- 
nessing her husband fall into the flames in the for- 
ward part of the boat, unable to reach him, she leaped 
with her child into the water, seized a plank, and 
was carried by the current within eighty yards of 
the Columbus ; but just as she had seized a rope 
thrown from the steamboat, both mother and child 
sunk to rise no more. 

It is impossible to enumerate the various heart- 
rending sights that this calamitous affair has occasioned. 
The captain, for instance, saved his wife, but saw 
his two children perish. Mr. Smith saved |iis wife 
and one child, and saw the nurse rush madly through 
the flames with his daughter, and both perished. Mr. 
Gamble's wife, we understand, was burnt to death ; 
he escaped, although very badly burnt. One young 



THE BEN SHEROD. ^ 103 

man who had reached the hurricane deck in safety, 
heard the cries of his sister. — rushed back to the cab- 
in, — clasped her in his arms, and both were burnt to 
death. One of the clerks, one of the pilots and the 
first mate were burnt up. Ail the chamber-maids 
and women employed in the boat perished.' Out of 
thirty-five negroes, that were known to have been 
on board, only two escaped alive. The Ben Sherod 
had the largest crew of any boat on the river, and by 
reference to the list of names, it will be seen that out 
of about fifty saved, over thirty belonged to the boat; 
and out of the sixty or seventy cabin passengers, there 
were but ten or twelve left alive. One of the officers 
of the boat assured us, that in addition to the cabin 
passengers, there were at least sixty or more deck pas- 
sengers, of whom scarce six are saved. 

Altogether, this has been one of the most serious 
disasters tjjat has happened in the annals of Mississip- 
pi steam-boat navigation ; there being at least one 
hundred and fifty families deprived by it of some 
dear and beloved member — over one hundred beings 
hurried by it, out of time into eternity, with scarce a 
a moment's warning. 

We understand that three different explosions took 
})lace on board the boat whilst burning — first, barrels 
of whiskey, brandy, &c., then the boilers blew up 
with a fearful explosion, and lastly, thirty-nine bar- 
rels of gun powder exploded, which strewed the sur- 
face of the river with fragments. 

A large quantity of specie which was in the boat 
on its way to the Tennessee banks, was lost ; one 
gentleman placed his pocket book, containing §38,000, 
under his pillow, and though he escaped with life, he 
lost all his money. There were many persons on 
board who had large amounts of money with them, 
the most, or all of which, in the confusion, was lost. 

At the time the Ben Sherod took fire, she was en- 
gaged in a race with the steamer Prairie j and the fire 



104 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

took from the great heat of the boilers, caused by rais- 
ing her steam to its extreme power — a barrel of whis- 
key was placed on deck for the use of the hands dur- 
ing the ra,ce, who drank to excess, and became intox- 
icated. 

At about 12 o'clock at night the furnace became so 
heated that it communicated fire to the wood, of which 
there was on board about sixty cords. When the 
crew discovered the fire, they all lefx their posts, and 
ran for the yawl without giving any alarm to the pas- 
sengers, who were all asleep in their berths. The 
captain, for a time, attempted to allay the extreme 
confusion by stating that the fire was extinguished ; 
twice he forbid the lowering of the yawl, which was 
attempted by the deck hands and passengers. 

The shrieks of nearly three hundred persons on 
board now rose wild and dreadful. The cry was, 
to the shore ! to the shore ! and the boat made for the 
starboard shore, but did not gain it, as the wheel rope 
might have given \vay, or the pilot been driven by 
the flames from his station. The steam was not let 
off*, and the boat kept on. The scene of horror now 
beggared all description. 

The yawl which had been filled with the crew had 
sunk, drov/ning some who were in it ; and the passen- 
gers had no other alternative than to jump overboard, 
without taking even time to dress. There were nine 
ladies on board, who all went overboard without utter- 
ing a single scream, some drowning instantly, and 
others clinging to planks — two of the number were 
finally saved. Many of the' passengers are supposed 
to have been burnt — one man, by the name of Ray, 
from Louisville, Ky., hung to a rope at the bow of 
the boat, until taken up by the yawl of the steam- 
boat Columbus, which arrived about half an hour af- 
ter the commencement of the disaster, on her down- 
ward passage. — Mr. Ray's face and arms were much 
burnt while clinging to the boat in the above position. 



THE BEN SHEROD. 105 

he lost $20,000 in Natchez money and paper of the 
United States Bank. 

The steamboat Alton arrived half an hour after 
the Columbus, but from the carelessness or indiscre- 
tion of those on board, was the means of drowning 
many persons Avho were floating in the water. She 
drove into the midst of the exhausted sufferers, who 
were too weak longer to make exertion, and by the 
commotion occasioned by her wheels, drowned a large 
number. 

A gentleman by the name of Hamilton, from Ala- 
bama, was floating on a barrel, and sustaining also a 
lady, when the Alton drove up and washed them both 
under — the lady was drowned, but Mr. Hamilton 
came up, and floated down the river fifteen miles, 
when he was taken up by the steamer Statesman. 

Mr. McDowell attributes the drowning of his wife 
to the indiscretion of the managers of the Alton, as 
she was floating safely on a plank at the time. Mr. 
McDowell sustained himself sometime against the 
current, so that he only floated two miles down the 
river, when he swam ashore ten miles above Fort 
Adams. 

Mr. PvUndell floated down the river ten miles, and 
was taken up by a flat boat at the mouih of Bufl'alo 
creek. He saved his money in his pantaloons pock- 
et, but lost $1000 worth of freight. Mr. McDowell 
lost his wife, son, a lady. Miss Francis ^ew, who 
was under his protection, and a negro servant , 

The followmg interesting narrative was written 
by a passenger: — 

"On Sunday morning, the 6th of May, 1837, the 
steamboat Ben Sherod, under the command of Capt. 
Castleman, was preparing to leave the levee at New 
Orleans. She was thronged with passengers. Many 
a beautiful and interesting woman that morning was 
busy in arranging the little things incident to travel- 



106 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

ling, and they all looked forward with high and cer^ 
tain hopes to the end of their journey. Little inno- 
cent children played about the cabin, and would run 
to the guards now and then to wonder, in infantine 
language, at the next boat, or the water, or something 
else that drew their attention. ' O, look here, Henry 
— I don't like that boat Lexington.' ' I wish I was 
going by her,' said Henry, musingly. The men, too, 
were urgent in their arrangement of the trunks, and 
the getting on board sundry articles, which a ten day's 
passage rendered necessary. In fact, all seemed hope 
and joy, and certainty. 

''The cabin of the Ben Sherod was on the upper 
deck, but narrow in proportion to her build, for she 
wasj what is technically called, a Tennessee cotton 
boat. To those who have never seen a cotton boat 
loaded, it is a wondrous sight. The bales are piled 
up from the lower guards, wherever there is a cran- 
ny, until they reach above the second deck, — room 
being merely left for passengers to walk outside the 
cabin. You have regular alleys left amid the cotton, 
in order to pass about on the first deck. Such is a 
cotton boat carrying from 1,500 to 2,000 bales. 

'•The Ben Slierod's finish, and the accommodation 
of the cabin, was by no means such as would begin 
to compare with the regular passenger boats. It be- 
ing late in the season, and but few large steamers be- 
ing in port in consequence of the severity of the times, 
the Ben Sherod got an undue number of passengers ; 
otherwise she would have been avoided, for her ac- 
commodations were not enticing. She had a heavy 
freight on board, and several horses and carriages on 
the forecastle. The build of the Ben Sherod was 
heavy — her timbers being of the largest size. 

"The morning was clear and sultry — so much so 
that umbrellas were necessary to ward off the heat of 
the sun. It was a curious sight to see the hundreds 
of citizens hurrying on board to leave letters, and to 



^ 



THE BEN SHEROD. 107 

see them coming away. When a steamboat is going 
off on the southern or western waters, the excitement 
is fully equal to that attendant upon the departure of 
a Liverpool packet. About 10 o'clock, A. M., the ill- 
fated steamer pushed off upon the turbid current of 
the Mississippi as a swan upon the waters. In a few 
minutes she was under weigh, tossing high in air 
bright and sunny clouds of steam at every revolution 
of her engine. Talk not of your northern steamboats ! 
A Mississippi steamer ot 700 tons burthen, with ade- 
quate machinery, is one of the sublimities of poetry. 
For thousands of miles that great body forces its way 
through a desolate country, against an almost resist- 
less current, and all the evidence you have of the im- 
mense power exerted, is brought to your sense by the 
everlasting and majestic burst of exertion from her es- 
capement pipe, and the careless stroke of her paddle 
wheels. In the dead of night, when, amid the 
swamps on either side, your noble vessel winds her 
upward way^when not a soul is seen on board but the 
officer on deck — when nought is heard but the clang 
of the fire doors amid the hoarse coughing of the en- 
gine — imagination yields to the vastness of the ideas 
thus excited in your mind, and if you have a soul 
that makes you a man, you cannot help feeling strong- 
ly alive to the mightiness of art in contrast with the 
mightiness of na ture. Such a scene, and hundreds 
such have been realized with an intensity that cannot 
be described, always piake me a better man than be- 
fore. I never could tire of the steamboat navigation 
of the Mississippi. 

^ " On Tuesday evening, the 9th of May, 1837, the 
steamer Prairie, on her way to St. Louis, bore hard 
upon the Ben Sherod. It was necessary for the lat- 
ter to stop at Fort x'l.dams; during which the Prairie 
passed her. Great vexation was manifested by some 
of the passengers that the Prairie should get to Natch- 
ez first. The subject formed the theme of conversa- 



108 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

tion for two or three hours, the captain assuring them 
that he would beat her any how. 

^' The Prairie is a very fast boat, and under equal 
circumstances would have beaten the Sherod. So 
soon as the business was transacted at Fort Adams, 
for which she stopped, orders were given to the men 
to keep up the fires to the extent. It was now a lit- 
tle past 11 o'clock, P. M. The captain retired to his 
berth with his clothes on, and left the deck in charge 
of an officer. During the evening a barrel of whiskey 
had been turned out, and permission given to the 
hands to. do as they pleased. As may be supposed, 
they drew upon the barrel quite liberally. It is the. 
custom of • all the boats to furnish the firemen with 
liquor, though a difference exists as to the mode. 
But it is due to the many worthy captains now on 
the Mississippi, to state that the practice of furnishing 
spirits is gradually dying away, and where they are 
given, it is only done in moderation and in small 
quantities. 

'' As the Sherod passed on above Fort Adams to- 
wards the mouth of the Homochitta, the wood piled 
up in front of the furnaces, several times caught fire, 
and was once or twice imperfectly extinguished by the 
drunken hands. It must be understood by those of 
my readers who have ndver seen a western steamboat, 
that the boilers are entirely above the first deck, and 
that when the fires are well kept up for any length of 
time, the heat is almost insupportable. Were it not 
for the draft occasioned by the speed of the boat, it 
would be very difficult to attend the fire. 

" The boat went on her way at a tremendous rate, 
quivering and trembling her full length at every rev- 
olution of the wheels. The steam was created so 
fast, that it continued to escape through the safety 
valve, and, by its sharp singing, told a tale that every 
prudent captain would have understood. 

"As the vessel rounded the bar that makes off the 



THE BEN SHEROD. 109 

Homochitta, being compelled to stand out into the mid- 
dle of the river in consequence, the fire was discover- 
ed. It was about 1 o'clock in the morning. A pas- 
senger had got up previously^ and was standing on 
the boiler deck, when, to his astonishment, the fire 
broke out from the pile of wood. A little presence 
of mind, and a set. of men unintoxicated, could have 
saved the boat. The passenger seized a bucket, and 
was about to plunge it overboard for water, when he 
found it locked. An instant more, and the fire in- 
creased in volume. The captain v/as now awakened. 
He saw the fire had seized the deck. He ran aft and 
announced the ill tidings. 

''No sooner were the words out of his mouth, than, 
the shrieks of mothers, sisters and babes, resounded, in 
the wildest confusion, throughout the hitherto silent 
cabin. Men were aroused from their dreaming cots to 
experience the hot air of approaching fire. The pilot be- 
ing elevated on the hurricane deck, at the instant of per- 
ceiving the flames, put the head of the boat towards the 
shore. She had scarcely got under way in that di- 
rection, before the tiller ropes were burnt off". Two 
miles at least from the land, the boat made a shear, 
and borne up by the current, made several revolutions, 
until she struck off" across the river. A bar brought 
her up for the moment. The flames had now extend- 
ed fore and aft. At the first alarm, several deck pas- 
sengers had got into the small boat that hung suspend- 
ed by the davits. A cabin passenger, endowed with 
some degree of courage and presence of mind, expos- 
tulated with them, and did all he could to save the 
boat for the ladies. But all was useless. One took 
out his knife and cut away the forward tackle. The 
next instant, and they were all launched into the an- 
gry waters. They were not seen again. 

" The boat being lowered from the other end, filled 
and was useless. Now came the trying moment. 
Hundreds leaped from the burning wreck into the 
10 



110 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

water. Mothers were seen standing on the guards, 
with dishevelled hair, praying for help, — their dear 
little innocents clung to their sides, and seemed, with 
their tiny hands, to beat away the burning flames. 
Sisters called out to their brothers in unearthly voices, 
— 'save me, O my brother!' wives crying to their 
husbands to save their children, in total forgetfulness 
of themselves, — every moment or two, the desperate 
plunge of some poor victim would fall on the appalled 
ear. The dashing to and fro of the horses on the 
forecastle, groaning audibly in their fierce agony, — 
the continued puffing of the engine, for still it contin- 
ued to go, — the screaming mother who had leaped 
overboard, in the desperation of the moment, with 
her only child, — the heat and the crackling of the lu- 
rid fire, as its greedy flames darted with horrible .ra- 
pidity from one portion to another of the devoted ves- 
selj^shall I ever forget that scene — that hour of hor- 
ror and alarm ? Never, — were I to live till memory 
forget all else that ever came to the senses. The 
short half hour that separated, and plunged into eter- 
nity tioo Jmndrcd human beings^ has been so indeli- 
bly burnt into the memory, that nothing can have 
power to efface it. 

" I was swimming to the shore with all my might, 
endeavoring to sustain a mother and child. My 
strength failed me, — the babe was nothing — a mere 
cork. ' Go, go,' said the brave mother, ' save my 

child, save my' and- she sunk to rise no more. 

Nerved by the resolution of that woman, I reached the 
shore in safety. The babe I saved. Ere I reached 
the beach, the Sherod had swung off the bar, and was 
slowly floating down, the engine having ceased run- 
ning. In every direction, heads dotted the surface of 
the river. A new, and still more awful appearance, 
the burning wreck now wore, — mothers were seen 
clinging with the energy of expiring hope to the blaz- 
i|ig timbers, and dropping off one by one. The 



THE BEN SHEROD. Ill 

screams had ceased. A sullen silence rested over the 
devoted vessel. The flames seemed tired of their 
work of destruction. While I sat, dripping and over- 
come, upon the beach, a steamboat, the Columbus, 
hove in sight, and bore for the wreck. It seemed 
like one last ray of hope glearrting across the dead 
gloom of that night. Several persons were saved. 
And still another, — the Statesman, came in sight. 
More,^'— more were saved. A moment to me had 
elapsed, when high in the heavens the cinders flew, 
and the country was lighted all around. Still anoth- 
er boat came booming on. I was happy that help 
had come. After an exchange of words with the Co- 
lumbus, it continued on its way under full steam. O, 
how my heart sunk within me ! The waves created 
by that boat sent many a poor mortal to his long home. ■ 
A being by the name of Littleton was its reckless and 
merciless commander. Long may he be remembered. 
My hands wefe burnt, and I now began to experience 
severe pain. The scene before me, — the loss of my 
two sisters, and a brother, whom I had missed in the 
confusion, — all had steeled my heart. I could not 
weep. I could not sigh. The cries of the babe at 
my side were nothing to me. 

'' Again — another explosion ! and the waters closed 
slowly and suddenly over the scene of disaster and 
death. — Darkness resumed her sway, and silence was 
only interrupted by the distant efl"orts of the Colum- 
bus and Statesman in their laudable exertions to save 
human life. Captain Castleman lost, I believe, a fath- 
er and child. He was careless of his trust, — he was 
guilty of a crime that nothing will ever wipe out. 
The blood of two hundred victims are crying from 
out the waters for retribution and vengeance. 

" I could tell of scenes of horrot that would melt the 
stoniest heart, and rouse the indignation of the most 
inanimate, — but I have done. It was more than 
three weeks after this terrible occurrence before I 



1>2 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 

could shed a tear. All the fountains of sympathy had 
been dried up, and my heart was as the stone. As I 
lay on my bed, the twenty-fourth day after, tears, 
salt tears, came to my relief, and I felt the loss of my 
sisters and brothers more deeply than ever. Peace be 
to their spirits : they found a watery grave." 



BURNING OF THE WASHINGTON, 
on Lake Erie, on the inorning of June 16, 1838, 
■ with the loss of many passengers. 

The following statement is published as given by 
the Rev. R. J. Judd, of Garrettesville, Ohio :-j- 

" The steamboat Washington, Capt. Brown, left 
Cleveland, on her passage to Detroit, June 14, at 8 
o'clock, A. M. She proceeded on her. way safely, 
until Saturday, at 2 o'clock, A. M., when she had ar- 
rived in the vicinity of Silver Creek, about twenty- 
seven miles from Buffalo. The boat was then dis- 
covered to be on fire, which proceeded from beneath 
the boilers. The passengers were alarmed, and 
aroused from their slumbers : such a scene of confus- 
ion and distress ensued as those only can imagine who 
have been in similar circumstances. Despair did not, 
however, completely possess the mass until it became 
evident that the progress of the flames could not be 
arrested. From that moment, the scene beggars all 
description. Suffice it to say, that numbers precipi- 
tated themselves from the burning mass into the wa- 
ter ; some of them with a shriek of despair, and others 
silently sunk beneath the waves ; others, momentari- 
ly more fortunate, swam a short distance and were 
drowned ; others, still, on pieces of boards and wood 
arrived on the beach — yet some even of these sank in^ 



THE WASHINGTON. J 13 

to a watery grave. The small boat had by this time 
put off, loaded with about twenty-five souls, for the 
shore. These arrived safe, picking up one or two by 
the way. 

" The writer of tins article was one of the number. 
Other small boats came to our assistance, which, to- 
gether with the Washiiigton's boat, saved, perhaps, a 
majority of the persons on board. 

" There is reason to believe that as many as forty 
perished. It is impossible to compute the precise 
number. Many remained on the boat until it was 
wrapped in one sheet of flame. Of these there is 
reason to believe that numbers perished in the confla- 
gration; while otherS; half burned, precipitated them- 
selves into the watery element, — thus suflering the 
double agony of deatli, by^re and water. 

" Most of the crew was saved, — the captain being 
among the number — who, during the awful calamity, 
acted with the utmost decision and intrepidity. In- 
deed; no blame, as far as the writer has been informed, 
has been attached to any officer or hand on the boat. 
The utmost exertion was used to run her on the 
shore, until it became necessary to stop the engine in 
order to let down the small boat, which having been 
done, the fire had progressed so far as to render it im- 
possible to again start the machinery. 

'' 1 will give a few particulars of the losses of the 
passengers : — Mr. Shudds is the only survivor of his 
family, consisting of seven. A lady passenger lost 
three children, a sister and a mother. Mr. Michael 
Parker lost his wife and parents, sister and her child. 
But I will not further enumerate the cases of individ- 
ual bereavement. Truly it is not in man to know 
' what a day may bring forth.' " 

The news of the disaster was brought to Buffalo, 
by the passengers in the steam-boat North America. 
The following is gathered from their statements : — 
10* 



114 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 




D:s;aiil view o!' ilic liuiiii.iu (.1 ;l,(j \\ .. 



'•' The Washington passed the North America Avhile 
the latter lay at Erie, in the early part of the night, 
and was not again seen by those on board the North 
America, until within about three miles of the city, 
when a bright glare of light was discovered by the 
helmsman in the direction of Silver Creek, and the 
North America was instantly put about for the scene 
of apprehended disaster. 

" On nearing the spot, about 6 o'clock, the burning 
Juill of the large and noble boat was found drifting 
over the waters, three or four miles from shore, \vhh 
not a living human being on board. The lake was 
literally covered with hats, bonnets, trunks, baggage, 
and blackened fragments of the wreck. 

'' The intense anxiety. of the witnesses of this fear- 
ful scene, for the fate of the passengers on board the 
unfortunate Washington, was partially relieved by 
the discovery of several small boats near the shore, 
in which the survivors of the disaster had been res- 
cued from destruction. The alarm had been given 
at Silver Creek, as soon as the flames were perceived 



" THE WASHINGTON. 115 

■from the shore, and all the boats, which could be 
found, were sent to the rescue of the sufferers. 
There were only three skiffs, besides the yawl of the 
Washington, whicli could be thus used. 

" The North x4merica took on board about forty of 
those saved, many of whom, including all the ladies, 
remained on shore. There were six dead bodies 
picked up on the spot, — those of four children and two 
women. One man died of his injuries soon after 
reaching the shore, and one child was dead in its 
mother's arms when she was taken from the water. 

" xVfter picking' up the floating baggage which 
could be seen, the hull — which was still able to float 
the engine — was towed into Silver Creek, where "it" 
sunk in six or eight feet of water. The North Amer- 
ica remained at Silver Creek, employed in this mel- 
ancholy business, six or seven hours ; and every 
thing was done by Capt Edmonds, and his crew, for 
the relief of the sufferers. Their prompt and efficient 
services are entitled to all praise." 

The surviving passengers of the Washington were 
unanimous in stating that no blame was to be attrib- 
uted to Capt. Brown, the commander. 

The fire caught near the boilers, and had made 
such progress, when discovered, as to defy all attempts 
to extingnisn it. The' helm was instantly put up, 
and the vessel headed for the shore — but, in a few 
minutes, the wheel ropes burnt off, and the boat be- 
came an unmanageable wreck. Some of the passen- 
gers made their escape in the boats of the 'Washing- 
ton — others jumped overboard, and supported them- 
selves on spars and rafts, until they were picked up 
by the boats which put ofT from Silver Creek, and 
also by the steamboat North America, — which boat 
hastened to the assistance of the sutferers as soon as 
the flames were perceived. The number lost cannot 
be correctly ascertained. Many of the survivors 
were badly burned before they left the boat. 



116 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS;^ 

Many were the heart-rending scenes that occurred 
in this terrible catastrophe. An English family, con- 
sisting of a man, his wife and two children, came on 
board the boat at Toledo. While the fire was raging, 
the man worked till ho could stay on board no longer, 
— then he and his wife threw their children over- 
board, and jumped in after them. — The father and 
two children were drowned — the mother was saved. 
Several passengers went into convulsions with terror, 
on the deck, at the outset: and perished in the flames* 
A woman, with a child grasped under each arm, all 
dead, was picked up by the North America on her 
return to Buffalo. A newly married couple, supposed 
to have embarked at Erie, jumped overboard in each 
other's arms, and sunk together. 

List of persons saved — M. D. Hosford, Clayton, 
N. Y.; Clinton Strait, Marshall, Mich.; Da^id Gibson, 
Mundee, Mich.; John M. Durgel, Florida ; Ira Holmes, 
Leicester, N. Y. ; Timothy Edwards, Peru, Ohio; 
Maj. Meach, Carlton, N. Y. ; Giles B. Hadley, Dewitt, 
N. Y.; Simeon Nichols, Penfield, N. Y. ; Wm. Nel- 
son, Sumerston, N. Y. ; S. O. Holbrook, Sparta, N. Y.; 
David Beardsley, Catherines, N. Y.; H. Dorgee, Prov- 
idence ; Tyler Simpson, Worcester, Mass. ; N. B. 
Moore, Pembroke, N. Y. ; Henry Hart, Mich. ; J. W. 
Thurber, Mich. ; John Wiler, Ohio ; Simeon Tyler, 
N. Y.; John F. Shultz, N. Y.,- Israel M.^Patty, N. Y. 
W. H. Rice, and N. Neely, III. ; George C. Hill, Utica, 
N. Y. ; Ira H. Bennett, Ind. 

Lost and missing. — Capt. Clemens, Dudley, Mass.; 
Conrad Shurtz N. Y.; Wm. Shurtz, wife and three 
children, N. Y.; W. Shed, N. Y.; Mr. Barker's family 
of six, only one saved. A Scotchman, nanis not re- 
collected, lost three children, mother and sister. 

One hundred life-preservers \.ould probably have 
saved every soul on board, even had they been in the, 
middle of the lake, instead of being close in shore. 



THE WASHINpTON. 117 

In the long ran, these would be cheaper than to fur- 
nish extra boats, and infinitely better. Let a life pre- 
server hang in every berth, and passengers could close 
their eyes in security. If they pleased, they might 
sleep with them buckled around them. Let some- 
thing be done immediately. It is not the passenger's 
duty to provide them. Perhaps he makes a lake voy- 
age but once in his life. When he pays his fare he 
has a right to expect a safe conveyance. When a 
tnan gets his arm broken by being overturned in a 
§tage coach, he comes upon the proprietors for dama- 
ges. So it should be in steamboats. Captains and 
owners should be held responsible for every accident. 
No boat should be allowed to take passengers, that is 
not secured in every possible way from fire and ex- 
plosions, — and the safety of passengers secured by 
providing means of escape. 




118 



STEAJVIBOAT DISASTERS. 



EXPLOSION OF THE NEW ENGLAND, 

at Essex, Ct., October 7, 1833, on her passage from 
New York for Hartford, 

The following facts in relation to the explosion 'of 
the steamboat New England, are gathered from a 
statement which was drawn up and published a few 
days after the occurrence of the disaster: — 




i\ppearaiice ol ihe wreck ut ihe t,lcamboiit JNt;vv Englaiul. 



The boat Itift New York on Tuesday, October 8, at 4 
o'clock, P. M.' She started in company with the Prov- 
idence steamboat, Boston, but gradually gained on the 
latter through the Sound. A degree of anxiety was 
felt by some of the passengers on account of the com- 
petition between the two boats. But we have no ev- 
idence that this anxiety was warranted by any unu- 
sual press of steam on board the New England. The 
boat reached the river about 1 o'clock, when, of course, 



THE NEW ENGLAND. 119 

all competition was at an end. At Saybrook, some 
difficulty occurred with the engine, which, rendered 
it necessary to throw out an anchor to prevent the 
boat from drifting ashore. After a detention of twenty 
or thirty minuted at Say brook, the boat jn'oceeded on 
her way up the river about eight miles, and arrived 
opposite Essex about 3 o'clock. Her engine was 
stopped, the small boat was let down to land a passen- 
ger,and had just reached the shore, when both the lioil- 
ers exploded, almost simultaneously, with a noise like 
heavy cannon. The shock was dreadful ; and the 
scene which followed is represented by those who 
were present as awful and heart-rending beyond des- 
cription. The morning was excessively dark ; the 
rain poured in torrents ; the lights on deck and in 
the cabin were suddenly extinguished ; and all was 
desolation and horror on boai'd. Those only who 
witnessed the havoc which was made, and hoard the 
shrieks and groans of, the wounded and dying, can 
form an adequate conception of the scene. 

There were upward of seventy passengers on board, 
and others, belonging to the boat, to the number of 
about twenty, — making, in all, nearly one hundred 
persons. Most of the passengers were fortunately in 
their berths. Those -who were in the gentlemen's 
cabin escaped without any serious injmy. The most 
destructive effects of the explosion were felt on the 
deck, and in the ladies' cabin. The ladies who were 
in their berths, and remained there, we believe, were 
not much injured; but those who were on cots oppo- 
site the cabin doors, and others, who, on the first 
alarm, sprang from their berths, were more or less 
scalded. All who were on deck abaft the boilers, 
we believe, were either killed or wounded. Had the 
accident occurred in the day-time, when the passen- 
gers are generally scattered about the deck and prom- 
enade, the destruction of lives would, in all probabili- 
ty, have been much greater. 



120 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Captain Waterman was on the wheel-house at the 
time of the explosion, attending to the landing of 
passengers from the small boat. He noticed a move- 
ment over the boilers, and immediately jumped, or 
was thrown upon the forward deck. He was some- 
what bruised, but not seriously injured. 

From the inhabitants of Essex the sufferers expe- 
rienced the most kind and hospitable attentions. 
Their houses were thrown open for their reception, 
and every thing which could contribute to their relief 
and comfort promptly afforded. 

As soon as the melancholy intelligence reached 
Hartford, on Wednesday morning, the proprietors des- 
patched the steamboat Massachusetts for the surviving 
passengers, and several of our physicians repaired to 
the scene of suffering. The Massachusetts returned 
the same night, bringing a number of passengers, 
some of the wounded, and one dead body. Two or 
three bodies were also brought up the next day by 
the steamboat Chief Justice Marshall. 

The following, we believe, is a correct list of tlie 
dead and wounded : — 

DEAD. 

Passengers. — John M. Heron, Reading, Conn.; 
Mr. Shepard, Norwich, Conn.; Lyman Warner, Ply- 
mouth, Conn.; Dr. Stephen B. Whiting, Reading, 
Conn.; J. T. Burgess, Waterville, N. Y.; Mrs. Thomp- 
son, (a Scotch woman,) and child, who was on her 
way to reside at Thonipsonville, Conn.; and Mrs. 
Hunter, an elderly Scotch lady ; John Esfabrook, of 
Concord, N. H., (body found in the river.) Belong- 
ing to the boat. — Elias Bushnel, Killingworth ; Dan- 
iel Harvey, N. Y. ; Jared Lane, Killingworth ; James 
C. Bronson, Hartford ; Allen Pratt, Hartford. 

WOUNDED. 

Passengers. — Mrs. Abigail Stocking, Middletowh, 
severely scalded ; Roderick G. P. Goodrich, Wethers- 
field, badly scalded ; Miss Warner, Plymouth, Conn., ' 



THE NEW ENGLAND. 121 

slightly scalded ; Mrs. Hastings, Gill, Mass., slightly- 
scalded ; two children of Mrs. Thompson, one severely, 
and the other slightly scalded. Belonging to the boat. 
— Capt. Waterman,' considerably bruised ; William 
Savage, clerk of the boat, slightly scalded ; Giles Far- 
niim, Killingworth, badly scalded ; Samuel Pasha, 
Quebec, badly scalded ; Jane Pruden, chambermaid, 
badly scalded. 

In regard to the cause of this dreadful explosion, 
we believe it to be the prevailing opinion of all who 
have taken pains to ascertain the facts in the case, 
that it may be traced to negligence or presumption on 
the part of the engineer, in permitting the steam to 
accumulate beyond what the strength of the boilers 
could sustain. From the best information we can 
obtain, the steam was not blown off while the boat 
lay at Saybrook, nor during her stoppage at Essex. 
It is said, ho^vever, that steam was blown off while 
the boat was under way between Saybrook and Es- 
sex. Mr. Potter, the engineer, who has been for many 
years in the employment of the proprietors, was not 
on board during this trip ; his place was supplied by 
Mr. Marshall, from the West Point Foundery, who 
had the reputation of skill in his profession. He de- 
clares there were only eight or ten inches of steam 
on at the time of the explosion ; but, besides the im- 
probability on the face of this statement, there is said 
to be strong testimony of a very different character. 
The steamboat is much injured, — the boilers were 
rent asunder and thrown into the river — the guards 
on which they rested were broken off — the promenade 
deck, from the captain's office to the ladies' cabin, a 
distance of about thirty feet, was lifted from its place, 
and fell, in part, upon the main deck. The ladies' 
cabin was considerably racked and injured, — and all 
her upper works, in the vicinity of the boilers, are in 
a shattered condition. The baggage-houses, situated 
11 



123 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

ill the rear of the boilers, were demolished, and the 
baggage thrown into the river. There was also con- 
siderable loss of freight. 

The New-England was a new boat, and commen- 
ced running about two months since. Her engine 
and boilers were made at West Point, and, as was 
supposed, of the best materials, and in the best man- 
ner. No expense was spared to make the boat in ev- 
ery respect complete, and to finish it in the most beau- 
tiful style. The loss to the proprietors will be very 
serious. But this is a matter of small importance 
compared with the destruction of lives, the anguish 
of sufferers, and the affliction of relatives and friends, 
consequent upon this terrible disaster. 

The following particulars are extracted from two 
letters, written by a gentleman, passenger in the New- 
England. 

'' Middletown, Wednesday, 2 o'clock. 

'' Our journey in the steamboat New-England was 
very pleasant last evening, until we entered the Con- 
necticut River. At or about 1 o'clock this morning, 
when we were all asleep, myself excepted, I perceived 
the engine, or something else, was out of order. I 
was in the forward cabin, and concluded I was in 
the safest part of the boat ; things seemed to go on 
badly, by the frequent stops, until 3 o'clock, when 
both boilers burst simultaneously, or as nearly togeth- 
er as a two barrel gun could be discharged by one 
person ; the result was, two persons were killed out- 
right, about twenty-five wounded or scalded, — out of 
which number five or six may not survive. The des- 
truction of the upper works was almost entire. 
Among the number injured, six or eight women are 
included, being on the upper deck cabin. In the 
main cabin, three or four were badly injured. In the 
front cabin no one was injured, neither did any steam 
enter it. I was awake and knew what it all meant. 



THE NEW ENGLAND. 123 

I hastened up, and in the course of fifteen minutes 
procured lights, and began to look after my baggage. 
Nearly all the baggage on board, together with 
about fifty boxes of tea and dry goods, had disap- 
peared ; after daylight, some of my luggage was 
found floating in the river." 

" Hartford, Thursday morning, Oct. 10. 

'' On the arrival of the intelligence here of the ex- 
plosion oF the New-England, a steamboat was sent 
down to the scene of distress ; she returned a few 
moments since with the news of four deaths, and that 
eight or ten more must die with their wounds, and 
perhaps more. The upper works of this unfortunate 
boat present the most extraordinary wreck I ever be- 
held, and if the event had occurred in the day-time, 
when the passengers are generally upon the decks, 
not a person could have escaped injury. I believe I 
wrote you that I early discovered that there was ^ome 
imperfection in the working of the machinery of this 
boat ; which, however, I considered of no importance, 
as regarded safety ; but when she found it necessary 
to lay to, to fix her steering ropes, which required 
some tii;ie, I at once became astonished that she did 
not throw off steam, as is usually the case when stops 
are made, — and from this to the time of the explosion 
there were several stops made, and at the different 
stoppages of the engine I could perceive but a faint 
sound of the discharge of steam. 

" I became early impressed with the suspicion that 
something was wrong, and from my own reasoning 
on the subject did not consider ourselves in a condi- 
tion of safety ; and so confirmed was I in this impres- 
sion, that I came to the conclusion of remaining where 
I was, in preference to changing my position. At 3 
o'clock, the explosion was most terrific, and for many 
minutes every thing around seemed like chaos. I 
found myself unhurt, and, some how, entirely free 



124 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

from excitement or extraordinary alarm. I got on 
my clothes, and while dressing, one or two persons 
rushed to the front cabin where I was. I asked 
them some questions, but they were so horror-stricken 
that the power of utterance had ceased. The decks 
were covered with broken timbers — the baggage 
thrown into the river — and the cries of misery, and 
the moaning of the dying, was for a moment with me 
a paralysis. I visited the different scenes of distress 
among the passengers, — found nothing could be done 
for them but to get the boat to the shore as speedily 
as possible, and in about thirty minutes we lay along- 
side the wharf; the good people of Essex were all 
up with the first report of the explosion, supposing it 
was an earthquake. The news soon spread, and ev- 
ery thing was done by these estimable inhabitants to 
alleviate the distresses of the unfortunate sufferers.'' 

The appearance of the wreck is thus described by 
E. Champion, Jun., in a communication on the subject: 
'' Never, of its kind, was so melancholy a ruin present- 
ed to the eye, as the wreck of the New-England. 
You approach her as you approach the cemetery of the 
dead. She seems the slaughter-house of the traveller. 
As you enter her these melancholy associations cease. 
You stand astonished at the force and effect of the 
murderous explosion. From the stem to the wheel- 
room all is well ; from the wheel-room aft, athwart 
the deck, and downward to the water, you see the 
direction as well as power of the blast. The explo- 
sion downward seems to have been far more powerful 
than in any other direction, and yet, with a resisting 
body as near the boiler, equal force might have been 
demonstrated in other parts. The guards on deck, 
extending beyond the hull, upon which the boilers 
were placed, were blown through, the exact size of 
the boilers ; beams of a foot square, supported by bra- 
ces and knees, being blown off as square and close to 



THE NEW ENGLAND. 125 

the hull as if sawed by the carpenter. Beyond the 
exact size of the boilers, the deck was entire. The 
souffle or blast of the larboard boilers was felt as far 
as the extreme stern, on the outside of the ladies' 
cabin, leaving the centre. The steps at the quarters 
were blown out of shape, and crushed sideways by 
the blast. This shows that no position outside the 
ladies' cabin could hav^e been safe. The front of the 
ladies' cabin was pressed inward about eighteen inch- 
es at the door, and opened at the corners about twelve 
inches. The chamber-maid, sleeping in her (upper) 
berth, next the larboard boiler, was thrown out, and 
fell upon her hands in the water. This position on 
the floor was the first thing of which she was sensi- 
ble. Two children, sleeping in the berth beneath 
her, were unhurt — the scalding element probably, 
raging above them. The steam filled the ladies' cab- 
in and extinguished the lights. A child, in the most 
remote berth from the boiler, and next the stern, was 
so scalded as to die. A lady, in the berth next it, 
also died. Her clothes were so hot as to scald the 
hands of those that removed them. This must have 
been forty feet from the boiler, stating from impres- 
sion. Letters, exposed to the steam, were charred, or 
reduced to coal in places. S>eh facts indicate the 
extreme high temperature of the steam — far beyond 
ordinary steam. Perkins, the inventor of the steam- 
gun, claims that he can so heat steam that it shall 
fall in atmospheric air, in flakes of snow. In count- 
ing the peril of steam explosions, let it be taken into 
account, that the steam is frequently many times hot- 
ter than the ordinary steam of boiling water. The 
ladies' cabin so shattered and filled with steam, is the 
upper one. It has sixteen berths^ all occupied, and 
some settees. The ladies who kept their berths were 
least burnt. Exposure produced scald. The ladies' 
cabin under this was occupied by gentlemen. All 
below deck were unhurt, and prompt to give their 
11* 



126 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

aid to the sufferers above deck. Had one boiler been 
in the centre, or had either projected' over the deck a 
single foot, certain death to all below deck must have 
followed. In result, fifteen have died, and seven are 
in a critical but hopeful state. 

^' The starboard boiler, doubtless, sunk through the 
opening ^in the wing, where it stood, made by its 
own blast. The larboard boiler was scattered into 
fragments, its top, bottom, sides and back being torn 
aAvay and lost, leaving the flues and front only. The 
flues were thrown forward from a horizontal to a per- 
pendicular position, and lodged upon the wood, some 
six feet forward." 

The Board of Examiners, in their report, thus de- 
scribe the appearances presented on their examination. 
On the 7th of November they met at the borough of 
Essex, and proceeded to examine the state of said 
boat, and the remains of the boilers. On visiting the 
steamboat, they found that those portions of the 
guards and railing, on which the boilers had been 
placed, together with the boiler-houses, railings, and 
the other contiguous wood-work, had been entirely 
destroyed by the effects of the explosion. The.front 
of the ladies' cabin upon the quarter deck had also 
been forced inward, and partially destroyed, and that 
part of the upper, or promenade deck, which extended 
fromx said cabin to the engine-room near the centre of 
the boat,, had been swept entirely away. The en- 
gine remained without injury ; but the steam-pipe 
which led from one of the boilers was broken off at 
its junction with the main steam-pipe in the engine- 
room, near the point where it unites with the steam- 
pipe from the starboard boiler. The safety-valve, 
which is attached to the main steam-pipe at the junc- 
tion of the two branch pipes near the engine, remains 
unimpaired, and is a large and apparently well con- 
structed valve. A mercurial steam-guage is attached 



THE NEW ENGLAND, 127 

to the main steam-pipe at this point, which serves to 
indicate to, the engineer the pressure of steam in the 
boilers. The mercury was not thrown from this 
guage by the explosion, and the gnage remained in 
good order after the accident. Two other mercurial 
guages of the same description were shown to us, 
which had been attached, one to each of the boilers 
on that part called the steam-chimney, w^iich, having 
no water in contact with its inner surface, becomes 
heated more than any other portion of the boiler. 
These guages had been torn from their places at the 
time of the explosion, and in one of them a portion of 
the mercury with which it had been charged was 
found remaining after the accident. 

The mutilated portions of the boilers which were 
examined, gave abundant evidence of the great pow- 
er or force of the explosive action. They were found 
to be dismembered and torn in a manner which it is 
difficult to describe. The boilers were not, as occurs 
in some cases ot steam-boat explosions, rent merely 
in the main flue, thus giving vent to the steam, or, 
as in other cases, with a head torn off and lacerated, 
and still retaining their external form, and remaining 
in their beds ; but the boilers of the New- England 
were torn asunder, and folded in massy doublings, 
like a garment ; and they were so crushed and flat- 
tened, and distorted, that, as they lay upon the wharf, 
after they were raised from the bed of the river, it 
was difficult for a common observer to discover how 
the mutilated parts were ever connected into symme- 
try, so as to combine just proportion and strength. 

The appearance of the boilers, however, was such 
as to indicate that they had been constructed in a sub- 
stantial manner. The copper, in all the rnptured parts, 
had every appearance of being tough and free from 
flaws ; nor did it exhibit the flaking and discoloration 
which great heat is known to produce upon the metal 
when not covered by water. 



128 STEAaiBOAT DISASTERS. 

The Board of Examiners, appointed by the Con- 
necticut Rivev Steamboat Company, to inquire into 
the causes of the explosion, consisting of Professors 
B. Silliman and D. Olmsted, of Yale College, and 
Messrs. W. C. Redfield, D. Copeland, and J. F. Law- 
son, Engineers, having met at Essex, November 7, 
decided, after having examined the wreck and heard 
the testimony, that the explosion of the steamboat 
New-EngVand was caused by the pressure of steam, 
produced in the ordinary way, but accumulated to a 
degree of tension which the boilers were unable to 
sustain. It was estimated that the steam, at the time 
of the explosion, must have accumulated to nearly or 
quite thirty inches, giving an aggregate expansive 
force on the internal surface of each boiler, of not less 
than 3,000,000 pounds. 



LOSS OF THE STEAMER NEW ENGLAND,^ 

oji her passage hetweeri Boston, Mass., and Bath, 
Me., May 31, 1839. 

The steamboat New England, while on her passage 
from Boston to Bath, Me., was run into about 1 o'clock 
in the morning, May 31, fifteen miles south-east of Boon 
Island, by the schooner Curlew, Capt. Crocket, of and 
from East Thomaston for Boston. The schooner was 
standing to the leeward of the boat, and when a short 
distance from her,' luffed up with the intention of 
passing her bow. Before this could be effected, she 
struck the larboard bow of the steamer, and, after get- 



* The New England, here mentioned, is the same boat which exploded at 
Essex, Conn., in October, 1833, — the account of which disaster will be found 
bv referring to page 118 of this volume. 



THE NEW ENGLAND. 129 

ting clear, passed on. Tlie pilot of the New England 
finding that her bow was stove in, and that she was 
rapidly filling with water, hailed the schooner, which 
then lowered her sails, and the steamer ran along side. 
The passengers, about seventy in number, among 
them fifteen ladies, were by this time on deck, and 
when the boat reached the Curlew, a general rush was 
made to board her. In^ their eagerness, several of 
them jumped too soon and fell overboard, but they 
were all picked up, unharmed, with the exception of 
a Mr. Standish, of Providence, who was crushed to 
death between the two vessels. His remains were 
recovered and brought np in the Curlew. 

The steamer sunk as low as the promenade deck, in 
which situation she remained, and her boats were 
launched with the intention to save as much of the 
baggage and freight as possible, — Captain Kimball 
and several of the crew remaining in them for this 
purpose. Two vessels, which came up before the 
Curlew left, stopped at the request of Capt. Kimball, 
to receive what might be recovered. On board the 
boat there was between $70,000 and $80,000 in spe- 
cie and bills, — $45,000 of which had belonged to Mr. 
Standish. The remainder was OAvned principally by 
the boat and a few of the passengers, — a small sum_ 
being for one of the river banks. 

The Curlew proceeded on her voyage with the pas- 
sengers, many of whom had nothing on but their 
night clothes, — and arrived in Boston about 2 o'clock 
in the afternoon, having been towed fifteen miles by 
the steamer Portsmouth. 

The following is a list of the passengers saved : — 

Rev. Mr. Cole, lady and child, of Hallowell ; Rev. 
J. B. Husted, Bangor ; David W. Horton, Boston ; G.' 
A. Bendall, Boston ; Geo. W. Morton, Augusta ; Da- 
vid Clancy, Bath ; Joseph Smith, Colerain, Mass. ; V. 
R. Lovejoy, Gardiner ; John S. Given, Boston ; Abram 
Lord, Gardiner ; S. G. Stinson, Bath ; Franklin Ste- 



130 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

vens, and George W. Stevens, Pittston ; Authur C. 
Berry, and Frederick Evans, Gardiner;. Nath. Millay, 
Whitefield ; F. R. Theobald, Richmond ; J. P. Hun- 
ter, Gardiner ; Yim.. Meacher, Whitefield ; James A. 
McLellan, Bath ; J. H. Eveleth and lady, and Wm. 
K. Weston, Augusta ; Levi Appleby, Bowdoiii ; Ste- 
phen Martin, Warren, R. I.; Abiel Butters, Wilming- 
ton, Mass.; Sewel Preble, Bowdoinham ; Edward 
Stevens, Winihrop ; John Marble, Grafton ; Phineas 
Pratt, Saco ; Wm. Morse, Bath ; Leonard Sturtevant ; 
0. F. Steward, Nashua, N. H.; E. R. Sawin, Fair- 
haven ; . S. H. Dorr, Boston ; H. Hill, Bangor ; J. 
Blake, Lynn ; J, E. Ware, Farmington ; Gridley 
Bryant, Boston ; Theodore Warland, Cambridge ; 
RiisseU Ellis, Watervillc ; Myrick Hopkins and. son, 
Gardiner ; John McClintock, Boothbay ; William 
Hufchins, Boston; C. G. Bachelder, Hallowell ; 
Franklin Copeland, Roxbury ; Thomas Mahony, Au- 
gusta. Ladies. — :M. A. Carlton ; Mary Bachelder, Jay ; 
Louisa Demerick, Dresden ; Mrs. S. Bates, Norridge- 
wock ; Eunice Goodwin, Gardiner ; Anna Dallon, 
Cambridgeport ; Laura Stevens, Boston ; Charlotte 
Bascom, Cambridge ; Sarah Clark, Bath; E. N. King 
and child, South Boston ; D. D. Watson, Fayette ; 
Zilpha Pierce, Boston ; Mrs. D. Finn, Gardiner ; Mrs. 
Townsend, Roxbury. 



THE HELEN m'gREGOR. 131 



EXPLOSION OF THE HELEN M'GREGOR, 

at Memphis^ Tennessee^ FebriLarij^ 24, 1830. 

The following interesting narrative was written by 
a gentleman, who was passenger on board the Helen 
M'Gregor : — 

''On the morning of the 24th of February, the 
Helen M'Gregor stopped at Memphis, to deliver freight, 
and land a number of passengers who resided in that 
section of Tennessee. The time occupied in so do- 
ing could not have exceeded three quarters of an hour. 
While the boat was thus detained, I went ashore to 
see a gentleman with whom I had some business. I 
found him on the beach, and after a short conversa- 
tion returned to the boat. I recollect looking at my 
watch as I passed the gangway. It was half past 8 
o'clock. A great number of persons were standing 
on what is called the boiler-deck,— being that part of 
the upper deck situated immediately over the boilers. 
It was crowded to excess, and presented one dense 
mass of human bodies. In a few minutes we sat 
down to breakfast in the cabin. The table, although 
extending the whole length of the cabin, was com- 
pletely filled, there being upward of sixty cabin pas- 
sengers, among whom were several ladies and chil- 
dren. The number of passengers on board, deck 
and cabin united, was between four and five hundred. 
I h*ad almost finished my breakfast when the pilot 
rung his bell for the engineer to put his machinery 
in motion. The boat having just shoved off, I was 
in the act of raising my cup to my lip, the tingling of 
the pilot bell yet on my ear, when I heard an explo- 
sion resembling the discharge of a small piece of ar- 
tillery — the report was perhaps louder than usual in 
such cases — for an exclamation was half uttered by 
me that the gun was well loaded, when the rushing 



132 STEAMBOAT DISASTEBS. 

sound of steam, and the rattling of glass in some of 
the cabin windows checked my speech, and too well 
told what had occurred. I almost involuntarily bent 
my head and body down to the floor — a vague idea 
seemed to shoot across my mind that more than one 
b6iler might burst, and that, by assuming this pos- 
ture, the destroying matter would pass over without 
touching me. 

" The general cry of ' a boiler has burst.' resounded 
from one end of the table to the other ; and, as if by 
a simultaneous movement, all started on their feet. 
Then commenced a general race to the ladies' cabin, 
which lay more toward the stern of the boat. All re- 
gard to order, or deference to sex, seemed to be lost 
in the struggle for which should be first and farthest 
removed from the dreaded boilers. The danger had 
already passed away! I remained standing by the 
chair on which I had been previously sitting. Only 
one person or two staid in the cabin with me. As 
yet not more than half a minute had elapsed since 
the explosion ; but, in that brief space, how had the 
scene changed ! In that ' drop of time ' what con- 
fusion, distress, and dismay ! An instant before, and 
all were in the quiet repose of security — another, and 
they were overwhelmed with alarm and consterna- 
tion. It is but justice to say, that, in this scene of 
terror, the ladies exhibited a degree of firmness wor- 
thy of all praise. No screaming, no fainting ; their 
fears, when uttered, were for their husbands and chil- 
dren, not for themselves. 

" I advanced from my position to one of the cabin 
doors for the purpose of inquiring who were injured, 
when, just as I reached it, a man entered at the op- 
posite one, both his hands covering his face, and ex- 
claiming, ' O God, O God ! I am lost ! I am ruined !' 
He immediately began to tear off his clothes. When 
stripped, he presented a most shocking and afflicting 
spectacle ; his face was entirely black ; his body 



THE HELEN m'gkEGOR. 133 

without a particle of skin. He had been flayed 
alive. He gave me his name and place of abode — 
then sunk in a state of exhaustion and agony on the 
floor. 1 assisted in placing him on a mattress taken 
from one of the berths, and covered him with blank- 
ets. He complained of heat and cold as at once op- 
pressing him. He bore his torments with a manly 
fortitude, yet a convulsive shriek would occasionally 
burst from him. His Avife, his children, were his con- 
stant theme : it was hard to die without seeing them ; 
it was hard to go without bidding them one farewell ! 
Oil and cotton were applied to his wounds : but he 
soon became insensible to earthly misery. Before I 
had done attending to him, the whole floor of the cab- 
in was covered with unfortunate sufl'erers. Some 
bore up under the horrors of their situation with a de- 
gree of resolution amounting to heroism. Others 
were wholly overcome by the sense of pain, the sud- 
denness of the fatal disaster, and the near approach 
of death, which even to them was evident — whose 
pangs they already felt. Some implored us, as an 
act of humanity, to complete the work of destruction, 
and free them from present sufl'ering. One entreated 
the presence of a clergyman to pray for him, declar- 
ing he was not fit to die. I inquired : none could be 
had. On every side were to be heard groans and 
mingled exclamations of grief and despair. 

•• To add to the confusion, persons were every mo- 
ment running about to learn the fate of their friends 
and relatives, — fathers, sons, brothers, — for, in this 
scene of unmixed calamity, it was impossible to say 
who were saved, or who had perished. The coun- 
tenances of many were so much disfigured as to be 
past recognition. My attention, after some time, 
was particularly drawn toward a poor fellow who lay 
unnoticed on the floor, without uttering a single word 
of complaint. He was at a little distance removed 
from the rest. He was not much scalded, but one of 
12 



134 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

his thighs was broken, and a principal artery had 
been severed, from which the blood was gushing rap- 
idly. He betrayed no displeasure at the apparent 
neglect with which he was treated,- — he was perfect- 
ly calm. I spoke to him ; he said he was very weak ; 
he felt himself going,— it would soon be over. A 
gentleman ran for one of the physicians ; he came, 
and declared that, if expedition were used, he might 
be preserved by amputating the limb ; but that, to 
effect this, it would be necessary to remove him from 
the boat. Unfortunately, the boat was not sufficient- 
ly near to run a plank ashore. We were obliged to 
wait until it could be close-hauled. I stood by him, 
calling for help ; we placed him on a mattress, and 
bore him to the guards ; there we were detained some 
time, from the cause I have mentioned. Never did 
any thing appear to me so slow as the movements of 
those engaged in hauling the boat. 

" I knew, and he knew, that delay was death, — 
that life was fast ebbing. I could not take my gaze 
from his face, — there, all was coolness and resigna- 
tion, no word or gesture indicative of impatience es- 
caped him. He perceived by my loud, and, perhaps, 
angry tone of voice, how much I was excited by 
what I thought the barbarous slowness of those 
around : he begged me not to take so much trouble, — 
that they were doing their best. At length we got 
him on shore, — it was too late : he was too much ex- 
hausted, and died immediately after the amputation. 

'• So soon as I was relieved from attending on those 
in the cabin, I went to examine that part of the boat 
where the boilers had burst. It was a complete 
wreckr — a picture of destruction. It bore ample testi- 
mony of the tremendous force of that power which 
the ingenuity of man has brought to his aid. The 
steam had given every thing a whitish hue, — the 
boilers were displaced, — the deck had fallen down, — 
the machinery was broken and disordered. Bricks, 



136 

dirt, and rubbish were scattered about. Close by the 
bowsprit was a large rent through which, I was told, 
the boiler, after exploding, had passed out, carrying 
one or two men in its mouth.. Several dead bodies 
were lying around ; their fate had been an enviable 
one compared with that of others, — they could scarce- 
ly have been conscious of a pang ere they had ceased 
to be. On the starboard wheel-house lay a human 
body, in which life was not yet extinct, though ap- 
parently there was no sensibility remaining. The 
body must have been thrown from the boiler-deck, a 
distance of thirty feet. The whole of the forehead 
had been blown away, — the brains were still beating. 
Tufts of hair, shreds of clothing, and reeking stains of 
blood might be seen in every direction. A piece of 
skin was picked up by a gentleman on board, which 
appeared to have been peeled off by the force of 
steam ; it extended from the middle of the arm down 
to the tip of the fingers, the nails adhering to it. So 
dreadful had been the force, that not a particle of the 
flesh adhered to it. Several died from inhaling the 
steam or gas, whose skins were almost uninjured. 

" The number of lives lost will, in all probability, 
never be distinctly known. Many were seen flung 
into the river, most of whom sunk to rise no more. 
Could the survivors have been kept together until the 
list of passengers was called, the precise loss would 
have been ascertained ; that, however, though it had 
been attempted, would, under the circumstances, have 
been impossible. 

" Judging from the crowd which I saw on the 
boiler-deck immediately before the explosion, and the 
statement which I received as to the number of those 
who succeeded in swimming out after they were cast 
into the river, I am inclined to believe that between 
forty and fifty must have perished. 

" The cabin passengers escaped, owing to the pecu- 
liar construction of the boat. Just behind the boilers 



136 STEAMBOAT DISASTER?. 

were several large iron posts, supporting, I think, the 
boiler-deck : across each post was a large circular 
plate of iron of between one and two inches in thick- 
ness. One of these posts was placed exactly oppo- 
site ihe head of the boiler which burst, being the sec- 
ond one on the starboard side. Against this plate the 
head struck, and penetrated to the depth of an inch, 
then broke and flew off at an angle, entering a cotton 
bale to the depth of a foot. The boiler head was in 
point blank range with the breakfast-table in the cab- 
in, and had it not been obstructed by the iron post, 
must have made a clear sweep of those who were 
seated at the table. 

" To render any satisfactory account of the cause 
which produced the explosion can hardly be ejected 
from one who posesses no scientific or practical knowl- 
edge on the subject, and who, previously thereto, Avas 
paying no attention to the management of the boat. 
The captain appeared to be very active and diligent 
in attending to his duty. He was on the boiler-deck 
when the explosion occurred.; was materially injured 
by that event, and must have been ignorant of the 
mismanagement, if any there v.^as. 

"From the engineer alone could the true explana- 
tion be afforded; and if, indeed, it was really attrib- 
utable to negligence, it can scarcely be supposed he 
Avill lay the blame on himself. If I might venture a 
suggestion in relation thereto, 1 would assign the fol- 
lowing causes : — That the water in the starboard 
boiler had become low in consequence of that side of 
the boat resting upon the ground during our stay at 
Memphis ; that the fires were kept up some time be- 
fore we shoved off; that the head which burst had 
been cracked for a considerable length of time ; and 
that the boiler was extremely heated, and the water, 
thrown in when the boat was again in motion, was 
at once converted into steam, and the flues not being 
sufliciently large to carry it off as quickly as it was 



iEI] 



THE GEORGE COLEIER. 137 

generated, nor the boiler head of a strength capable 
of resisting its action, the explosion was a natural re- 
sult. 

"I assume this proposition to be correct — that, in 
every case where a boiler bursts, it is fair to infer 
that it proceeded from neglect, until the contrary 
shall be proved." 



EXPLOSION ON BOARD 
THE STEAMBOAT GEORGE COLLIER, 

on the Mississippi JRive?', near New Orleans, j^T^^y. 
6, 1§39, — by ichich ticenty-six lives icei^e lost. 

The steamboat George Collier left New Orleans, 
Saturday afternoon, at half past 5 o'clock, for St. 
Louis. On May 6, at half past 1 o'clock, Sunday 
morning, when within about eighty miles of Natchez, 
the piston-rod gave way where the key passes through 
the T head, which broke the forward cylinder head, 
and carried away a part of the boiler stands. There 
were forty-five persons scalded, who were in the after 
cabin, — twenty-six of whom died the same day. The 
following is the melancholy record of the dead and 
wounded : — 

List of the dead. — T. J. Spaulding, St. Charles, 
Mo.; Charles Brooks ; Wm. Blake, Boston ; Crisseii 
Herring, Germany ; Mrs. E. Welsh and two children, 
New Orleans ; J. O. Brien and wife, New Orleans ,- 
Sclen J. Brocqua, Poland, Ky. : John Ideda, France ; 
David J. Rose, IN". Orleans ; Dederick Groe, Germa- 
ny ; Frederick Cross, Boston ; Joseph B. Bossuet, 
Boston; Joseph Lawrence, Park Co., Ind.; Peter 
Smith, N. Orleans ; Charlotte Fletcher and mother, 
12* 



138 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

England ; Belch ; and six persons whose names 

are unknown. 

List of the scalded. — Thomas Fletcher and wife, 

England ; Hiisselmonger, Germany ; Mrs. C. 

Herring, Germany ; Francis Ruan and wife ; Francis 
Scrunelly, St. Louis; Thomas Butler ; Isaac Ramey ; 
Alfred Davis ; John Browne ; James McDonald ; Isaac 
Ideda, France ; five children of Adam Woolridge, and 
a slave of Thomas Johnston. 

The wounded survivors lay ahout on pallets, the 
flesh, as it were, literally boiled off their bones ; some 
groaning in their agony, — others, unable to utter even 
a", groan. There were some among them partially 
cofisoled by the soothing care of friends ; but more 
who had none from whom to seek sympathy but 
strangers. It was a scene that would have softened a 
heart of adamant. 

The accident, of course, is justly attributable to 
gross carelessness. The boat was built four years 
previous to the disaster, — and the piston-rod had been 
in use ever since that time ; during its continuance 
in service thus long, it should have been tested, w^hen 
no loss of life would depend upon the result of the 
experiment. This running of machinery as long as it 
will last, and discovering its weakness and inefficien- 
cy but at the expense of the lives of scores of human 
beings, is not only recklessly heartless, but in the 
highest degree criminal, and should be frowned down 
by an indignant community, and rendered severely 
punishable by the laws of the land. 



THE iETNA, 139 



EXPLOSION OF THE STEAMER ^TNA, 
in Nexo York harbor, May 15, 1824. 

On Saturday evening, jNIay 15, about 7 o'clock, as 
the steamboat ^Etna, Capt. Robinson, was on her 
way to New York from Washington, N. J., with 
passengers from Philadelphia, and while in sight 
of the city, about four and a half miles distant, in the 
neighborhood of Gibbet Island, the boilers gave way, 
and blew up with a tremendous and deadly explosion. 
The interior of the boat was rendered a complete 
wreck, — the immensely heavy iron-work having, been 
broken into fragments, and the heavy timbers and 
lighter work of the two after-cabins literally shattered 
to pieces. 

The whole number of persons on board was thirty- 
four. There were killed in the cabin by the explo- 
sion, Mrs. Job Furman ; Mrs. Abm. Merserole ; her 
daughter, Caroline Furman, and a sister of Mrs. Fur- 
man, all of one family, who had been to Elizabeth- 
town to attend the funeral of a near relative. Miss 
Mary Bates, daughter of Captain Andrew Bates, was 
also killed. She was in charge of Miss Ann Dough- 
erty, of Auburn, New-York, who, together with Mrs. 
Taylor, were taken to the hospital, where they died 
in the most frightful agony before morning. The 
steward, Victor Grasse, a Frenchman, jumped over- 
board from the forward cabin window, and was 
drowned. Another person, name unknown, also 
jumped out of the forward cabin, and was drowned. 
Mr. Charles C. HoUingshead, of Princeton, New- Jer- 
sey, who was in the forward cabin, jumped overboard 
through a window, and was saved by seizing a bench 
that was thrown over, — and afterwards was picked 
up by the ^Etna's boat. After the steamboat had 
been towed up to the city, the body of Mordecai C. 



140 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Peters, of Philadelphia, was found among the ruins of 
the wreck, — he seemed to have been not at all scald- 
ed, nor was his hair singed, — but his face was burned 
to a crisp, and was perfectly black, and, probably, his 
nearest friends would hardly have been able to have 
recognized his features. 

The following persons were Wounded, — some of 
whom have since died of their injuries : — Mr. Morri- 
son ; Thomas Braden, Wilmington, Del. ; Michael 
Eckfelt, Philadelphia : and Joseph Stevens, ^ native 
of Ireland. Of the crew there were John Winter, 
and John Gibbons, of Philadelphia ; Alexander Crom- 
well, Jamaica ; Ann Thomas, Philadelphia ; and Mar- 
garet Cole. 

A young lad, about 13 years of age, who was, at 
the time of the explosion, sleeping on the covering of 
the boiler, was thrown into the air, and fell into the 
vacuum caused by the removal of the machinery, 
and received no injury. Mr. Myers, mate of the ^t- 
na, jumped overboard, and was uninjured. Mr. John 
Pearce, and Mr. Myers, both of Philadelphia, escaped 
without injury, being on deck and near the bow. 
Jonathan Case, of Schenectady ; Benedict Arnold, 
merchant, of Amsterdam. N. York ; Mr. Heacock and 
lady, were also among those saved. 

The following lettSf, •givingi^n account of the ex- 
plosion of the Ji^tna, was written by an eye-witness 
of the dreadful scene, ^fa passenger,) to his friends in 
Philadelphia : — 

" New-York, May 16. 

'^It is with pain I inform you of an awful occur- 
rence that took place at 7';o'clock, last evening, on 
board the steamboat, ^tna. Captain Thomas Robin- 
son, — when, about seven miles from, and in sight of 
this city, her boilers bursting with a noise like thun- 
der, and throwing the pieces upon the quarter deck, 
where I had the minute before been standing. I had 



THE JETNA. 141 

walked to the bows when the explosion took place ; 
and thanks be to the Almighty that I am one of the 
few that escaped unhurt. O ! the awful ness of the 
scene ! My situation I can scarcely describe. It 
pleased the Almighty to give me a command of my- 
self at this horrid moment, when every one on board 
thought it his last, and some in despair jumped over- 
board and were drowned. A man standing by me was 
about jumping, when I told him he had better remain 
quiet, and if the boat should be burned up, we could 
throw off the cover for the cables (a large round box 
at the bows.) that we stood by, and might save our- 
selves in this way. He stopped, and a man crying 
out in the water, we threw him a rope and drew him 
upon deck. He was one of the firemen, who had 
been blown overboard. This served to compose him 
a little, or he would have jumped over the side of the 
boat. The smoke disappearing, the horror of the 
sight increased, when we beheld the bodies of those 
who had been struck by pieces of the boiler, welter- 
ing in their blood on the deck. I now attempted to 
make my way aft ; and succeeded, after getting 
through the smoke and broken parts of the wreck, in 
assisting Capt. Robins^u and otl^rs to clear the com- 
panion-way, to get intb^'the ladies'^ cabin. The cap- 
tain went down, and ha*nded up five ladies, whom I 
took from him, and placing them^ipon deck, they ex- 
pired. One little girl entreated me to throw water 
upon her, her agony was so great ; they were all of 
one family, and had been on board but a few min- 
utes, being on their return from the funeral of a sis- 
ter at Elizabethtown Point. 

'' In this situation we were discovered by two 
boats at the quarantine ground^ which put off to our 
assistance, and brought us up to the city; and a 
steamboat passing by^ towed the wreck, with the 
dead and wounded on vljoard, to the wharf. It was 
somewhat singular that my baggage, after being 



142 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

thrown into the air, fell upon the wreck again. My 
trunk, previous to my being taken off, 1 had found in 
the place from which the boilers had blown. Last 
night, about 12 o'clock, I went to search for my writ- 
ing-desk ; two friends accompanied me, but they 
were not permitted to go on board, as the coroner had 
just held an inquest, and had gone on shore to give 
his verdict. I therefore went on board alone, and, 
procuring a light, commenced searching for, and final- 
ly succeeded in finding the desk. Discovering a 
hand under some of the rubbish, I called one of the 
watchmen, and moving a timber away, it led to the 
discovery of another corpse." 

The steamboat United States, Capt. Beecher, was 
on the her way from New Brunswick at the time of 
the disaster, and after rendering all the assistance in 
her power, towed the ^tna up to the city. 

A gentlemen, who accompanied the coroner to 
view the dead and dying, thus remarked : — '' such a 
heart-rending spectacle we never before witnessed. 
The scalds of the dead were deep, and, notwithstand- 
ing their clothes, they extended over the whole body. 
But the survivors presented pictures of unutterable 
suffering. If prepared for the great event, how well 
might they have envied those whom death had al- 
ready relieved from bodily anguish !" 



EXPLOSION 

ON BOARD THE STEAMBOAT CHARITON, 

near St. Louis ^ July 27, 1337. 

As the steamboat Chariton had just put out, and 
proceeded a short distance up the stream, one of her 



THE CHARITON. 143 

boilers Uiirst, by which disaster nine or ten persons 
were more or less badly scalded. Three were blown 
over the starboard side of the boat into the Mississip- 
pi. "As we hnrried down to the river," says an eye- 
witness, .•' upon hearing the noise of the explosion, 
we saw one poor fellow, a black man, just brought 
ashore in a boat, which had picked him up, — he was 
badly scalded, and bleeding. Two white men had 
been taken ashore a little higher np the landing, — 
one of them shockingly scalded. On the boiler deck 
lay two men, — one of them the engineer, — both bad- 
ly wounded. ' Four or five more were injured;, but 
not so severely as those we have mentioned. But 
one passenger was scalded. 

•* We conversed with a cabin passenger, who was 
sitting, at the time of the explosion, between the 
doors that lead in from the sides to the social hall of 
the boat. He showed us where the board was torn 
away from under his feet, as he sat ; and expressed 
himself temperately, but strongly, with regard to the 
necessity of providing some suitable penalty for the 
culpable negligence that endangers the lives of so 
many people. 

'' Three of the men who were scalded have since 
died, — two of them the cooks of the boat, and the 
other the second engineer of the steamboat Missouri 
Fulton, who was on board the Chariton at the time. 

'• There has been much surmise, and a great deal 
said with regard to Avhom blame is attributable in 
this case ; but suspicion rests upon the misconduct of 
the engineer, who, it is stated, neglected to furnish 
the boilers with a sufficient supply of water." 



144 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 



EXPLOSIOlSr 
ON BOARD THE STEAMBOAT ORONOKO, 

071 the Mississippi River ^ near Princeton^ Miss., 
April 21, 1838. # 

The steamboat Oronoko, Capt. John Crawford, left 
New Orleans on Monday, April 16. On Saturday 
morning, the 21st, about 5 o'clock, immediately ad^ 
leaving Princeton, she burst one of her boilers, blow- 
ing overboard fifteen or twenty persons, and severely 
scalding between forty and fifty. Six or seven of the 
latter have since died. Among the scalded, it was 
calculated that there were at least between twenty and 
thirty white men, chiefly deck passengers ; five or six 
women, and about the same number of children. Of 
those who were blown overboard, four or five were 
saved. The second engineer was badly balded, as 
was also the cook, (a black,) who jumped overboard 
shortly after the explosion, and was drowned. 

The number of cabin passengers. As near as could 
be ascertained, was from seventy-five to eighty; on 
deck, from sixty to seventy, including blacks and 
children. Most of those in the cabin were in their 
berths at the time of the accident, otherwise the loss 
of lives would have been immense. Every effort was 
made by the uninjured of the passengers and crew to 
alleviate the sufferings of their more unfortunate com- 
panions ; but they were of little avail. The screams 
and groans of the agonized sufferers were heart-rend- 
ing in the extreme ,• on every side were heard suppli- 
cations and prayers for water, or to put a period to an 
existence of agony. 

A letter from a gentleman who was passenger in 
the Oronoko, says : — " Fortunately, all the cabin pas- 



THE ORONOKO. 145 

sengers were in their state rooms, and, with the ex- 
ception of two or three, escaped without serious inju- 
ry. Had we been at meals, every soul must have 
perished, as the box which covers the fly-wheel was 
torn in a thousand pieces. 

'' The report awoke all of us. The first impression 
among us was that a boat had run into us; but, in a 
moment, the dense volumes of steam told us what had 
happened. Some attempted to escape by the doors 
leading to the cabhi, but found it impossible. Fortu- 
rtfetely, most of the state rooms had doors opening on 
the guards, which enabled them to reach the upper 
deck, the only place of safety in the boat. On the 
lower deck nearly every person was scalded or blown 
overboard. A gentleman, who was standing on jhe 
shore, saw more than twenty in the river, — only two 
of whom were picked up. 

'• After the steam had blown oft', the scalded and 
woundedf forty-three in number, were brought into 
the cabin, where mattresses had been spread for them ; 
and every assistance which lay in our power was ren- 
dered. Not one half can possibly survive, as two of 
tho?e considered\s the least injured died in the course 
ofthe same night." 

From another source the following is gathered : — 
" Seventy individuals are supposed to have perished 
in the Oronoko. THe boat was new, and fitted up 
with remarkable elegance for private families ; but, it 
has since been ascertained, she had, with all this 
show, old boilers. Comment is unnecessary, — the 
fact that it was so, and may yet be so in other boats, 
we should suppose would act as a deep and warning 
voice upon the feelings of the whole community, and 
arouse it to an universal expression of its just indig- 
nation. This criminal and murderous parsimony 
respecting the most important portion of the boat, 
^13 



146 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

should have been inquired into at the time, and a just 
punishment awarded to the proprietors. 

'' Among the victims to this calamity was one who, 
by his own acknowledgement, justly merited his 
doom. He was a known blackleg, and, in the ex- 
tremity of the agony in which he died, confessed 
himself the incendiary who had lately fired the Pink- 
ard house, with the fiendish hope of burning up the 
city of Vicksburg. Revenge for the acts by which 
his fellow gamblers were expelled the city, he avow- 
ed to be the cause that had influenced him. He dCr 
nounced another gambler, known by tne name of 
Doctor Saunders, not only as his assistant in the act, 
but as his partner in the intended sack of the city. 

'' Many thanks are due to the commanders of the 
steamers Peru, the N. Albany, and the Independence, 
for their prompt answer to the call of distress. May 
they never experience a similar disaster on board 
their own boat^.'' 



LOSS OF THE STEAMBOAT TiSKILWA, 

on the Illinois River, April 18, 1837, with the loss 
of twenty lives. 

From a gentleman who was ascending the Illinois 
river at the time, the following particulars are gath- 
ered, relative to the loss of the steamboat Tiskilwa : 

" This melancholy occurrence took place on Satur- 
day, the 18th of April, about five miles from the 
mouth of the river, where, through the obstinacy of 
the captains of two steamboats, one of the boats was 
sunk, — the lives of all the deck passengers, amount- 
ing to more than twenty, lost, — and the freight and 
baggage entirely destroyed. 



^HE MOTfOi 147 

The captain of the steamboat Wisconsin, which 
was then ascending the river, had repeatedl-y stated, 
that if he should meet the Tiskilwa, and her captain 
would not give him a clear channel, he would run 
her down. This, it seemed, provoked the captain of 
the other boat, and he became obstinately determined 
not to turn out of his course. Both boats met about 
5 o'clock in the morning, — at a time when all the 
passengers were in their berths, — and steered directly 
for each other till within only a few rods, when the 
captain of the Tiskilwa endeavored, but too late, to 
avoid the concussion ; and turning a little out of his 
course, thus gave a fair broadside to the ascending 
boat, which tool^ her just behind the wheel, — and she 
sunk in less than three minutes after she was struck. 
The first notice of their extreme danger which the 
cabin passengers received, was the screams of those 
below, who were drowning ; and, without even time 
to put on their clothes, they merely escaped by jump- 
ing through the windows of the cabin, which, fortu- 
nately for them, had been completely separated from 
the sinkini? boat bv the shock," 



EXPLOSION ON BOARD THE MOTTO, 

on the Ohio River^ during her first passage from 
Louisville to Pittsburgh August, 1836. 

The steamboat Motto, on her first trip from Louis- 
ville to Pittsburg, ran on the shoals at the foot of 
Blannerhasset's Island. In attempting to get off, too 
great a quantity of steam accumulated, and the boiler 
burst, killing three persons, and scalding eight others 
so severely that they died within a few hours, — and 
three more, it was feared, would survive but a short 
time, 



148 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

The persons who were instantly killed, were, the 
the engineer ; a deck passenger, who was blown 
through the stern of ihe boat, more than twenty feet, 
into the river ; and a cabin passenger, Mr. W. F. 
Adams, of Hollidaysburg, Penn. The fate of Mr. 
Adams seemed to have made a greater impression on 
the surviving crew and passengers, than that of any 
other of the sufferers. He had just graduated at Au- 
gusta College, in Kentucky, and was returning home 
to his family with his diploma. He was attended to 
the boat by a large procession of his fellow students ; 
and the hearty cheers and kindly farewell given to 
the youth by those with whom he had been so long 
associated, commended him to the respect and affec- 
tionate regard of the passengers and crew of the boat. 
Young Adams had, during most of the passage, prom- 
enaded the upper deck, expressing his admiration of 
the scenery, and dwelling on the anticipated pleas- 
ures of home. His good feeh'ngs, and the buoyancy 
of his spirits, had caused him to be particularly no- 
ticed, and his numerous inquiries to be immediately 
answered. At the moment of the disaster, the boat 
was full, and the cabin passengers were all in or near 
their berths on the upper deck and aft. — it being about 
two hours after dinner, — all, excepting young Adams ; 
he had been on the lower deck, and was just leaving 
a position near the wheel, when the explosion took 
place. His death must have been instantaneous; he 
was found twisted around the shaft of the wheel. 
The trunks of the deceased young man were returned 
to the college. 

An individual, who was present, remarked, that 
though used to rough scenes, his heart was chilled by 
that presented on board the Motto. Never did he 
witness, never did his imagination conjure up such aii 
appalling sight. 



THE MONMOUTH. 149 



LOSS OF THE STEAMER MONMOUTH, 

071 the Mississippi River ^ October 31, 1837, — by 

which melancholy catastrophe three hundred 

emigratiiig Indians loere drowned. 

The steamboat Monmouth left New Orleans for 
Arkansas riverj with upwards of six hundred Indians 
on board, a portion of the emigrant Creek tribe, as 
passengers. In travelling up the Mississippi, through 
Prophet Island Bend, she was met by the ship Tren- 
ton, towed by the steamer Warren, descending the 
river. It was rather dark, being near 8 o'clock in the 
evening, — and through the mismanagement of the 
officers and obscurity of the atmosphere, a collision 
took place between the two vessels ; and the cabin of 
the Monmouth parted from the hull, drifting some dis- 
tance down the stream, when it broke into two parts, 
and emptied its contents into the river. There were 
611 Indians on board; — only 300 of whom were res- 
cued by the crews of the Warren and Yazoo. The 
Trenton lost her cut-water. The bar-keepers and a 
fireman were the only persons attached to the Mon- 
mouth who lost their lives. 

The disaster is ascribed chiefly to the neglect of 
the officers of the Monmouth. She was running in a 
part of the stream where, by the usages of the river, 
and the rules of the Mississippi navigation, she had 
no right to go, and where, of course, the descending 
vessels did not expect to meet her. Here is another 
evidence of the gross carelessness of a class of men to 
whose charge we often commit our lives and prop- 
erty. 



This unfortunate event is one in which every citi- 
zen of our country must feel a melancholy interest. 
13* 



150 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Bowing before the superiority of their conquerors, 
these men were removed from their homes by the 
pohcy of our government. On their way to the spot 
selected by the white man for their residence, — reluc- 
tantly leaving the graves of their fathers, and the 
homes of their childhood, in obedience to the requisi- 
tions of a race before whom they seem doomed to be- 
come extinct, — an accident, horrible and unanticipa- 
ted, has brought death upon three hundred at once. 
Had they died as the savage would die, upon the bat- 
tle field, ill defence of his rights, and in the wars of 
his tribe, death had possessed little or no horror for 
them. — But, in the full confidence of safety purchased 
by the concession and the compromise of all their 
savage chivalry, — confined in a vessel strange to their 
habits, and dying by a death strange and ignoble to 
their natures, — the victims of a catastrophe they could 
neither foresee nor resist, — their last moments of life, 
(for thought has the activity of lightning in extremi- 
ty,) must have been embittered by conflicting emo- 
tions, horrible indeed : regret at their submission, — 
indignation at what seemed to them wilful treachery, 
and impotent threatenings of revenge upon the pale 
faces, may have maddened their dying hour. 




THE PHOENIX. 151 

CONFLAGRATON OF THE PHCENIX, 

on Lake Champlain, on the night of September 5, 
^:.^«>>^..\^ : 1819, — wherein not a soul icas lost. 

The steamboat Phcenix left Burlington about 
12 o'clock at night, and had proceeded as far as Prov- 
idefiCe Island, about half way between Burlington 
and Plattsburgh, Avhen the alarm of fire was given, 
about 1 o'clock in the morning ; there being two 
small boats attached to the Phosnix, they were imme- 
diately filled with passengers ; but the wind blowing 
violently from the north-west, the passengers were 
not all enabled to embark, and some few of them 
were obliged to jump overboard. 

Capt. Johnson Sherman, who was the regular com- 
mander of the Phosnix, was confined with a fever at 
Vergennes, and the boat at this time was commanded 
by his son, Richard W. Sherman, a young gentle- 
man, about twenty-two years of age ; but who, amid 
the confusion, danger, and difficulties attendant on 
this terrible disaster, displayed an energy and pres- 
ence of mind, not only worthy of the highest praise, 
but which we might seek for in vain, even among 
those of riper years. To qualities like these, rightly^ 
directed as they were, was it owing that not a person 
was lost on that fearful night. — In that burning ves- 
sel, at the dead of night, and three miles from the 
nearest land, was the safety of every one cared for, 
and ultimately secured, by the promptness, energy 
and decision ot this young commander, — himself be- 
ing the last to quit the blazing wreck. Mr. John 
Howard, steward of the boat, was deserving of much 
credit for his coolness and confidence. It was stated 
that he and Capt. Sherman were saved by lashing 
themselves to articles thrown overboard, after the 
last boat, with its living freight, had left. 



152 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

The following description of this terrific scene was 
written by one of the passengers : — " I awoke, at the 
time of the alarm, but whether aroused by tjje cry of 
fire, the noise of feet trampling on deck, or by that 
restlessness common to persons who sleep in a strange 
place, with a mind filled with sorrow and anxiety, I 
am unable to tell. I thought I heard a faint cry of 
fire, and, after a short interval, it seemed to be renew- 
ed. But it came so weakly upon my ear, and seemed 
to be flung by so careless a voice, that I concluded it 
was an unmeaning sound uttered by some of the sail- 
ors in their sports on deck. Soon, however, a hasty 
footstep was heard passing through the cabin, but 
without a word being uttered. As 1 approached the 
top of the cabin stairs, an uncommon brilliancyfat 
once dispelled all doubts. Instantly the flames ^nd 
sparks began to meet my eyes, and the thought struck 
me that no other Avay of escape was left but to plunge 
half naked through the blaze into the water. One or 
two more steps assured me that this dreadful alterna- 
tive was not yet arrived i I hastily stepped aft, — a 
lurid light illuminated every object beyond ^vlth the 
splendor of a noon-day sun ; I fancied it was the 
torch of death, to point me and my fellow-travelers 
to the tomb. I saw no person on deck ; but, on cast- 
ing my eyes toward the boat which was still hanging 
on the larboard quarter, I perceived that she was 
filled, and that her stern-sheets were occupied with 
ladies. I flew to the gangway, and assisted in lower- 
ing the boat into the water. I then descended the 
steps, with an intention of entering the boat ; but 
perceiving that she was loaded deep, and that there 
was a strong breeze and a high sea, I desisted. The 
painter was soon cut, and the boat dropped astern. 
T ascended the steps with the design of submitting 
myself to the water upon a plank ; for 1 had great 
confidence in my skill in swimming, and I acted un- 
der an impression that the shore was only a few rods, 



THE PHffiNIX. 153 

certainly ^ot half a mile distant. Judge of what 
would ha\fe been my astonishment, and probably also 
my fate, had I done as I contemplated ; when the 
fact was, that the steamboat at this period was in the 
broadest part of Lake Cham plain, and at least three 
miles from any land, I had left the deck about two 
hours before, and this change had occurred in the 
meantime. I looked round upon the deck to find a 
suitable board, or something of sufficient buoyancy, 
that I could trust to amid such waves as I saw were 
running. There was nothing large enough to de- 
serve such confidence ; I looked aft over the taffrail, 
evegv thing there looked gloomy and forbidding ; I 
castTny eyes forward, the wind was directly ahead, 
and the flames were forced, in the most terrific man- 
ner, toward the stern, threatening every thing in its 
range with instant destruction. I then thought if I 
could pass the middle of the boat, which seemed also 
to be the centre of the fire, I might find security in 
standing to windward on the bowsprit. I made the 
attempt. It was vain. The flames were an insur- 
mountable barrier. I was obliged to return toward 
the stern. There was then no one in sights I step- 
ped over upon the starboard side of the quarter-deck. 
I thought all was gone with me. At that moment I 
saw a lady come up to the cabin door ; she leened 
against the side of it, and looked with a steadfast 
gaze, and distracted air toward the flames ; she turned 
and disappeared in the cabin. It was Mrs. Wilson, 
the poor unfortunate lady who, afterwards, with the 
captain's assistance, as he informed me, committed 
herself, with many piercing shrieks and agonizing ex- 
clamations, to the treacherous support of a small 
bench, on the troublous bosom of the lake. I then 
looked over the starboard quarter to know whether 
the other boat was indeed gone. I had the happiness 
to see her ; she seemed to be full, or nearly so ; one 
or two passengers were standing on the lower steps 



154 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

of the accommodation ladder, apparently with the de- 
sign of entering the boat when she came within reach. 
I was determined to enter her at all risks, and instant- 
ly leaped over the qnarter and descended into her. 
I fonnd her knocking under the" counter, and in dan- 
ger of foundering. The steam-vessel still continued 
to advance through the water : the waves dashed the 
boat with considerable violence against her, and most 
of those who had sought safety in the boat, being un- 
acquainted with water scenes, were much alarmed, 
and by their ill directed efforts were adding to the 
risk. Under these circumstances it became necessary 
to cut the fast, which was done, and the boatg,and 
those that were in it, were instantly secure. ^ All 
these incidents occurred in a shorter time than I have 
consumed in writing them. Frem the moment of 
my hearing the first alarm to that of leaving the 
steamboat, was not, I am satisfied, near ten minutes ; 
I -believe it was not five." 

A gentleman in Albany, in alluding to the destruc- 
tion of the Lexington by fire, in Long Island Sound, 
January, 1840, gives the following as a contrast to 
Capt. Child's conduct. " We need not go beyond the 
limits of our own State for a striking example of how 
much may be effected in such an emergency by de- 
cision and presence of mind on the part of the cap- 
tain of the boat. Several years ago, a disaster occur- 
red on Lake Champlain, similar, in many respects, to 
the burning of the Lexington. One stormy night, as 
the steamboat Phoenix, with a full load of passengers 
and freight, was ploughing her way through the wa- 
ters of Champlain, a fire broke out at midnight, and 
soon raged with irresistible violence. 

'' The passengers, roused by the alarm from their 
slumbers, and waking to a terrible sense of impend- 
ing destruction, rushed in crowds upon the deck, and 
attempted to seize the small boats. Here, however, 



"^ THE PHOENIX. 155 

they were met by the captain, who, having abandoned 
all hope of saving his boat, now thought only of 
saving his passengers, and stood by the gangway of 
his boat with a pistol in each hand, determined to 
prevent any person from jumping into the boats be- 
fore they were properly lowered into the water, and 
prepared to receive their living freight. With the 
utmost coolness and presence of mind he superin- 
tended the necessary preparations, and, in a few min- 
utes, the boats were lowered away, and the passen- 
gers received safely on board. — They then shoved 
off, and pulled through the darkness for the distant 
shoFe. As soon as this was reached, and the passen- 
gers landed, the boats returned to the steamboat and 
took off the crew, and, as the captain supposed, every 
living soul except himself. 

" But, shortly after the boats had left the second 
time, he discovered, under a settee, the chambermaid 
of the Phoenix, who, in her fright and confusion, had 
lost all consciousness. Lashing her to the plank 
which he had prepared for his own escape, this gallant 
captain launched her toward the shore ; and was thus 
left alone with his vessel, now one burning pile. 
Having satisfied himself that no living thing remained 
on board his boat, and with the proud consciousness 
that he had saved every life entrusted to his care, he 
sprung from the burning wreck as it was about to 
sink beneath the waters, and, by the means of a set- 
tee, reached the shore in safety. 

*' This is no exaggerated story. It is the simple 
narrative of one of the most heroic acts on records 
We have only to add, that the captain who so faith- 
fully and fearlessly discharged his duty on this trying 
occasion, is still in command of a noble boat on Lake 
Champlain, and is known to every traveller as Cap- 
tain Sherman, of the steamboat Burlington," 



156 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



CONFLAGRATION OP THE JOHN BULL, 

an English steamboat, on the River St. Lawrence, 
June 24, 1839. 

On Monday morning, June 24, about 4 o'clock, as 
the steamer John Bull was off Lavaltrie, a fire was 
discovered bursting through the deck with great fury. 
The captain run her directly on shore, where she was 
nearly consumed. About twelve cabin passengers 
were on board, and sixty steerage passengers. All 
the cabin passengers were saved, excepting a Miss 
Ross. Several of the steerage passengers, who were 
emigrants, jumped over board, and the number lost is 
not known. The passengers were in bed when the 
fire broke out, and some of them escaped with only 
their night clothes. 

The John Bull was supposed to be the most valu- 
able steamboat in North America, having cost the 
proprietors over £22,000. 

Subsequent accounts stated that no less than twen- 
ly lives were lost, principally in consequence of mad- 
ly jumping overboard almost as soon as the alarm of 
fire was given. A poor woman on board the steamer, 
lost six out of nine children who Avere with her. — 
Another woman attached a rope to a Newfoundland 
dog, who nobly swam ashore with her, and thus saved 
her life. 

The conduct of the Canadian inhabitants to the 
unfortunate passengers on board the John Bull, was 
of a description which reflects the utmost disgrace 
upon their ancient character for good feeling, human- 
ity, and hospitality. Instances of their brutality and 
disregard of decency and humanity may here be men- 
tioned, — one gentleman, who was clingiag to the 
stern of the boat, cried to some inhabitants in a ca- 



^ THE BELLE. 157 

noe. for assistance ; but they ruthlessly refused to 
comply with his request, unless he would promise to 
give them ten dollars. Another of the passengers 
asked for a glass of water, but was harshly told that 
there was plenty in the river. And such was their 
shameless avidity for plunder, that the ear-rings of 
Miss Ross were torn from her dead body. 



BURNING OP THE STEAMBOAT BELLE, 

on the Mississippi River, near Liberty ^ Illinois', 
November, 1839. 

The steamer Belle, of Missouri, while stopping 
on her passage from New Orleans to St. Louis about 
a mile above Liberty, Illinois, at a wood yard, took 
fire, and was entirely destroyed. She had two hun- 
dred passengers, men, women, and children, who for- 
tunately escaped, but without saving any of their 
effects, except such as they seized and bore on shore 
at the moment of the alarm. She had on board a^ 
large quantity of powder, which exploded very short- 
ly after the fire was discovered, scattering and com- 
pletely destroying a valuable cargo, and making a to- 
tal wreck. Not even the books of the boat were 
saved. It is doubtful whether an individual would 
have escaped, had not the boat lay close by the shore, 
thereby enabling the passengers to leave previous to 
the explosion. The passengers, were chiefly Ger- 
mans, some of whom lost large amounts. One man 
had $16,000 in gold and silver, and only saved what 
in the hurry of the moment he could cram into his 
pockets. The captain was the last man to leave the 
boat. 

14 



158 ^"^ STEA3IB0AT DISASTERS. 



EXPLOSION ON BOARD THE UNION, 

a new steam ferry boat, lohicli had just cammenced 
running at Alexayidria, July 12, 1837. 

The following ^.ccoiint was published at the time : 
" The new steam ferry boat Union, commenced 
running on Wednesday, between Alexandria and the 
opposite side of the Potomac. The passage for the 
day was free, and, after making several trips, and as 
the boat was again about leaving the opposite shore 
for Alexandria, her boiler collapsed, and, dreadful to 
relate, three persons, (the engineer's wite, and a black 
man and woman.) were instantly killed. Several 
other persons were badly scalded, and some were 
blown into the river, and saved by those present who 
were uninjured. 

'' This lamentable accident originated in the ne- 
glect of the engineer to let off steam while remain- 
ing on the Maryland shore. This, it is thought, was 
done in order to lose no power, and to make a good 
exhibition of the velocity of the boat on its return to 
the opposite shore. One of the first victims of this 
disaster, was the wife of the engineer himself, who 
was on board ; she was immediately killed, her body 
being frightfully mangled. 

'' The interposition of a merciful Providence ought 
not to be lost sight of in this event. The explosion 
occurred a few minutes before the boat started, while 
a great number of the passengers were yet on shore, 
whose lives were thus mercifully preserved. Had 
the explosion been delayed but a few seconds, there 
is no knowing how many more lives might have 
been lost. While, therefore, we condole with the 
sufferers, let us not be unthankful for the preserva- 
tion of the many survivors." 



l*IiE GENERAL JACKSON. 159 



LOSS OF THE GENERAL JACKSON, 

a New York steam ferry-boat^ being rim down by 

the steamboat Boston^ August 23, 1836. 

About half past 4 o'clock, on Tuesday morning, 
the 23d of August, as the ferry-boat, General Jackson 
was coming from Long Island side to the foot of Wal- 
nut St., and when about three fourths the way across, 
the steamboat Boston, which was passing down the 
river, came in contact with her, both striking near the 
bows, which so shattered the ferry-boat, that in less 
than three minutes, she went to the bottom. Eight 
or ten persons leaped on board the Boston, immedi- 
ately after the concussion, and the rest were swept off 
as the boat went down. The boats of the Boston 
were immediately lowered, and sent to the rescue of 
the drowning persons. There were twenty-five pas- 
sengers on board the ferry-boat, six of whom are 
missing, and no doubt exists of their having beea 
drowned. There were also on board fourteen horses 
and wagons, all of which went to the bottom in the 
boat. The names of the persons who perished, were 
Silas Wright ; Edward Alexander ; James Connelly ; 
and a man named Flanagan. Besides the four per- 
sons, there were two colored boys, who were drowned. 
There are no other persons missing, but as the num- 
ber who were on board is not exactly known, the 
number lost may be greater than is supposed. The 
son and wife of Mr. Wright were on board with him, 
but both were providentially saved. 

We understand that the immediate cause of the 
accident was ^ the efforts of the Boston to avoid a 
small boat, with several persons on board, which was 
directly in her way, and that, in so doing, she was 
brought by the force of the tide in near proximity to 



160 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

the ferry-boat. In this situation her engine was im- 
mediately stopped, and an order to back water given, 
but not in season to prevent a slight collision, which, 
however, would have been perfectly harmless, had 
not the ferry-boat been altogether unfit for her station. 

A day or two after the accident, the following in- 
telligence came to hand : — 

" Since the calamity by which the General Jackson 
was wrecked, and a number of th^. passengers lost, 
it has been ascertained that, besides those heretofore 
reported, another passenger, named Hathaway, was 
drowned on that occasion. There are circumstances 
connected with the loss of this individual, which pre- 
sent a case of interest and distress. He w^s a poor 
man, but of irreproachable character and correct hab- 
its. A short time since, he married the daughter of 
a wealthy and influential citizen of one of the middle 
counties of New York ; who was so incensed at the 
marriage of his daughter with one so much below 
her sphere of life, and, ' cursed with the sin of pover- 
ty,' that he discarded her forever. A few weeks ago 
they arrived in this city with their little infant, and 
their stock of worldly goods, for the purpose of resid- 
ing here ; but not being able to procure apartments 
that would answer their purpose, Mr. Hathaway 
stored their effects in some place unknown to his wid- 
ow, and went to Brooklyn. The effect of hiS loss 
has been so powerful upon the mind of his widow 
that her reason became unsettled. All the funds of 
which they were possessed, amounting to about one 
hundred dollars, he had in his pocket at the time of the 
calamity; thus leaviiig her utterly destitute, and in 
the midst of strangers, a maniac mother with a nurs- 
ling in her arms, forbidden the home of her parents 
and her youth, and dependent on city charity..'^ 



THE FRANKLIN. 161 



EXPLOSION OF THE STEAMER FRANKLIN, 

at Mobile, March 13, 1836. 

The steam boat Franklin, of Mobile, on the I3th 
of March, having just started fiom the wharf for Mont- 
gomery, with a hundred passengers on board, was 
blown up by the explosion of her boilers, and a num- 
ber of persons lost their lives. She liad advanced but 
forty or fifty yards from her starting place, and was 
lying to, for the purpose of taking on board a passen- 
ger who had been left behind, when the accident 
took place. 

A gentleman, in a letter to a friend, says : — 
'• I was standing close by the river's brink, and 
saw the Avhole fore part of her deck, with large pie- 
ces of the boilers, carried to an immense height, with 
the pilot and one of the hands. The pilot fell into 
the dock at the distance of a hundred and fifty yards, 
having been thrown into the air nearly three hundred 
feet ; he was dreadfully mutilated. I saw the bodies 
of two or three persons who were killed instantane- 
ously ; and of many others who were seriously, per- 
liaps fatally wounded. The explosion was dreadful : 
the upper deck, from the wheel-house forward, was 
carried to a great height. I fear the list of sufferers 
will be large, — perhaps fifteen or twenty killed, be- 
sides the wounded." 
14* 



162 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



EXPLOSION ON BOARD THE DUBUdUE, 

on her passage from St. Louis to Galena ^ August 

15, 1837j by which sixteen lives were lost. 

The steamboat Dubuque, on her passage from St. 
Louis to Galena, on the 15th of August, collapsed a 
flue of her larboard boiler, and twenty-seven persons 
were killed and wounded. The pilot immediately- 
put the boat ashore, and effected a landing without 
farther accident. As soon as it was possible to clear 
the way, an examination of the boiler deck was made. 
The force of the explosion had literally cleared it of 
freight, and every thing which stood in its way. 
The deck passengers, and several of the hands, were 
dreadfully scalded. Many of them, in their agony, 
fled to the shore, stripped themselves of their clothes, 
taking off with them much of the skin. It was sev- 
eral hours before any of them died. The number of 
deaths was sixteen, — four of these belonged to the 
crew, — the remainder were deck passengers. The 
cabin passengers escaped with little or no injury. 



ACCIDENT ON BOARD THE SAMSON, 

in New York harbor, on her passage from Staten 
Island to the city, July 4, 1839. 

As the Samson was on her way from Staten Island 
to New York, July 4, between 3 and 4 o'clock, P. M. 
being densely crowded with passengers, her upper 
deck gave way, when she was about two miles from 
the island, and fell upon those who were standing be- 



THE JOHN HANCOCK. 163 

rieath. Two passengers were instantly killed, and 
several others severely injured. One of tlie persons 
killed, was Mr. Joseph Chambers, and the other an el- 
derly Scotch lady, named Johnson, both residing in 
New York. Mr. Moses Henriquez, a broker of that 
city, was also terribly injured; his breast bone v/as 
broken, his shoulder dislocated, and he Avas otherwise 
much lacerated and bruised. Mr. Augustus Vanpeli, 
confidential clerk to a mercantile firm of that city, 
was also very severely injurisd. The consternation 
on board the boat was indescribable. The passen- 
gers were so crowded that it was difficult for any one 
to move, and the rush was so great at the time of the 
accident as nearly to upset the boat, endangering the 
lives of all on board. The steamboat Sun, which 
had started from the island soon after the Samson, 
soon came along side, and towed the latter up to the 
city, and relieved her passengers from their melan- 
choly and unhappy situation. 



EXPLOSION OF THE JOHN HANCOCK, 

071 her passage from Nonvich to New London, in 
1817. 

The most singular steamboat explosion, perhaps, 
that ever occurred, took place in Connecticut in 1817, 
and is related by that veteran steamboat commander, 
Capt. Elihu S. Bunker, in his reply to the Collector 
of New York, asking for information to be transmitted 
to the Treasury Department. 

*' Gilbert Brewster, Esq., of Norwich, fancied he 
was in possession of a plan for building a steamboat, 
that would prove superior to that then in use ; and ac- 
cordingly built a small boat, (which I think he called 



164 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 

the John Hancock,) into which he put a small engine 
and a wooden boiler. He prepared her for an excur- 
sion from Norwich to New London, at the time that 
President Monroe visited that section of the United 
States. Fifty gentlemen went on board, and they 
proceeded down the river from Norwich. They were 
all, together with the cook, (a colored man,) in the. 
cabin abaft the boiler, when, approaching New Lon- 
don, it was announced that the Fulton, which had 
the President on board, was in sight. The gentle- 
men went on deck as fast as the gangway would per- 
mit them to movC; the cook being the last at the foot 
of the stairs. VYhen he was half way up stairs, the 
the end of the boiler Avas blown out, and his left leg 
was slightly scalded. The force was so great with 
which the end of the boiler flew, that it swept every 
thing before it, — tables, chairs, the partition between 
the ladies and gentlemen's cabin — all went out at the 
stern of the boat ! In one minute more, if they had 
staid in the cabin, fifty-one would have been swept 
into eternity !" 



THE LEXINGTON. 167 



COxNFLAGRATlON OF THE LEXINGTON, 

on her passage from Neio York to Slonington, on 
the night of January 13, 1S40, — by which mel- 
ancholy occurrence nearly onp: hundred 

AND FIFTY PERSONS PERI-SHED, AND 
ONLY FOUR ESCAPED ! 

The steamboat Lexington, Capt. George Child, 
left New York for Stouington on Monday, January 
13, at 3 o'clock, P. M., Avith upwards of one hundred 
passengers, and a large freight consisting principally 
of cotton. At 7 o'clock, when about three or four 
miles from Eaton's Neck, Long Island, some bales of 
cotton, and the casings around the smoke-pipe, were 
discovered to be on fire. The wind at the time was 
blowing fresh from the north, which, with the dread- 
ful confusion that reigned among all on board, ren- 
dered ineflectual every attempt to check the fire. 

The boat was then headed for Long Island shore, 
and driven with all speed in that direction, until the 
wind blew the flames and smoke back to such an ex- 
tent that it was found impossible to steer, or to remain 
longer in the stern of the boat. She had not, in fact, 
proceeded far, when the tiller ropes were burnt off, 
and she was rendered wholly unmanageable. The 
passengers at this time were mostly in the forward 
part of the boat, and the fire amidship prevented any 
communication with those in the after part. In this 
frightful condition, a rush was made to the small 
boats, of which there were three, besides the life boat. 
Amid the utter confusion and terror that prevailed, 
they were hoisted out while the burning boat was 
under full headway, and were immediately swami^ed, 
— being filled with passengers, not one of whom es- 
caped. 



168 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

The eiigine soon after gave way, and the boat 
drifted abgiit on the sea at the mercy of wind and 
tide, while the flames were sweeping over her from 
bow to stern. The scene that ensued was appalling, 
and baffles all attempt at description. Bales of cot- 
ton, boxes, trunks, every thing that offered tl;ie least 
possible chance of preserving life, had been thrown 
overboard ; and the sufferers threw themselves from 
the burning wreck into the freezing sea, clinging to 
whatever article they could reach, in the desperate 
hope, perchance, that existence might yet be pre- 
served — How vainly, alas! subsequent accounts of 
the terrific loss of life has proved ! 

The lurid light of the blazing wreck shone far over 
the cold and dreary waste of waters, showing, with 
fearful distinctness, the dreadful scene in its imme- 
diate vicinity. Human beings were floating around 
in every direction, — some were yet living, but more 
had ceased to be, — some were struggling to gain a 
fragment or bale of cotton, — while others, in happy 
unconsciousness, were sinking into the cold flood of 
death. Here was heard the last wild shriek of des- 
pair, — husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and chil- 
dren, were plunging into eternity, with the heart- 
breaking cry of agony dying on their lips. What 
heart but sickens at such a picture, however feebly 
wrought? 

" O, bitter elements ! and ye, more cruel fate ! 

Hearts doomed to perish in their youthful love, — 
Hopes crushed forever, — homes made desolate, — 

Ties broken, — tears and torture, far above 
The strength of thought, to rack the bleeding soul ; — 
These are the monuments that mark the goal 
At which, alone, death terminates your wide control." 

The loss of this steamboat, involving, as it does, 
the fate of so many souls, is far the most melancholy, 
even in the gloomy record of steamboat disasters. — 
Widowed mothers, with their families of children,— 



THE LEXINGTON. 169 

robust men, actively engaged in the hurry of business 
life, — mariners, who had been absent for years, and 
were within a half day of their homes, — the divine, — 
the learned professor, — the merchant^ — men of talent, 
wit, worth, — in sight of shore, all sinking to a com- 
mon grave, — scarcely one, comparatively speaking, 
escaping to relate the dreadful story ; — the bare men- 
tion of tiiese facts calls up before the mind a scene, 
from the contemplation of which we shrink with hor- 
ror. We have no recollection of any calamity that 
has filled the public mind so universally with sorrow 
as this. Never, we are sure, has the truth, that 
"there is but a step between life and death,'' been 
more mournfully realized by the whole community. 

• The burning of the boat was seen from the Con- 
necticut and Long Island shores; bat all efforts to 
render assistance proved unavailing. She drifted up 
the sound with the tide, and was burning eight hours 
before she sank. An eye-witness said: — '"The boat 
was seen on fire, drifting jiast Stony Brook, about, 
midway of the sound, the blaze shooting up from her 
in columns, lighting up the waters for miles around ; 
a small boat put off, but returned after going a mile or 
two, it being too rough to venture farther. The 
Lexington was seen until shut in by Crane^Neck 
Point — and seen no more ! From her direction, and 
the place where she was last seen, she must iiave 
been drifting directly for the ligld boat on the middle 
ground, and could have been but two or three miles 
from it when last discerned by her blaze, which 
showed her solitary and sable chimneys, standing as 
monuments over some mighty moving catacomb of 
death." 

Of the large number of individuals on board the 
Lexington, nearly one hundred and fifty, including 
the crew, there were but four saved, — Capt. Chester 
Ilillard, of Norwich, Conn., a passenger ; Capt. Ste- 
phen Manchester, the pilot of the boat ; David Crow- 
15 



170 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



ley, the second mate, and Charles Smith, a fireman. 
That these four individuals were saved, and the man- 
ner of their preservation, is almost miraculous, exposed 
as they were from fifteen to forty-eight hours, to the 
severity of the coldest weather of winter, devoid of 
requisite clothing, and on the frail security of a cotton 
bale, tossing over a freezing sea. 

The following is believed to be a correct list of the 
names of the passengers, as far as has been ascerr 
tained. They are arranged in alphabetical order :— 



H. Aldrich, Bridge water, 

Mrs. Lydia Bates, 
James C. Bates, and 
Lydia C. Bates, son and 

daughter of Mrs. B., of 

Burlington, N. J., 
Geo. Benson, Brooklyn, 
Ch. Brackett, N. York, 

r- Baum, N. York, 

E. Brown, Jr. Providence, 
J. Brown, of the firm of 

Brown & Co., Boston, 
H. C. Bradford, Kingston, 

Jamaica, 

< Bullard, Boston, 

J. G. Brown, N. Orleans, 
Robt. Blake, President of 

Wrentham Bank, Ms., 

'- Ballon, N. York, 

C. Boswell, Royalton, Vt. 
John Brown, (colored,) 

Capt. J. D. Carver, Ply- 
mouth, Mass., 
Carey, N. York, 



R. T. Church, Baltimore, 
Wm. Cowen, N. York, 
John Corey, Foxborough, 
H. C. Craig, N. York, 

R. W. Dow, N. York, 
J. G. Davenport, Middle- 
town, Ct., 
Isaac Davis, Boston, 
Wm. Dexter, Boston, 

Dorr, 

A. F. Dyer, Braintree, Ms. 

Charles Eberle, Boston, 
Otis Eldridge, Boston, 
John Everett, N. York, 

J. P. Felt, Salem, 
Henry J. Finn, Boston, 
Dr. Follen, Cambridge, 
Capt. Benj. Foster, Prov- 
idence, 
— —- Fowler, N. York, 

John Gordon, Cambridge, 
D. Greene, Philadelphia, 



THE LEXINGTON. 



171 



William A. Greene, Prov- 
idence, 

A. E. Harding, N. York, 
Adolp. Harnden, of Harn- 

den's Express, N. Y., 
Capt. Chester Hillard, of 

Norwich, Ct., — saved ^ 
Samuel Henry, Manches- 
ter, England, 
Nath. Hobart, Boston, 
Abr'm Howard, Boston, 
Benj. D. Holmes, Boston, 
Wm. H. Hoyt, mail con- 
tractor, 
Isaac Howes, just arrived 
in brig Raymond, 

Mrs. Russell Jarvis, and 
two children, N. York, 
Tho's. James, N. York, 
Joshua Johnson, 

J. W. Kerle, Baltimore, 
Capt. E. S. Kimball, Sa- 
lem, 

Hez. Lawrence, N. York, 
J. A. Leach, Boston, 
J. Lemist, Roxbury, Ms., 
John Linfield, Stoughton, 
Charles Lee, Barre, Ms., 
T. H. M. Lyon, Boston, 

P. McKenna, N. York, 
John Marshall, N. York, 
A. Mason, Gloucester, 
Capt. David McFarland, 



Capt. Mattison, 

John Martin, England, 
Gilbert Martin, England, 

Narine, N. York, 

Nichols, Providence 

Charles Noyes, N. York, 

E. B. Patten, N. York, 
R. Pickett, Newburyport, 
M. Peck, Stonington, 
C. R. Phelps, Stonington, 
William Pierce, 
M. Phelps, N. York, 
R. Pierpont, N. York, 
T. J. Partridge, Barre, Ms. 
Mrs. Partridge, and two 
children, 

J. Roy, Kennebunk, Me., 
Mrs. Mary Russell, Ston- 
ington, 

Van Cott, Stoning- 
ton, 

Robert Shultz, N. York, 
T. Smith, Dartmouth, 

Steele, N. York, 

Stuyvesant, Boston, 

G. O. Swan, Columbus, 
G. B. Smith, Brooklyn," 
John G. Stone, Boston, 
Capt. Smith, Dedham, 
Wm. Symmes, N. York, 

W. H. Townsend and two 
children, N. York, 



172 



ST^EAIVIBOAT DISASTERS. 



P. Upson, Egremont, Ms., 

S. Waterbury, N. York, 
J. Winslow, Providence, 
W. Winslow, Providence, 
Mrs. Alice Winslow, Prov- 
idence, 
C. W. Woolsey, Boston, 
Thonrias White, Boston, 
G. W. Walker, Worcester 
County, Ms., 



J. Weston, Baltimore, 
R. Williams, Cold Spring, 
W. H. Wilson, Williams- 
burg, N. Y., 
John Walker, Cambridge- 
port, Ms., 
Walker, Belcher- 
town, 
Miss Sophia T. Wheeler, 
Greenfield, Ms., 



Lint of the officers and crexo. 



George Child, captain, 

Furber, first mate, 

David Crowley, second 

mate, — saved^ 
Jesse Comstock, clerk, 
J. B. Newman, steward, 
Hoyt, baggage mas- 
ter, 
E. Hempstead, first engi- 
* neer, 
Wm. Gluimby, second en- 
gineer, 
M. Johnson, wheel-man, 
Capt. Stephen Manches- 
ter, pilot, — saved, 
Charles B. Smith, fire- 
man, — saved, 
Robert Shatter, fireman, 
B. B. Schuyler, 
George Baum, 
Henry Reed, 



Benjamin Cox, 
Charles Williams, 
Benjamin Laden, 
C- Humber, 
Joel Lawrence, 
Susan Holcomb. cham- 
bermaid, ' 
Joseph Robinson, colored, 
Robert Peters, " 

Job Sands, 
Daniel Aldrich, " 
G. Gilbert, 
Oliver Howell, " 

King Cade, " 

J. Rostin, " 

J. B. Tab, 

E. Parkson, ''- 

John Masson, '^ - 

Solomon Askons, " 
Isaac Putnam, '^*' 



THE LEXINGTON.' 173 

From various sources published at the time, we 
gather the following, which varies but little in sub- 
stance, however, from the preceding account : 

The Lexington left New York on Monday, at 3 
o'clock, P. M., for Stonington, having, it is believed, 
about one hundred passengers. A large quantity of 
cotton was placed upon her decks. At 7 o'clock, 
when about two miles from Eaton's Neck, Long Isl- 
and, the cotton took fire near the smoke-pipe. An 
attempt was made to rig the fire engine on board, but 
it did not succeed. 

After it was found that all effort to suppress the 
flames would be unavailing, the boat was headed to- 
wards Long Island shore. In about fifteen minutes, 
the tiller ropes were burnt, and the boat became un- 
manageable. The engine, however, kept in opera- 
tion, under a heavy head of steam. The three small 
boats were hoisted out with all possible haste, but 
they swamped soon after they struck the water, in 
consequence of the speed with which the steamer 
was going towards the shore. A life boat, which was 
on board, was also thrown over, but caught under the 
wheel and was lost. When the Lexington had got 
within about two miles of the shore, her engine sud- 
denly stopped. All hopes of escape to those on board, 
except by clinging to such articles of freight as would 
sustain them, were now cut off. 

Capt. Hillard, in company with some other person, 
secured a cotton bale, on which he remained, the 
wind blowing off" Long Island shore, until 11 o'clock 
the next morning, having been exposed for fifteen 
hours, when he was taken up by the sloop Merchant, 
Capt. Meeker, of Southport. His companion, in the 
meantime, had been released from his sufferings by 
death. Two others were also picked up by the sloop, 
Charles Smith, a fireman, and Capt. Manchester, the 
pilot ; both were nearly insensible. 

The boat drifted up the sound with the tide, and 
15* 



174 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

was oft' the harbor of Bridgeport about midnight. Ef- 
forts were made to go from Bridgeport and from 
South port to the assistance of the suft'erers, but, unfor- 
tunately, owing to ice and other untoward eircum- 
stanceSj they w^re unsuccessful. 

Capt. Meeker discovered the steamer on fire soon 
after it broke out, and attempted to get out of vSouth- 
port ; but the harbor being shallow, and the tide fall- 
ing, his vessel v/ent aground, and he did not get out 
until the morning tide. 

At one time the burning steamboat was within a 
mile and a half of the Long Island shore ; but, prob- 
ably from the tiller chains giving away, she soon rap- 
idly receded. A boat put out from the shore at one 
time, and rowed two or three miles, but finding the 
Lexington increasing her distance, returned. It was 
low tide, and none of the sloops and schooners could 
get out. Some of the inhabitants say they heard two 
explosions in the night, which they have since sup- 
posed to have been caused by the bursting of the 
boilers. 

On Wednesday evening succeeding this melancholy 
disaster, the fourth and last survivor, David Crowley, 
the second mate of the Lexington, floated ashore on 
a single bale of cotton, having drifted upwards of fif- 
ty miles. On reaching the shore, he walked three 
quarters of a mile to gain the nearest house. He 
was so exhausted that he could not utter an articulate 
sound.— Without coat or hat. exposed to the bleak 
severity of some of the coldest weather of the winter, 
he had floated over the water for two days arid two 
nights ! How human nature could have been sus- 
tained under such exposure, and for such a length of 
time, we are at a loss to conceive. From one or two 
who have conversed with Mr. Crowley, the following 
particulars are gathered relative to his escape : — 

On Tuesday, the morning after the misfortune, he 
saw the sloop Merchant pick up one or two persons j 



THE LEXINGTON. 175 

he endeavored, by holding up his waistcoat, to at- 
tract their notice, but without success. When the 
night of that day came on, he thought himself near 
Faulkland Island, and expected to diift ashore there, 
but finding himself exhausted, he, miraculous to state, 
composed himself on his bale of cotton, went to sleep, 
and slept soundly until morning ! Much revived by 
his sleep, he continue(|j^hrough the following day, 
to make every exertion his situation permitted, to 
reach the land, which, however, he did not do until 
night. When landed, he scaled the high bank on 
the shore, when a light at a distance attracted his no- 
tice ; he followed its direction until he reached the 
hospitable mansion of Mr. Huntingdon, at the moment 
his son had just arrived there and was relating the 
particulars of the loss of the Lexington. His unex- 
pected appearance, pale and wretched, with his waist- 
coat round his head, naturally created sensations of 
pity and astonishment ; he received all the care and 
attention his helpless and miserable situation required. 

The following is the substance of the statement 
given by Mr. Crowley : — 

On the alarm of fire being given, he immediately 
proceeded to the spot whence it came, and there dis- 
covered six bales of cotton on fire, which had not then 
spread to any part of the woodwork. He immediate- 
ly handed up to Capt. Manchester, who was on the 
promenade deck, three pails of water, and then with 
the deck hands and waiters continued to draw water 
and throw it on the fire ; they did so without any 
confusion, and with the most strenuous exertion, until 
they were driven away by the strength of the llames. 
Capt. Child was among them, aiding and directing, 
and it was not until all hopes of saving the boat was 
gone, that Capt. Child, in reply to an inquiry from 
some of the passengers of what was to be done, re- 
plied in a collected manner, " Gentlemen, take to the 



176 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

boats," and then went aft himself, which was the 
last time Mr. Crowley saw him. He also stated that 
before leaving the wreck, he saw one of the quarter 
boats launched by some of the passengers, and called 
out to them to put the plug in the boat ; that he as- 
sisted one of the passengers to throw overboard the 
hawser tub. and another the chaffing board.; that he 
himself at last threw over Inside plank, and jumped 
on it ; soon afterward, swam to a bale of cotton which 
floated near him. While on this bale of cotton, he 
never lost his presence of mind, or his hope of escape, 
and noted the different points of land which he knew, 
as he floated past them. 

We commend to the attention of all, the interest- 
ing testimony of Capt. Hillard, and that of the other 
survivors. It presents a clear and connected history 
of the melancholy event, and makes much intelligible 
that has heretofore seemed difficult to understand. 
From Capt. Hillard's testimony it would appear that 
the passengers, or a large portion of them, took pos- 
session of the boats, and droivned themselves^ even 
before the danger became imminent ; and that, had 
they waited but ten minutes longer, the way of the 
boat would have been stopped, and the quarter boats 
could have been deliberately lowered, and the great- 
er part, if not all, saved. When, with singular self 
possession, he lowered himself into the sea, nearly all 
the passengers had already found a watery grave. 

The small number of passengers seen by Captain 
Manchester on the forecastle, and the large propor- 
tion of the boat hands, is also explained, by the hasty 
measures of the passengers, as described by Captain 
Hillard. His expression that a phrenzy, and a de- 
termination to destroy themselves appeared to have 
seized them, appears literally true, as proved by their 
unhappy course. But we have no need to reproach 
the unfortunate, with lack of presence of mind, until 



THE LEXINGTON* 17T 

we shall have been placed in a similar position of 
imminent peril. It may do for Captain Hillard to 
speak as ho does of them, as he has passed the fiery 
ordeal ; and has shown himself throughout, a man of 
extraordinary nerve and self-possession. 

The passage of the. testimony relative to the little 
child floating near the stern of the boat ; the mother, 
vegardless of herself,calling upon him to save her child, 
gives us another instance of the disinterested affection 
of the mother. It may have been that this lady was 
Mrs. Jarvis : and as the child was a female, the sup- 
position seems extremely probable : — nay, almost cer- 
tain. To her friends, this will seem as a last inter- 
view with the departed. The centering of her heart 
upon an object, dear alike to all while all survived, 
and doubly dear in the memory of the lonely and 
heart-stricken survivors, will lead fancy to date the 
last communion of thought as held upon the burning 
wreck of the Lexington. — When time has mellowed 
their grief into that pleasing melancholy which de- 
lights to dwell on the virtues of the departed, it will 
seem to the desolate husband, as if he Were present at 
the scene, and shared the solicitude of the mother, who 
cared only for her child when her own death was cer- 
tain. 

Extract from the testimony of Capt. Hillard be- 
fore the Jury of Inquest, held in New York : — 

-"It was about an hour after supper that I first 
heard the alarm of fire. I was then on the point of 
turning in, and had my coat and boots off. I slipped 
them on. I then discovered the casing of the smoke 
pipe, and I think, a part of the promenade deck, on 
fire. There was a great rush of the passengers, and 
much confusion, so that I could not notice particularly. 
.^The after part of the casing was burning, and the fire 
was making aft. I thought at the time, that the fire 
might be subdued ; but, being aft at the time, could 
not, therefore, see distinctly. 



178 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

"I saw nothing of the commander, and from what 
I could hear of the crew forward, I supposed they 
were at work trying to rig the fire engine ; I saw no 
buckets used, and think they were not made use of ; 
I think the fire engine was not got to work, as I saw 
nothing of it. I shortly after went on the promenade 
deck ; my attention had previously been directed to 
the passengers, who were rushing into the quarter 
boats, and when I went on the quarter deck, the boats 
were both filled. They seemed to be stupidly deter- 
mined to destroy themselves, as well as the boats, 
which were their only means of safety. I went to 
the starboard boat, which they were lowering away; 
they lowered it until she took the water, and then I 
saw some one cut away the forward tackle fall ; it 
was at all events disengaged, and no one at the time 
could have unhooked the fall ; the boat instantly filled 
with water, there being at the time about twenty 
persons in her ; and the boat passed immediately 
astern, entirely clear. I the went to the other side ; 
the other boat was cleared away and lowered in the 
same manner as the first, full of passengers., ' This 
boat fell astern entirely disengaged, as the other had 
done ; but fell away before she had entirely filled 
with water. 

" By this time the fire had got under such headway, 
that I pretty much made my mind up ^ it was a gone 
case.^ I thought that the best thing that could be 
done was to run the boat ashore, and for this purpose 
went to the wheel-house to look for Capt. Child, ex- 
pecting to find him there. I found him there, and 
advised him to run for the shore. He replied that 
she was already headed for the land. The fire by 
this time began to come up around the promenade 
deck, and the wheel-house was completely filled with 
smoke. There were two or three on the promenade 
deck near the wheel-house, and their attention was 
turned to the life boat ; it was cleared away. 1 as- 



THE LEXINGTON. 170 

sisted in stripping off the canvas, but I had no no- 
tion of going in her, as I had made my mind up that 
they would serve her as they had done the otlier boats. 
The steamer was then under head way. Before I 
left the promenade deck I thought it was time for me 
to leave ; however, as the fire was bursting up through 
the deck; I went aft and down on to the main deck. 
They were then at work with the hose, but whether 
by the aid of the engine, or not, I cannot say. The 
smoke was so dense that I could not see distinctly 
what they were about. I think that the communica- 
tion with the fore part of the boat was by this time 
cut off; from the first hearing of the alarm, perhaps 
twenty minutes had elapsed. The engine had now 
been stopped about five minutes. I recommended to 
the few deck hands and passengers who remained, to 
throw the cotton overboard ; and told them that they 
must do something for themselves, and the best thing 
they could do was to take to the cotton. There, 
were perhaps ten or Jf ozen bales thrown overboard 
which was pretty much all there was on the larboard 
side which had not taken fire. I then cut ofi* a piece 
of line, perhaps four or five fathoms, and with it span- 
ned a bale of cotton, which, Lbelieve, was the last 
one not on fire. It was a very snug square bale, 
about four feet long and three feet wide, and a foot 
and a half thick. Aided by one of the firemen, I put 
the bale up on the rail, round which we took a turn, 
slipped the bale down below the guard, when we 
both got on to it. The -boat then lay broadside to 
the wind, and we were under the lee of the boat, on 
the larboard side. We placed ourselves one on each 
end of the bale, facing each other ; with our weight 
it was about on^ third out of the water. The wind 
was pretty fresh, and we drifted at the rate of about 
a knot and a half. We did not lash ourselves to j;he 
bale, but coiled the rope up and laid it on the bale. 
My companion did not like the idea of leaving the 



180 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



boat immediately, but wished to hold on to the 
guards ; but I determined to get out of the way, be- 
lieving that to remain there much longer it would be- 
come pretty hot quarters. We accordingly shoved 
the bale round the stern, when we left the boat and 
drifted away about a knot and a half. This was 
just 8 o'clock by my watch, which I took out and 
looked at. As we left the wreck, I picked up a piece 
of board, which I used as a paddle or rudder, with 
which to keep the bale end to the sea. 




Capt. liillard and his companion on ilie bale ot coUon. 

" At the time we left the boat there were but few 
persons remaining on board. I saw one lady, and 
the reason Vv^hy I particularly noticed her was, that 
her child had got overboard, and was then about two 
rods from her ; we passed by the child so near that I 
could put my hand on it as it lay on its back ; she 
saw us approaching the child and cried out for us to 
save it. The child, which from its dress appeared to 
be a female, was dead when we passed it ; nor can I 
recollect Avhat was said by the lady^ — it was hard to 



> THE LEXINGTON. 181 

notice particulars at tlie time, as it was pretty rough, 
and I had as much as I could do to manage the bale 
of cotton. We then drifted away from the boat, and 
in ten minutes more we could see no persons on board, 
excepting those on the forecastle. 

*' We sat astride of the bale with our feet in the wa- 
ter ; but were wet up to the middle from the water 
frequently washing over. We were in sight of the 
boat all the time till she went down, when we were 
about a mile distant. When we left the wreck it 
was cloudy ; but about 9 o'clock it cleared off, and 
we had a clear night of it until the moon went down ; 
I looked at my watch as often as every half hour, 
through the night ; the boat went down at 3 o'clock. 
It was so cold as to make it necessary for me to exert 
myseff to keep warm, which T did by whipping my 
hands and arms around my body. About 4 O'd'ock 
the bale capsized with us ; a heavy sea came and car-, 
ried it over end-ways ; we managed to get on the bale 
on its opposite side ; at this time we*lost our piece of 
board, which had been useful, as a paddle, and after- 
wards the bale was ungovernable ; my companion had 
complained much of the cold from our first setting 
out ; he appeared to have given up*all hope of our 
being saved. On our first starting from -the boat, I 
gave him my vest as he had on only a flannel shirt, 
and pantaloons, boots^ and cap. Cox* remained on 
the bale after it had upset about two hours, or more, 
until it was about day light. For the last half hour 
that he remained on the bale, he had been speechless, 
and seemed to have lost all use of his hands, as he did 
not try to hold on. I rubbed him and beat his flesh, 
andnised every eff'ort I could to keep his blood in cir- 
•culation. It was still very rough, and I was obliged 
to exert myself to hold on. The bale coming broad- 

* Benjamin Cox, of New York. He left a wife and several children in a 
Jeplorable silualion. His wretched widow offered lier last mite, about fivf 
dollars for the recovery of the body of her unfortnnate husband. 

16 



182 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

side to th6v sea, it gave a lurch, and Cox slipped off, 
and I saw him no more. He went down without a 
Struggle. I then got more into the middle of the 
hale, to make it ride as it should, and in that way 
continued for about an hour, when I got my feet on 
the bale, and so remained until the sloop picked me 
up. The sea had by this time become quite smooth. 
On seeing thcj^ sloop I waved my hand to attract the 
attention of those on board. 

" The sloop was the Merchant, Gapt. Meeker, of 
Southport. I think Capt. Meeker and those on board 
the sloop are entitled to a great deal of credit, as they 
did more on tlie occasion than •any one else. It ap- 
pears that they tried during the night to get out to 
the aid of those on board the Lexington, but in com- 
ing out the sloop grounded on the bar, and they 
were- compelled, before they could get her off, to 
lighten her of part of her car^o. Every possible at- 
tention was paid me ; tiiey took me into the cabin, 
and then cruised in search of others. .They picked 
up two other living men, and the bodies of two others. 
The living men were Captain Manchester, pilot of 
the Lexington^and the other Charles Smith, a hand 
on board. One of them was picked up on a bale of 
cotton, aild the other on the wheel-house." 

Extract from the testimony, of Capt. Stephen Man- 
chester, the pilot of the Lexington : — 

" When I first heard the alarm of fire, about half 
past 7 o'clock, some one came to the wheel-house 
door and told me that the boat was on fire; my first 
movement was to step out of the wheel-house and look 
aft; saw the upper deck burning all round the ^oke 
pipe, the flames coming up through the promenad^ 
deck. I returned into the wheel-house and put the 
wheel hard-a-port to steer the boat for the land. I then 
^ thought it very doubtful whether the fire could be 
extinguished. We were about four miles from Long 



THE LEXINGTON. 183 

Island shore, and at the rate we were then going, it 
would take about twenty minutes to reach it. 

'• We had not yet headed to the land, when some- • 
thing gave way, which I believe was th£ tiller rope; 
thinks she was heading about south-east, and Long 
Island bore "about south, when the tiller rope gave 
way ; the engine was then workiiig ; and the boat 
lell ahead more to tlte eastward. Captain Child then 
came into the wheel-house and put his hand to the 
spoke of the wheel, and, as he did so, the rope ga\re 
way ; presumes it was the rope attached to the wheel ; 
it was the larboard rope gave way; and at the same 
time the smoke came into the wheel-hoflse. and we 
were obliged to go out. I suspect he went aft, but I 
never saw him afterwards ; when he went out he 
went down on the forward deck ; I do not recollect 
whether he expressed any alarm. I then called to 
tlieni on the forecastle to get out the fire engine and 
buckets : the engine was got out, but they could not 
get at the buckets, or at least 1 only saw a (ew. I 
am of opinion the wheel-ropes burnt otf, but 1 could 
not have stood it longer even if there had been chains 
round the wheel. — I think there was then an oppor- 
umity to go from the Avheel-hoiise aft, where there 
was another steering apparatus, a good tiller, with 
chains which ran through blocks: all boats are so 
rigged, hi order that jf any thing happens to the rud- 
der, this can be ""used iff its place. I did not go aft 
to it, because I thought my services would be more 
useful forward. After calling to get out the engine, 
I went to the life boat, and Ibund some persons takii>g 
the tarpaulin off it.' I caught hold of the lashing of 
the boat, and requested them not to 'let her go until 
we got a line fastened to her. I called to those at 
the forecastle to pass a line to make fast to her, which 
they did, and we fastened it to her bow. The fire 
was then burning through the promenade deck. T 
cut the lashinsf, and told them tq launch the boat. I 



184 STEA»IBOAT DISASTERS. 

jumped from the promenade deck down on the for- 
ward deck, took hold of the hawser, and found it was 
not fastened to the steamboat. I told them to' hold 
on to the rope, but they all let go one after another ; 
the engine was still going, and I was obliged to let it 
go myself also . Wejhen found two buckets, and 
commenced throwing water with them and the spe- 
cie boxes; We got the water from'over the side .of the 
boat, which was then nearly stopped; while doing 
this, some others took the flag-staffs and parts of the 
bulwarks, and made a raft, to which we made a line 
fast and hove it over the side of the boat ; we then 
threw the baggage overboard from four baggage cars, 
and made them fast with a line ; the engine By this 
time was entirely stopped ; it worked from ten to fif- 
teen minutes going gradually slower until it ceased. 
"VVe threw out every thing by which we thought any 
person could save themselves ; and continued throw- 
ing on water in hopes that some relief might reach 
us. 

" The main deck now fell in as far as the capstan, 
and the people had by this time got overboard, some 
of them drowned, and others hurried on to the bag- 
gage cars, the raft and other things. What was left 
of the main deck was now on fire, and got us corner- 
ed up in so small a space that we could do nothing 
more by throwing water. There were then only 
eight or ten persons astern on the steamboat, and 
about thirty on the forecastle. They were asking 
me what they should do, and 1 told them I saw no 
chance for any of us ; that if we stayed there, we 
should be burned to death, and if we went overboard 
we should probably perish. Among those who were 
there, was Mr. Hoyt and Van Cott, another person 
named Harnden, who had charge of the express line. 
I did know any one else. 

" I then took a piece of spun yarn and made it fast 
to my coat, and also to the rail, and so eased myself 



THE LEXl.VGTOX. 



1S5 



down upon the raft. There were two or three others 
oil it ah-eady, and my weight sank it. I held on to 
the rope until it came up again — and when it did, I 
sprang up and cauglit a piece of raihng which was in 
Ihe water, and from thence gen on a bale of cotton 
where there was a man- sitting ; found the bale was 
nipde fast to tlie railing ; 1 took out my knile and cut 
it off. At the time I cut this rope, I saw some per- 
son standing on the piece of railing, who asked me if 
there was room for anodier ; I made no answer, and 
he jumped, and knocked off the man that was with 
me : and I hauled him onagam. I caught a piece of 
board w'hich was floating past., and shoved the bale 
clean off from the raft ; and used the board to endea- 
vor to ^et in shore al Crane Neck Point, in which I 




L'iijn. Alauclicsier iuid .>.'civi-- 



could not succeed ; but I used the board as long as I 
could, for exercise. AVhep I left the wreck, I looked 
at my watch, an'd it \Vas just 12 o'clock. I think 
the man who was on the bale with me said his name 
was McKenna and lived at New York ; he spoke 
16* 



186 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

of his wife and children ; how he had kissed them 
the morning he left home, and said he feared he 
should perish with the cold./ — He died about 3 o'clock. 
After I had hauled him on the bale, I had encouraged 
him, and told him to' thrash his hands, which he 
did for a spell, hut soon pretty much gave up. ' 
When he died he fell back on the bale, and the fii^st 
sea that came washed him off. My hands were then 
so frozen that I could hardly use them at all ; was' 
about three miles from the- wreck when she sunk ; 
and the last thing I recollect, was seeing the sloop, 
and raising my handkerchief between my fingers, 
hoping they would see me. I was then sitting on 
the cotton, with my feet in the water. The bale did 
not seem to roll at all, although there were some hea- 
vy seas. 

" I was taken off the cotton by Captain Meeker, and 
brought to Southport, where I received eyery possi- 
ble attention." 

Capt. Manchester also stated, in addition to the 
foregoing : — 

" I knew Capt. Child for ten or fifteen years. He 
and I were packet masters for several years, and since 
then he has commanded the steamboats Providence 
and Narraganset ; he was a man of considerable de- 
cision of character, ^nd had commanded a steamboat 
for four years. When he came to the wheel-house 
on the night of the. fire, he aj^eared to be agitated, 
but there was too short time for me to remark much. 
I think the fire originated from the smoke-pipe ; it 
was very red that night, and the cotton was most 
likely piled within two feet of the steam chimney. 
The boat was going abojit twelve knots an hour, but 
the engine went gradually .slower until it stopped, 
which was about twenty minutes after the first 
alarm." • 

Extract from the account as given by Charles B. 
Smith, fireman on board the Lexington : — 



THE LEXINGTON. 187 

''The first time I heard the alarm of fire was about 
half past 7 o'clock in the evening. I 'was in my room 
asleep, on the guard ; a man came in and told me that 
the boat was on fire ; I got out of my berth ; the 
door of the room was open, directly opposite the 
steam chimney, and I saw the promenade deck, and 
part of thfe casing around the chimney on fire ; went 
immediately into the crank room and put ou the hose, 
opened the cocks, and tried to get to the end of the 
hose to play on the fire, but the fire and smoke pre- 
vented me. The hose was lying alongside of the 
bulkhead, alongside of the air punTp. 1 went aft of 
the shaft" to get breath, and then tried ^o get the buck- 
ets down that hung over the shaft, which the fire 
prevented me from doing ; I then went aft with the 
intention of getting into the boat ; I there saw Capt. 
Child- standing on the rail, by the crane of the boat, 
on the starboard side, and heard him sing out for the 
engineer; the engineer answered ; and the captain 
asked him if he could stop the engine ; he replied 
that It was impossible, as the fire prevented ; I had 
now got to where Capt. Child stood, and Saw the bow 
tackle of the boat cut away, with the boat full of pas- 
sengers — the bows of the boat filled with water, and 
she. swung round on her stern tackle. Capt. Child 
sung out to hold on to the boat, 'and slipped down to 
the fender, outside of the bulwark. I slip])ed over af- 
ter him; he* stepped into the stern sheets of the 
boat, and I put my foot on the stern of the boat, and 
hauled it back, and jnst as T got my foot back, the 
stern tackle was let go, 'but whether it was cut or 
not, I do not know. That was the last I saw of the 
boat or the captain. Capt. Child- was in the boat at 
the time. I got over the stern then with the inten- 
tion of getting on to the rudder ; I hung by the nett- 
ing, kicked in three cabin windows, and lowering my- 
self dawn got on the rudder. * 

• " I had been there but a minute or two, when 1 was 



188 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 

followed by several others. There was a boy got 
over the stern, whom I told to drop overboard and get 
on a bale of cotton : he said he could not swim. I 
then told him to tell some of those on deck to throw 
over a bale of cotton. There wa's oni? throwii over, 
which I jumped after, and gave the boy my place. I 
swam' to it, and got on it. I remained oh it- until 
about half past 1 o'clock. About that time I'drifted 
back to the steamboat and got .on board. There .were 
then ten or twelve persons hanging to different parts 
of the boat. Mr,^ Hempstead Avas one of tliem, and 
one of the firemen by the name of Baum, — ^Job Sands, 
a waiter, — Harxy Reed, and a small English boy, — 
another coal heaver, whose name was William, — and 
a deck hand by the name of Charles. These Avere 
all the names I knew ; the rest were, as I, suppose, 
passengers, and some waiters, — there were no ladies. 
I staid there until 3 o'clock, when the boat sunk.* I 
staid about midships, near where Ihe fire originated, 
^'' We stood on tlie top of the hips which are put on 
the boat to keep her from rolling, a!}^d are made of 
solid timber, running fore and aft of the boat nearly her 
.whole length, under the guards ; but the 'guards at 
this time were burnt off. I stood there until she sunk. 
After she began to fill, the rest jumped .off. I then 
swam to a piece of 'the guard, and, with four others 
got on it; — they all perished before daylig-ht. One of 
them was. Harry Reed, and another, George, the fire- 
man — the other was the boy to whom I had given 
my plaice on the rudder — the (5tl;^r I did not knovv^ ; 
I think they all perished 'with the cold. I shook 
them all round, and tried to exercise' them and rub 
them. I remained* on the piece of guard until 2 
o'clock iii the afternoon, when I was taken off'by the 
sloop Merchant, Captain Meeker, and was taken into 
Southport, where I had the best care taken of me pos- 
sible. My feet were badly frozen, and my fingers 
touched a little with the frost. 



THE LEXINGTON. 189 

'^ I have been in the Lexington ever since she com- 
menced burning coal ; knew her to be on fire on the 
2d of January, on the main deck, alongside the boil- 
er ; it originated from some sparks which flew up and 
caught the deck ; it did not burn so much as to make 
a blaze on deck ; it burnt a corner of a box which 
was there, but did not damage the goods that were in 
it ; never knew her on fire at any other time. When 
the door of the furnace is opened, the sparks from the 
Coal do not come out unless the damper is down, 
which we always keep open and fastened open ; I 
never saw the blaze come o\it of Tlie furnace except 
when the damper Avas down. I never before saw 
the casing of the steam'chimney on fire ; I have seen 
the chimney red hot, and seen a blue flame come from 
the top of it, probably as much as six feet. I do not 
consider a boat in any more danger with a blower 
than without one ; and we can make more steam with 
blowers than^vithout ; when we are carrying ten or 
twelve inches steam, take ofl'the blower and the steam 
will run down so as to stop on her centre in a short 
time ; I have seen the steam run down sixteen inches 
to an inch and a half in twenty minutes after the 
blower was taken ofl".'^ 

Capt. Joseph J. Comstock, the commander of the 
steamboat Massachusetts, was appointed. by the pro-* 
prietors of the Lexington to proceed to the scene of 
the disaster, for the purpose of recovering the bodies 
of the ill-fated passengers and crew, and to search for 
and to protect whatever baggage and property might 
drift ashore, or otherwise be discovered. His testi- 
mony does not vary materially from that of Captain 
Manchester, from whom, indeed, he had gathered the 
principal portion, — yet there are parts of it which 
Capt. Manchester has asserted to be somewhat incor- 
rect. As every thing connected with the subject of 
this melancholy occurrence cannot fail .to possess in- 
terest, we will give the substance of his statement. 



190 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS^ 



The proprietors having concluded to send a bcfat 
for tlie purpose just mentioned, the steamer States- 
man, Capt. Peck, was procured, an extra number of 
hands, and ever}^ requisite fo/ the object in view was 
put on board, — the whole was under the command or 
direction of Capt. Oomstock. They left New York 
on Thursday morning, and. encountered great difficul- 
ty in getti:rg through the ice as far as Sand's Point, 
having spoken every vessel they met, for t lie purpose 
of learning the position of the wrec]^.' They first 
landed at Eaton's Neck, about forty-five miles from 
New York, where the only information they could 
obtain, was, that a vessel of some description had 
been burnt on Monday night, apparently about six or 
eight miles distant^ • 




Map of Long Island Sound. 

Continuing their progress sixteen miles farther east, 
they again landed,— they here discovered a body on 
the beach, which, from a memorandum book fo*und 
upon it, proved to be that of Philo Upson. It was 
left in charge of a man, and conveyed to a barn at thq 
light-house. All the. information here procured, was,- 



THE LEXINGTON. 191 

that a vessel, supposed to be a steamboat, was seen on 
fire on Monday night, at half past 7 o'clock ; the last 
that was seen of her was between 2 and 3 o'clock in 
the morning. The people here knew of no effort 
havi[)g been made to assist those on board the burn- 
ing boat. Night approaching, the Statesman left for 
a harbor, and ran into Bridgeport, — from which place 
Capt. Comstock went bv land to Southport, six miles 
distant, to see Capt. MOTfchester, who, he heard, had 
escaped, and was in that place. 

Capt. Comstock stated as follows, before .the jnry 
of inquest : — " I have known Capt. Manchester for ten 
years. He was the pilot of the Lexington. He in- 
formed me that on his first hearing the alarm of fi4'e, 
he being then at the wheel on the forward extremity 
of the promenade deck, he opened the wheel-hiiuse 
door and looked out. He saw no fire nor any thing 
to indi^cate fire. , He stepped out twelve or sixteen 
feet to a small scuttle in the deck, which looked di- 
rectly down to the fire-room ; all that he could see 
was a little fire ; but his view was almost entirely ob- 
scured by a dense smoke. He stepped immediately 
back to the wheel-house, and hauled the boat's head 
for the land of Long Island. While in the act of do- 
ing this, Capt. Child came also to the wheel-house, 
and ordered him to haul the boat in for the land. He 
replied that he was doing so. The captain then laid 
hold of the wheel to assist him ; he came to him very 
precipitately, anc^seemed to be out , of breath. 

'■ By this time the fire and smoke came up from be- 
neath the promenade deck into the wheel-house, with 
such violence that they were compelled to relinquish 
their* posts, fie did not say what time elapsed be- 
tween the alarm of fire and the time they left the 
wheel, — from his manner of speaking I should think 
but little time could'haVe elapsed. After this he saw 
nothing of the captain. He began immediately to 
clear away the life-boat, wlji^^ w:as lashed on the lar- 



t 



192 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

board side of the promenade deck, near the wheel- 
house. Having cleared the lashings away, he pro- 
cured a rope, and securing it to the bows of the boat, 
ordered it to be hauled taught, and made fast forward- 
to keep it clear of the wheel. This was, as he sup- 
posed, done. He then hove his pea-jacket and coat 
into the boat, and threw her overboard. In all this 
he was assisted, but by wliom. he did not know. 

'' The steamer was at thif%hie under way, and the 
life-boat was taken under the wheel. He thinks that 
the rope parted, or that it had not been made fast up- 
on the forecastle : knew when he threw the life-boat 
overboard, that the quarter-boats had been lowered 
away and lost. He was also of opinion that the life- 
boat, having run under the wheel, was lost, unless to 
song^e one who had previously got overboard, who 
might possibly have got into. her. When he hove 
her overboard, he saw that the fire had already taken 
hold of her aft, — which I afterv^'ards found to be the 
.case when I recovered her, as she was considerably 
scorched. He then went upon the forecastle, and 
found that owing to the smoke and fire, he could not 
get under the promenade deck ; he supposed that, at 
this time,' there were with him on the forecastle, 
twenty-five or thirty people, — among whom he gave 
the names of Mr. Hoyt, ]\Ir. Yan Cott, Wm. Nichols, 
a colored mail, and several others, whom I do not re- 
collect. 

"Among the number, he said, were geveral of the 
firemen and waiters. He saw there was no hope, 
that the boat must inevitably burn up, and that no 
means could possibly save her. He then advised to 
open the baggage crates, throw out the baggage, and 
make a raft of the crates. This was partially done ; 
the baggage was thrG|vn overboard, and the crates 
were entirely emptied ^nd^lso thrown over; they 
w^e run out of the fore^stle gangway. The persons 
who were with him acted very coolly, and made ef- 



^ 



THE LEXINGTON. 193 

forts lo fasten them together ; but -all their efforts 
proved of no avail, as the 'crates came all sides up at 
once,' and nothing could be done with them. He 
said nothing of an attempt to get at the steering ap- 
paratus aft ; that on the main deck all communication, 
aft was cut off by the fire ; and I think tliat he said 
the fire was also spreading upon the promenade deck. 

'' While endeavorinsr to lash the crates together, 
the forecastle deck becanie very hot from the fire be- 
neath, and some of the persons were employed in 
throwing water upon it to keep it cool ; the only arti- 
cle they could procure with which to bail Avater was 
some specie boxes, which they had opened and thrown 
the specie overboard. His attempt to get under the 
promenade deck from the foiecastle. Avas made to get 
at the buckets. I think that the buckets must have 
been used previous to Capt. Child coming to the^ 
wheel-house, as the buckets were in so convenient a 
position, that any body could get hold of them. See- 
ing that the crates were of no use, they then knocked 
off the bulwarks, and endeavored to make of them a 
raft, — the fire all the Avhile driving them forward 
inch by inch; in consequence of which they could 
not make a sufficient raft to hold those who were 
there. 

" They were compelled to leave, and get over, un- 
til driven clear forward to the nighthead, — the flames 
then rushing from the forecastle in a col.imn ten feet 
high. Capt Manchester then left the, boat, and en- 
deavored to get on whatever came in his way. He 
got upon some stage or other, — the same they had 
been forming into a raft. . From this he got on a bale 
of cotton, on which there was already some one ; 
another person, jumping from the boat on the same 
bale, knocked Capt. Manchester's first companion off; 
he hauled this man back again, — there being then 
three persons on the bale. Capt. Manchester stated 
that he' left the bale, (he did not say at what time,) 
17 



194 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

and got upon a piece of the guard. Beyond this, he 
gave me no particulars relative to the fate of the boat, 
or any one on board, — excepting that the wreck sank 
about 3 o'clock in the morning, by his watch, which 
he took out and looked at by the light of the moon. 
He had a piece of plank from the bulwark, which he 
used as a paddle by way of exercise. He remained 
upon the guard until toward, noon the next day, when 
he was taken off by a sloop. On seeing the sloop, he 
put his handkerchief upon the piece of plank, and 
raising it as a signal of distress, he clasped his arms 
around the plank, and remained in that situation ; be- 
fore the sloop reached him, he fell over on his face, 
and became insensible, and so continued until after 
he was taken on board the sloop. 

''At 3 o'clock on Friday, A. M,, 1 went on board the 
Statesman ; at day-break we started, and landed 
again at Old Field Point. It was at this time intense- 
ly cold, the thermometer varying from three to four 
degrees below zero. At the Point I now left six men 
to look out for luggage, as I had heard that a number 
of trunks and packages had come ashore in the neigh- 
borhood. During the night, the body of a child about 
four years old had drifted ashore. 

" At 8 o'clock, A. M., I left in the steamer for the 
eastward. Every part of the bank was carefully ex- 
plored as we progressed, and traced the shore around 
the bay. I left persons ashore at diflerent points, and 
inquired at al! the houses for information relativ^e to 
property saved from the wreck. After running seven 
miles east, I learned that three bodies had been 
found. I had them sent to Old Field Point; I here 
learned that eighteen miles farther east, a man had 
got ashore alive. 

"I then proceeded to explore the bia^ch the entire 
distance of the eighteen miles, until I 5ame to the 
place. During this distance we found numerous por- 
tions of the wreck, among which was one piece, on 



THE LEXINGTON. 195 

which was the entire word ' Lexington,' in letters 
two feet long. 

"We learned that David Crowley, the second mate, 
had come ashore at 5 o'clock on Wednesday night. 
He stated to the people here that he had been forty- 
eight hours upon the bale of cotton, and had crawled 
several rods upon the beach through the ice, and af- 
ter getting ashore, had walked three quarters of a 
mile to the nearest house. They said that his feet 
and legs were badly frozen. He was bare-headed, 
and in his shirt sleeves ; and supposed himself to be 
the only one saved from the wreck. I gave instruc- 
tions to leave nothing undone to render his situation 
as comfortable as possible, and to procure for him all 
medical or other aid that might be necessary. They 
said he was in the best of hands, and that he was in 
want of nothing for his comfort. 

" We then left on our return to Old Field Point, to 
take on board, and bring to New York, the bodies and 
property which were there ; having left information 
at all the places Avhere we had stopped, that a reward 
would be given for any bodies discovered, and offer- 
ing also a reward of five hundred dollars for the de- 
tection of any persons committing depredations upon 
the bodies or property which might come ashore from 
the wreck. I was authorized to do this by the com- 
pany. I was compelled to relinquish the expedition 
on account of the severity of the weather, and of the 
sudden accumulation of ice, which rendered farther 
efforts useless. 

'' On returning to the light-house, we took on board 
all the baggage which had been collected by the men 
in my absence, — five bodies, and the life-boat, which 
latter was found about two miles to the westward of 
the light-house, with the coats therein, as described 
by Capt. Manchester. 

" The bodies brought up were those of Mr. Water- 
bury, Mr. Upson, the child, and of two men unknown 



196 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

which had the appearance of being two of the boat 
hands. 

*' I was acquainted with Capt. Child, and think he 
was every way qualified for the duties of his office. 
My brother was clerk of the Lexington. 

'' I never heard of the Lexington being on fire till 
since this accident, since when I have heard of it fifty 
times. 

"I was informed by Mr. Samuel Yeaton, mate of 
the ship Helirium, that Capt. Wm. Terrell, of the 
sloop Improvement, of Brookhaven, stated to him 
that, at the time the fire broke out on board of the 
Lexington, he was sailing past in the sound on board 
of his sloop, — being at the time about six miles dis- 
tant. He gave as a reason for not going to the relief 
of the Lexington, that, as she had life boats on board, 
'and being near the shore, the passengers might in all 
probability get ashore. Another reason given by him 
was, that if he delayed, he should lose his tide over 
the bar. He could not, probably, have reached the 
wreck in less than an hour; but might, doubtless, 
have saved many on board, all, indeed, except those" 
lost in the quarter-boats."* 



In reviewing the preceding testimony, and the 
facts as far as we have gathered them, we perceive 
nothing to exonerate the company who were the 
owners of the Lexington, from the universal censure 
which has been attached to them. That the confla- 
gration was owing to combustible freight, — that the 



* A card was published, soon after llie above slalemenl respecting Cajjt^ 
Terrell, signed by Mr. Charles Porter, of New York ; another, signed by 
Henry Rogers, a passenger j and a third, sigaed by the crew of the sloo]> 
Improvement, fully exculpating Capt. Terrell from the odium which has been 
cast upon him on account of not repairing to the assistance of the victims lost 
in the Lexington. At the lime ihe light of the fire was seen, the Impro-ve- 
ment was ten or twelve miles distant, and the wind dead ahead j aud the light 
was seen by them but a few minutes, when it disappeared. 



THE LEXINGTON. 197 

amount of danger is always increased by such freight, 
and that the owners must have known there was 
more risk with such freight than without, are self-ev- 
ident facts and cannot be denied. In truth, there is 
no doubt that the large number of human beings, 
who so terribly perished that fatal night, were heart- 
lessly sacrificed to the mean spirit, of gain, and to a 
perfect recklessness of human life. What excuse can 
be rendered for crowding the deck of a passenger 
steamboat with the most combustible of freight, in 
careless disregard of the safety and convenience of 
the travelling public ? — or what reason can be given 
that it is done, except that of sordid self-interest — the 
accumulation of more dollars and cents by the trip of 
a boat thus encumbered, — We do not, of course, be- 
lieve the owners would send a boat out with a cer- 
tainty of its being lost, for that, to say the least, 
would conflict too much with their own pecuniary in- 
terests ; but though they have the undoubted right of 
risking their own property, it is morally certain they 
have no such right of wantonly risking the lives or - 
the property of their fellow-beings. ^ 

The Rev. S. K. Lothrop, of Boston, justly and ^ 
temperately remarked on this subject ; that " the 
steamboats of Long Island Sound, have, till recently, 
been in general managed with distinguished skill 
and care, and all necessary, nay, even a scrupulous 
attention paid to the safety and comfort of the pas- 
sengers. Of late years, however, the growing com- 
petition, and the increased facilities for carrying 
freight, afforded by the rail-roads to Providence and 
Stonington, have produced an unfavorable change, 
and taken from the boats the high character for safe- 
ty and comfort that once attached to them. They 
are now, it is said, almost invariably overloaded, the 
passengers all but crowded out by freight, and their 
comfort and safety made apparently a secondary con- 
sideration. We have separate trains for freight on 
17* 



198 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

our rail-roads ; why should we not have separate boats 
for freight on our waters ; If steamboats for passen- 
gers, exclusively or principally, could not be support- 
ed at the present rate of fare, let it be increased. Un- 
til the fate of the Lexington is forgotten, most per- 
sons will be willing to pay something extra if they 
can be insured a safe, comfortable })assage. It is to 
be hoped that this melancholy catastrophe will direct 
public attention to the subject, so that the reckless 
exposure of human life, which has marked some por- 
tions of the country, mtiy never become one of the feat- 
ures of travelling in New England, and proper means 
be taken, and efforts made, to provide against the re- 
currence of any similar disaster." 

Even from the pulpit is heard the voice of condem- 
nation, rebuking the gross carelessness and cupidity 
that led to this disastrous event. The following is ex- 
tracted from an eloquent discourse, delivered in Bos- 
ton, by the Rev. S. K. Lothrop : — 

'^ But I confess, my friends, I hesjtate not to say, 
that after the fust emotions of horror and pity, excit- 
by this event, the thought, the feeling that is up- 
-^^^ermost in my own mind is, indignation ; yes, I will 
use that word, though it be a strong one, indignation 
at the gross recklessness or carelessness, which caused 
this destruction of human life and produced this wide 
suffering, — and indignation also at the feeble and 
inefficient legislation, that permits, and has for years 
permitted, these disasters to occur throughout our 
waters, without a just rebuke or an adequate restraint 
in the laws. I have read the statement published by 
the agent of this ill-fated boat, I am willing to ad- 
mit and believe that every word of that statement is 
true. I admit also that those, whose business it was 
to prevent by carefulness this accident, are them- 
selves among the sufferers, and that the inference is, 
that they would not wantonly peril their own Jives. 
They are dead, — I would respect the memory of the 



THE LEXINGTCW. 199 

dead. — but 1 must plead, and I feel constrained to 
plead for the rights, the protection, the security of 
the living. Admitting all that has been, or can be 
said in extenuation, the simple facts of the case, so 
far as known, especially xvhen taken in connexion 
with the circnnistance that this selfsame boat has un- 
questionably been on fire o?ice, minor says tioo or 
three times, within the last few weeks, it seems to me, 
that these facts are enough to prove that a solemn 
duty, a fearful responsibility was neglected some 
where by some one. enough to sustain the opinion, 
widely prevalent, that this awful disaster is to be at- 
tributed, either to the selfishness and cupidity of the 
owners, who, greedy of gain, insisted upon overload- 
ing thej^ boat with a dangerous and inflammable 
freight, or to the culpable carelessness, the utter in- 
attention of the master and oflicers, in not stowing 
that freight securely, in not watching over and con- 
stantly, with an eagle eye, the condition and safety 
of the vessel, to which hundreds had entrusted their 
lives. . 

'' The simple fact that such an accident, on such a^K" 
night, occurred, is in itself presumptive evidence o^^l^ 
carelessness or incompetence on the part of some one. 
At any rate, all the circumstances of the case OLight 
to be thoroughly investigated, every thing that can 
be gathered, if anything can be gathered from the 
survivors, touching the origin and early progress of 
the fire, ought to be made known, to satisfy the pub- 
lic curiosity, to relieve the priblic anxiety. If this 
investigation makes against the owners or managers, 
the truth ought not to be winked oat of sight. It 
ought not be hushed up, and kept back, and passed 
over. It is a misplaced charity to do it. We are 
false to our own interests and safety, to the interest 
and safety of all, in doing it. It ought to be spoken 
out, to be urged and insisted upon, boldly and plainly. 
It ought to be proclaimed trumpet-tongued, through- 



200 STEA»IBOAT DISASTERS. 

out the length and breadth of the land, till it reaches 
the halls of Congress, calls off the members from their 
petty party animosities, their disgraceful personal con- 
tentions, and wakes up the government from its in- 
ertness, its epicurean repose, a repose of apparent in- 
difference to those, whose safety it ought to guard, 
whose lives it ought to protect, — till it causes the su- 
preme power of the land to legislate wisely and effi- 
ciently, for one of the most important interests of the 
people, and to do, not something, but every thing 
requisite, to check an evil that cries aloud for redtess. 

''The destruction of human life in the United 
States, during the last ten years, by accidents and 
disasters in the public conveyances, is, I had almost 
said, beyond computation. It is utterly unparalleled 
in the history of the world. It confirms what all for- 
eigners and travellers assert, that there is no country 
upon earth, where the proprietors, managers and con- 
ductors of these public conveyances, are so little re- 
sponsible, so slightly amenable to the law, so far be- 
yond the reach of public rebuke or public punish- 
ment ; and the fearful catastrophe of the Lexington, 
as well as many others that might be collected from 
the history of the past year, are sufficient evidence 
that the. late act of Congress, as was anticipated, has 
proved utterly inadequate and inefficient, and that 
something more strong, peremptory and binding is 
necessary, to protect the amount of life and property, 
daily and hourly exposed upon our highways and our 
waters. 

'' I call upou you, therefore, as merchants, who 
have large interests at stake in this matter, I call up- 
on you as men, and citizens, v/ho cannot behold with 
indifference the sufferings of your fellow men, to let 
your influence be felt, let your voice be heard in this 
thing, let it go forth to swell the power of that great 
sovereign. Public Opinion, till it demand and insists 
upon enactments, that shall meet the necessities of 
the case." 



THE LEXINGTON. 201 

We trust that the foregoing strictures will be acted 
upon, both by our legislative bodies, and by the pub- 
lic at large ; and that the proprietors of the boats will 
themselves see the necessity and policy of a different 
course. In all their endeavors to exculpate them- 
selves from the odium which has attached to them, 
they speak mainly of the boat itself, of its strength, 
safety and capacity, — qualities we do not pretend to 
deify*. But in this case they are to be considered but 
as secondary, — the calamity, as is well known, was 
not owing to the insufficiency of the boat, but to the 
circumstance of her decks being cumbered with com- 
bustible /reight. That it was common to carry such 
freight i^ but poor excuse, since they must ever have 
known that the risk of clanger was thereby increased. 

The horrors of that dreadful night will remain un- 
told till the sea gives up her dead. We can only ap- 
proach them in imagination. The facts which have 
reached us are invested^ with a tragic interest, sur- 
passing the creations of fiction. On the bereaved 
ones left behind falls the weight of sorrow, and for 
them are kindled our strongest sympathies,— not for 
the lost, — they are at rest. There was the husband 
of a devoted wife, and the father of seven daughters, 
all in early childhood ; — there was the widow of Mr. 
H. A. Winslow, in company with the aged father and 
the brother, returning with the corpse of her husband 
to Providence ; — there was the young bride, Mrs. 
Mary Russell, of Stonington, who had been wedded 
but the day previous ; — the hardy mariners, Capt. E. J. 
Kimball and Capt. Benjamin Foster, who Md but just 
returned from foreign climes, after an a"5sence of sev- 
eral years, and were on their way to visit their cher- 
ished homes, — their wives and children. There were 
mothers to whom their offspring clung for safety with 
all the confidence and hope of childhood, as if danger 
itself would turn aside from the protecting arms of 



202 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

maternal affection. The learned divine returning 
from dedicating the house of God ; — the merchant, 
the mariner, the man of wit ; — their names are all re- 
corded, — but where are they ? Their graves are un- 
marked, — and the only dirge above them is the wail- 
ing of the ocean blast. 

The following reflections on the terrible loss sus- 
tained by bereaved relatives and the community at 
large, by the awful conflagration of the Lexington, 
will be found of interest to every reader : 

No one has a right to be indifl'erent and uncon- 
cerned because the disaster has not come near him. 
Let such an one remember, that there is dang^t, and 
that among the next victims may be reckdhfed his 
own father, 'brother, sister, or child. We know not 
when our sensibilities, or those of the community 
have been so awakened by a steamboat disaster. We 
believe no considerable accident has ever occurred 
before, since steamers commenced running on Long 
Island Sound, and we had come to consider the trav- 
elling upon tliat route so perfectly safe, that when we 
were aroused by the astouncling intelligence, that in 
one night, more than one hundred fellow-beings had 
been harried into eternity, by a casualty upon that 
very route, our heart was exercised with feelings of 
amazement and sorrow. 

A fire on the water is always terrific. The ribs of 
oak will stand against the roaring winds, and dashing 
waters, and the hardy mariner can sleep soundly 
amid the storms of heaven. The storm is the sea- 
son not of great danger ordinarily, but of great exer- 
tion, and or the exercise of the consummate skill of 
seamanship, and having passed it safely, it is remem- 
bered rather as an exploit, than a peril. 

Not so with a fire at sea. No securing of hatches, 
clearing of decks, lashing of boats, or double reefing 
of sails can prepare for a fire. Strong cables, and 
massive anchors are of no use, for the most terrible of 



THE LEXINGTON. 203 

elements, when uncontrolled, has broken loose from 
the power which governed it, and has asserted its su- 
premacy in the work of death. 

Let the reader fancy himself looking down upon 
the Lexington, as she wheels away from the pier at 
New York, and gallantly threads her way np the 
East River, and through the tortuous channel of 
Hurl Gate. The Sound opens before her as the last 
grey of the twiliglit is fading over the waters, and 
the chill night-Avind, penetrating every nook on deck, 
drives all to the cabins. Let us look in upon them. 
The passions and purposes of the human bosom are 
at wout/^nd even in this thoroughfare, we may read 
something of human character. 

Gathered in groups here and there, are the mer- 
chants who chance to meet acquaintances, reviewing 
the condition of monetary and mercantile affairs, and 
gathering from mutual hints, the elements of future 
commercial enterprises. 

At the tables are seated several parties of card play- 
ers, spending the energies of deathless minds in the 
efforts to use skillfully certain pieces of figured paste- 
board, and ever and anon, some triumphant exclama- 
tion tells a crowd which has gathered around, that a 
crisis in the game has passed, and victory has decided 
upon her favorites. 

In a more social attitude around tlie stoves, are sev- 
eral old sea-captains, who have been long absent, and 
are now returning to their tenderly-remembered fire- 
sides, and the affections of the delighted group which 
awaits their coming. You may see their weather- 
beaten faces lighted up with smiles as they talk of 
their jiast adventures, and remember that having 
passed their perils, they are almost home. If any 
man is worthy of a warm greeting, when he turns his 
footsteps homeward, it is a magnanimous and upright 
seaman. 

Yonder is a scholar, pacing up and down in deep 



204 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

abstraction, and farther on, a company apparently 
bound in the bonds of some common soitovv, and only 
now and then uttering some word of condolence, and 
sadly thinking of their mutual sorrows. 

A merry and facetious band are amusing themselves 
by calling forth and listening to the lively sallies and 
witty repartees of a much admired comedian. 

In another apartment may be seen the widow in 
her weeds, sadly reflecting that he who often had 
passed the same route with her in health and hope, 
was now a corpse on board, borne toward his last 
resting place. There are also mothers who have 
called their children around them, and are patching 
them with all a mother's anxiety and a mother's 
hope. 

On deck, busy in the duties of their charge, or 
lounging wearily around the engines, are to be seen 
the hands of the boat, listless as ever — thoughtless 
alike of the future and the present. 

A world in miniature is here. The hopes and 
fears, the love and hate, the ambition and despair, 
the mirth and sorrow of the millions of our race, have 
their representatives here. An hour has passed. 
Some are beginning to prepare for a night's repose, 
and others are entering with more interest into the 
amusements of the evening. 

But hark ! what cry is there from the deck, which 
starts every passenger to his feet, and hurries up the 
gangway all who are near it ? It is " Fire ! Fire !'^ 
•' The boat is on fire," is echoed from every lip, and 
the whole company' rushes confusedly from the cabin. 
^' Where ? where ?" is asked by scores of voices, and 
the vociferousness of the question, and the fierceness 
of the struggle for a sight of it, prevent the answer 
being given. 

The boat is headed for the shore, while first the 
fitful bursts of smoke, ancf the frightful flames de- 
note that she is doomed. A boat is thrown over, 



THE LEXINGTON. 205 

and is instantly loaded, but the steamer in her watery 
path, plays the tempest's part, and the frail boat is 
engulphed in the waves, which she heaves from her 
quivering sides ! Another shares the same fate. The 
life boat, the last resort, is let down, but is caught 
in the wheel and lost ! 

At last, as the frighted company begin to hope they 
may reach the shore, a crash is heard, and all is still ! 
The wheels cease to move, and the hulk sways hea- 
vily amid the roaring flames. Now comes the scene 
of terror ! Listen to the Shrieks which pierce the 
very heavens ; the horrid oaths of some in their fe- 
verish agany, and the plaintive exclamations of oth- 
ers who think of the home and friends they can nev- 
er see again, while now and then, at intervals of these, 
may be heard, as on board the fated Kent, or the 
Avrecked Home, the solemn prayer, commending the 
soul of the suj)plicator to God, and even, if the ear 
mistakes not, the song of triumph, like that sung by 
an apostle in the dungeon of Nero. 

The flames rush on, licking up the water which 
continues to be thrown, as if in mockery. One after 
another has fled to the remotest part of the boat, that 
he may preserve life a little longer, or has crawled 
over, and is clinging to the guard-braces, while over 
head, the fire crackles and hisses, triumphing in their 
subjugation. Some have thrown over bales of cotton, 
or other articles , of freight, and are floating upon 
them, while others, maddened by the intolerable heat 
which is every moment growing more and more terri- 
ble, have cast themselves into the sea, and are strug- 
gling as desperately with the waves, as if there was a 
chance of life ! 

Can a moment of more horrible, agonizing suspense 
be imagined? See the mother kneeling on the deck 
with her children, calmly commending them to Hea- 
ven ! 

But amid this raging destruction, the Christian 
18 



206 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Stands as the sun among the flying clouds of heaven, 
calnri and serene ; one moment lost in the<;onfusion, 
the next emerging from it to utter words of comfort, 
or raise a prayer to God for the pardon of the guilty 
and horror-stricken. Moment of terror ! It chills 
the blood to think of it ! But that moment passes. 
The burnt mass begins to settle. Each end of the 
boat sways for a moment in the yielding waters, and 
the eddying of the troubled waves tells that the Lex- 
ington, with her unfortunate passengers and crew, 
rests where the sea sings for ever the dirge of the 
lost ! 

Among other instances worthy of record, as eon^- 
nected with the fate of this boat, we give the follow- 
ing, as exemplifying the undying strength of a moth- 
er's love : around the body of a child was found the 
veil of a lady, partly burntj-^-rin this touching circum- 
stance we find the last act of that passion which cea- 
ses only with life — a mother's love. Ceases, did we 
say ? Never ! It is of heaven, heavenly — allied to 
the essence of deity, and co-eternal with the soul 
■which never dies. In the mother's love, to the last 
moment that the trembling spirit lingers in its earthly 
tenement— in its increasing strength as life wanes, 
strongest as the soul is fluttering to depart, we read 
the best natural evidence of the truth of revealed re- 
ligion. In the last smile of a mother upon her off- 
spring, where the attention of friends smoothes the 
dying pillow ; but more than all, in the mother's con- 
vulsive embrace of her child, in the season of peril, 
where there are none to help — in the frantic clasp 
which death makes only more rigid — are affecting tes- 
timonials, better than all other, to the immortality of 
the soul. A mother's soul is in her love of the chil- 
dren she has borne — and when sholild that soul be 
more like its source, and less selfish, than at the mo- 
jnent its shackles of clay are loose ? Forgive us if 



fHE LliXiNGTON. 207 

the sentiment be sacrilegious — but to us it seems an 
antidote of Heaven — a manifestation of the Deity. 

The ages of terror that pased in the few hours an- 
tecedent to the deaths of the sufferers, are more pain- 
fully described in this little evidence of a mother's 
care for her child, than in volumes of description. 
We can read in it her retreat to the last corner of a 
plankj upon the wreck, which would yield a support 
to the horror-stricken passengers, at the greatest dis- 
tance from the devouring fire ; we can see the child's 
face buried in a moment in the bosom which had 
yielded a sufficient shelter against all its apprehen- 
sions of danger, previous to that awful night. The 
terrific screams of t4ie weak, and the more violent des- 
pair of those who were cast down from fancied 
strength to conscious impotence— the confusion of 
the appalling scene, and the certainty of danger from 
which there was no escape, apparent even to an infant, 
would force its face, in wild affright, from its tempo- 
rary asylum. It was then, as she bound her terrified 
child to her breast ; amid the horrors and distracting 
circumstances of that moment, that, despite of every 
thing which might draw it away, her heart was cen- 
tered upon her child. It was then, that she inter- 
posed the feeble barrier of a gauze veil between its 
face and the flames. Had a feather, floating in the 
air, passed her, it would not have escaped her atten- 
tion ; and she would have clutched it in the fulness 
of a mother's hope, to have placed it between death 
and her infant. For herself she had not a thought ; 
and could the attitude in which she had stood alive 
be painted, we would stake our Ufe upon the fact that 
her body shielded the infant's body from the fire ; and 
that the veil was drawn over its head to protect the 
features which childish waywardness, terror, and cu- 
riosity, would not permit the mother to fold in her 
arms. But both are now gone — and He who saw 
their last moments, and their temporary separation in 



208 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

death, sees them again united. While God liveSy 
their friends mourn not as those without hope. 

Did the world need this lesson to teach us our obli- 
gations to our mothers — the unrequited debt of Tove, 
due from the hour which gave us birth, through the 
years of mental pain for our follies, anxiety for our 
success, thought for our prosperity, grief for our ad- 
versity ? Child, impatient of thy mother,— be thy 
years infantile or mature, — remember that to her 
thou art still a child ; and when the pride of fancied 
superiority would make thee impatient of her wo- 
manly, and it may seem to thee childish suggestions, 
think of the burned threads of the gauze veil. 

We have received a few brief notices of some of 
the victims of the conflagration of the Lexington. 
We give them to the reader as being of peculiar in- 
terest, and as showing the high character and standing 
of many of those who perished in that awful event. 

Dr. Charles Follen was born at Romrod, iii 
Hesse Darmstadt, in the year 1796. His elder broth- 
er, Augustus Follen, is now a professor in a univer- 
sity in Switzerland, and is an eminent German poet. 
Another brother, whom we have heard spoken of as 
distinguished for his literary talents, is now a citizen 
of Missouri. Previous to the year 1H23, Dr. Follen 
was a professor of the civil law in the University of 
Basle, in Switzerland. He taught his science with a 
spirit of freedom worthy of the earlier days of the 
little republic in which he lived. In his character 
benevolence and perfect gentleness were so happily 
blended with the greatest courage and firmness, that 
he was regarded by the student with a love approach- 
ing to enthusiasm. His animadversions on the sub- 
ject of government and law, became displeasing to 
Austria, a power whose iron and relentless despotism 
is felt far beyond the limits of her territory. A for- 
mal demand was made on the authorities of Basle, 



THE LEXINGTON. ^09 

that Professor Follen should be delivered up to Aus- 
tria, to answer for the freedom with which he had 
spoken of absolute governments. ' The question was 
debated, and the demand was refused ; but after- 
wards, at the pressing instances of the Austrian gov- 
ernment, and through fear of provoking the vengeance 
of a power which tfiey were too feeble to resist, the 
authorities of Basle instituted a preliminary process 
against Professor Follen, in consequence of which he 
left Switzerland. He first went to France, where he 
was kindly received by Lafayette, who was just com- 
ing out to America, and who offered to bring him out 
with him and introduce him. This proposal he mod- 
estly declined, although it was his intention to make 
the United States his place of refuge. In the autumn 
of 1824, after Lafayette's return to France, Dr. Fol- 
len came out to America. He was soon afterwards^ 
employed as a professor of German Literature in Har- 
vard College, where his kindness of manners and 
varied knowledge made him extremely popular with 
the students. He subsequently embraced the profes- 
sion of divinity, and was for a while pastor of a con- 
gregation in this city. At the time of his death he 
resided in Lexington, in Massachusetts, Avhere he 
had charge of a religious society. 

He was a man of strong intellect, much cultivated 
in the various departments of knowledge and inquiry, 
and his judgment was calm and solid. — His experi- 
ence of the evil of arbitrary governments, joined to 
the feeling of universal good will, and to the genial 
spirit of hope which were ever strong within him, led 
him to embrace the purest democratic principles in 
regard to government and legislation. The world 
had not a firmer, a more ardent, or more consistent 
friend of human liberty. His passions naturally en- 
ergetic, were all so perfectly subjected to the control 
of the higher qualities of his character, that, although 
you saw thaMhey were not extinct, you saw; at the 
18* 



210 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

same time, that they were held in their place, and 
overruled by justice and benevolence. No man 
could have known him, even slightly, Avithout being 
strongly impressed by the surpassing benignity of his 
temper. He is taken from us by a mysterious Provi- 
dence in the midst of his usefulness. 

In one of his last lectures before the New York 
Mercantile Library Association, he made the follow- 
ing beautiful quotation, being a translation from 
Schiller, unconscious that to himself it was so soon 
to be applicable ; — f 

"With noiseless tread death comes on man; 
No plea — no prayer delivers him : — 
From midst of life's unfinished plan, 
With sudden hand it severs him ; 
And ready, or not ready, no delay. 
Forth to his Judge's bar he must away." 

Mrs. Russell Jorvis, the lady of Russell .Tat#is, 
Esq. of New York; v/lio, with her two children per- 
ished by the late calamity, was the only survivmg 
daughter of Thomas Cordis, Esq., of Boston, and 
grand-daughter of the late Thomas Kemble, of the 
same city. She was cousin of the wife of General 
Towson, of the U. S. Army, a lady most favorably 
known at Washington city, and of H. K. Oliver, of 
Boston. Mr. Cordis has, by this death, been again 
subjected to a most afflicting bereavement. He had 
heretofore followed to the tomb two wives, a son and 
an older daughter. Both were most lovely and inter- 
esting children. When the flames of the boat drove 
Mrs. Jarvis into the waves, she sprang overboard with 
one child, and succeeded m reaching a cotton bale. 
The other child quickly followed, and in attempting 
to secure her, the distracted mother lost her hold, and 
the three sank in death together. 

Mrs. Jarvis was a lady of incomparable excellence, 
one of those whom all delight to love. Heaven with 
lavish hand had adorned her with the j^ichest endow- 
ments of mind, disposition and person. Her face was 



THE LEXINGTON. 211 

one of uncommon beauty, and one could read, in its 
gentle expression, tlie entire loveliness of the mild 
spirit that dwelt within. Those who knew hey well, 
possess the full confidence, that, as her exhausted 
frame sank beneath the closing waves, her spirit, with 
those of the innocents who perished rn her embrace, 
ascended spotless and pure to the presence of Him, 
who ordered this event for the wisest purposes. 

Mrs. Jarvis had the greatest aversion to this partic- 
ular steamboat. But she yielded her objections, as 
she was attended by two of her relatives. Strange 
and mysterious providence, that her first venturing 
where she had the most fear, should be the first step 
to her watery grave. 

James G. Brown. Among the many who have 
been called to mourn by the late awful catastrophe, 
fe\^can have been overwhelmed with a deeper sor^^ 
row than the friends of James G. Brown, of Boston, 
but late of New Orleans. He was a young man, just 
in the prime of maturity, with qualities of person and 
of heart, such as are fitted to attract friendship and 
respect. The impression of his manly accomplish- 
ments and pure purposes, rendered him an object of 
high esteem to the large circle of his acquaintance. 

He had just commenced his career as a man of 
business, and his energetic and honorable character, 
added to the uncommon advantages with which his 
perseverance and industry had surrounded him, were 
giving fair promise of success and eminence in his 
worldly pursuits. In the spring-time of his hopes, 
amid many bright visions of happiness and usefulness, 
while rejoicing in his escape from perils by land and 
sea, and just hastening to the home of his affection, 
and the welcome of his expecting friends, he was met 
at the threshhold by the great enemy. Anxious 
hearts wait in vain for his coming. And those who 
had watched with interest his maturing graces, and 
hoping to vi^ his continued progress, are compelled 



212 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

to seek their comfort in the memory of his virtues, 
and the thought of his reward. 

To the bereaved family of which he was the orna- 
ment and pride, this fresh affliction came in a train of 
disasters, itself the most terrible of all. Within a 
few months, two other cherished ones have been 
torn from their hitherto unbroken circle, one by sud- 
den accident, and one by lingering disease. 

Some like a night-flash passed away, 
And some sank lingering day by day ; 
. The quiet grave-yard, some lie there, 
And cruel ocean has his share. 

Under this new loss, no language can express the 
depth of their anguish. " Their strong shaft is brok- 
en, and their beautiful rod." Yet precious to them 
beyond measure are the last moments of their depart- 
ed one. In a letter to a dear friend, written just be- 
fore he went on board of the Lexington, he says;^*' I 
leave to-night, trusting to the watchful care of my 
Covenant Shepherd." They cannot doubt that the 
Shepherd had his eye upon their beloved in the ter- 
rors of that dark, cold night. 

Robert Blake, Esq., of Wrentham, Mass., was one 
in whose death the public, the church of Christ, and 
his bereaved family, have sustained a loss of no ordi- 
nary kind. The confidence reposed in his ability, 
discretion and judgment, by those who were associ- 
ated with him in the affairs of lite ; and his uniform 
adherence to the principles of truth and justice, were 
known throughout the community. He was a kind 
and tender husband, and a faithful and affectionate 
father. Having accustomed himself to regard the 
property with which God had entrusted him, as a tal- 
ent, for the use of which he was accountable, he did 
not uselessly lavish it away in procuring for himself 
the pomp and empty show of this world, but uniform- 
ly exhibited a plainness and simplicity becoming a 
man professing Christianity. He w£# far removed 



THE LEXINGTON. 



213 



from a temporizing, man-fearing, or man-pleasing 
spirit ; and habitually appeared to view himself in 
the light of God's truth, which rendered him truly- 
humble in the sight of God and man. The various 
benevolent enterprises of the age found in him a 
friend and helper. Though the calls on his charity 
were numerous, he was ever a cheerful and bountiful 
giver ; and often in ways so private, that it may truly 
be said of him, that " his right hand knew not what 
his left hand did." He will long be remembered by 
many young men who received from him judicious 
advice and pecuniary assistance. Though his be- 
reaved friends were not permitted to hear his pai'ting 
counsels, nor soothe his dying moments, we doubt not 
the Savior was with him as he passed through the 
dari^ valley of death, and that he is now with the 
redeemed on Mount Zion. 

Capt. Ichabod D. Carver^ of Plymouth, Mass. He 
was on his return ^rom a foreign voyage, 'and after a 
passage so long as to excite serious apprehensions for 
his safety, he at length reached his port ; and, by his 
request, every preparation had been made to consum- 
mate his marriage immediately on his arrival home. 
We have seldom been called to mourn the loss of a 
worthier citizen, or more estimable young man : and 
the aggravating circumstances under which he met 
his end, seem to have thrown a gloom over our whole 
community. Young, amiable, industrious, enterpris- 
ing, and just on the eve of forming an alliance with 
on^ chosen to be the companion of his bosom, his fate 
seemed indeed a hard one ; and we deeply sympa- 
thize with the friends who were anticipating his re- 
turn, with the certain expectation of enjoying his so- 
ciety for a long period of time, — it having been his 
intention to relinquish a sea-faring life. But wise and 
inscrutable are^ the ways of Providence, — we bow in 
submission, although desirous of paying a passing 
tribute to his memory. He was one of our most de- 



214 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

serving sea captains, — ^his integrity and entire devo- 
tion to his business, endeared him to his employers, 
and made them his strong and confiding friends. His 
loss will long be felt by all who knew him, and has 
left a void which will often remind them of the af- 
flicting and disastrous event by which he was taken 
away. 

ilir. J. P. Felt, Jr., of Salem, was about twenty- 
six years of age, and one of the most promising and 
respectable young men in the city. His character 
was estimable, and blended with intelligence and en- 
terprise that would have given him the highest stand- 
ing in the mercantile profession, to which he was 
bred. He was one whose loss is irreparable to a large 
circle of friends, and important to the whole commu- 
nity. 

Capt. Benjamin Foster, of Providence, was on his 
return from India, after a voyage of three years ; and 
probably had on board \yith him a large amount of 
property. His wife and children had been anxiously 
awaiting his arrival for several months, and the dread- 
ful intelligence that reached them of his loss in the 
Lexington, was the first intelligence they received of 
him. 

Mr. C. R. Phelps, was a gentleman of great en- 
terprise, well known and highly esteemed. He had 
acquired a large fortune at New Orleans, some years 
since, and owned a beautiful mansion at Stonington, 
celebrated for its taste and arrangement. But the sad 
event which bereaved the family of its head, has left 
it a house of mourning. 

We will now conclude the melancholy history of 
the loss of the Lexington, by giving a few extracts 
from one or two of the eloquent discourses delivered 
in Boston, soon after the news arrived of that fatal 
event. 



THE LEXINGTON. 215 

The following is extracted from a sermon, preached 
in St. Paul's church, Boston, by J. J. Stone, D. D. : 

*' The burning of the Lexington upon the waters of 
Long Island Sound, is an. event Avhich has over- 
whelmed many hearts with the bitterness of grief, 
and is engraven indelibly on the memory of many 
other hearts scarcely less afflicted than those of the 
bereaved themselves. 

'' The company, gathered on that sad night aboard 
the ill-fated vessel, were of almost all classes, and 
from various and widely separated homes. There 
^^s the humble and toilful laborer ; the active and 
enterprising man of business ; the learned and accom- 
plished scholar and divine ; the young betrothed, who 
had just left the beloved one amidst the joys of happy 
affection; the husband, returning to be greeted anew 
by the smiles and the welcome of wife and children ; 
tender woman, uniting in herself the characters of 
daughter, wife, and mother, and seeking, after years 
of separation, the presence and embrace of an aftec- 
tionate and yearning father ; trusting childhood and 
helpless infancy, following the steps of parents, and 
not dreaming that there could be danger in a mother's 
arms and on a mother's bosom ; the faithful and pray- 
erful Christian, ready at all times to commit himself 
'' to the care of his covenant Shepherd ;" and perhaps 
the thoughtless follower of pleasure and the world, 
who never thought of dying till phujged amidst the 
agonies of death. All were travelling in hope, drawn 
by their various objects of interest or affection, and 
trusting with comfortable confidence to the means 
• provided for their conveyance. The distance be- 
tween themselves and their homes, or the objects 
which they sought, was lessening with every quickly 
passing moment ; and hearts, and thoughts, and 
tongues were busy with beings, or with interests left 
behind, and with beings or interests still before. — 
Winter had darkened the skies into a chilly and in- 



216 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 

hospitable night, and made most grateful the speed 
with which they were borne onwards, and the safety 
which seemed to reign around them. 

''How terrible at such a moment must have been 
the awful cry of alarm which broke, their feeling of 
security, and told them that they were within the 
power of those fearfully opposed elements, flame and 
flood^ fire 3.nd frost f And who can paint the agonies 
of that hour, when, as the burning vessel shone up- 
wards towards heaven, as if to remind them once 
more of that only home where there are no night and 
no death, no sorrow and no sin, they were driven suof 
cessively into the arms of the tossing waves, and all 
went down together to die in the cold, dark chambers 
of the deep! 

" The agonies and sufferings of that hour, what- 
ever they were, are now over. The bodies of the 
perished rest from pain. They feel not so much as 
the thrill which- creeps through our frames at the 
thought of what they endured. 

"Meanwhile, the spirits have returned to God, 
who gave them, and are waiting the period of their 
final account with him. Tiieir state is no longer, in 
any respect, a concern of ours. It is wholly in the 
hands of Him ^vho is infinitely just and infinitely 
good." 

The following is an extract from a sermon preached 
at the Brattle Square church, in Boston, by the Rev. 
S.^K. Lothrop: 

" A few days pass, and our thoughts are yet wan- 
dering to that far off spot on the lonely ocean, where 

' The death Angel flapped his broad wing o'er the wave,' 

when they are suddenly called back, and called home, 
by a calamity which appals and almost benumbs sen- 
sation, by its fearful nature and a magnitude not yet 
ascertained in its full extent. I need not name it. • 
I need not describe it. It cannot be described. The 



THE LEXINGTON. 2l7 

circumstances attending it are few, but terrible. Im- 
agination can hardly paint a scene, in its immediate 
aspect, or its ultimate and swiftly approaching issues, 
more full of horrors, to distract the calmest mind, to 
unnerve the stoutest heart, — ' horrors which must 
have appeared to start up from the' wild caverns of 
the deep itself.' No warning was given to prepare 
the thoughts, no omen of peril iiad been noticed. 
The tempest and the whirlwind give signals of their 
approach, but no signal is here to tell of coming dan- 
ger. In an instant almost, that unfortunate company 
found themselves assailed by an enemy against which 
they could make no defence, and from which they 
soon lost all means of escape. And four * only have 
escaped alone to tell' the tale, to give the brief out- 
line of the beginning of that scene of terror and dis- 
may. How it ended, and the details of its progress, 
what were the movements, the efforts and sufferings 
of the multitudes gathered upon that burning deck, 
none can tell. 

" The physical suffering endured in those brief 
hours, must have been severe, but it sinks into insig- 
nificance before the mental suffering of a situation so 
bereft of hope. To be shipwrecked is terrible. To 
be driven by the fierce hurricane upon an iron, rock- 
bound coast, is fearful and appalling. But in ship- 
wreck there is room for action, and consequently for 
hope. There is something to be done, some effort to 
be made ; a steady eye, a calm, «elf-possessed mind, 
a courageous heart, may avail something towards es- 
cape, and if death come at last, it comes only after 
noble efforts find struggles. To die in battle is terri- 
ble. Few scenes of this world's suffering and woe, 
can equal the battle field, — that scene of dreadful and 
indiscriminate slaughter, where multitudes are assem- 
bled that death may mow with greater facility, that 
the mighty and renowned, the young, the healthy, 
and the vigorous may perish in a moment, amid pierc- 
19 



218 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

ing groans, and frantic shouts, and bitter shrieks, and 
the roar of the deadly thunder, which strews around 
them companions in misery. But in the battle there 
is action, and to the very last there is hope, hope of 
success or escape. The mind is buoyed up and 
pressed onward to effort and endurance by this hope, 
and if at last death come, sudden and violent, ttere is, 
it may be, the consciousness. of a. noble duty nobly 
done, of life periled in a holy cause, and sacrificed, if 
sacrificed ft must be, to freedom and truth. 

'' But here, after the first few moments, there was 
no room for action, effort, or hope. In the wild con- 
fusion and dismsfy of the first outbreak of danger, the 
only means of escape had been utterly lost. And 
there they stood, the two companies, helpless and 
powerless, gathered- on the bow and stern of that ill- 
fated boat,— the devouring fire raging to madness be- 
tween them, throwing its lurid flames to Heaven, and 
casting a terrific brightness upon the yawning waves 
that stood ready to engulph them. There was no 
longer any help in man. None could hope to live for 
an hour in that wild wintry sea. They had nothing 
to do but to wait, to suffer, and to die. If ever any 
situation required manhood, fortitude and the power 
of religious faith,. it must have been this. Let us 
trust, brethren, that these were not wanting. Let us 
trust that those brief hours were not all hours of pain, 
of grief, of unmitigated anguish. Let us hope that, 
while glad memories of the past thronged thick and 
fast upon their minds, and burning thoughts of home, 
of wife or husband, of children and kindred, no more 
to be seen on earth, tore with anguish, their hearts, 
there also capie in upon their souls, sweet and holy 
in its influences, that faith, mightier than any human 
affection, stronger than any mortal peril, which lifts 
the spirit to God, and gives it peace in death." 

In another passage from the same discourse he 
gpeaks thus eloquently :— 



l-HE LEXINGTON. 



219 



" The moonlight of a desert solitude, the gloom of 
evening or midnight in a ruined city may carry the 
traveller's thoughts through years of bygone happi- 
ness ; but it is in his passage across the deep, in the 
hush and loneliness of the ocean, that the visions and 
bodings of his own spirit become palpable and real. 
This it is, that causes the misfortunes that happen in 
the heart of the seas, to awaken in our breasts the 
deepest sympathy with the sufferers. Their complete, 
absolute separation from the rest of mankind, makes 
ns feel for them, as if they had been the inmates of 
o.ur own dwellings. And if they have actually been 
known to us, if they have lived in our neighborhood, 
if our hands have ever exchanged with them the 
warm grasp of friendship and affection, if they have 
mingled in our social or domestic joys, our hearts 
yearn in pity and tenderness, as we think of their 
fate. No tomb shall plead to their remembrance. 
No human power can redeem their forms. The 
white foam of the waves was their winding sheet, 
the winds of the ocean shall be their eternal dirge." 



We are gratifieH to be able to slate tliat Mr. Partridge and family, whose 
names are on llie list of those lost in the Lexington, were fortunately not on 
board at tiie lime of the disaster. 




f:/^>' 



220 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



BURNING OF THE LEXINGTON- 

The steam is up, and the pistons play, — 

The bell has rong,— she's away, — she's away .' 

The streamers are flyingf, and in her bold flight. 

She scuds o'er the waters like a thing of light ; 

The young and the aged, the gay and the grave, 

Are dancing together along o'er the wave ; 

The pastor, the punster, the matron, the maid, 

Throng around on the (leek or the high promenade, — 

They watch the great city, with curious eye. 

Till the last lofty dome is gone out of the sky ; 

And as the cold breezes rush on from the snow. 

They hurry from deck for a shelter below, 

Where they heed not the wind, or the surges that foam^ 

And taste of enjoyments " like home, sweet home." 

The tables are spread, well laden, and stored 
With as sweet a repast as an epicure's board ; 
They gather around,, and partake Avith delight 
Of the savory cheer that is furnished to-night; 
Then shoot off, in clusters, wherever they list, — 
Some loll on settees, and some sit down at whist, — 
Some talk upon politics, — some upon trade, — 
Some speak of the profits or losses they've made, — 
Some take up a paper, — some musingly sit, — 
Some laugh at a bright scintillation of wit, — 
And all seem as easy, and happy, and free, 
As if they were not- on the wild, faithless sea; 
Nor dream the dread king is so near in his jflight. 
To hold a rich carlnival among them to-night ; 
That a scene of deep sorrow and woe is at hand. 
That with horror and anguish shall fill all the land. — 

What means the loud tumult,— the heart-breaking cry, — 
The shrieks that uprise to the dark vaulted sky ? 
Why tremble the weak, and why cower the strong? 
Why ru%h they thus phrenzied and madly along? 
The boat is on fire ! and they see that their 'grave 
Is the red flashing fire, or the cold dashing wave i 

"To the boats !" to the boats distracted they crowd, — 
And find the dark wave is their funeral shroud. 
" Lower the boats ! lower the boats !" 'tis done in a breath, 
Down they sink in the icy embraces of death ! • 



THE LEXINGTON. 221 

Some struggle a moment and buffet the wave, — 
One shriek, — and they sink into one conmion grave ! 

But where may the brave, hardy mariners be, 

Who have breasted the dangers of ocean and sea? 

They left the endearments of friendship and home, 

In far distant oceans and climates to roam ; — 

Their dangers arp past, and their hardships are o'er. 

And they look once again on their dear native shore. — 

On hope's merry pinions they joyously move, 

To throw their rich treasures to those that they love ; 

And a few fleeting hours on the wild dashing main. 

And they'll clasp those they love at their fireside again. 

O, where are they now! look down in the flood, — 

They struggle, — and who can now save them but God? 

Hope braces each muscle, and arms them in might, — 

Sweet home, and its loved ones, are clear in their sight, — 

Hope flickers — O, horror! it is quenched in the wave, — 

And despair lays them down in their cold icy grave. m 

The lover, — O ! where is the lover to-night, — 
Whose future was woven with wreaths of delight! 
He saw the Uride stand in her purq maiden charms, 
And clasped her in hope in his own guardian arms; 
A few hours will pass, and he'll leap to the shore, 
And meet her, and greet her, and leave her no more. — 
Ah ! there may ye see him, — look down from the prow, — 
He struggles — love buoys him — OI where is he now? 
The waters close o'er him, — he moves with the dead, — 
And the cold briny wave is his own bridal bed ! 

The mourners — the mourners! O, tell me their doom, 

Who are carrying the "dead to their own kindred tomb? 

Keen anguish has bidden them shed the salt tear, 

As they bent with aflfectioo around their sad bier. 

O! where have they hied them to sorrow and weep? — 

They have gone to commingle their tears with the deep; 

The tie so late severed, was severed in vain, — 

For death has united more firmly again ; 

No changes can part them, — they lie in one bed. 

And the same winding sheet holds the quick-and the dead. 

O ! where is that spirit, who, in his brief day, ^ 

Could bid the sad bosom be joyous and gay I 
By whom the glad smile, on thousands, was lit 
By the play of his genius, and sparks of his wit! 
Can he charm the dread monai-ch his hand to stay, — 
Or the winds and the waves to cease their play ? 
19* 



223 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

Can he stop the red fire, as it sweeps along, 

By the magic of wit, or a pun, or a song ? 

O, pardon, gay spirit ! the thoughts that oft start. 

And shoot a keen pang through my sorrowing heart, — 

They picture thee struggling undaunted for life, . 

For thy sweet rosy children and grief-stricken wife, — 

And crying, while bravely ye buffet the tide, 

" O, God ! if I'm lost, be their shield and their guide !" 

Ah, vainly he struggles, — the destroyer shall win, — 

And quench the bright spirit and g-enius of Finn ! 

And where is the shepherd, who loved to unlock 
The treasures of wisdom to nourish his flock ? 
Is the faith that he preaches, his pole star and light, 
To guide and to cheer him on this awful night? 
Does the sunlight of heaven, to the keen eye of faith. 
Gleam bright through tlie vale of ihe shadow of death ? 
Does he smile as he bends at the beck of the kfng, — 
m And say, as he clasps him, O ! "where is thy sting?" 
Ah, yes ! for methinks, 'midst the horror, I see 
A friend who is throwing his arms over thee ; 
Who smiles, and Avhose smile brings, the sunshine of day; 
And chases despair, with its terrors, away; 
And though the dark billows dash fiercely and roll, 
The sunlight of heaven awakes in the soul; 
And, as the last tie that confined it is riven, 
He takes thy freed spirit and wings it for heaven ! 

O ! where is that mother, to whom fondly clung 
Tmo beautiful beings so lovely and young? 
She was cradled and nursed in the lap of a home 
Where hardship and want might not venture to come ; 
And the winds were not suffered too rudely to blow 
On a form that was shielded in tenderness so; 
And when the tie broke, that Ijad bound her so long, 
For one more enchanting, enxluring and strong, — 
The arms of affection encircled her there, 
And shielded and screened her from hardship and care.— 
Ah ! there stands she now, on the red fiery deck, — 
And now 'midst the surges she clings to the wreck,— 
She buffets the billows, that thunder and swell, 
And clings to the dear ones she loves so well. 
" My children, my children I" she shrieks in dismay, — 
* *' O ! sea, — have ye taken one darling away ! 
Restore her, restore her, — alas ! is there none 
To bring a fond mother her beautiful one ?" 
O, death I how remorseless and keen is the dart 
Thou hast planted to-night in that fond mother's heart ; 



THE LEXINGTON. 223 

Ye have taken her child, as a merciless king", 

And have cast it away as a poor, worthless thing'. 

"0, save my lost darling," she shrieked, and she pressed 

The dear one more closely she held at her breast, — 

"O, God! must we perish ? is the funeral bier 

Of myself and my cherubs, — my own cherubs, here? 

My father, my father, -^O ! sigh not for me, — 

'Twas sweet, when I died, I could think upon thee; 

And, ah! my loved husband, it gives me delight. 

That thou know'st not the horrors that gird us to-night ; 

And when the sad tidings shall spread, as they will, 

Let fancy, with all her creations, be still, — 

Nor take up a pencil to sketch to your sight 

The horrors that gather around us to-night. 

Farewell, — ah ! my loved ones, — we'll lie down together, 

Where troubles and trials depart, and forever. — 

Earth seemed to you lovely and covered with bliss, — 

Hush, h>ish! — there's a worid more enchanting tkan this, — 

There are roses more lovely, — fields sAveeter above, — 

We will hie and enjoy them, forever, my love." 

Ye living",— ah I here is a picture for you 

More frightful than fancy can paint to your view. — « 

Rank, rank, — ah ! what is it ? let thought but portray 

This scene, and 'twill vanish like bubbles away ; 

And wealth, — ah ! the wealth of a Croesus would seem. 

With all its enchantments, a trifle, a dreaiti. — 

The grades and distinctions subsisting below. 

That raise or depress us, — O ! where are they now r 

The noble, the ignoble, the coward, the brave, 

Are lying, all equally low, in the grave ; 

The highest, the proudest, the wealthiest bow 

As low as the poorest, the lowliest, noAv. 

O I happy, thrice happy, is he in whose breast 
Sweet innocence lodges her soft downy nest, — 
Who weds' not the pleasures, and splendor, and show, 
That spread their enchantments so gaudy below ; 
But, planting his holiest affections above. 
Reaps, even in hope, a rich harvest of love ; 
And thus, let the summons be sudden or slow, 
»He ever stands feady and willing to go. 



234 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 



ACCIDENT ON BOARD THE FLORA, 

on her passage from Louisville to Wheelijig, on the 

Ohio River, Noverr^er 17, 1836. 

The steamboat Flora, Caprt. R. D. Chapman, on 
her passage up the river from Louisville to Wheeling, 
November 17, met* with a serious accident,, by which 
several lives were lost, and a number scalded and mu- 
tilated. 

The followijig particulars of the dis£ister have been 
furnished ^is by a gentleman who was a passenger on 
board : — 

'' On my return from the West, in November, I took 
passage on board the steamboat Flora, at Louisville, 
bound'for Wheeling. Early on the morning after we 
left Louisville, while the passengers were most of 
them in their berths, the two boilers, from some de- 
fect in the lowei* (Jeck of the boat, settled suddenly, 
leading the entire weight of them upon the cast iron 
pipes, (commo«ly called the conducting pipes,) by 
which the steam is conducted to operate upon the ma- 
chinery. These pipes immediately broke, and being 
near and directly under the social hall, which is on a 
level with the passengers' cabin, a volume of steam 
was forced through the floor, stripping up the boards, 
and completely filling the hall and cabin.'' There was 
no explosion by which the sleepers might be warned 
of their danger, but a slight quivering of the deck 
seemed to tell those that were awake that all was not 
right. There was an alarm at once raised that the 
boiler had burst. I, with eight or ten others, made 
for the ladies' cabin, in the stern of the boat, passed 
through, out upon the guard, with the intention of 
jufnping into the river if the steam should be so hot 
that we could not breathe it, but being such a distance 



THE FLORA. 



225 



from the boilers, it was cool by the time it reached 
us. 

" We could form no idea of tlig work of misery and 
destruction, until we returned into the gentlemen's 
cabin — and there such a scene presented itself as I 
can never forget ; some were running about with their 
skio scalded and peeling from their faces, hands and 
arms ; others in their berths, who were not awakened 
until the steam aroused them, writhing about in the 
most intense agony, having inhaled the scalding va- 
por so as to prevent their speaking only in whispers. 
Mr. B^ijamin Myrick, of Charlestown, died in about 
half an hour after the accident. Another, whose 
name I have forgotten, died before we reached Cin- 
cinnati. 

'' We were towed up to Cincinnati by the stearn- 
boat Mountaineer, which overtook us a short time after 
the disaster, which happened about thirty miles be- 
low that place. Mr. Myrick and one other were bu- 
ried there. A number were carried to the hospital, 
among whom was Mr. Kinnaid, member of Congress 
from Indiana, who died after ha\iiig suffered about 
three weeks. 

'•'It was supposed that the cabin door was opened 
by some one to escape, as soon as the pipes broke, by 
which means the steam rushed in and performed its 
work of destruction. Almost every one on board was 
wounded, either by scalding, or by attem})ting to 
jump through the windows, fhe boat being crowd- 
ed, I had not been able to secure a berth, but was 
obliged to sleep on a cot on the floor, to which cir- 
cumstance, with the protection of Providence, my 
own fortunate escape may be attributed. 

'• One or two. who were in the immediate vicinity 
of the place where the steam first passed through the 
flo'or, saved themselves by remarkable presence of 
mind ; one of them was a cripple, who escaped by 
creeping under the berths, where he remained on the 



226 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

cabin floor until the steam cooled. Another drew his 
broad brimmed hat oyer his face and ran out on the 
guard, — his hat beingj^burnt to a complete crisp, which 
broke into pieces like a pipe-stem. 

''No blame whatever could be attached to the en- 
gineer, as the result of the accident plainly showed 
that the settling of the deck, on which the boilers 
were supported, was the prime cause of this distress- 
ing calamity." 



EXPLOSION ON BOARD THE WILMINGTON, 

,on the Mississippi River ^ November 13, 1839. 

The steamboat Wilmington left New Orleans, for 
St. Louis, on the llth of November, and on the morn- 
ing of the 13th, a little before day-light, stopped to 
wood near the mouth of the Arkansas river. She left 
the wood yard a little after day, and soon after, being 
a few miles above Napoleon, the middle boiler burst, 
tearing otF nearly two rings in • its centre. The 
explosion threw the other two boilers into the river, 
with the chimney, and carried the centre boiler back- 
wards along the starboard side of the engine, nearly 
the len-gth of the boiler, tearing all the stancheons and 
other works, driving i\^Q fire-bed and deck under *the 
boilers down into the hold. Fragments of the furna- 
ces were only prevented from going through, by hogs- 
heads of sugar lying under it. The piece of iron de- 
tached from the exploding boiler, being about three 
feet wfde, and reaching quite round it," was carri- 
ed directly through the social hall, tearing away eve- 
ry thing in its course and cutting off the pilot house, 
in which the pilot was at the time, and falling through 
the after part of the hurricane deck into the ladies' 



THE WILMINGTON. 22T 

cabin. The furnaces and all the upper deck, back to 
the second room in the main cabin, was torn away, or 
so knocked down as to fall immediately in. The 
pilot house was throwu into the river about fifty 
yards. Such was the force of the explosion, that the 
principal clerk, Mr. Birkinbine, who was in his berth 
ih the office, was thrown forward, and with the iron 
chest, fell near the capstan, having been carried a dis- 
tance of almost forty-five feet. 

There were several thrown overboard. The cap- 
tain instantly manned and sent the yawl out,, and 
succeeded in picking up several of them. Those of 
the passengers who were injured, were around the 
stove in the social hall, and sutfered most from the 
falling in of the floor and the stove. One had his leg 
broken in this way. 

Immediately after the accident the boat took fire, 
but was soon extinguished without serious injury. 
Fortunately, she was in such a situation, that, by 
the aid -of the current, they were enabled to run her 
ashore. 




228 STEAMBOAT^ DISASTERS. 

EXPLOSION OF THE GREENFIELD, 

on the passage between Greenfield and Hartford, 
May 18, 1840. " . 

The steamboat Greenfield, Capt. Crawford, which 
plied between Greenfield and Hartford as a tow-boat, 
was blown up by the explosion of both her boilers, 
on Monday, May 18. We give the particulars as far 
as we have heard. 

The boat was constructed to pass through the 
locks and canals on the river, drawing but little wa- 
ter, and quite narrow. At the time of the explosion 
she had four freight boats in tow, and had stopped to 
attach a fourth. Both- boilers burst at tlijs same time, 
and the boat was so much rent that she sank immedi- 
ately," carrying down one of the freight boats, in six 
feet water. The captain was thrown high in the air, 
and fell upon his head in one of the freight boats, and 
survived but a few hours. Mr. Wood, the engineer, 
was killed outright in 'the engine room, and one 
of the firemen was thrown some distance, but fell in 
the water and was not materially hurt» Mr. Lallin, 
the iilveigEor and constructor of the' boilers, was on 
board for the purpose of observing their operation, and 
was so severely wounded that there was little hope of 
his recovery. Two or three of the men belonging to 
the freight boats were slightly injured. The smoke 
pipe of the steamer was thrown into an adjoining field. 
The freight boat which went down was chiefly laden 
with salt. Captain Crawford was well known and 
respected on the river, having been engaged in the 
same business for ten years past. 



THE CONSTITUTION. 229 



ESCAPE OF THE CONSTITUTION, 
in a tremendous gale on Lake Erie, October, 1837. 

One of the most thrilling incidents on record, took 
place on board the steamboat Constitution, during 
an awful gale on Lake Erie. It tends' to show the 
heroism and strength of nerve of which humanity is 
sometimes capable. We copy from an account writ- 
ten shortly after the occurrence. 

" In that fearful night, the steamboat Constitution, 
Capt. Appleby^ was out amidst the terrors of the gale. 
By the glimpse caught at intervals, when the fitful 
storm for a moment broke away, the anxious and 
watchful commander was made aware of the critical 
situation of his boat, which was rapidly drifting in — 
under the hurricane power of the gale, which blew 
almost directly across the lake — toward the danger- 
ous reef, from which escape would have been impos- 
sible. He went directly to the engineer, and ordered 
on 'more steam.' The reply of the engineer was 
that there was already as much on as the boilers would 
safely bear. • 

'^ Again did the captain seek the deck, to see if his 
laboring boat was making headway, and again returnr 
ed to the engine-room. He explained to the engi- 
neer their hazardous situation, and told him all hope 
was lost, if no more headway could be gained — but 
left the engineer to act his discretion in the crisis. 
A moment of reflection, and his decision was made. 
Life or death hung on the issue. Certain destruction 
awaited the boat and her devoted crew, in a few 
brief minutes, if they did not gain upon the driving 
storm. This might be averted, if the boilers, already 
crowded to a fearful pressure, could yet bear a heavier 
strain, — and that he determined to try. True, the 
20 



230 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

awful horrors of an explosion were vividly before 
him, — the mangled limbs, the scorched and lifeless 
bodies, the death shrieks and the groans of the hap- 
less victims, were i)efore his* eyes, and on his ear, — 
the alternative was a fearful one, yet it must be re- 
,sorted to. 

'' He coolly directed the heads of two barrels to be 
broken in, and the furnaces were rapidly fed with 
wood dipped in the highly 'inflammable liquid, while 
two men, with ladles, dashed the oil into the flames. 
The intense heat which these combustibles created, 
generated steam with the rapidity of lightning, and 
soon the resistless vapor forced up the safety valve, 
and issued forth with tremendous violence, its sharp 
hissing being heard abo\^e the wild uproar of the wa- 
ters and the storm. 

" With a desperate and determined courage, which 
equalled the most dariqg heroism that the page of his- 
tory has ever recorded, the engineer sat down upon 
the lever of the safety valve, to confine and raise the 
steam to the necessary power required to propel the 
boat against the drifting waves ! In this awful situ- 
ation he calmly remained, until the prodigious effort 
of the engine had forced the boat sufliciently off 
shore to be beyond the threatened danger. 

" This intrepid act was not a rash and vain-glori- 
ous attempt to gain the applause of a multitude by a 
fool-hardy exposure of life, in some racing excursion, 
— it was not the deed of a drunken and reckless man, 
wickedly heedless of the safety of those whose lives 
were periled, — but it was the self-possessed and de- 
termined courage of one whose firmness is worthy of 
all admiration. We give it as it was told to us, as 
one of those frequent scenes of real life, whose actual 
realities are indeed 'stranger than fiction,' " 



*HE BEDFORD. THE MARY EXPRESS. * 231 

LOSS OF THE STEAMER BEDFORD^ 
on the Missouri River ^ April 27,*1840. 

The steamboat Bedford, Capt. Walker, April 27, 
in descending the Missouri river, near its mouth, 
struck a snag, and sunk in less than five minutes. 
She first struck a snag in the bow, which knocked a 
hole in her bottom, and careened her nearly over, but 
immediately struck another, which brought her up 
agaiil. It was not precisely ascertained how many 
there were drowned ; but Mr. Moore, an old revolu- 
tionary soldier, a negro woman, and three children, a 
white infant whose mother Avas saved, and a gentle- 
man, (name unknown,) could not be found. Two or 
three gentlemen on board were sick, one of whom 
died near the place of disaster. The passengers lost 
all iheir baggage. 



LOSS OF THE STEAMER MARY EXPRESS, 

which sunk at the wharf in Mobile^ on the morning 
of April 29, 1840. 

The steamboat Mary Express, sunk at the wharf, 
April 29, about 3 o'clock in the morning, without 
any assignable cause. * She had been cleared and 
wooded the night before, ready to start at the usual 
hour in the morning, and the captain had retired to 
his berth as usual. Towards morning, the captain 
was awakened by an unusual noise, which seemed 
like the rushing of water. "He started up, and on open- 
ing the door, found the boat sinking, the cotton already 



232 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

washed overboard. He rushed to the shore. Before he 
could raise the hands who v/ere sleeping on shore, 
the boat careened over ; her chimneys fell landward, 
and she weot down, breaking her fastenings, in about 
thirty-five feet depth of water. The captain did not 
save even his watch, or any of his clothing. 



LOSS OF THE STEAMER GREEN RIVER, 

on Green River, April 22, 1840, — by which several 

persons lost their lives. 

The steamboat Green River, Capt. Brown, which 
plies on the river of the same- name, in attempting to 
pass lock and dam, No. 1, the river being very high, 
and the current unusually strong, after crossing the 
lock, struck an eddy and capsized. Nine persons 
were drowned, — five females and four men. The 
names of the lost were Mi'. Brady, Jacob Beck, a little 
girl named Margaret Eckebergee, and four young la- 
dies of the name of Suttlewine, — daughters of a Ivid- 
ow lady who was on board at the time, but fortunately 
rescued. James Finley and Andrew Haley, two of 
the boat hands, were also lost. 



EXPLOSION OF THE GJEIAMPUS, 
on the Mississippi JRiver, May 13, 1840. 

The steam tow-boat Grampus, Capt. Martin, blew 
up, on the 13th of May, when twenty-five miles out- 



THE GRAMPUS. 233 

side the Mississippi bar, in consequence of the burst- 
ing of her boiler, and sunk in about half an hour. 
John Sprigg, the second engineer, died two hours 
after th(? accident,^— he was on watch when the ex- 
plosion took place. Wm. Walker, one of the firemen, 
was lost ; Wm. T. Knight, the mate, was slightly- 
scalded ; and the cook was badly bruised, and some- 
what scalded. 

At the time of the accident, the Grampus was 
rounding to in order to take in tow the schooner Vic- 
toria, Capt. Kenney. The schooner's boats were 
immediately sent to the relief of the sufi"erers. 




20* 



234 STEAMBOAT DISASTERS. 

In closing our account of steamboat disasters, we 
will give a few brief extracts from the law of the 
United States, passed July 7, 1838, respecting the 
management of " vessels propelled*in whole or in part 
by steam." We hardly deem it necessary to state, 
that we deem the law to be inefficient, and that, till 
more energetic measures are devised and enforced, 
the mournful catalogue of such disasters will be in- 
creased. 

'' That it shall be the duty of the owners and mas- 
ters of the steamboats licensed in pursuance of the 
provisions of this act, to employ on board their respec- 
tive boats a competent number of experienced and 
skillful engineers, and in case of neglect to do so, the 
said owners and masters shall be held responsible for 
all damages to the property or any passenger on board 
of any boat occasioned by any derangement of the 
engine or machinery of any boat. 

'' That whenever the master of any boat or vessel, 
or the person or persons charged with navigating said 
boat or vessel, which is propelled in whole or in part 
by steam, shall stop the motion or headway of said 
boat or vessel, or when the said boat or vessel shall 
be stopped for the purpose of discharging or taking in 
cargo, fuel or passengers, he or they shall open the 
safety-valve so as to keep the steam down in said 
boiler as near as practicable to what it is when the 
said boat or vessel is under headway, under the penal- 
ty of two hundred dollars for each and every offence. 

'' That it shall be the duty of the master and owner 
ot every steam vessel, to provide, as a part of the nec- 
essary furniture, a suction-hose and fire engine and 
hose suitable to be worked on said boat in case of 
fire, and carry the same upon each and every voyage 
in good order ; and that iron rods or chains shall be 
employed and used in the navigation of all steam- 
boats, instead of wheel or tiller ropes ; and for a faiN 



STEAMBOAT LAWS. 235 

ure to do which, they, and each of th^m, shall forfeit 
and pay the sum of three hundred dollars. 

" That every captain, engineer, pilot or other person, 
employed on -board of any steamboat or vessel, pro- 
pelled in whole or in part by steam, by whose mis- 
conduct, negligence, or' inattention to his or their res- 
pective duties, the life or lives of any person or per- 
sons on board said vessel may be destroyed, shall be 
deemed guilty of manslaughter, and, upon conviction 
thereof before any Circuit Court in the United States, 
shall be sentenced to confinement at hard labor for a 
period not more than ten years. 

" That in all suits and actions against proprietors of 
steamboats, for injuries arising to person or property 
from the bursting of the boiler of any steamboat, or 
the collapse of a flue, or other injurious escape of 
steam, the fact of such bursting, collapse, or injurious 
escape of steam, shall be taken as full prima facie evi- 
dence, sufficient to charge the defendant, or those in 
his employment, with negligence, until he shall show 
that no negligence has been committed by him or 
those in his employ." 

In conclusion, we give a brief abstract of a law re- 
cently passed in the Territory of Wisconsin, for the 
prevention of steamboat accidents within the jurisdic- 
tion of that Territory. 

The passage of the act is highly creditable to the 
representatives of this rapidly growing Territory, and 
it would tend greatly to the preservation of human 
life, were its provisions adopted by every State in the 
Union. 

Steamboat racing, for trial of speed or for any other 
purpose is prohibited, and officers are made responsi- 
ble for all damages that any one may sustain during 
the race ; and in case of loss of life, in consequence of 
racing, the master or person having command at the 
time, i» to be deemed guilty of a high crime and mis- 



236 



STEAMBOAT DISASTERS 



demeanor, and. on conviction, be fined in a sum not 
exceeding $5000, or be imprisoned not exceeding ten 
years. 

Regulations are prescribed to whic4i boats must 
conform in ascending and descending navigation, and 
the master and- owners are made responsible for att 
damages that any person may sustain, by the neglect 
to comply with any of the regulations ; and if loss of 
life shall ensue from such neglect,- the officers on 
watch, and conducting the boat at the time, are to be 
deemed guilty of the crime of manslaughter, and pun- 
ished accordingly. 

The mode of taking in freight, landing passengers, 
and the passing of boats in narrow channels, or in the 
night, is strictly regulated, so as to protect travellers 
from the consequence of negligence. 




RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 



PORTSMOUTH AND ROANOKE RAIL-ROAD, Vj* 
August, 11, 1337. 

A passenger train, with nearly two hundred pas- 
sengers, was run into by a lumber train on the Ports- 
mouth rail-road, in Virginia, August 11, 1837, — by 
which occurrence several lives were lost, and many 
were maimed and' otherwise wounded. The follow- 
ing particulars were published at the time : — 

'' The daily train left Portsmouth on Friday, Aug. 
11, at 8 o'clock, with thirteen passenger and other 
cars, and nearly two hundred passengers, the greater 
portion of whom composed a party of pleasure who 
had been on a steamboat excursion, and were return- 
ing to their homes. The train having made its usual 
stop at Suffolk, had proceeded on to Smith's Bridge, 
a high embankment over Goodwin's Landing, a mile 
and a half beyond. Here there is a gradual rise in 
the road, and at the termination of the embankment, 
the road makes a curve. But before we proceed far- 
ther, we should state, that there was a lumber train, 
then on its way down, with fifteen cars heavily laden 
with staves, which must necessarily pass the passen- 
ger train at one of the turn-outs above Suffolk. 
When the locomotive of the passenger cars had reach- 
ed the curve, -and while the whole train was on the 
embankment, (which at that place is a greater eleva- 



240 KAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

tion than at any other on the whole line, being thirty- 
five feet high,) the lumber train suddenly appeared in 
sight, sweeping down the curve. 

'' The engineer of the passenger train promptly 
stopped the locomotive, but he of the lumber train 
was either unable, owing to its being on a descent, to 
stop his, or did not see the 'danger in time, for his en- 
gine drove furiously on against that of the passenger 
train, forcing it back upon the first car, which was 
driven against the second, and the second against the 
third, and the two latter were crushed to pieces in the 
dreadful concussion. The greatest havoc, however, 
was in the second car, the first having been lifted 
from the rails and propelled over it, raking, as it were, 
fore and aft, and crushing to death, or horribly maim- 
ing the passengers who remained within it. We 
must leave it to the imagination of the reader to de- 
pict the horrors of that awful moment, and of the 
scene which ensued. Many, who were young and 
and active, leaped from the cars and rolled down the 
embankment at the hazard of life and limb. A gen- 
tleman who was casually seated next to a young la- 
dy in the second car, saw the coming death, and 
warned his fellow passengers of it, — he could do no 
more, — then sprang down the embankment. As soon 
as he was upon his feet he looked up — it was all 
over, and she who had sat behind him within the 
passing moment, lay a mangled corpse upon the seat 
which he had left ! 

*' Those killed were Miss Elizabeth McClenny ; 
Miss Margaret Roberts ; and Miss Jemima Ely, 
daughter of Mrs. Martha Ely, who was herself dread- 
fully hurt. 

" Among those who were dangerously wounded, 
were Mrs. Ely ; Mr. Wiley Watkins, his wife, infant 
child, and maid servant ; Wm. Daughtry ; IVJiss Mar- 
tha, and Miss Eliza Holland ; Mrs. Meredith Wat- 
kins ; Miss McCluny, the younger ,* Mrs. Story ; Mr. 
Rees Phelps, and Mr. James M. Holland. 



PORTSMOUTH AND ROANOKE. 241 

**The accident occurred within one hundred yards 
of the residence of Mr. Richard Goodwin, where the 
dead and wounded were carried. From this kind and 
hospitable family, as well as from the ladies of Suf- 
folk, the unfortunate sufferers received every attention 
that could be bestowed. Mr. Goodwin's house pre- 
sented the appearance of a hospital. Every room 
was tilled with beds containing the injured, whose 
cries and groans were heard afar off. Under the large 
shed of his turpentine factory lay the bodies of the 
deceased young ladies, surrounded by their mourning 
relatives and friends. Two of these young ladies 
were soon to have entered the married state. The 
accepted of one of them was by her side when the 
death blow came upon her, and he could have escap- 
ed unhurt by leaping from the car, which he refused 
to do unless he could save her. He remained in his 
seat, therefore,- and received such injury as he will 
probably never recover from. The young gentleman 
to whom the other was engaged came to the scene a 
few hours after the accident had occurred, and by the 
expression of his grief, too well told the wounds of 
his heart. 

" An inquest was held on the three deceased young 
ladies, whose verdict is subjoined : 

'^ We, the jury, are of the opinion that the deceased 
came to their deaths by the violent concussion of the 
lumber train coming in contact with the regular train ; 
which concussion was occasioned by the wilful mis- 
management and gross negligence of the captain and 
engineer of the lumber train, by running down a rap- 
id descent on a curve of said road, with great velocity, 
at a time when they might reasonably have expected 
to meet the regular train." 

*' Another fatal accident happened the same day. 
When the directors and physicians left the engine, it 
returned to Sufiblk for wood and water, propelling he* 
21 



242 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

fore it the coach in which they had come up. The 
night was dark, and a heavy rain falling, so that no 
look out could be kept on the road. When within 
about a hundred yards of the watering place, the coach 
and engine passed over Mr. James Woodward and 
Mr. Ilichard Oliver, — two citizens of the neighbor- 
hood, who were walking on the track, — and so man- 
gled them that the former died immediately, and the 
latter was so badly injured that recovery was considered 
doubtful. This accident was wholly unavoidable — 
the engineer could not see, through the darkness, 
(having a large passenger coach before him,) that the 
unfortunate men were in his way ; and they, by the 
same cause, together with the pattering of a heavy 
shower of rain falling at the time, were rendered un- 
conscious of the approach of the train, until they were 
struck down. 

" The day's disasters are stated as follows: — four 
killed, thirteen severely, and twenty-five or thirty 
slightly wounded." 

On the 10th of December following, on the same 
rail-road, the train of cars, on its return from Halifax, 
met with another accident. The train consisted of a 
large number of passengers and several loads of pro- 
duce. These last were put in the rear of the passen- 
ger-cars. In their progress they encountered the end 
of one of the iron rails, the spike or bolt of which 
had started, or the head rusted off, so that the end 
projected above the level of the road. It is stated 
that the inequality was so slight that the wheels 
would have readily passed over it, but it was caught 
by a strong iron fender, which travelled before the 
wheel, and bent up ; and consequently the engine 
was thrown off the track. The headway of the pas- 
senger-cars being thus stopped, they were run into by 
the burden-cars, and ten persons injured, two of whom 
have since died. 



CIMDEN AND AMBOT. 243 



CAMDEN AND AMBOY RAIL-ROAD, N. Y. 
September 11, 1839. 

On Wednesday noon, September 11, a most paiil- 
ful accident occurred on the Camden and Amboy 
rail-road, at the landing of the steamboat at the latter 
place. The locomotive came in with eight passenger 
cars containing over one hundred passengers, and, as 
usual, was detached from the cars, about one hundred 
rods back from the landing, and turned off upon an- 
other track. The brake-man then endeavored to stop 
the headway of the cars, but his brake was out of or- 
der, and he sprang to another car for the purpose of 
using a second brake, but by that time it was too late 
to stop a concussion, and the first of the cars came in 
contact with the baggage car, which was standing on 
the edge of the wharf, discharging its crates of bag- 
gage. The crash was tremendous, and the baggage 
cars, and two forward passenger-cars were utterly de- 
molished and pushed upon the wheel-house of the 
steamboat Commerce, which was lying there to re- 
ceive the passengers. The wheel-house was stove in 
and destroyed, though the wheel was but slightly in- 
jured, and the boat was not disabled. 

It is impossible to describe the terror and dismay 
of the passengers, all of whom, most provide ntially, 
escaped with their lives, though two of the wounded 
are not expected to survive. The number of persons 
more or less injured by this accident, was about twelve, 
four of them dangerous. We subjoin the following 
list of the suflferers from an account published at the 
time : 

" Calvin Burnell, of Northampton, Mass., danger- 
ously injured. 

'' Richard Butler, of Paterson, N. J., cut across the 
thigh in a horrid manner, and his thigh broken in two 
places. 



244 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

'' William Chequer, of Washington city, D. C, 
one of his thighs broken and badly mangled, collar 
bone broken ; he is not expected to recover. 

" James Aiken, of Galloway, Ireland, but more re- 
cently of Manayunk, Pa., hip dislocated, thigh bro- 
ken, head shockingly bruised, and serious internal in- 
juries. It is supposed he cannot survive. 

*' James Tuller, of Skaneateles, N. Y., leg badly cut, 
and other injuries ; and Charles Kaber of New Bed- 
ford, Mass., badly hurt. 

'•A little girl, about. six years of age, whose name 
we could not learn, had the back of her head shock- 
ingly cut by a splinter at the time of the concussion. 
The brake-man had his ankle dislocated, and his head 
severely bruised. 

" On the end of the dock were two posts, eighteen 
inches square, with hides stretched across to stop the 
baggage-car as it came up ; these were snapped like 
pipe-stems, and carried away by the concussion, and 
had it not been for the fact that some rubbish got en- 
tangled in the wheels of the third passenger-car, there 
is no doubt, the train would have pitched upon the 
steamboat in a confused mass of rubbish, so great was 
their headway. As the matter stands, six of the 
eight passenger-cars are a complete wreck, including 
the two mentioned as entirely demolished. 

^' At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, between thirty and 
forty of the passengers held a meeting, and after draft- 
ing a minute account of the accident for publication, 
passed the following resolution : 

" ^ Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, 
the proprietors and managers of the Camden and Am- 
boy rail-road company were guilty of gross and un- 
pardonable negligence in not furnishing more hands 
to superintend the brakes attached to the cars, — and 
that, in our opinion, the fatal disaster which happened 
by the concussion of the cars this day, would proba- 
bly have been obviated, had there been a sufficient 
number of persons to superintend the same.' 



BOSTON AND PROVIDENCE. 245 

'' During the meeting, several gentlemen spoke of 
the occurrence in a very feeling manner, expressing 
tlieir thanks to a kind Providence for what they con- 
sidered a most miraculous escape from violent death. 

*' It is proper here to add, that the rail-road at Am- 
boy terminates in an inclined plane towards the river, 
and that the arrangements of the company in assign- 
ing to one man the task of breaking, or stopping the 
speed of the cars, (always near a dozen in number,) 
is a mode of trifling with the lives of passengers, un- 
paralleled in its atrocity in the history of public con- 
veyance. 

" The wounded passengers were all brought to New 
York in the steamboat, and two of them taken to the 
hospital, — Richard Butler, of Paterson, and James Ai- 
ken. The latter gentleman was not expected to sur- 
vive the night." 



BOSTON AND PROVIDENCE RAIL-ROAD. 
June 19, 1836. 

On the 29th of June, about twenty minutes before 
1 o'clock, as a train of eleven cars, with about 300 
passengers from New York, including about 120 Uni- 
ted States seamen for the sloop of war Boston, was 
passing the cut near Mr. Guy Carleton's factory, Rox- 
bury, where the rail-road crosses the Tremont road, 
it was met by a locomotive with a single merchan- 
dize car, for Dedham, which was going at a very rap- 
id rate. The two locomotives came in contact with a 
terrible crash, and the two forward cars of the Provi- 
dence train were shattered to pieces, and most of the 
passengers thrown out on either side, some of them to 
the distance of several yards. 
21* 



246 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

''The seamen were in the two forward cars, their 
oiRcers being in the second. Past midshipman Rnss 
was severely bruised, and was taken from beneath the 
fragments of the cars Eight of the seamen were also 
much hurt, and Mr. Wm. Trask, the fireman attached 
to the engine, had his leg broken below the knee, 
having jumped off, us it is said, before the engines 
came in contact. The wounded were conveyed to 
the Tremont hotel. The other passengers were 
thrown against each other and considerably bruised. 

•' The cars were so much shattered, that the engine 
of the Providence train backed up nearly to the third 
one, and it was with difficulty that pieces of the bro- 
ken cars could be found, sufficiently large to form lit- 
ters for those most seriously hurt. The locornoXives 
were so firmly interlocked that iron bars were used to 
separate them. 

*' The blame of the accident is .generally attributed 
to the engineer of the Providence train, who, it is 
said, must have been aware that a train for Dedham 
would leave the depot in Boston at noon. 

"We have received the statement of the superin- 
tendent of the Providence rail-road, respecting the ac- 
cident. It shows that the conductor of the Provi- 
dence train was alone in fault ; and he was promptly 
discharged from the service of the company. The 
superintendent gave the following statement of the 
, injuries sustained from the accident : 

*' Lieut. Russ, who was supposed to have suffered 
very severely, I am happy to learn, is in no danger. 
Four others were severely wounded, three of whom 
were sailors, and one fireman ; two of them having 
each a leg broken, one an arm, and the fourth a collar 
bone. Every attention has been paid to them, and I 
am happy to learn that they are all in a fair way of 
recovery." 

From another source we gather the following re- 
marks : — 



BOSTON AND PROVIDENCE. 247 

'' From all the circumstances as yet known to the 
public, it appears that the terrible accident which oc- 
curred on the Providence rail-road was the result of 
gross carelessness, or what'is equally as bad, reckless 
daring. It seems that the engineer of the Providence 
train neglected to stop at the usual turn-out for the 
Dedham train to pass, in the hope that he might be 
able to reach the depot before the Dedham train start- 
ed, This, however, is no excuse for his conduct — 
he knew very well the hour at which the Dedham 
train would start, and he had no right to presume that 
he could reach the depot before that hour. It was 
his duty to stop at the turn-out until the train had 
passed, and not risk the lives of three or four hundred 
passengers on his presumptive ability to perform an 
unusual trip. We think such accidents may always 
be avoided, if proper precautions are adopted — and in 
the absence of such precautions there can be no doubt 
that the proprietors of the road are liable, as common 
carriers, for all injuries received by passengers, wheth- 
er of life, limb, or property. A full investigation of 
this accident is due to all parties concerned, and we 
trust that the public will not be satisfied without it. 
The superior manner in which all rail-roads and 
steamboats are managed in England, render passen- 
gers almost perfectly secure against the occurrence of 
such disasters. There is no reason why the same 
business should not be equally well managed here, 
and the same precaution adopted against an unneces- 
sary exposure." •: 



248 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 



NEW JERSEY RAIL-ROAD, 
August 16, 1837. 

As the Orange train of cars was coming into New- 
ark, August 16j one of the cars ran off the rails. 
Two gentlemen, Mr. Ward of Newark, and Mr. Crane 
of Orange, jumped out and were run over. Mr. Crane 
lived about two hours, but the other was killed in- 
stantly. They have both left families. 



BOSTON AND WORCESTER RAIL-ROAD. Mass. 
Jime 21, 1837. 

As the train of dirt-cars on the Worcester rail-road 
had proceeded about two miles on their route to Wor- 
cester, one of the cars, loaded with shingles and lum- 
ber, broke down and threw off many persons who 
were on it. Mr. Oliver Everett was among the num- 
ber, and received a large portion of the load upon 
him, and was seriously injured internally, gind his 
head was much bruised ; he was taken to the hospi- 
tal. Two Irishmen, Dennis Conder and William 
Kervin, were thrown under the cars, and the wheel of 
one passed over Kervin's head, cutting off the upper 
part of it, and otherwise mutilating his body. Con- 
der fell across the track, and the wheel, after passing 
half way over his body, held him, and he was dragged 
some distance before the cars were stopped. Both 
pf the Irishmen were almost instantly killed. Mr. 
Oilman Barnes had his arm so mutilated, that amputa- 
tion was found necessary. 



BOSTON AND WORCESTER. 249 



BOSTON AND WORCESTER RAIL-ROAD, Mass. 
April, 1S39. 

As the train of passenger cars on the Boston aijcl 
Worcester rail-road was leaving J3oston. at 7 o'clock 
on Saturday morning, April — , James F. Curtis, Esfi-, 
the superintendent of the road, took a seat in one of 
the cars, for the purpose of examining the effect upon 
the road of the heavy rain of the preceding night. 
As the train approached Washington street, Mr. Cur- 
tis's attention appears to have been attracted to some- 
thing in the state of the road, which he wished to ex- 
amine more particularly. For this purpose he sud- 
denly put his head some distance out at the window, 
beckoning at tlie same time to tlie person in his view. 
At this instant the car reached the bridge, by which 
Washington street passes over the rail road, and he re- 
ceived a fatal blow on the back and side of his head, 
from one of the iron pillars which support the bridge 
between the two tracks of the rail-road. The train 
was mimediately stopped, and he was taken from the 
car, and conveyed to his own house, in a state of in- 
sensibility. The most efficient and skillful surgical 
aid was afforded, with the least possible delay, but in 
about an hour after the accident he expired. 

Mr. Curtis had made a most faithful, active and 
efiicient officer of the rail-road, for more than four 
years, and under his direction and superintendence 
the system of transportation, both of passengers and 
freight, had been reduced to an admirable degree of 
regularity and precision. 



^0 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 



CATSKILL AND CANAJOHAREE RAIL-ROAD. 
May 3, 1840. 

A melancholy disaster occurred on Monday, May 3, 
on the Catskill and Canajoharee rail-road, by the fall 
of a bridge in Durham, over which the rail-road 
passes. The whole train of five cars went down with 
the bridge, which was about fifteen feet high. The 
locomotive had reached the opposite bank, and re- 
mained firm. The crash was tremendous. Mr. Ty- 
ler, of Durham, who had jumped on merely for a ride, 
was instantly killed^ — his body was taken out of the 
river a few rods below. A colored man, one of the 
hands employed, had both thighs broken, and one of 
his legs below the knee, — his recovery considered as 
very doubtful. Several others were severely wound- 
ed. The number of passengers was about forty. A 
large quantity of merchandize was tumbled into the 
river, which had been much swollen .by late rains, 
and carried down the stream without the possibility 
of being saved. 



CAMDEN AND AMBOY RAIL-ROAD, N. J. 
March 2, 1836. 



In a dense fog the lumber cars from Camden met 
the passenger cars about three miles above Burlington, 
on the 2d of March, when the locomotives came in 
contact, heads on, producing, as'^Sfiay well be imag- 
ined, a tremendous crash ! The fog, it is said, shut 
the two trains from the view of each other until they 
were about four hundred yards apart. The lumber 



CAMDEN AND AMBOY. 251 

cars were stopped, or nearly so, but the passenger cars 
came full on with retarded speed, it is true, but only 
so much a^ could be procured by a few yards of dis- 
tance. The pause in the lumber cars, and the back- 
ward motion given to them by the action of the 
opposite train, together with the mounting up of both 
locomotives in front, like two dogs in a fight, and the 
baggage cars of the passenger train being thrown upon 
their rear with their fronts downward, saved all hands 
from consequences which cannot now be known. 
By these actions the cars with their passengers were 
saved from a tremendous crash. The engineers and 
firemen sprang off at the moment of the concussion 
and saved themselves. The passengers were electri- 
fied, and a bruise here and there betokened that a. 
shock of no slight nature had occurred. The loco- 
motives were broken into many pieces. The pas- 
sengers speak of their rampant posture, as exhibit- 
ing a very singular appearance. Breast to breast, 
they seemed to be in deadly strife, under the impulse 
of deadly hate. 

Some of the passengers footed it to Burlington, 
others were brought in sleighs — some remained at a 
farm house hard by, whilst others lingered about the 
ruins. 

A despatch was sent to Camden, and another to 
Bordentown. By half past 5 o'clock, the train was 
brought to Burlington. At 6, it was in motion 
again, and at 7, all hands were landed in safety 
at Camden — whence, on the ice, some on foot, and 
some in boats pushed on the ice. they reached tho 
city. 



252 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS, 



RAIL-ROAD AT BRIDGEPORT, Conn. 
March 15, 1840. 

From a gentleman who was present, we have 
learned the following particulars relative to the acci- 
cident that occurred on the rail-road, at the celebra- 
tion of its opening : — 

'' On Thursday, March 14, a celebration of the 
completion of our rail-road commenced. About four 
hundred persons went up to New Milford. On Fri- 
day, the company returned to Bridgeport, and a din- 
ner was provided at the Sterling hotel. On the arri- 
val of the cars, t-he brake-man mistook his duty, and 
allowed the cars, twelve or fourteen in number, to run 
full speed directly off the end of the track. A quan- 
tity of rubbish, and a great pile of steamboat wood, 
brought them up Avith a great concussion. Several 
of the cars were smashed. One of the brake-men 
had his thigh broken, and another was very badly in- 
jured. Mr. Peck, of Newtown, had a thigh broken, 
and one finger cut off. Mr. Kellogg, of Canaan, had 
a thigh, arm and wrist broken ; and several others 
were more or less injured. Eight doctors were in 
attendance, who were occupied about four hours in 
dressing the wounds. None of the wounded are con- 
sidered in a dangerous state. This disaster, of course, 
destroyed the hilarity of the occasion." 



COLUMBIA RAIL-ROAD, OHIO. 
October 2, 1836. 



A most melancholy accident occurred on the Col- 
umbia rail-road, on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 2. In 



COLUMBIA, OHIO. 253 

the forward passenger-car was a number of persons, 
among others Mrs. Gibson and family of Philadelphia, 
bound to Cincinnati. The axle of the car unfortu- 
nately broke, and let the body down upon the road, 
by which a large hole was forced through the. car, 
and Mrs. Gibson and child, by some means were 
dragged through to the ground, and nearly the whole 
train passed over her body, crusinng it in a most 
shocking manner, and leaving her a lifeless corpse — 
the child miraculously escaped death, although much 
bruised. A black man, who leaped from the car, was 
so much injured that it was believed thcrt he could 
not survive. A gentleman had his arm broken, and 
was otherwise injured. 

From a gentleman who Avas among the passengers, 
we have received the following particulars: — 

" We arrived at Hollidaysburg about 12 o'clock, 
Thursday night. On Friday morning we took the 
cars to cross the Alleghany mountains, — the rail-road 
over the mountains is thirty-eight miles, including 
the inclined planes and levels ; there are ten planes, 
five ascending and five descending, which are each 
little less than a quarter of a mile in length. The 
morning was very cold, being in the early part of 
October. There are three lines of boats on the route 
from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, starting at the same 
time, which occasions some racing on the canah 
We were fortunate in being beaten, by which another 
line, arriving first at the summit of the mountain, 
took the first train of cars on the seventh plane, at 6 
o'clock in the morning. The descent is regulated by 
a stationary engiue on the top of the plane ; the cars 
are attached to a large rope which runs between the 
rails by smaller ones. 

'^ When they had proceeded about one fourth part of 

the way down, one of the small ropes gave way, and 

the whole train ran like lightning to the foot of th^ 

plane, coming in contact with other cars which were 

22 



254 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

on the level below. One passenger- car and a bag- 
gage-car were stove to pieces, — trunks, boxes, (fcc, 
Avere strewn about as if an explosion of gunpowder 
had taken place. There were twenty or thirty per- 
sons wounded, — five or six were left in a small house 
at the side of the mountain. One of the sutTerers 
was an old man, seventy years of age ; another, about; 
thirty years old, had made his will just before we ar- 
rived there ; a young woman lay near with her head 
horribly cut and bruised, and ^ear hei»» her little girl 
lay insensible. I believe none of them had friends 
near. If we had baen first at the mountain, we 
should probably have suffered the fate that befel 
them. ^ 

" No satisfactory account was given as to the occa- 
sion of the accident. I believe it was said that frost 
on the rails was the only reason tHat could be given. 
The cause must have been the carelessness of the 
conductors in attaching the smaller rope too slightly 
to the main one, which became loosened as soon as 
the weight of the train drew upon it. We arrived at 
Pittsburg at 9 o'clock in the evening, making, on the 
whole, rather a pleasant journey, although the travel- 
ling on the canal is tedious." 



EXPLOSION ON THE HARLAEM RAIL-ROAD, 
in the city of New York, July 4, 1839. 

About 10 o'clock in the morning of July 4, the 
steam engine which comes into the city with the cars 
for Harlaem, ran off the track opposite Union Park. 

The steam was already generated to excess, but, 
unfortunately, the engineer neglected to blow it off. 
It is also supposed that water had not been taken in 
properly at the stopping place. 



HARL1.EM AND NEW YORK 



255 



When the engine had thus ran off the track, a 
number of the passengers, mostly mechanics, lent 
their services to get it on again. While thus sur- 
rounded, the boiler burst. The chief engineer was 
blown to pieces, — his legs went into Union Park, his 
arms on to a pile of lumber on the other side of the 
avenue, and his head was s|)litin two parts. His ab- 
domen was also burst, and his intestines scattered 
over the road. 




Explosion 



ocomotive on the Harlaein rail-road. 



The assistant engineer had both his legs broken, 
and his head, face, and breast dreadfully scalded. He 
only lived a few moments. Another of the unfortu- 
nate persons employed, Philip W. Case, was danger- 
ously wounded. The names of the other victims 
were Johnson and Spencer, and Roderick Matheson, 
the latter being severely scalded on his legs, and his 
face dreadfully lacerated by pebbles and sand being 
blown into it. Besides these there were fifteen or 
sixteen other persons wounded or scalded. The 
fragments of the boiler were thrown in every direc- 



256 BAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

tion, and the machinery of the engine was entirely 
destroyed. 

Immediately after the accident there was observed 
a disposition on the part of a number of Irishmen, who 
were under the influence of Hquor, to create a riot ; 
some were for marching in a body to destroy the de- 
pots of the company. Others insisted that the cars 
should be iDrevented from passing over the spot, atid 
actually laid hold of the horses to carry out their pur- 
pose. Every thing, in fact, that could be done, was 
done by a number of disorderly persons to make the 
results of this lamentable affair still more disastrous. 

The foregoing particulars were extracted from the 
papers of the day. From other sources of the like 
nature we gather the following additional account: 

" We cannot refrain, in this place, from awarding 
to Alderman Tieman the highest praise. But for his 
coolness, forbearance, judgment, and firmness, it is 
probable that a very serious riot would have occurred. 
So unreasonable a set of men we never before saw 
collected. Rum and excitement had destroyed the 
little self command the low Irish at any time pos- 
sess. 

" From a passenger we are sorry to learn that the^ 
persons killed were both in a state of intoxicatioUj 
and that by the most common prudence all this might 
have been averted. It is even supposed that the en- 
gine was thrown off the ti^ack for a frolick. Surely 
this ought to be lesson to the company, and compel 
them to employ trustworthy men, in offices v/here 
not only the limbs, but the lives of our fellow citizens 
are at stake, as w-ell as the peace of the city placed 
in jeopardy. 

" In relation to the accident on the Harlaem rail- 
road, the following are authentic particulars : — 

" 1st. The locomotive engine was in charge of Mr. 
Spencer, one of the oldest and most experienced eQ» 



HARLAEM AND NEW YORK. 257 

gineers in the country, who has been employed on 
the Long Island and other rail-roads, as engineer, for 
many years and was thoroughly acquainted with the 
use of the locomotive engine. 

*' 2d. The locomotive had brought up a train of 
cars from Harlaem for the city, which was taken by 
the horses to the city hall and Walker street ; and, 
after they had gone forward, the locomotive was 
crossing the switch to prepare to receive the return 
line of cars, so that it was quite alone, and wholly 
disconnected with the cars at the time it ran off the 
track, 

" 3d, As sdon as the locomotive was off the track, 
Mr. Whigham, the superintendent of the company, 
and several others in the employ of the company, set 
immediately at work to replace it upon the track. 
During this time the engineer was upon the engine, 
and constantly blowing off the steam. It had beeit 
stationary for about twenty minutes, while the men 
were at work to replace it, the superintendent giving 
repeated instructions to the engineer to take care of 
his steam ; he was answered by Mr. Spencer that he 
was doing so ; and he was constantly blowing off the 
steam. At this time the train of cars was approach- 
ing the spot from the city, as also the train from Har- 
laem, and when the engine blew up, both trains were 
insight; but fortunately so far distant as to escape 
any injury. 

'' 4th. At the instant it blew up, Mr, Whigham and 
one of the coUe.ctors of the company were stooping 
down to place a stone under the frame, so as to get a 
lever by which to raise the engine about an inch 
higher, to get the wheels upon the track, and they 
both escaped with very slight injury, as the whole 
blew over their heads, while it killed Mr. Spencer 
the engineer,, and his brother-in-law — the only two 
persons who were killed on the spot. Five others 
{irere severely Avounded by the fragments, and one of 
22* 



258 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

the collectors of the company scalded from head to 
foot. 

" The limit by the corporation for the locomotive 
to come into the city, is at 14th stree^. It is only on 
the gala day of the fourth of July, that the engine 
comes below 32d street ; the horses of the company 
on that day being insufficient to accommodate the 
public, and it was solely to grant the greatest fa- 
cility to the public, that the locomotive was brought 
to 15th street." 

This, if we recollect aright, is the first explosion 
of the boiler of a locomotive, by "which human life 
has been sacrificed. 

The modern construction of locomotive tubular 
boilers, has rendered them liable to explosion only by 
gross mismanagement, and even in case of accident^ 
the explosion is generally only a partial one of a tube, 
or flue, so that no serious evil is to be anticipated. 
Tiie wretched men whose recklessness produced this 
horrible catastrophe, have been victims- to their own 
fault, and wf re sent to their account. But what shall 
atone for the agony caused to the families and friends 
of the innocent sufferers ? 



PHII^ADELPHIA AND GERMANTOWN RAIL-ROAD. 

Upon the Philadelphia, Norristown, and German- 
town rail-road, there have been three persons killed,, 
since its comniencement in 1S32 ; two of them lost 
their lives by attempting to enter the cars when they 
were in motion.- The third was run over by the en- 
gine in attempting to cross the road in a wagon when 
the engine was approaching, and himself and horse 
killed. 

4 



BOSTON AND WORCESTER. 259 



BOSTON AND WORCESTER RAIL-ROAD. 
November 30, 1839. 

A distressing accident occnrred on the Boston and 
Worcester railroad, at Framingham, on Saturday, Nov. 
30, the particulars of which are thus given in a letter 
from the agent of the corporation. 

Framingham, Nov. 30, 1839. 

" I am grieved to say that our gravel train, in com- 
ing into the depot this forenoon, ran over Mr. Aaron 
Pratt, a worthy citizen of this village. Four of the 
cars passed over his body and he was instantly killed. 
Mr. Pratt was 75 years old, and very deaf. The 
train was moving slowly, and within two hundred 
feet of its stopping place. The engine-man noticed 
him, but supposed he would step out of the way in 
season to preserve himself from danger. When that 
became doubtful, the brake was applied, the engine 
being previously reversed, and every effort made to 
stop the cars, and to alarm the man ; but he did not 
hear or notice the train until it was nearly upon him, 
and then, in his effort to escape, he fell across the 
rail." 

Another account says, — He was standing between 
the rails, near the depot, watching apparently a man 
sawing \vood, and being deaf, he heard not the rapidly 
approaching train ; he was however called to by sev- 
eral persons, but instead of turning his eyes towards 
the train, he turned in the opposite direction, and the 
next moment it was upon him, — he was thrown 
across the rail, and several of the heavily laden cars 
passed over his body, cutting him almost completely 
through. Some of the cars were thrown from the 
track ,and two of them broken to pieces." 



260 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 



PHILADELPHIA AND COLUMBLA RAIL-ROAD. 

. The locomotives in use upon this rail-road have 
collapsed their flues a number of times, though with- 
out doing any damage. Accidents to passengers 
have frequently occurred. In one instance, upon 
this road, there were three persons killed by the 
breaking of an axle of one of the cars, which was 
caused by the rapid rate at which they were then 
running. Other accidents have happened to persons 
from want of care and attention on the part of them- 
selves and the engineers, of which we have not been 
able to learn the particulars. 



WESTERN RAIL-ROAD. 
Jamiary 17, 1840. 



As the train of passenger cars, from Worcester to 
Springfield, left the West Brookfleld depot, Jan. 17, 
they came in contact with Mr. Hale Young, of North 
Brookfield, who was driving his horse, ctttached to a 
sleigh, at the crossing of the roads about a mile from 
the depot. Mr. Young was instantly killed, hisiMeigh 
dashed in pieces, and his horse so badly injured that 
it was found necessary to kill him, although he ran 
on the rail-road to the West Brookfield depot after the 
accident. 

The circumstances are briefly these : — '^ The two 
roads run quite near each other, for a considerable 
distance, before and after crossing. Mr. Young was 
going towards Warren, and, just as he came to the 
crossing, he was about to meet a party of twelve or 
thirteen sleighs from that place. He turned to the 



WESTERN. 261 

right, directly on the track of the rail-road, between 
two banks of snow, and then stopped. The next mo- 
ment the cars were npon him, althongh the bell was 
ringing, the conductors shouting, and the engine re- 
versed. His face was muflled up, and he did not ap- 
pear to hear any of the alarms. 

" The train soon stopped, and the conductors and 
many of the passengers came back to the spot, where 
they found Mr. Young on the track, his brains liter- 
ally dashed out — probably done by one or more of 
wheels passing over the back part of his head. No 
blame is attached to any of the persons having the 
management of the train, as, from the moment he ap- 
peared on the track, every available method was re- 
sorted to to warn him of his danger, and also to stop 
the train. 

'' The notice over the crossing cannot be made 
too public, 'Look out for the engine while the bell 




262 RAIL-ROAD ACCIDENTS. 

We select the following notice of a newly invented 
improvement with regard to safety in rail-road trav- 
elling. 

'' We had the pleasure, recently, to examine the 
model of a patent ' band and pulley brake,' intended 
to be applied to the stopping of a train of cars, while 
in rapid motion, whenever it may become necessary 
to da so, upon any sudden and unexpected emergen- 
cy. This brakt3 is the invention of Mr. George S. 
Griggs, of Roxbury, master machinist, attached to the 
Boston and Providence rail-road. Mr. Griggs had 
long seen the great and increasing necessity for some 
certain method of stopping a train of cars in the short- 
est time possible, without giving a shock. Being a 
naturally inventive genius, he resolutely applied him- 
self to the task, and ha^ately succeeded in realizing 
his most sanguine hopes, by producing an apparatus, 
which effectually secures the object in view; and, in 
a manner so simple, that the merest chilAnay under- 
stand and manage it. It can be aflixed to the cars 
now in use at an expense not exceeding twe}ity-jiv:e dol- 
lars, and may be either left to the care of the several 
brakemen upon the train, or by a leading rope, it may 
be placed under the controj of the engineer, who, by 
throwing the machinery into gear, may oftentimes 
stop the train before a sigtml of danger could he 
passed to the brakemeit ! This brake being attached 
to and operated by tlie movement of the cars, it nec; 
essarily follows that the more rapid the motion of the 
train, the quicker the brake will be brought to bear, 
and consequently the sooner the train will be stopped. 

" We are not informed that the discovery has been 
adopted by any other than the Boston and Worcester 
rail-road. The penurious plea of a trifling expense 
for the patent and fixtures should not be suffered to 
keep it from general use. The public can witness 
its operation upon the Worcester road, and will soon 
demand its general application. .It doubtless will do 



NEWLY INVENTED IMPROVEMENT. 263 

SO througli its legislative powers. We subjoin the 
following particalais of a trial upon the Worcester 
road, where its utility' was fully and faithfully tested, 
from Mr. Parker, the accomplished and skilful engi- 
neer upon that road, and one well calculated to judge 
of the merits of this improvement. 

•^ One of the greatest dangers in rail-road travelling, 
as js well known, arises from the dilficulty of sudden- 
ly stopping the train of cars when in rapid motion, in 
case of danger being descried'ahead. It is according- 
ly provided by a law of Massachusetts, that every 
passenger train shall be attended by a certain number 
of brake-men. But brake-men, however great their 
number, give but an imperfect security, since, when 
the signal is given, their attention may be wandering, 
so that they will not instantaneously apply their whole 
force to the brakes ; or, what is still worse, if they 
apprehend that the train cannot be stopped in time, 
they are liable, and very naturally so, to consult their 
own safety by jumping off; and this they are apt to 
do in a panic, even though the danger by so doing is 
greater than in remaining at their post. Some cer- 
tain method of stopping the train in the shortest time 
possible, without giving a shock, and in a way that 
might be always relied upon, has been a great desid- 
eratum in this species of travelling and transportation. 
This has been finally attained in Mr. Grigg's band 
and pulley brake, which has been in occasional use 
Tor four months past on the Boston and Worcester 
rail-road, and its operation satisfactorily tested. The 
superintendent of that road, for the purppse of testing 
the operation of this brake, soon after it was intro- 
duced upon the road, made an experiment with it on a 
freight train of sixteen cars, on a descent of thirty 
feet to the mile, moving at the rate of fifteen miles an 
hour, and found that two sets of brakes of this descrip- 
tion, applied to one double car, * so forcibly and easily 
checked the train, in going a little more than its 



264 RAIL-BOAD ACCIDENTS. 

length, that he was satisfied two double cars, so pro- 
vided, both of which would be under the command of 
one man, would have prevented any collision of this 
train that could threaten it under any circumstani^es, 
with an obstacle on the track.' The brake can be 
instantly put in gear to stop the train, the moment 
the danger is discovered, or the signal is given. It is 
cheaply constructed, and can be applied at small ex- 
pense to the cars now in use ; and, as the power of 
one brake is estimated to be equivalent to at least six 
brake-men, the use of it, besides the safety thereby 
secured, is of material importance in point of econo- 
zny ; since a single brake-man can thereby have a 
complete command of the longest train of cars. Hav- 
ing \v|tnessed the operation of this brake, and also 
understanding its character from those who have tried 
it, it is considered due, both to the inventor and the 
public, to give this short account of it." 



^3 



SHIPWRECKS, 



OTHER' DISASTERS AT SEA 



' WRECK OF THE BARaUE MEXICO; 

on Hawpstead Beach, Long Island^ January 2, 

1837, — hy which melancholy occurrence, one 

hundred and eight lives xoere lost. 

The barque Mexico, Capt. Winslov/, sailed from 
Liv^erpool on the 25ih of October 183G, having on 
board a crew of twelve men and one hundred and 
four passqpgers— in all, one hundred and sixteen souls. 
She made the Highland Lights on Saturday night, 
December 31, at 11 o'clock, and on Sunday morning 
was off the bar, with thirty or more square rigged ves- 
sels — all having signals flying for pilots, but not a 
pilot was there in sight. The. Mexico continued 
standing off and on the Hook till midnight, and at 
dark she and the whole fleet of ships displayed lan- 
terns from their yards, for pilots. Still no pilot came. 
At midnight the wind increased to a violent gale from 
the north-west, — the barque was no longer able to 
hold to windward, and was blown off" a distance of 
some fifty miles. At this time, six df the crew were 
badly frost-bitten, and the captain, mate, and two 



268 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

seamen were all that were left able to hand and reef 
the sails. On Monday morning, at 11 o'clock, stand- 
ing in shore, they made the southern end of the Wood- 
lands, when she was wore round and headed to the 
north under a'close reefed main-topsail, reefed foresail, 
two reefed trysail and fOre -staysail. At 4 o'clock the 
next morning, the mate took a cast of the lead and 
reported to Capt. Winslow that he had fifteen fathoms 
water. Supposing from the soundings, as laid down 
on the chart, that with this depth of water, he could 
still stand on two hours with safety — the captain gave 
orders to that effect, and was the more induced to do 
it, as the .crew were in so disabled a state, and the 
weather so intensely cold, that it was impossible for 
any one to remain on deck longer than half an hour 
at a time. The event has shown that the informa- 
tion given by the mate, as to the depth of water, was 
incorrect ; his error probably arising from the lead liae 
being frozen stiff at the time it was cast. 

Fifteen minutes afterwards, the ship struck the 
bottom, twenty miles east of Sandy Hook, at Hemp- 
stead Beach, and not more than a cable's length from 
the shore. The scene that ensued on board, we leave 
to the reader's imagination. Forgone hour and three 
quarters she continued thumping heavily, without 
making any water, the sea, however, breaking con- 
tinually over her. Her rudder was now knocked off, 
and the captain ordered the mainmast cut away. The 
boats v/ere then cleared, tlie long-boat hoisted out, 
and veered away under her bows with a stout hawser, 
for the purpose of filling it with passengers, letting it 
drift within the reach of the people who crowded the 
beach, then hauling her back again, and thus saving 
the unfortunate people on board ; but this intention 
was frustrated by the parting of the hawser, which 
snapped like a thread as soon as the boat was exposed 
to the heaving surf. The yawl was next got along- 
side, and stove to pieces almost instantly. 



THE MEXICO. 269 

At 7 o'clock the same morning, the sliip bilged and 
filled with water. Orders followed from the captain 
to cut away the foremast, and that every soul on 
board should come on deck. In inexpressible agony 
they thus remained until 4 o'clock in the. afternoon, 
when a boat was launched from the beach, and suc- 
ceeded in getting under the bowsprit of the wreck. 
This boat took off Capt. Winslow and seyen men, 
and succeeded in reaching tlie shore Avith them in 
safety. The attempt, however, was attended with 
such imminent danger, that none could be induced to 
repeat it. And now, the horrors of the scene were in- 
describable. Already had the sufferings of the unhap- 
py beings been such as to surpass belief. From the 
moment of the disaster, they had hung round the 
captain, covered with their blankets, thick set with 
ice, imploring his assistance, and asking if hope was 
still left for tliem. When they perceived that no fur- 
ther help came from the land, their piercing shrieks 
were, distinctly heard at a considerable distance; and 
continued through the night, until they one by one 
perished. The next morning the bodies of many of 
the unhappy creatures were seen lashed to different 
parts of the wreck, imbedded in ice. None, it is be- 
lieved, were drowned, but all frozen to death. Of 
the one hundred and four passengers, two thirds were 
women and children. 

It is but justice to the people on shore to say, 
that every thing was done to save the uni'ortunates, 
that their means permitted. The only boat which 
boarded the vessel was hauled at a distance of ten 
miles, and was manned by a old man and six others, 
four or five of whom were the old man's sons and 
grandsons. For thirty-five years has he been living 
on the seashore, during which time, he has rendered 
assistance to numerous wrecks, and never before has 
he or his comrades shrunk from the surf; but, in ad- 
dition to its violence on the present occasion, such 
23* 



270 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

was the extreme cold, that a second attempt to rescue 
was more than they dared venture — it would inevita- 
bly have proved fatal to them. 

Every thing of detail connected with the Mexico, 
and the frightful loss of lives upon our coast, is not 
without its melancholy interest, and, therefore, we 
publish the minutest account we have yet seen, fur- 
nished from the best authoi'ity. 

We extract the following from the minutes of 
Amos Gore, one of the district marshals of New 
York:— 

"January 8, 1837, arrived at the. wreck of the 
-Mexico. She had left Liverpool with 112 passen- 
gers, and'crew consisting of Capt. Winslow, his mate 
and nine persons, and the lad Broom, brother to the 
merchant. Left Liverpool on the 22d of October, 
1836 — was wrecked on *the 2d of January, 1837. 
Was boarded by Raynor R. Smith, his two sons and 
four others, in all seven persons, about 2 o'clock, P. M. 
When Smith first saw the barque ashore, his boat was 
aground, and he-imm6diately got help to launch her ; 
she was about two miles from the beach — he then 
proceeded to board the Mexico, and after three at- 
tempts, he succeeded in catching a small chain which 
hung from the ends of her bo\isprit, and desired the 
passengers to come on the flying jib-boom to get in 
the boat. The cook was the first who obeyed the 
command,.and fell in the boat followed by one of the 
sailors ; another attempted to do so, and was thrown 
on one side into the water, and immediately sunk out 
of sight. One other person falling into the boat on 
her gunnel, caused Sm.ith to loose his hold, and in a 
moment his boat was carried by the surf about twenty 
feet, where they discovered a man struggling ; he 
was seized by Zopher Smith and dragged into the 
boat. The father was then entreated by the sons not 
to return. At that moment Capt. Winslow hailed the 



'^ ^*^. 









THE MEXICO, 



271 



boat, and the elder Smith insisted on returning, say- 
ing, ' If we get the captain, he will be able to tell 
the story.' They consented, and after three desper- 
ate attempts he succeeded in catching ilie same chain. 
The captain then came on the bowsprit, leading the 
lad Broom, and he threw Broom into the boat on to 
the gunnel, at which time the other, persons, making 
in all eight, got into the boat. The whole number 
of bodies found was forty-six, — three of whom were 
carried to New York. The remainder of the bodies 
were takdn up to Lottos tavern, about five miles from 
the beach, and buried on the W'ednesday succeeding 
the disaster." 



The following is a list of the passengers, from the 
custom-house passenger list ; arranged in alphabetical 
order : — 



Thomas Anderton, 
Ellen Anderton, * 
Joseph Arford, 
Margaret Barret, 
Joseph Barret, 
Joseph Brooks, 
John Blauchard, 
Isabella Ballentine, 
Bridget Brenman, 
Terence Burns, 
rWilliam Babington, 
Samuel Blackburn, 
Samuel Blackburn, 
Andrew Boyd, 
Catherine Collier, 
Myers Carpenter, 
Margaret Carpenter, 
Mary Carpenter, 
Mary Carpenter, 
Margaret Dolen, 
Bernard Devine, 



Patrick Devine, 
Bridget Devine, 
Owen Durilla, 
•Mary Dulaney, 
"^riiomas Dryer, 
Charles Dolan, 
William Evans, 
Margaret Evans, 
George Evans, 
William Evans, 
Margaret Evans, 
John Evans, 
James Ellsworth, 
Martha Ellsworth, 
Thomas Ellis, 
Bridget Parrel, 
Catherine Gallagan, 
John Hays, 
Mary Hays, 
Joanna Hays, 
John Hays, 












272 



SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



James Handlen, 
Mary Higgens, 
John Harndeii, 
.Rose Hughes, 
Thomas Hope, 
Mary Hope, 
Wilh"am Hope. . 
Frederick Hope, 
Thomas Hope, 
Henry Hope, 
John Irvin, 
William Irvin, 
Charles Irvin, 
Lewis Irvin, 
Hannah Jryin, 
Bridget Kerr, 
Maria Kerr, 
Elizabeth Lawrence, 
James Lawrence, 
Catherine Lawrence, 
John Leonard, 
Matthew Martin, 
Bartholomew McGlenn, 
•Sally McGaire, 
Mary Metcalf, 
Barbara Metcalf, 
Harriet Metcalf, 
Elizabeth Metcalf, 
Emanuel Metcalf, 
Mary McCaffey, 
Martha Mooney, " 
Thomas Mulrue, 
Thomas Mulligan, 
Michael Murray, 
Ellen Nolan, 



Richard Owens, 
William Pepper, 
Judith Pepper, 
Joseph" Pepper, 
William Pepper, 
Rebecca Pepper, 
David Pepper, 
Miriam Pej^ier, 
John Pepper, 
Peter Rice, 
John Reily, 
William Robertson, 
Catherine Ross, 
Edward Smith, 
Mary Smithy 
Elizabeth Smith. 
Robert Smith, 
William Smith, 
John Sullivan, 
Bridget Sullivan, 
James Thompson, 
Lydia Thompson,* 
David Thompson, 
♦Eleanor Tieruly, 
John Wilson, 
Mary Wilson, 
James Wilson, 
Elizabeth Wilson, 
Thomas Wilson, 
Margaret Wilson, 
John Wood, 
John- Write, 
Bridget Write, 
Nicholas Write, 
Catherine Write, 



The following extract of a letter, written by a gen- 
tleman in New York to a friend, gives an affecting 



THE MEXICO. 273 

description of the appearance, after death, of the un- 
fortunate individuals who perished in the Mexico. 

'' On reacliiiig Hempstead, I concluded to go some- 
•what off the road, to look at the place where the ship 
Mexico was cast away. In half an hour, we came 
to Lott's tavern, some four or five miles this side of 
the beach, where the ship lay ; and there, in his barn, 
had been deposited the bodies of the ill-fated passen- 
gers, which had been thrown upon the shore. 1 went 
out to the barn. The doors were' open, and such a 
scene as presented itself to my view, T certainly nev- 
er could have contemplated. It was a dreadful, a 
frightful scene of horror. 

" Forty or fifty bodies, of all ages and sexes, were 
lying promiscuously before me over the floor, alt fro- 
zen, and as solid as marble — and all, except a fev/, 
in the very dresses in which they perished. Some 
with their hands cj#nched. as if for warmth, and al- 
most every one, with an arm crocked and bent, as it 
would be, in clinging to the rigging. 

" There were scattered about among the number, 
four or five beautiful little girls, from six to sixteen 
years of age, their cheeks and lips as red as roses, 
with their calm bkie eyes open, looking you in the 
face, as if they would speak. I could hardly realize 
that they were dead. 1 touched their cheeks, and 
they were frozen as hard and as solid as a rock, and 
not the least indentation'could be made by any press- 
ure of the hand. I could perceive a resemblance to 
each other, and supposed them to be the datighters of 
a passenger named Pepper, who perished, together 
with his wife and all the family. 

'' On the arms of some, were seen the impressions 
of the rope which they had clung to — the mark of 
the twist deeply sunk into the flesh. I saw one poor 
negro sailor, a tall man. with his head thrown back, 
his lips parted, and his now sightless eye-balls turned 
upwards, and his arms grossed over his breast, as if 



274 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

imploring heaven for aid. This poor fellow evidently 
had frozen while in the act of fervent prayer. 

" One female had a rope tied to her leg, which had 
bound her to the rigging ; and another little fellow had 
been crying, and was thus frozen, with the muscles of 
the face just as we see children when crying. There 
were a brother and a sister dashed upon the beach, 
locked in e'ach other's arms ; but they had been sep- 
arated in the barn. All the men had their lips firmly 
compressed together, and with the most agonizing 
expression on their countenances I ever beheld. 

"One little girl had raised herself on tiptoe, and 
thus was frozen, just in that position. It was an aw- 
ful sight ; and such a picture of horror was before me, 
that I became unconsciously fixed to the spot, and 
found myself trying to suppress my oj;dinary breatliing, 
lest I should disturb the repose of those around me. 
I was aroused from the reverie#)y the entrance of a 
man — a coroner. 

" As I was about to leave, my attention became di- 
rected to a girl, who I afterwards learned, had come 
that morning from the city to search for her sister. 
She h^id sent for her to come over from England, and 
had received intelligence that she was in this ship. 
She came into the barn, and the second body she 
cast her eyes upon, was hers. She gave way to such 
a burst of impassioned grief and anguish, that I could 
not behold her without sharing in her feelings. She 
threw herself upon the cold and icy face and neck of 
the lifeless body, and thus, with her arms around her, 
remained wailing, mourning, and sobbing, till I came 
away ; and when some distance off, I could hear hor 
calling her by name, in the most frantic manner. 

'• So little time, it appears, had they, to prepare for 
their fate, that I perceived a bunch of keys, and a 
half eaten cake, fall from the bosom of a girl whom 
the coroner was removing. The cake appeared as if 
part of it had just been bitten,, and hastily thrust into 



THE REGULATOR. 275 

her bosom, and round her neck was a ribbon, with a 
pair of scissors. 

"And to observe the stout, rugged sailors, too, 
whose iron frames could endure so much hardship — 
here they lay, masses of ice. Such scenes show us, 
indeed, how powerless and feeble are all human ef- 
forts, when contending against the storms and tem- 
pests, which sweep' with resistless violence over the 
face of the deep. And yet the vessel was so near the 
shore, that the shrieks and moans of the poor creat- 
in-es were heard through that bitter, dreadful night, 
till towards morning, when the last groan died away, 
and all was hushed in death, and the murmur of the 
raging billows was all the sound that then met the 
ear." 



WitECK OF THE BRIG REGULATOR, 

i?i the outer harbor of Plymouth. February 5, 1836, 

ly which f.i:e lives were lost. 

The following account respecting the loss of the 
brig Regulator, of Boston, Ca|;t. Phelps, is extracted 
from the statement of the captain ; it shows the con- 
dition of the brig from the time she made Plymouth 
iight-house till she was wrecked in the outer harbor : 

" On the 3d of February, the wind E, N. E., with 
snow, judged the vessel to be in latitude of Cape 
Ann, and steered accordingly, wind strong from N. the 
vessel and rigging so covered with ice, that with the. 
weakened crew it was impossible to work the brig ; 
hoisted a signal of distress, and bore away for Ply- 
mouth. A signal was made from the light-house for 
as to run in; we did so^ steering the brig with the 



276 SHIPWRECKS JkND OTHER DISASTERS. 

braces, the rudder being choked, with ice ; ran it as 
far as possible and let go the anchors in three fath- 
oms water, the vessel striking heavily between the 
swells. At 8 o'clock, P. M., the flood making, the 
vessel lay afloat and easy till 5 next morning ; when 
the swell increasing, she began to strike heavily! 
As the brig made no water during the night, we had 
hopes of assistance from the shore by day-light to help 
us change our berth. About 7, the vessel drifting 
towards the breakers, cut away the foremast, which 
took with it the main topmast and main yard. The 
vessel was now in the breakers, and the sea making 
a complete breach over every part of her. — The long 
boat was washed overboard, and lay under the lee 
with a hawser fast to it and full of water. Slipped 
both cables and lightened the vessel as much as pos- 
sible. At half past 8 o'clock, cabin and forecastle full 
of water and the vessel fast breaking up, three men,. 
(Geo. Dryden, an Englishman, Daniel Canton of 
New York, and Augustus Tileston, of Yermont.) 
threw themselves into the long boat and cut her 
adrift ; she capsized in the breakers about fifty yards 
under our lee. John Smith a Swede, and a Greek 
boy of Smyrna, were buried under the fragments of 
the wreck, and perished there. The mainmast was 
still standing, the top and mast head were gone, but 
the rigging was firm, and to that we now retreated^ 
every sea drenching us, and our clothes freezing upon 
us. Here we remained until all were more or less 
frozen, and the cargo washing out aft. The remnant 
of lier providentially drifted near the edge of the 
breakers, and we were taken ofl" by the boats of brig 
Cervantes, Capt, Kendrick, the crew of which were 
anxious observers of our perilous situation, at the dis~ 
tance of one third of a mile, all the morning, without 
being able to- render the least assistance, as the sea 
broke over and around us so that no boat could ap- 
proach and live. At the imminent peril of their lives 



THE REGULATOR. 2?T 

they rescued us. Another hour on the wreck and 
human aid would have been unavaihng." 

The crew of the Cervantes were five hours in 
their boats, endeavoring to rescue the Regulator's 
crew. The consciousness that these noble fellows 
were thus striving, .animated the sufferers to contin- 
ued exertions ; otherwise they would have speedily 
sunk under their calamities. 

The gratitude of the survivors of the ill-fated brig 
Regulator towards those who had nobly rescued 
them at the peril of their lives, was thus expressed in 
a card published a few days after : — 

"A Card. — William D. Phelps, for himself and -in 
behalf of the officers and surviving crew of the late 
brig Regulator, return their grateful and heartfelt 
thanks to Capt. Kendrick, officers, crew, and passen- 
gers of the brig Cervantes, for their perilous and suc- 
cessful exertions in rescuing them from a watery 
grave ; and for the untiring and persevering benevo- 
lence and kindness exhibited by every person on 
board the Cervantes, in ministering to our wants 
while on board that vessel. 

" Language is incapable of expressing the feelings 
of our hearts towards them. 

" Actuated by the noblest motives, their efforts 
were crowned with success; and their reward is, in 
the consciousness of having preserved from distress- 
ing shipwreck, six of their fellow-creatures. 

" Boston, Feb. 11, 1836." 

The following is extracted from a sermon occa- 
sioned by the loss of the brig Regulator, in Plymouth 
harbor, by Rev. James Kendall, D. D. 

" The dangers of the sea are increased, and the 

hardships of our searnen greatly multiplied, when, to 

the ordinary dangers arising from winds, and storms, 

and tempests, is added the inclemency of a wintry at- 

24 



^8 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS, 

mosphere — the extremity of cold— and an ice-bound 
coast. These circumstances, in a climate like ours, 
often render a seaman's life most perilous and dis- 
tressing. They are such as sometimes to paralyze 
all exertion — to mock the skill and daring of the 
most experienced navigator — to disarm the boldest 
and hardiest sailor of his energy, his resoluteness, 
and his courage — and, in the moment of exhaustion 
and with a desponding heart, to compel him to say, 
at least within himself — -All hope that we can be 
saved is now taken away.' 

''Next to the anxiety and distress, occasioned by 
such exposure, is the extreme solicitude — the heart- 
rending concern — that is felt, at witnessing our fel- 
low-beings — perhaps, our relatives and friends — hi 
the most perilous condition, surrounded by danger 
and death — every thing breaking up beneath them — 
and every thing above and around them falling and 
crashing, and, it may be, burying them in the ruins, 
or forcing them to retreat and cling, stiffened with 
frost, to the shattered shrouds, or to lash themselves 
t© some fragment of the wreck, that may yet, perhaps, 
be destined to float upon the swelling surge-^without 
the possibility, but at the peril of life, of affording 
them relief, or rescuing them from threatening des- 
truction. Such a scene, my friends, has recently 
been presented to . your eye — and which you were 
destined to witness from your quiet homes, surrounded 
by all the comforts and endearments of social and 
domestic life. But what was impossible for you to 
do, was possible with God. He in his great mercy 
had provided the means of deliverance and preserva- 
tion for, at least, a portion of these shipwrecked mar- 
iners, through the instrumentality of human efforts 
and human daring. Some bold and fearless spirits, 
urged on by strong sympathy for their' suffering 
brethren, and at the hazard of their lives, launched 
into the deep amidst masses of ice, and a rolling sea, 



THE REGULATOR. 279 

and threatening breakers ; — and, tossed by a wind 
fierce as Euroclydon, they followed up their efforts 
for five successive hours, undismayed by the obsta- 
cles and dangers which they had to encounter, until 
at a particular moment, and the only moment, per- 
haps, that relief could have been given, they were 
able to extend a helping hand to their perishing breth- 
ren — and to rescue them from imminent peril and a 
watery grave. There was no Paul ^t hand to warn 
the unfortunate men, who perished, of the consequen- 
ces of leaving the ship, and trusting to the boat. 
And, if there had been, without the vision of an angel, 
he might have been in doubt, under such circumstan- 
ces, which of these fearful alternatives to have chosen. 
This sad and disastrous event, which has resulted in 
the sudden and distressing death of five of our fellow- 
beings — in such a total loss of property — alleviated, 
indeed, by the almost miraculous preservation of the 
six surviving men — ought not, it seems to me, to pass 
without some suitable notice — some serious reflec- 
tions — some moral and religious improvement. 

"I am sure, there is no class of our fellow-men, 
who liave more frequent opportunities to witness the 
manifestation of the divine power and goodness in 
the preservation of their lives, than our sea-faring 
brethren. None are oftener exposed to trials and per- 
ils. And none have more need of religious principle — 
of faith in God — to sustain and encourage them in 
seasons of emergency, toil, and suffering — and in the 
prospect of instant and overwhelming destruction. 
That mind must have little faith, if it be not exceed- 
ingly thoughtless and skeptical, not to have seen, in 
the recent shipwreck on our coast, a remarkable con- 
currence of circumstances, which strongly marked 
the immediate interposition of Providence —and re- 
sulted in the rescue of half a dozen human beings 
from the most perilous condition. There was a brig 
providentially at hand — forced into the harbor by the 



280 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

same adverse circumstances — ^and the only vessel, 
from which any assistance could be expected or given 
— well provided with boats and men — sound, healthy, 
experienced seamen — who were not to be disheart- 
ened nor discouraged by ordinary difficulties, or 
turned back by common dangers. There was also, 
as stated by eye-witnesses, a momentary abatement 
of the wind, and lulling of the sea, which afforded 
an opportunity, and the only one, for approaching 
the anxious sufferers. Besides, there was, at the 
same instant, a swinging round of a fragment of the 
deck, on which these perishing men were lashed — 
and the only remaining fragment, that now buoyed 
them up from a watery grave. And this fragment of 
the wreck was brought round to the outer edge of 
breakers — the only point from which the shipwrecked 
mariners could be taken — at the particular juncture of 
the toiling, struggling boats' access to them. All 
these circumstances combined to render this perilous 
attempt to save these unfortunate men successful ,* 
while the absence of one of these circumstances^ it is 
obvious, would have been fatal to the enterprise — 
and all must have perished. Who does not see the 
hand of God distinctly moving in jthis wonderful ar- 
rangement of coincidences, and in bringing them all 
to bear, at the favorable moment, upon the same suc- 
cessful and happy result — the deliverance and preser- 
vation, to their famihes, their friends, and their coun- 
try, of six valuable citizens ? Will not, these happy 
men, thus rescued from the overwhelming surge, with 
humble, grateful hearts, ascribe their preservation to a 
merciful Providence ? In looking back upon the dan- 
gers from which they have escaped, are they no't 
ready to say — ' God provided help for us, and sent to 
preserve us — and hath saved us by a great dehver- 
ance V " 



THE ISABELLA* 281 



WRECK OF THE SCHOONER ISABELLA, 

which foundered at sea in a gale, November 1, 1837. 

Wc copy the following account as published at the 
time, purporting to be gathered from the statement of 
the only survivor : 

" The schooner Forrest, Capt. Davis, which arrived 
at New York Nov. 10, fell in, on the 4th inst., with 
the wreck of the schooner Isabella, on which they 
found but one person living, whom they took off, Mr. 
James Hendersofi, of the Isle of Plant, Me. The 
substance of Mr. Henderson's statement is as fol- 
lows : — 

" He sailed from New York on the 25th of October, 
for Wilmington, N. C. in the schooner Isabella, Capt. 
Samuel Turner, of the Isle of .Haut, having on board 
Mr. Snow of Bucksport, and Charles Lewis, or Nealer, 
of-Camden, cook, and a lad fifteen years old. On-the 
4th day out, hove to under a close reefed foresail, it 
blowing a gale with snow, hail and rain ; on the third 
•night after they had hove to, the sixth day out, then 
in the gulf stream, shipped two tremendous seas, 
which capsized the schooner ; at the time all on board 
were in the cabin. About an hour after, both masts 
broke off by the deck, when she righted, and Capt. 
Turner, Mr. Snow and himself succeeded in lashing 
themselves on the quarter deck. TJie cook was 
drowned in the cabin ; Mr. Snow was waslied off fif- 
teen minutes after and was drowned ; half an hour 
more, the Captain was also washed off and drowned. 
The gale continued twenty-four hours after they were 
capsized, and Mr. Henderson expected every minute 
to be washed off. The sea ran mountains high; and 
he could only catch his breath between the waves as 
they rolled over him. There was but ten feet of the 
24* ^^ 



262 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

quarter deck out of water. He had nothing to eat or 
drink the seven days he was on the wreck but a hand- 
ful of hay. 

*' On the first morning after the accident he saw a 
brig pass about eight miles from the wreck. On the 
second day, saw a foretopsail schooner four miles oft'. 
On the third day nothing. On the fourth, saw two 
fore and aft schooners, four miles distant. On the fifth, 
about 2 o'clock, P. M. saw a barque, which run down 
upon the wreck before the wind ; the sea smooth with 
a four knot breeze ; nnlashed himself, and expected 
she intended to run so near that he could get on board ; 
but when she came within three ou four yards, she 
hauled up on the wind and left him. There were 
ten men, aft, looking at him. He had a handkerchief, 
tied to a board, which he waved to them ; he also 
hailed her, for they were within hearing, but to no 
purpose. She was so near that he could see the hoops 
on the buckets a man was painting on the round house. 
He took her to be a British barque, with but little or 
no cargo in. Saw nothing on the sixth ; that day 
he found a httle hay which he ate, it being the first 
food since he was on the wreck. On the seventh 
day at 2 o'clock, P. M., he was taken ofi* by Capt. 
Davis, of the schooner Forrest, who treated him Avith 
the greatest kindness, and gave him his own bed to 
sleep on. 

" The conduct of the officers of the vessel which 
passed the wreck sufficiently near to know that suc- 
cor was needed, and human life at stake, cannot be 
too severely execrated ; and were their names but 
known and published, we doubt not the indignant 
scorn of all classes, of whatever nation, would teach 
them the humanity of which their own hearts would 
seem to have been entirely bereft. 'I, .-,, 



THE TRIO. 



283 



WRECK OF THE BRIG TRIO, 

on Deer Island^ in Boston' harbor , February 

20, 1837. 

The brig Trio, Capt. John Humphrey, sixty-three 
days from Havana for Boston, went ashore on Deer 
Island on Friday morning, Feb. 20. She had on 
board a large cargo of molasses, which was totally lost, 
as, shortly after stranding, the vessel went to pieces. 
The captain and second mate were drowned ; the rest 
got safe ashore. 

We give the following additional particulars : — The 
brig Trio made Boston Light on Thursday evening, 
when soon after there came a thick snow storm, and 
the crew being exhausted,Capt. Humphrey felt obliged 
to stand in ; at 10 o'clock she struck on Fawn Bar, 
knocked off her rudder, and beat over. Both anchors 
were then let go ; but she dragged them, and about 
12 o'clock she struck on Deer Island ; the sea break- 
ing over her, the crew lashed themselves to the wreck. 
She went entirely to pieces about 7 or 8 o'clock on 
Friday morning. The mate states that he was 
thrown ashore on a piece of the wreck, how, he knows 
not ; he saw the second mate throw himself into the 
water with the intention of swimming ashore, but 
the current took him under the wreck, and he disap- 
peared. The last he saw of the captain, who was his 
father, he was hanging in the rudder?hole, where he 
had undoubtedly fallen, and being unable to extricate 
himself, was supposed to have perished in that situa- 
tion. 



■©y< 



284 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



WRECK OF THE SCHOONER MARY, 

of Richmond, Va., near New York, September 14, 

1837. 

The following account of the loss of the schooner 
Mary, was communicated by James Dow, one of the 
crew, and the only survivor of those who were on 
board the ill-fated vessel. — 

'^ The schooner belonged to Richmond, Virginia, 
whence she sailed on Saturday, Sept. 1. She was a 
large vessel, of about one htmdred and fifty tons bur- 
den. On Friday afternoon, Sept. 4, she struck on 
the Romer, a light wind blowing at the time. At 4 
or half past 4 o'clock, the steamboat Isis, Capt. Al- 
laire, went alongside, and endeavored to prevail upon 
the captain ?wnd crew to leave the vessel and come on 
board, but Capt. Marshall, of the Mary, refused, stat- 
ing that he thought they would be able to get her 
off. About half-past 5 o'clock the wind comi|xenced 
blowing a gale, and the sea broke over the vessel. 
Between 9 and 10 o'clock, she stove, and both masts 
went by the board. Before dark, finding the gale in- 
crease, the captain, mate, a passenger, and all the 
hands, six in number, lashed themselves to the main 
rigging, and when the mast went, it threw all hands 
with it into the sea. :^ / 

"The wind was then blowing a heavy gale from 
the eastward, and the breakers running, what is prop- 
erly termed, mountains high. The survivor, Mr. 
James Dow had presence of mind, while in the water, 
to cut himself clear of the rigging and make back for 
the wreck, which he fortunately reached. He gained 
the quarter deck, and lashed himself to the taffrail. 
He imagined he heard a voice from one of his per- 
ishing shipmates, and answered, but. all was silent* 



THE MARY. 285 

Almost immediately afterward, the vessel went to 
pieces, but Mr. Dow maintained his position on part 
of the quarter-deck, the waves continually breaking 
over him. He remembers very little more till Sun- 
day morning, when he was taken from his perilous 
situation by Mr. John Smith, of Granville, Middle- 
town, N. J., about twelve miles from the place where 
the vessel was wrecked, he having floated that dis- 
tance. Immediately previous to being taken off, he 
had recovered sufllciently to make signals with a 
small piece of canvass, which, fortunately, had the 
desired effect. 

" This is the second time, within two months, that 
Mr. Dow has suffered, shipwreck, — the first time in 
the brig Cicero, of Baltimore, — and the other, in the 
vessel which forms the subject of the above account, 
in which his life was so providentially preserved 
while all his shipmates had perished. He speaks in 
the highest terms of the generous conduct of Mr. 
Smith, who, after taking him from the frail support 
which had saved his life, carried him to his owai 
house, and used every exertion to render his situa- 
tion comfortable." 



286 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

WRECK OF THE BRIG ELLSWORTH, 
on Hull Beach, near Boston-light house, February 
20, 1837. ' 

The brig Ellsworth, Capt. Adams, sixty-one days 
from Rio Janeiro for Boston, witli a cargo of coffee, 
went ashore about two miles south of the light-house, 
on. Hull Beach J Friday afternoon, Feb. 20. Her fore- 
mast and maiutopmast were carried away. She had 
not bilged ; but the sea breaking over her, partly filled 
her. Capt. Adams, in endeavoring to reach the shore 
in the chain box, was drowned. The rest of -the 
crew, with the exception of the steward, who was al- 
so drowned, gained the shore, though much frost-bit- 
ten and exhausted, and were saved. 



SHIPWRECK OF THE BRISTOL, 

on Far Rockatcay Beach, near New York, Novem- 
ber 21, 1836, — in which npivards of sixty 
lives were lost. 

The ship Bristol sailed from Liverpool Oct. 15, 
having on board a crew of sixteen men, including of- 
ficers, and about one hundred passengers, chiefly em- 
igrants. She had a fair passage across the Atlantic, 
and was off Sandy Hook at 9 o'clock on Saturday 
night, Nov. 20, with her lanterns out as a signal for a 
pilot ; at which time the gale had just commenced. 
No pilots, however, were out, and the ship was obliged 
to stand off. About 4 o'clock on Sunday morning,. 



THE BRISTOL. 287 

she struck on Far Rockaway, and at daylight, though 
within half a mile of the shore, owing to the heavy 
sea, no relief could be afforded to the distressed pas- 
sengers and crew, who were clmging to the shrouds 
and other parts of the rigging ; in this situation they 
remained through the day. About 11 o'clock at 
night, the sea somewhat abating, some boats went to 
her relief, and succeeded in taking off the captain, a 
portion of the crew, and some of the passengers. All 
were rescued who remained on the wreck when the 
boats reached it , but during the day the ship went 
to pieces, and the next morning her stern-post was all 
that remained. 

There were two of the seamen, the cook and the 
steward ; Mr. Donnelly, two gentlemen by the name 
of Carleton, cabin passengers, and about sixty steerage 
pagsengcrs, who were lost. In connection with this 
loss of life and property, the journals of the day called 
public attention to the fact, that it was occasioned by 
the negligence of the pilots in the performance of their 
duties. Here .was a ship within five miles of her port, 
and making every exertion to procure a pilot, and yet 
no pilot was to be had ; and the gale subsequently 
coming on, caught her so much in shore that it was 
impossible to claw off, — and the fatal result was the 
destruction of the vessel, and the sacrifice of many hu- 
man beings. 

Th^.following additional particulars were published 
shortly after the occurrence of this disaster : 

" We are at length enabled to state, with some de- 
gree of certainty, the number of lives lost and saved 
on board the Bristol. So far as we can learn, forty 
persons only are saved, and more than sixty lost. 
The bodies of several have drifted ashore, and have 
since been consigned to the earth. 

" Among the passengers lost was Mr. Donnelly, of 
New York, who died a victim to his own philanthro- 
py ; and Mrs. Hogan and two daughters. Mrs. Don- 



288 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

nelly, her nurse and children were saved, and, with 
other women and children, landed by the first boat. 
Twice the boats returned to the wreck, and twice 
Mr. Donnelly yielded his place to others. In the 
third attempt to go oif, the boats were swamped, and 
the crew became discouraged, and would not go back. 
In the meantime the storm increased, and Mr. Don- 
nelly, with the two Mr. Carletons, took to the fore- 
mast, where the crew and many steerage passengers 
had sought temporary safety. Unhappily, this mast 
soon went by the board, and of about twenty persons 
on it, the only one saved was Mr. Briscoe, a cabin 
passenger, which was effected by his catching at the 
bowsprit rigging, whence he was taken by the boats. 
The captain, and a number of the cabin and steerage 
passengers, were on the mizenmast ; and when that 
fell, they lashed themselves to the taffrail, wher^^r 
four hours the sea broke over them. 

"Some twenty of the steerage passengers, principally 
women and children, perished almost immediately af- 
ter the ship struck. Even before they could leave 
their berths the ship bilged, filled, 'and all below 
were drowned. Not a groan was heard to denote the 
catastrophe — so awfully sudden was it. 

''And to those whom the waves and the mercy of 
God had spared, what was the conduct of their broth- 
er man ? Their persons, their trunks, 'were searched 
and robbed by the fiends that gathered aroqnd the 
wreck. One hapless being, thrown senseless Eut yet 
alive, on the shore, and having about him his all — 
ten sovereigns — was plundered of them !" 



THE PENNSYLVANIA. 289 



WRECK OF THE SCH'R PENNSYLVANIA, 

which was struck by a squall at sea, and foundered^ 
September -IQ, 1S37. 

From the papers of the day we have gathered the 
following particulars respecting this disaster : 

^' The officers of the ship Amelia reported, that on 
the 20th of Sept.., in iat. 32,23, Ion. 73, she fell in 
with the schooner Pennsylvania, Capt. Williams, bot- 
tom up, with two men in a very exhausted state cling- 
ing to her. The survivors stated that she sailed from 
New York, on the 10th of September, with twenty- 
one passengers, and a crew of six persons, including 
the officers ; and that she was capsized on the night of 
the 16th, after the passengers had retired for the night* 
The captain and crew were on deck at the time of the 
accident, and are supposed to have been lost at the 
moment it occurred, — seven passengers below were 
immediately drowned, and the remainder continued to 
survive, struggling in the hold amongst the cargo, un- 
til the next Monday, when two of them, Mr. J. P. 
Williams, and Lansing Dougherty escaped from the 
cabin, and, by* great exertions, gained the bottom of 
the vessel. The cries of their comrades were distinct- 
ly heard throughout the day ; but gradually sunk in- 
to a dismal moan, and became extinct during the fol- 
lowing night. ^ 

''The officers of the Amelia, indulging the faint hope 
that some of the unfortunate passengers in the hold 
of the schooner might yet be alive, despatched her 
jolly boat with tools to scuttle her, which w&s done, 
and they providentially discovered one young man 
yet breathing, but quite senseless, and bruised in a 
shocking manner ; the remains of the other persons 
were floating about in the hold of the vessel. The 
29 



290 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS,* 

youth was conveyed to the ship, and every 'medical 
aid within the reach of her company was administer- 
ed to him, but all without success — he survived only 
two days. 

" The names of the passengers as given by the 
survivors, are as follows :— Mr. and Mrs. Gibson ; Mr. 
and Mrs. Millar ; Mr. and Mrs. Barry ; Messrs. Lyons, 
Kess, Barren, Whitney, Thompson, McGill, Wilson, 
Holler, Liebe, Ramps, Tiech ; a youth named Wil- 
liam, under the care of Mr. Whitney ; and the two 
survivors, Mr. J. P. Williams and Mr. Lansing Dough- 
erty." 



WRECK OF THE BARaUE LLOYD, 

of Portland, on Nantasket Beach, Hull, December 

23, 1839, ivith the loss of the ivhol& creiv, except- 

mg" bne person. 

"The barque Lloyd, .Capt. Daniel Mountfort, of 
^^rtlaiid, from Havana for Boston, with a valuable 
cargo, was driven ashore on Nantasket Beach, Dec. 
23, and became a total wreck ; all her crew perished, 
with the exception of one seaman, named George 
Scott, of Baltimore. It was about noon, the weather 
very thick, and a heavy sea on, her fore. and mainmasts 
were gone, and only part of the mizenmast was stand- 
ing. Five of the crew got out the long boat and at- 
tempted to land, but she quickly filled, and they all 
perished. Another of the crew, George Scott, suc- 
ceeded in reaching the shore, and was dragged out of 
the surf by several of the inhabitants assembled on the 
beach. Capt. Mountfort and two others lashed them- 
selves in the mizen rigging. Thp men v/ere 



*rHE LLOifD. 291 

washed off by the sea, which made a fair breach over 
the vessel, and buffeting the billows a few moments, 
then sunk to rise no more. 

''Capt. Mountfort was still lashed in the rigging, 
the only survivor on board, when the boat belonging 
to the Charlotte, ^manned by the crew who had them- 
selves just suffered the horrors of shipwreck, seized a 
favorable opportunity, and, by the greatest exertion, 
they succeeded in boarding the barque, and bringing 
Capt. Mountfort ashore. He had been washed from 
his lashings several times, and badly bruised by com- 
ing in contact with the shattered vessel, and was in- 
sensible when he was taken oft'. He was carried to 
one of the huts of the Humane Society, and every 
effort made to restore life, but all in vain. He was 
the oldest ship-master out of Portland, being 60 years 
of age, and has left a wife and three daughters to 
mourn the melancholy Providence which has so sud- 
denly deprived them of a husband and father. He 
was a man much respected in the town where he 
lived. 

" The noble conduct of the boat's crew who risked 
their own lives to rescue a fellow creature from a wa- 
tery grave, is deserving of the highest praise. 

" The names of the officers and crew of the ill-fated 
vessel were, Capt. Daniel Mountfort, of Portland ; 
Frederic C. Huntress, mate, Parsonville, Me. ; Henry 
Dodd, Boston ; William Guilford, Limmington, Me j 
George Scott, Baltimore, saved ; William Birch, Bal- 
timore ; William Leslie, New York ; Henry Peck, 
and John Stewart." 



292 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTRR*^ 



ENCOUNTER OF THE SHIP BYRON, 
a7id narrow escape from an Iceburg, August 3, 1836. 

From a person Avho was passenger on board the 
ship Bi'RON, the following particulars are gathered : — 

'^ On the 30th of June, the ship Byron left Liver- 
pool for New York, laden with a heavy cargo, and 
having on board, in passengers and crew, about one 
hundred and twenty persons. On the morning of 
the 3d of Aug., 34 days out, in lat. 44, 22, Ion. 48, 
50j near the banks of Newfoundland, a scene occurred 
which can never be effacecl from memory. It wns 
the watch of the first mate, a man of great fidelity^ 
but, being indisposed, his place was taken by another. 
An unusual degree of levity and thoughtless security 
among the passengers had just given place to sleep. 
And now all was still, save the tread of the watch on 
deck, or the occasional toll of the bpU to warn fishing 
crafts, if near, of our approach : but we had more 
need to be warned ourselves, than to give warning to 
others of approaching danger, 

" About 2 o'clock in the morning, a hurried step 
awake the writer of this sketch, and the rapid whis- 
per of some created the. suspicion that all was not 
right. Springing from his berth, he asked one of the- 
men near the cabin door, what was the matter.. 
' We are in the midst of ice,' said he ; ' will you 
mform the captain and mate ?' The captaii> was in- 
stantly on deck ; he ran forward to look out. In a 
moment the vessel, going at the rate of five knots^ 
struck, as if against a rock. It was an island of ice I 
It lifted its head above the water more than one hun- 
dred feet, and leaned over as if ready to fall down 
upon us. The word was given to put up helm and 
back the sails. As the sailors were hastening to obey 



THE BYRON. 



293 




The ship I'.yrow fiicouuloriiig an icel^crg. 



tlie latter order — and the terrified passengers were 
"rushing on deck, and looking np at the immense, 
overhanging, freezing mass, the ship struck again 
with increased force. O what a shock! crash! 
crash ! it seemed as if the masts were falling, one af- 
ter another, on the deck. 

'' The second mate entered the cabin, and clapping 
his hands violently together, exclaimed, ' My God ! 
our bows are stove in — we're all gone.' An awful 
death appeared now inevitable. In this moment of 
of general panic, the commanding officer gave orders 
to clear away the boat. Then, while the knife was 
being applied to the cordage fasteniTig her alongside 
the ship, a rush v/as made to her by men and women. 
That small boat was in a moment filled with thirty 
or forty persons. It seems utterly marvcllAs that 
she did not break down, precipitating every soul in 
the deep. Had this taken place, our commanding 
officer must have shared the same fate ; for, from a 
desire to gain possession of her for himself and crew, 
or to save the miserable crowd, who had taken pos« 
25* 



294 SHIPWRECKS ^ND OTHER DISASTERS. 

session of her, from destruction — it may be from both 
motives — he entered the boat and. stood in her until 
he liad drove out every one at the point of tJie sword. 

'' The4i was a scene of terror ! In front of the cabin 
the passengers were collected, half naked, some on 
their knees, calling for mercy — some* clapping their 
hands, and uttering the most appalling shrieks. 
Nothing could be distinctly heard. ' All was confusion 
and horror. It was enough to penetrate a heart of 
stone. Some, more collected, were dressing them- 
selves, preparing to resist the cold, if, perchance, they 
should survive on the wreck. Others were looking 
for something to which they could lash themselves 
for support for a time in the water. Here you might 
see one with a^safety-belt slung over his shirt, en- 
deavoring to fiU'it Avith air : there, another, pale and 
agitated, inquiring, ' Is there any hope V And there, 
one standing, as if in sullen despah', saying, ' It is no 
use to do any thing. We must die.' ' Are we sink- 
ing, uncle ?' cries a dear boy. A child running to 
a brave sailor, says, 'Won't you save 'me ?' And 
the loud wailing and lamentation from the crowd rose 
higher and higher. Then, as if to close the painful 
scene, the ship struck again on her quarter. The 
shock reverberated like thunder, making every joint 
of the vessel shake as if coming apart. Hope had 
now nearly fled : all hearts were dismayed ; the 
despairing cry was renewed, and the most calm braced 
themselves in preparation for immediate death. Even 
the dogs cowerefl down on the deck in silence. 

'^It appeared that at the first shock against the 
mountain, the jib-boom was broken and thrown over 
the bo#B into the vessel. The second shock carried 
away our bowsprit, head, and cutwater, lodging the 
timbers across the bows. Had it struck us on either 
side, or had it struck the hull, we must have perished ; 
^jut, by the mejcy of God, the hull was uninjured. 
After the bowsprit was carried away, the stem of the^ 
ship must have been held down for an instant by the 



THE BYRON. 295 

overhanging column ; and her not immediately rising 
in front, gave the idea to the most experienced, that 
she was stove in, and was filling witn water. This 
created the panic. But the sails being backed, the 
helm put hard up, she turned oiX from her enemy, 
and swinging clear, received the last shock on her 
larboard quarter, which, though its sound was terri- 
ble, did no hijnry. That moment she was free. 
And now was the contest between despair and hope. 
The carpenter reported that the hull was sound and 
that tha bowsprit could be repaired, but then she 
might have sprung a leak^ and the foremast was in 
danger of falling. The word was to pump. The 
pump was rigged and worked. It was a moment of 
painful suspense, until the pump sucked, showing all 
was tight. Then hope gilded the countenance of our 
captain, and all hearts began to live in its radiance. 
Still we waited to hear the crash of the foremast as 
the vessel was rolling in the sea, but it stood firm. 
Daylight, ever delightful to ihose on the deep, and 
peculiarly grateful to us, soon appeared. We found 
ourselves going on our way, alive, and witn every 
reasonable confidence of future life. 

" We stood amazed at our-deliverance. The most 
careless among us were constrained to attribute our 
preservation to a kind and merciful Providence, while 
the mnltitude cried out unhesitatingly, ' It is the 
Lord who hath saved us ; thanks and praises to his 
holy name.' Then every countenance was lighted 
up with joy ; every heart was full of gratitude to God, 
and love to one another, and many purposes were 
formed of reformation in future. The next day we 
saw three mountains of ice. We gazed with the 
deepest interest on the fellow of that which had so 
greatly endangered our lives. Before the close of the 
second day, a new bowsprit was fitted np, which 
stood the trial of the wind and waves the remainder 
of the voyage. In all this business the officers and 
crew showed great skill and energy." 



296 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



CONFLAGRfATION OF THE BURLINGTON, 

on her passage from New Orleans to Havre, March 
17, 1840. 

The barque Burlington, Capt. Hallet, of Boston, 
left New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 15, 1840, for Ha- 
vre, with cotton, and a crew of 1 hands, including 
two officers, cook and steward, and had proceded 24 
days on her voyage, when in lat. 37 N. and Ion. 54,40 
W., at about half past 9 o'clock at night, on Tuesday, 
March 10, she was struck by lightning, Avhich came 
down the larboard main-topsail sheet, knocked down 
the second officer and edl the starboard watch, with 
the exception of a man at the wheel. 

All hands were turned up to examine the vessel, 
but no apparent injury seen:ied to have been done, Capt. 
Hallet had, but a moment before, left the deck to ex- 
amine tlie barometer ; he heard the noise and the cry 
of the watch, and came immediately on deck ; found 
that there was no loss of life, but the men faint and 
weak in their limbs. At quarter past 12 if was dis- 
covered that the ship was on fire by the smoke com- 
ing up the booby-hatch and forecastle. The captain 
ordered the forecastle and hatches to be closed, and 
sails put over them. 

The wind was now blowing a gale, with heavy 
sea, and lightning to the S. W. Capt. Hallet hauled 
up courses and wore ship to the westward, and got 
the long-boat and jolly-boat all ready with provisions, 
water, &c., in case they should be wanted. At 6 
o'clock, A. M., found the larboard side and the mast 
coat of the mainmast quite warm. A hole was then 
made in the coat of the mainmast with an auger, large 
enough to admit a funnel, through which a quantity 
of water was poured down to protect the- mainmast, 
but the deck was burnt underneath. ■:% 



THE fiURLlNGTON. 297 

At 8 o'clock, A. M., the boats were got out, but the 
jolly-boat filled on lowering — the long-boat vras safely 
lowered with a part of the crew aiid the second offi- 
cer, and was held by a hawser under the lee of the 
ship. At half past 10, A. M., expecting the flames 
every moment to burst out, all the crew entered the 
long-boat ; having first implored the blessifig of Heav- 
en, they committed themselves to the care of that 
God who ruleth the winds and waves, and who alone 
can save. At 8 o'clock, P. M., tlie weather having 
moderated, and wanting some articles they had left 
behind, they boarded the ship, and found less smoke 
emerging from the hatches than when they had left. 

Capt. Hallet. ordered holes to be bored wherever 
the deck was .the hottest, and water poured down, 
and by means of puttying up and pasting over every 
hole and crack, he was in hopes of smothering the fire, 
or, at all events, of keeping it down so as to enable 
him to make some port. Accordingly, he ordered the 
boat to be taken in, and all things secured about the 
deck,- he kept the ship to a north-west by west 
course. In this manner -vvci-c employed the six fol- 
lowing days,'' pouring down many buckets of water 
wherever the deck was the hottest, and in pumping the 
ship. And here let it not be forgotten that this gal- 
lant and seemingly devoted crew were without change 
of clothes, although frequently saturated with salt 
water — and with no covering except the wide canopy 
of heaven ; but, fortunately, their provisions were on 
deck. 

On Monday, the 16th, a strong gale came on from 
the westward at 1 o'clock, P. M. The foresail and 
forctop main-staysail were taken in. At half past 2, 
P. M., it blew a complete hurricane from the north- 
west. A new close reefed main top-sail was blown 
away, and the mainmast worked considerably ; prob- 
ably the wedges were burnt out and had dropped 
d«5\vn. The beams and butts of the deck were all 



298 SHIPWftECKS AND OTHER ClSASTERS. 

open on the larboad side. In the afternoon the weath- 
er moderated. On Tuesday, the 17th, at 10 o'clock, 
A. M., they perceived a sail, — the St. James, Captain 
Sebor, — and hoisted a signal of distress. 

At 3 o'clock, P. M., the St. James spoke the 
Burlington, and by 5 o'clock, the same afternoon, 
all hands, with some provisions, were safe on board 
the former vessel. Captain Sebor displayed a most 
praise-worthy anxiety for the comfort and accommo- 
dation of all who were on board. When Captain 
Hallet left the Burlington, (which he did last of all,) 
the flames were about ten or^ twelve feet above the 
deck. At about 6 o'clock, P. M., the ship was one 
mass of fire, aiid about the same time the main and 
mizen masts fell overboard. At 10 o'clock, she sud- 
denly disappeared, having probably sunk. 

The following card was published by Capt. Hallet, 
in behalf of himself and crew : — 

''Capt. Bangs Hallet, late of the barque Burlington, 
of Boston, in behalf of himself, his ofTjcers und crew, 
begs to return his most sincere thanks to Captain 
William S. Sebor, of the packet ship St. James, for 
his humane and timely assistance, rendered to them 
on Wednesday, 17th Murch, when he took them off 
the burning wreck of the Burlington, within a few 
hours of her utter destruction — and also for his great 
kindness and gentlemanly treatment while on board 
his vessel during the passage to New York.'' 



THE POLAND. "^99 



CONFLAGRATION OF THE POLAND, 

on her 'passage from Ncio York for Havre, May 
18, 1840. 

We have gathered the following particulars from a 
New York journal : — 

The packet ship Poland, Capt. Anthony, from 
New York for Havre, was fallen in with by the ship 
Clifton on the 18th of May, in latitude 41 12, longi- 
tude 56, on fire. The passengers and crew, and a 
portion of the cargo were saved. The Poland had oq 
board twenty-four cabin, and eleven steerage passen- 
gers. — The names of the passengers were — B. G. 
Wainwright, lady, two children and servant : Miss 
M.. Hughes ;. Messrs. E. Boyer ; A. L. Gournez ; A. 
Pizarro ; C. Bermer ; J. Prom ; J, B. Valee ; J. C. 
Parr, of Philadelphia ; J. B. Nichols, of Providence ; 
J. R. Mahler, and Mrs. Campbell, of Canada : E. D. 
Harbour, and J. H. Buckingham, of Boston, and 
Louis Reynard ; James Knott, shoemaker, of Boston : 
Louis- Marchand, of Lyons, France ; Catherina Hui- 
thcr, of Rechtetibach, who had spent her last cent in 
paying for her outfit to get back to her husband who 
was to meet her in Havre ; Joseph Schimmel, of 
Kuelsheim ; George Claus, of Hofcn ; Nicholas Beck- 
er, of .Wolfstein ; Michael Knaub, of Maden ; John 
Sander, of Alzei ; Henry Usinger of Ilberschau- 
sen ; John Kramer, of Metz ; and John Schneider, a 
German, residence unknown. 

The ship Poland was struck by lightning on Sat- 
urday, the 16th of May, five days out, in lat. 41 35, 
long. 58 30. A passenger states that with Capt. An- 
thony and others, during a heavy squall, at 3 o'clock 
on the afternoon of that day, he saw the lightning 
descend like a single ball of fire, and strike the lar- 



300 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

board fore royal yard arm — that it thence dropped 
to the fore yard, and there running into the mast, 
seemed to vanish and separate. During the whole 
storm there was but one clap of thunder, and but one- 
stroke of lightning. The concentrated fury of the 
clouds seemed spent in that one bolt, which struck 
as above described. The sublimity of the spectacle 
will forever be a theme of conversation to those who 
witnessed it ; and while, in the Providence of a good 
God, all the souls on board have escaped to tell of it, 
they cannot regret the dangers and privations which 
they have endured, which have enabled them to 
speak of a sublime and terrific spectacle, such as few 
have witnessed, and survived to describe. He who 
holds the waters in the hollow of his hands, knows 
only to how many gallant ships and gallant men, a 
signal like that of the descent of the lightning upon 
the Poland has been the precursor of a terrible death, 
—leaving no testimony to sumying friends of its 
manner or its time. 

It was at first thought, by the deeply interested 
spectators, that on the fore yard the fluid had spent 
itself and separated ; but examination destroyed this 
hope, and it was discovered that the tight-ring had 
passed down the mast into the forward hold, and fired 
the cotton stowed there. Immediately after the light- 
ning had struck the ship, (^apt. Anthony went be- 
tween deck, and commenced throwing over cotton 
and flour to get at the lower hold. On taking up the 
lower hatch, the smoke burst out to such a degree 
that they were compelled to shut down all the hatch- 
es. The cabin was immediately filled with smoke, 
so much so that the hands could not remain long 
enough to get out a trunk, The men were, howev- 
er, driven from their work by the smoke, and the 
strong sulphurous smell. At 8 o'clock the hatches 
were closed, and the boats were cleared and got out 
,about 10 in the evening. The females and children, 



THE POLAND. 301 

with as many men as was thought proper, making 
thirty-five in all, were put into the long boat and 
dropi^ed astern, where they remained all that night, 
and the next day and night, until Monday morning — 
the ship being hove to, in order to be easy, and in 
hopes of being discovered by some passing vessel. 
Fears were entertained that if sail were made, the 
masts burnt off below the deck would go by the 
board, and the flames rush up, leaving all hope out of 
the question. 

On Monday morning, the wind having increased, 
the passengers were taken on board, and sail was 
made for the N. E. The fire at one time seemed 
rather to have abated than increased, and the glass 
bull's eyes, and the deck planks did not seem so hot 
as on the day previous. 

In this condition they remained until 2 o'clock in 
the afternoon of the same day, when they were all 
taken off by the Clifton. When we state that the 
wind blew a gale at the time of this trans-shipment, 
we cannot too much admire the skill and care of Capt. 
J. B. Ingersoll of the Clifton, and Capt. Anthony of 
the Poland, and their officers; nor can we too highly 
praise the coolness and presence of mind of the crew 
and some of the passengers, and the obedience of all to 
direction ; exposed as they were, to an untried and 
terrible danger. 

During the time they had remained on board the 
burning vessel, they were in a most horrid state of 
suspense, the tire below constantly increasing, so 
much so, that the decks were momently becoming 
hotter. Her sides were so hot, that when the ship 
rolled, the planks out of water would instantly be- 
come dry and smoke. The weather, from Saturday, 
the time she was struck, till Monday afternoon, was 
fortunately fine. During these two days the boats, 
one long and two small ohes, were along side, and 
ready at a moment's notice. Capt. Anthony behaved 
26 



S03 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

with a courage and coolness which entitle him to 
the highest praise ; and after it was found impossible 
to reach and quench the fire, the passengers and crew 
were employed, under his direction, in stopping all 
vents possible, through which the smoke might es- 
cape. To this coolness, under God, is the present 
safety of the passengers to be attributed. 

The persons on board the Poland could not have 
survived till 12 at night, without assistance. The 
long boat would accommodate thirty-five persons, the 
other boats ten to twelve only, leaving a large num- 
ber of the sixtyrfour wholly unprovided for. That 
imder these circumstances, and with this view before 
them, they behaved so rationally, is matter of special 
wonder. This occurrence should operate as a cau- 
tion to packet owners, to make more effectual provi- 
sion for the safety of passengers. Two of Francis' 
life boats would have accommodated the whole on 
board, and as many more, and have likewise secured 
them against all danger in going from one vessel to 
the other in the storm. 

When the passengers and crew left the Poland, 
the deck had become too hot to stand upon, the fire 
having been increased by the motion of the ship. It 
was the opinion that, in an hour after, the flames 
burst forth. The Clifton could not stay by to watch 
the event on account of the storm ; but we can imag- 
ine the feelings of those who escaped, reverting back 
in their minds, though they could not look with their 
eyes, to the burning grave which they had just es- 
caped. We imagine their greetings of each other, 
and their thanks, first to their Heavenly Preserver, 
and then to the men, his instruments, when the com- 
pany were told, and all found safe. 

The following cards, expressive of the grateful feel- 
ings of the passengers, were published in their behalf 
and signed by them :—? 



THE POLAND. 303 

" Ship Clifton, at sea, May 23, 1840. 
" The undersigned, passengers per ship Poland, 
bound from New York for Havre, take this public 
opportunity to express their thanks to Capt. Anthony 
for his prompt and unremitting exertions to preserve 
them from the horrid death to which they were for 
two days exposed. After his ship was struck* by 
lightning, being well assured that their preservation is 
to be, under Divine Providence, attributed solely to 
his courage, coolness, and constant vigilance under 
the most trying circumstances." 

*' Ship Clifton, at sea, May 23, 1840. 
" The undersigned beg leave thus publicly to ex- 
press to Capt. J. B. IngersoU, and to the officers and 
crew of the ship Clifton, from Liverpool, bound to 
New York, their sincere and heartfelt thanks for their 
cordial and ready compliance with their request, to 
be taken on board. They would also express their 
gratitude for his total forgetfulness of self, and his 
deprivation of all personal convenience, in order to 
render their distressed situation as comfortable as pos* 
sible." 



The following letter from J. H. Buckingham, Esq.j 
who* was a passenger on board the ship Poland, will 
be found of intense interest. It was addressed to his 
father, the editor of the Boston Courier, from which 
paper we have copied it : — 

'' Boston, May 29, 1840. 
*' Dear Sir — As the loss of the unfortunate ship Po- 
land excites considerable interest in this community, 
I take an early opportunity to give as complete a de- 
tail of the occurrences connected with it as my mem- 
ory will allow. We sailed from New York, or rather 
we were taken in tow by the steamboat Wave, about 
11, A. M.; on Monday, the 11th inst.,' the wind being 



304 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

quite light, and were towed down to Sandy Hook; 
where the pilot and the steamboat left lis. Our crew 
consisted of twenty good substantial working men. 
We also had two cooks, two stewards, and the wife 
of the principal steward as an assistant in the ladies' 
cabin. The captain and two mates made up our 
complement of men to twenty-five. There were 
twenty-four cabin passengers, three of wfiom could 
not speak English, and three others who could not 
speak French. 

*' Counting all hands, men, women and children, 
we had on board sixty-three persons. We had good 
weather and favorable breezes, passing about twen- 
ty-five miles to the south of Nantucket Shoals, and 
going on prosperously and fast enough to satisfy those 
most impatient for a short passage, until Saturday the 
16th. At noon of that day, we were in latitude^ 41 
35, longitude 58 30, having accomplished nearly one 
third of the passage, and with every hope of not be- 
ing on board more than eighteen days. In the morn- 
ing we passed a ship bound to the east, which we 
supposed to be the Cotton Planter, from New York 
for Havre, which sailed some days before us. 

" At 2 o'clock, P. M., it began to rain, and contin- 
ued, in showers and squalls, until about 3 o'clock,, 
when a severe shower commenced with large drops,, 
like some of our summer showers after a hot and sul- 
try day. As most of the male passengers were in the 
house on deck, looking out at the rain and sea, Capt. 
Anthony standing at the door, a large ball of fire, ap>- 
parently about twice the size of a man's hat, suddenly 
descended in a horizontal line from the clouds, which 
appeared to be meeting from two different points of 
the compass ahead of us, and struck the end of the 
fore topsail yard, on the left hand side ,* it descended 
the ties, or some chains, to the end of the fore-yard, 
and ran on the yard to the cap of the foremast, where 
it exploded with a report similar to that of a cannon ; 



THE POLAND. 305 

and giving lh« appearance of the explosion of a bomb^ 
or, similar, although on a much larger scale, to the 
explosions of some of the fire-work circles which we 
have sometimes seen on public galas, throwing out 
rays in every direction, like the rays of the sun. 
The whole was instantaneous, and was witnessed by 
two or three of us ; it came and passed off in a flash, 
and was followed almost at the same instant by a peal 
of thunder, sharp and loud, but not long nor rumbling. 
It was the only flash of lightning or peal of thunder 
that we saw or heard. 

*• Almost immediately, Capt. Anthony went for- 
ward with one or two of the passengers, being aware 
that we had been struck with lightning, to ascertain 
if the ship was damaged. It was ascertained that 
when the ball exploded, the electric fluid ran down 
the foremast to the lower deck, where the chain ca- 
ble was stowed, and one of the steerage passengers 
pointing to a small piece of cotton on the deck, said 
there was no fire, as that cotton was set on fire, and 
he put it out by putting his foot on it. We ascer- 
tained that the fluid did run down the chain, but 
could not see where it escaped. On going into the 
forecastle, we discovered some signs of the lightning, 
and were led to suppose, on a very close examination, 
that after entering the steerage it passed through into 
the forecastle and out up the companion way. A 
piece of the fid^ about eight inches long and two or 
three thick, was knocked off the foretop, and two or 
three of the halyards were found to be cut off, which 
the captain immediately set his men to repairing. 

^' Although the cabin and steerage were filled with 
a sort of smoke, which had a sulphurous smell, no one 
really supposed the ship to be on fire, or that the ap- 
pearances indicated any thing more than the gas usu- 
ally following a stroke of lightning. Some alarm 
and anxiety was very naturally felt, particularly by 
the ladies and those who were connected with them ; 
26* 



306 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

but still, as there was no increase of smoke, and no 
appearance of fire, the crew went about their regular 
business, and at 4 o'clock dinner was served as usual ; 
the cabin, at that time, being clear of every thing in- 
dicative of danger. Some of us could not eat,— • 
while there was uncertainty, we had no appetite, and 
the meal which had heretofore been one of pleasure, 
accompanied by the reciprocation of good feelings, 
and sallies of wit, passed off with dullness, and almost 
in silence. Capt. Anthony looked in upon us as we 
sat at table, but he was too anxious to sit down, and 
did not cease in his endeavors to ascertain with cer- 
tainty our position. The first mate, Mr. Delano, and 
the steward, opened the run and went into it, to a^ 
certain if there was fire or smoke in that part of the 
ship, but came out without being satisfied either thai 
there was or was not — the smell was the same as that 
we had noticed at first, mostly of gas, like sulphur. 

" Our dinner was a short and silent one ; and 
when we went on deck, the captain said that he had 
little doubt that the ship was on fire, and that we 
must endeavor to get at it. On a suggestion that 
we might be obliged to take to the boats, it was 
immediately remarked by one of our French passen- 
gers, and responded to by others — ' Let us take care 
of the women and children first.' I mention this as 
honorable to those who made it, and as showing that 
there was, even at that first moment of danger, a 
praise-worthy abandonment of self to the protection 
of others who are naturally more helpless. Not a 
moment was lost in clearing the main hatch, the cap- 
tain himself leading the way, and commencing by 
throwing over the empty water casks and useless 
lumber which was stored round the long-boat. The 
mate, witb'*another gang of hands, was at the fore 
hatch, and in a few minutes all hands, including 
many of the cabin and steerage passengers, were at 
work, hoisting oufcand throwing overboard flour and 
cotton. 



THE POLAND. 307 

*' The work of discharging the cargo between 
decks went on cheerfullyj amid a severe rain, until 
about 8 o'clock, the fire not appearing to increase, 
and at times appearing to be altogether extinguished, 
even if there had ever been any except in the imagi- 
nation ; but at that time, and when the forward low- 
er hatch was reached, we were at once convinced of 
the awful fact, that the cotton in the lower hold was 
on fire. The hatch was immediately closed as tight 
as possible ; the upper hatches were also closed and 
partially caulked, and preparations were made to get 
out the boats. 

'^ In answer to many inquiries why we had not, in 
the mean time, got our baggage on deck, I will re- 
mark that, until now, there was a hope that we were 
still safe, or that, if there were fire on board, we 
should be able to get at and extinguish it. So great 
was our confidence that the children were undressed 
and put to bed for the Jiight, — not, however, without 
many anxious forebodings on the part of their parents. 
When the dreadful certainty was forced upon us, our 
first object was to get the women and children on 
deck ; and, in fact,this was rendered the more necessary 
from the circumstance that the hatches being closed, 
the gas must escape somewhere, and it immediately 
got vent through the ran and the steward's pantry, 
into the cabin, rendering it impossible for any to re- 
main below long at a time. Capt. iV.nthony coolly, 
calmly, and quietly gave his orders, and they were 
obeyed in the same spirit by his men. He remarked 
that it was useless to bring up any thing but such 
light articles as we could easiest find, as the boats 
would not be able to carry any baggage. One caught 
a carpet bag, and another a cloak ; some opened their 
trunks and took out their money, leaving every thing 
else behind ; and some caught blankets from the 
berths. The steward got up a bacrel of bread, and 
others assisted him in putting whatever of eatables 



308 SHIPWRECKS 1.ND OTHER DISASTERS. 

there was in his pantry into bags, &c. A barrel and 
two or three jugs of water were put into the long-boat, 
with such coats, cloaks, &c., as could be got at in a 
few minutes, and then she was launched overboard. 
The women and children were first handed over the 
side of the ship, and then the cabin passengers, all 
except three ; a few of the steerage passengers ; the 
second mate, Mr. Keeler, and four sailors. The other 
boats were also got out, and two men placed in each. 
All this was done with order and regularity, without 
any pushing or crowding, and in tacit obedience to 
the captain's orders, in a very short time. It was 10 
o'clock before the long-boat was pushed off, and a 
line attached to her and the ship — having on board 
thirty-five persons. Nothing was said at the time 
about the other two boats, and those of us who re- 
mained on board the Poland were waiting for the first 
break of morning to learn the fate to which we were 
doomed, — knowing that it would be madness to put 
more into the long-boat, and that not more than half 
of those of us who remained could ever get into the 
other two. The ship, at the time we first supposed 
ourselves in danger, was put upon a south-easterly 
course, in the hope of falling in with, or cutting off, 
the ship we had passed in the morning ; and signal 
lanterns were hoisted in the rigging, but when we 
commenced getting out the boats she was hove to, 
and she rode very easy all night, the sea not being 
very boisterous, and there being very little wind. 
It rained at intervals all night, and although it was 
day-light and clear about 4 o'clock in the morning, 
the time seemed almost an eternity. After the long- 
boat was hoisted out, an attempt was made to save 
some Articles from the cabin, and the steward suc- 
ceeded in saving the captain's watch, and chronometer, . 
and trunk, w;ith a small box containing about three 
hundred dollars in specie, but the gas and the smoke 
soon obliged us to abandon all further attempts, and 



THE POLAND. 6\J\J 

to close all the doors to the cabin and to the house 
over them. 

'' We walked over the deck all that night, and said 
but little. Capt. Anthony was watchful, and going 
silently about in every part of the deck, stopping up 
a crack here and adjusting a rope there, or giving 
some order for the safety of those whom at that mo- 
ment he must have felt were dependent almost en- 
tirely upon his discretion for their lives. Morning 
broke, and the sun rose, but no sail was in sight. 
There we lay on the broad ocean, a fine ship smoking 
at every crack, with three frail boats attached to her 
by a single rope, and no hope of rescue except through 
the goodness of the Almighty. Whatever may have 
been the religious feelings, or the want thereof, among 
those sixty-three persons so awfully situated, there 
was no cowardice exhibited, no sudden out-break of 
prayer and repentance, no murmuring. But there 
did appear to be a confidence in the breast of every 
one that the God who had thus suddenly alliicted us 
would not leave us to perish in that desert sea. * 

'' We remained in this state of suspense all day 
Sunday, making ourselves as comfortable as possible. 
Every crack where we could find the smoke coming 
out was stuffed with cotton, or plastered over with 
pipe clay, of which the captain found a small lot on 
board attached to the gallery erected for the steerage 
passengers. The ice-house on deck contained fresh 
meat, such as beef, chickens, ducks, &c., and the 
cooks were employed all day in cooking. We sent 
some Avarm coffee and fresh milk, with some boiled 
fowls, to our friends in the long-boat, and made every 
exertion to lighten their misfortunes. But still no 
ship came in sight, and evening found us in the 
same perilous situation that we were in the night be- 
fore. 

"During all this day the deck was quite warm, oa 
the right hand side forward of the mainmast, indicat- 



310 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

ing, as we supposed, that the fire was under that part 
of the vessel; the thick glass dead-lights, set into the 
deck at intervals of about two feet from stem to stern, 
were also quite hot ; but, towards night, the deck and 
glasses began to cool off, and there was less smoke 
apparent, — the forward hatches, too, were not quite so 
hot at night as they were in the morning, — and we 
began to have more hope. We had got a man over 
the stern in the forenoon, on a spar, to fasten down 
the shutters to the cabin windows, and nail them 
down, but this did not prevent the smoke from com- 
ing through. The wooden shutters to the sky-lights 
on deck were put on to prevent the glass being broke 
by accident, and towards night we thought that the 
glass under those shutters had cooled off. 

'•About 10 o'clock on Sunday night, most of the 
unfortunate people on board the ship sunk to sleep on 
the deck from mere exhaustion, leaving only three 
people awake to watch for help, or to warn us of wjiat 
we most dreaded, a bursting out of the flames. No 
language can tell the sufferings of that night, which 
w^ere more dreadful than the last. We were like 
people confined on the top of a burning mine, with 
no power to escape, — death almost certain to be our 
portion within a few short hours, and our minds tor- 
tured with suspense. 

''During the night, Capt. Anthony laid down and 
caught a little sleep. The weather was tolerably fair, 
but silence reigned throughout, except so far as it was 
broken by the occasional rumbling and dashing of the 
sea. Just before 2 o'clock I laid down beside him to 
wait my fate, leaving only one man walking the deck, 
and in doing so, I disturbed him. He waked, and 
turning over, he took my hand and remarked, ' I feel 
that we shall be saved — I have had a pleasant dream.' 
This circumstance, slight as it was, had its effect, and 
did impart some little consolation to both of us. — So 
true is it that drowning men will catch at straws. 



THE POLAND. 311 

" About this time the weather was changing, and 
the sea had risen, and the people in the long-boat be- 
came alarmed. Mr. Wainwright hailed the ship, to 
know if it would be best to take the boat in ; Capt. 
Anthony answered that they had better wait patient- 
ly until daylight, and then walked forward to exam- 
ine into the state of the ship. We now found that 
the fire had evidently increased : the deck and hatches 
were still quite warm, and the pitch was beginning to 
boil or melt in the seams between the planks. A 
short conference convinced us that but little time 
could elapse before the fire would burst through the 
deck, and then there would be no further hope. 
What we said, and what we felt, between that time 
and daylight, is not to be told here ; it is sufficient 
that we thought we knew the worst. The two small 
boats could not hold more than fifteen persons, and 
there were nearly thirty on board the ship ; under the 
best of circumstances some of us must be lost, and it 
is needless to say that Capt. Anthony determined that 
he should stick to his vessel, and run the risk, rather 
than crowd the boats with too many people, or ex- 
clude any one else. 

'' At daylight, Mr. Wainwright came on board ia 
one of the small boats, and we explained our situation 
to him. There was but a chance for any of us. If 
he and his party remained in the boat, they might be 
saved ; but if they were taken on board the ship, and 
the fire should break out, it would then be impossible 
to put the people into the boats again, and launch 
them over the side, — and death, by fire or drowning, 
would be the certain fate of all. The case was too 
strong, and the horrid conviction too apparent to be 
disputed, and, as was his duty, he prepared to return 
to his family and meet his fate. It is not for me to 
say what were then our feelings. Three of us, in the 
fulness of our strength and the ripeness of years, were 
then parting, as we all supposed, forever ; and nearly 



312 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

every one else was asleep. Words were useless, and 
we could not utter what we wanted to express. We 
commended our families to each other, in case either 
should be saved ; and with a silent shake of the hand 
he returned to the boat, to make such preparations as 
prudence suggested, to protect his almost helpless 
companions, in case we should find it necessary to cut 
his boat adrift. 

''From this time the sea became more boisterous, 
and, at last, after some hours of anxious watching we 
sent for Mr. Wainwright to come on board again, and 
he was told that there were fears that his boat would 
swamp. Capt Anthony was afraid to make sail on 
the ship, as the working of the masts might create a 
current of air below, which would either increase the 
fire, or, operating upon the gas in the hold, blow off 
the hatches and thus seal our fate at once. After 
some consideration, it was concluded to run the risk 
and take in the boats, and put the ship before the 
wind, in the hope of falling in with some other vessel, 
before we were entirely consumed, — and no time was 
lost in putting the plan into execution. 

" When the poor sufferers, in the boat came on 
board, their situation was found to be much worse 
than ours had been. We had at least had the power 
of locomotion, and could shift our position at will ; 
but they, particularly the females, had suffered, for 
two long nights and a day, the tortures of a cramped- 
up situation, unable to sit, except in a certain position, 
with their feet continually in the water, and their 
bodies every few minutes covered with the dashing 
spray of the sea. Mrs. Wainwright had held one of 
her children in her arms the Avhole time, and not be- 
ing by any means a robust woman, it is astonishing 
that she held out so long. Nothing but a mother's 
love, and a firm trust in an over-ruling Providence 
preserved her in those hours of trial. Mrs. Arfwed- 
son was almost exhausted, and her infant having suf- 



THE POLAND. 313 

fered* for want of the natural nourishment its mother 
could not afford, seemed ahnost ready to die. Some 
of the passengers in the boat were sea-sick the whole 
time, and, taken altogether, their situation had been 
more trying than ours. 

*' Once more together, and stowed in the most com- 
fortable way possible on the quarter deck, some little 
cheerfulness was shown, although all felt that our sit- 
uation was not in the least alleviated, and many feared 
we but joined together to struggle and to die. Sail 
was made on the ship, and we stood off to the north- 
east, and at noon we found by observation that we 
were in latitude 40 OS, and longitude 56, having 
drifted to the south-east with the sea. We were now 
in the track of vessels bound to and from Europe and 
the United States, and the hope that we might yet be 
saved, inspired some confidence. The men were 
now put to work at the pumps, and the ship was 
found to have leaked a great deal, a part of which 
was undoubtedly otviiig to the pitch where she was 
calked, having boiled out of the seams; the water 
which was pumped up was quite hot at first, and as 
long as the men pumped, it continued to be warmer 
^han the temperature of the sea, or of common bilge- 
Avat€u-. 

" About 2, P. M., Monday, a sail was discovered 
from the mast-head, and soon after it was seen from 
the deck. The joy which this discovery gave can 
be imagined, but cannot be described ; it seemed as 
if some would almost, if not quite, go crazy. The 
stranger saw our signals of distress, and being to the 
leeward, hove to for us to come up. It proved to be 
a Boston built ship, called the Clifton, Captain J. B. 
IngersoU, bound from Liverpool to New York, with 
two hundred and fifty steerage passengers, mostly 
Irish. To Captain Anthony's statement that his ship 
was on fire in the hold, and that we wanted to be 
27 



^14 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHEtt DISASTERS. 

taken off, the prompt answer was, ' Come all on board 
of me, and bring all the provisions you can.' 

'' Before our own boat could be got out and manned, 
the boat of the Clifton, with the chief mate and four 
oarsmen was alongside of us, and the process of trans- 
ferring all hands from ship to ship commenced. The 
sea Avas very high, and the gale was increasing, which 
made our task a long anddangcr ous one ; from 3 until 
9 o'clock the two boats were passing and re-passing, 
with people, and siich'articles as'could be saved from 
the deck. 

'^ The gale was now blowing from the north-west, 
and both captains remarked that they did not recollect 
ever to have seen a worse sea for many years. We 
were all safely on board by 9 o'clock ; and Capt. In- 
gersoll, not thinking it safe to risk his own ship any 
longer by laying to, in the vain hope of saving prop- 
erty, made sail on his ship, and we left the unfortu- 
nate Poland to burn up and sink, a fate wliich she 
undoubtedly met within two or tfiree hours. 

'• At the time the last boat's load left the Poland, 
the deck had become too hot to stand upon, and her 
sides were so warm, t^iat as she rolled in the sea. 
the water would run off as from hot iron, and she 
would instantly become dry, and too hot to be£|p the 
hand upon. An effort was made to get out some ar- 
ticles from the house over the cabin stairs, but on 
opening the doors, the smoke, J^eat and deleterious 
gas drove the people away instantly, and a second at- 
tempt proved alike fruitless. A like attempt near the 
main hatch met with the like success, and the ship 
was abandoned with tears and regret ; for sailors im- 
bibe an affection for the craft in which they have 
sailed, and they feel the loss more keenly than many 
people feel the loss of their friends and relatives. 

" On board the Clifton we met with a most cordial 
reception from Captain IngersoU and his whole crew. 
yVe had been saved in life, but we had lost all our 



THE POLAND. 315 

clothing ; and the chests of the sailors, and the trunks 
of their commander, were freely opened, and their 
contents were as freely offered for our use. What 
inconveniences were suffered from the crowded state 
of the Clifton, and our own destitute condition, were 
of no moment. We were safe, and all things else were 
forgotten in a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness to 
Almighty God for saving us from the death we had so 
long seen almost certain to us. 

'' There were many incidents connected with this 
eventful period, the recollection of which is interest- 
ing to those concerned ; but I ha^ already taken up 
more room than I at first intended. I cannot con- 
clude, however, without remarking, that to Captain 
Anthony belongs all the credit that belongs to any 
oiTe -for preserving us so long. The card published 
by the passengers under their signatures, awards him 
no more than justice ; tyid might, with equal justice, 
have been made much stronger. — He has acquired a 
hold upon our hearts that cannot be loosened but with 
life itself, and if ever man could retire with a confi- 
dence that he had done his duty faithfully in the 
hour of danger, unflinching at thalast moment, that 
satisfactory consolation must be his. 

" It has been remarked by some, that the ship 
might have been scuttled, and that water might have 
been poured into her ; but those who make such ob- 
servations little know the danger to which such at- 
tempts would have exposed us, — and to those who 
cavil at the fact that she was abandoned without fur- 
ther attempt to save the vessel and cargo, we can on- 
ly reply that we hope they may never personally 
know how much niore difficult it is to act in the 
hour of danger at sea, than it is to talk and find fault 
in safety on shore. 

" As for the passengers and crew, they deserve all 
praise. It appears now almost impossible that so 
much could have been done, — so much have beea 



316 SHIPWRECKS AND dTHER DISASTER!?, 

suffered, without, confusion and without a. murmur. 
From the first moment to the last there was order 
and regularity observed, and each one appeared to 
strive to make the burdens of the others as easy to 
bear as possible ; the calm confidence of our fernale 
companions, and their firm reliance upon the 'good- 
ness of the Power which was afflicting them, served 
in a great measure to encourage their friends in the 
hard task of sustaining them until assistance came to 
hand. J. H. B." 



WRECK OF THE BRIG TARIFF, 

on Cohasset Rocks y March 26, 1840, — in which four 
lives were tost 

The brig Tariff, Capt Walker, of Portland, from 
Matanzas for Boston, with a cargo of molasses, was 
wrecked on Cohaeset Rocks before daylight on the 
morning of March 26, where she immediately went 
to pieces. Her upper works drifted ashore, — and the 
captain and three of the crew were saved» The re- 
maining four were lost. Scituate light was mistakeri 
for Boston light, and the brig was so far in before the 
error was discove/ed, that she could not work off. 

The names of those lost were, Amos T. Chase, of 
Portland ; Joshua Howard, of Boothbay ; John Scott^ 
and George Estes, of St. John, N. Bv 



THE ESCAMBIA. 317 



WRECK OF THE BRIG ESCAMBIA, 

ofi he?' passage from Charleston to New York, 

March 25, lSA0,—7ciih (he loss of all on 

hoard, excepting one. 

The brig Escambia, Capt. Dunham, sailed from 
Charleston, March 24. On the next day, while un- 
der bare poles, and" being between Fryingpan Shoals 
and Cape Look-out, the wind commenced blowing 
from the north-east, and increased during the day, 
until about 7 o'clock in the evening, when the vessel 
was thrown on her beam ends. 

In this situation the brig continued until 9 o'clock, 
when she began to go down. The wind continuing 
to blov/ violently, and the sea running very high, and 
making a complete breach over her. 

Every one was washed from the wreck. The 
mate, William Bulkley, clung to the taffrail ; and after 
the vessel had entirely disappeared, he succeeded in 
reaching a part of the poop-deck, which had been dis- 
engaged from the rest of the vessel by the violence of 
the sea. Upon this he^remained until 3 o'clock in 
the afternoon of Saturday, the 2Sth, when he was 
discovered and taken off by Capt. Whilden, of the 
schooner Marietta Ryan, bound for New York. 

The names of those on board were, Capt. Rufus 
Dunham ; William Bulkley, first mate, saved ; Ed- 
win Hull, second mate ; J. Chamberlain, cook ; Isaac 
Tradle, steward ; Henry Johnston, John Williams, 
John Peters, James Lucas, and Allen Jackson, sea- 
men. Mr. Wilber, of Newport, R. I., and two others, 
names unknown, were passengers. 
27* 



318 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



ENCOUNTER OF THE GOV. CARVER, 

and remarkable escape from an Icehergj May 29, 
1818. 

The preservation of. the brig Gov. Carver, Capt. 
S. Doten, of Plymouth, Mass., was thus described in 
a letter from the captain to the owners of the brig : — 

'' Havre, June 23, 1818. 

" On the 29th of May, near the easterly end of the 
Grand Banks, it being very foggy, I discovered an 
object apparently twice as high as our mast heads, 
and appearing like a water spout. I did not think it 
possible that an island of ice should be so high. I 
immediately ordered the helm a-weather, hoping to 
get the vessel before the wind, and clear of the dan- 
ger, whatever it might be, — but before this could be 
done, we found ourselves completely surrounded and 
covered by this immense mountain of ice, which so 
projected over our heads, that the water which ran 
from*itin streams and rivulets, fell over the vessel on 
the opposite side ; and although our sail-booms were 
rigged out on the side next the ice, making a distance 
of twenty-seven feet from tffe centre of the brig, they 
did not touch it. 

" Fortunately, we succeeded in getting clear,- and, 
in less than five minutes, and while so near that the 
rebounding of the water reached the vessel, this im- 
mense body of ice fell over, directly towards us, with 
a crashing noise resembling the heaviest thunder, 
which continued for the space of a minute and a 
half." 



THE PROSPECT. 319 



WRECK OF THE SCHOONER PROSPECT, 

in Ipswich Bay, March 11, 1840, — with the loss of 

all on board, excepting the captain. 

The schooner Prospect, Capt. Murdock, laden with 
sand, from Newburyport, bound to Boston, in crossing 
Ipswich bay, Marcli 11, sprung a leak, and bore np for 
Squam ; when on the bar, the vessel being partly 
filled with water, and it being nearly low tide, she 
struck and went down immediately. The crew, five 
in number, got into the rigging, Avith the exception of 
one man, who was drowned on deck. The sea run- 
ning very high, it appeared like madness to attempt 
to save the lives of the four remaining on board, — but 
there were two individuals, Mr. Aaron L. Sargent 
and Mr. Kilby P. Sargent, with great honor to 
themselves, and at the imminent peril of their lives, 
boarded the vessel in a wherry, and succeeded in res- 
cuing the captain, who was the only one saved. 
Several others went to the vessel, but the rest of the 
crew, being past helping themselves, after being on 
the wreck about three hours, fell lifeless into the sea, in 
the presence of hundreds who were but a short distance 
from them, but without the means of afl'ording relief. 
Had there been a life boat stationed there, all hands 
might have been saved with ease, and without endan- 
gering the lives of those who boarded the vessel. 



320 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



SHIPWRECK OF THE GLASGOW, 

on the Irish coast, February 15, 1837, — hy which 

disaster a number of lives were lost. 

The ship Glasgow, Capt. Robinson, of New York, 
sailed from Liverpool for New York on the 8th of 
February, with about ninety passengers, chiefly Eng- 
lish and Irish, of whom twenty were females; there 
were five cabin passengers ; and the number of the 
crew, including the officers, was seventeen. 

From the time of her departure to the day previous 
to the unfortunate occurrence we are about to relate, 
she encountered a continuance of thick, hazy weather, 
and contrary winds, which detained her, beating about 
the channel. On the 14th, the weather cleared up, 
and during the day, which was very fine, they were 
in sight of Tuskar Light, when they very reasonably 
anticipated a prosperous voyage, being nearly clear of 
the channel ; that night, hovyever, the weather 
changed for the worse^ becoming quite as thick and 
hazy as it had been on the preceding days of the 
voyage. At about 5 o'clock the next morning, the 
chief mate being in charge, while on the larboard 
tack and going at the rate of seven or eight knots, 
the ship struck her larboard bow upon one of those 
dangerous half-tide rocks, called the Barrels, about 
eleven miles N. W. of Tuskar^ making a large breach 
in her bow, through which the .water rushed with 
tremendous violence. The sea running high at the 
time, she was carried over, and her stern striking on 
the rocks with great violence, unshipped the rudder. 
From the §reat way which was on the vessel, every 
sail being set, she went completely over the rocks into 
deep water. 



THE GLASGOW. 321 

Just previous to her striking, and not till then, the 
dangerous proximity to the shore was perceived ; and 
the captain came on deck barely in time to see her 
strike, without^bcing able to prevent it. From witness- 
ing the shock with which she was driven on the rocks, 
the captain expected she would certainly go down ill 
a few minutes ; the wate;* was rushing in fore and 
aft as if^through two sluices ; the first shock apprized 
the passengers of their danger, and all rushed on deck, 
creating the scene of confusion usual in such frightful' 
situations. 

Comparative order being restored, as far as possible, 
by the captain and his officers, they immediately 
commenced getting out the long-boat, in doing which, 
they were obliged to cut away the gripes, when their 
axe, the only one that coul^ be found, broke ; and 
they were obliged to turn their attention to the pin- 
nace, a very small boat, and not capable of affording 
security to one sixth the number in the vessel. But 
no oars could be found, and all hope being *thus shut 
out, they %»oked upon their fate as being fixed, for 
the ship was fast sinking. 

During this awful period they kept ringing the 
bells, the only signal of distress which could be avail- 
able in such hazy weather. The scene on board was 
now dreadful, the passengers were agonized with 
their fears, and nearly frantic with the sudden pros- 
pect of so fearful a death ; whilst the captain, who, 
with the most determined of the crew, having done 
every thing which human exertions could effect, now 
stood still, calmly awaiting the worst. 

At this period, a sail hove in sight ; the schooner 
Ahcia, of Wexford, Capt. Walsh, on their voyage 
from Dublin to Newport, had heard the signal, and im- 
mediately bore up in the direction from which the 
sounds proceeded. Providentially, they were heard 
by one of the most dauntless seaman that ever trod a 



323 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

deck ; and his schooner, one of the best vessels in the 
port, being in ballast, was the more easily managed. 
Capt. Walsh came up under the lee quarter of the ship 
and hailed her, desiring them to send their boats with 
passengers, and that he would stand by them to the 
last at all hazards. To this Capt. Robinson answered 
that he had no oars, upon \yhich Capt. Walsh advised 
them to let a boat adrift with a crew, and he would 
furnish them with oars. The pinnace was Immedi- 
ately turned off v/ith four men in her, who were 
picked up and furnished with oars. As soon as they 
returned, the women and children were, with the 
most perfect regularity, sent on board the Alicia ; in 
this manner the pinnace made three trips. The wind 
all the while increasing, the Alicia was unable to re- 
main as near the vesSfel as her noble hearted com- 
mander wished, and fearing the wreck would sink 
before all the people could be got out, he resolved to 
pass a hawser to her, by wiiich he might hang the 
Alicia n^der the ship's lee, and thus get them on 

board nioro epeedily* ^ 

The ship was^ now like a log on the water, and 
from the sea, which was running very high, and the 
press of canvass upon the schooner, it was fully as 
dangerous to approach her as a rock ; still Capt. Walsh 
was not to be deterred, — and, in endeavoring to put 
Ins purpose into execution, he very nearly lost his 
own life, as well as the vessel of which he was com- 
mander and part owner. Being obliged to run to 
windward of the ship, he came in contact with such 
violeiipe that the schooner's bulwarks were stov^e in, 
her channel bends upset, and her mainsail torn to pie- 
cess. Capt. Robinson of the Glasgow, who described 
it to us, expressed his surprise that Capt. Walsh 
should run so daring a risk to save them, and said it 
was to him astonishing how the schooner escaped be- 
ing lost. After getting free with great difficulty, 



THE GLASGOW. 323 

Capt. Wal^ continued sailing round the vessel, and 
succeeded in saving eighty-two of his fellow crea- 
tures from destruction ; the water at length becoming 
level with the rail of the vessel, Capt. Robinson' got 
into the launch, and had Scarcely left the ship when 
she went down with the velocity of lightning, carr 
ing with her about a dozen persons who were still o 
her deck, amongst whom were the chief mate and one 
seaman ; of these, six were picked up, — three by the 
launch, and three by the pinnace. 

And now a new danger arose, for the boats, from 
the frequent striking against the ship, were so shat- 
tered, that they were barely kept afloat by men inces- 
santly bailing them, and they had to row a considera- 
ble distance to the schooner. In this, the hand of 
Providence was again discernible, for the instant the 
men were out, the boats both sank along side. The 
Glasgow. sunk in twenty-five fathoms water. A few 
seconds after the vessel sunk, the air burst upon her 
poop and blew it up, together with spars,Tigging, 6cc., 
as if she had been blown up with powder — two or 
three persons were found clinging to the poop after it 
had been thus blown up« 

From comparing the number of passengers and 
crew with those who have been saved, it would ap- 
pear that there were twenty-five lost, yet the captain 
and second mate have asserted that there were at the 
utmost but ten or twelve persons on the deck when 
she went down, at which time it was not probable 
that-any person was below^ of these, six were saved, 
as before stated. 



324 SHIPWRECKS ^ND OTHER DISASTERS. 



CONFLAGRATrON OF THE HAROLD, 

on her passage frortji^ Calcutta to BostoUj October 
i^ 26, 1839. 

The following account of the loss of the Harold, 
was coQimimicated by Captain Levi Howes, in a letter 
to the owner, under date of Pernambuco, Nov. 7, in 
substance as follows : — 

. /' The ship sailed from Calcutta July 16, and Sand 
Heads 30th, all well, with a heavy cargo and two pas- 
sengers, Messrs. Henry Erving of Boston, and James J. 
Bell of Chester, N. H. Had a pleasant passage of sev- 
enteen days to the line. — In latitude 50 min. N. Ion. 
93 20 E. Abraham Bangs, seaman, of Brewster, fell 
from the foremast head- into the sea and was lost. It 
is supposed that he was stunned by striking against 
something, as he suulcimmediately, and although the 
ship was hove to, and the boat got out, he could not 
be found. Touched at St. Helena Oct. 14, and sailed 
again 15th. 

"At 8, P. M., Oct. 26, lat.4 30 S., Ion. 26 25 
W., smoke was discovered issuing from the after 
hatch. On going into the hold with a lantern, it was 
ascertained that the smoke came from amidships, and 
that the ship was evidently on fire. Capt. Howes 
then went immediately on deck, closed all the hatches, 
and made preparations to Jeave the ship, by hoisting 
out the boats, and placing in them provisions, light 
sails and spars. The long-boat was then dropped 
astern, and the jolly-boat kept along-side to leeward. 
It being then half past 9 o'clock, P. M., heavy vol- 
umes of smoke were seen issuing from the house and 
hatch ; the captain gave immediate orders for all hands 
to embark in the boats as soon aS possible. Messrs. 
Austin, Erving, Parkman, Bell, Mr. Nash, first officer, 



THE HAROLD. 



o2o 




and three seamen, (Henry Knox, John Crorne, and 
MichaeL an Itahan) eni,barked in the jolly-boat along- 
side. Uapt. Howes, the second mate, seven seamen, 
and the cook and steward got into the long-boat, 
astern, and had just time to shove off from the ship. 
Those who were in the jolly-boat were not so fortu- 
nate, for, before they could get clear of the ship, the 
fire burst her whole decks out, and she was one com- 
plete mass of fire and flame. Bales, cases and other 
goods W€re'seen thrown to the mast heads. The 
heat was so intense that those in tlie jolly-boat could, 
not sustain it, and were obliged to throw themselves 
into the sea, where they all {.erished, excejjt Mr. Aus- 
tin, and the two seamen, Knox and Crome, who were 
picked up at the imminent- risk of swamping the long- 
boat. It was then 10 o'clock P. M., and although 
only thirty minutes had elapsed since leaving the ship, 
she And the jolly-boat had burnt down to the water's 
edge, and sunk. 

They remained in that dangerous position a few 
inimitesj but could learn nothing of the rest of those 
28 



326 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHEB DISASTERS. 

who had jumped from the jolly-boat, and ^yere obliged 
to put the boat before the wind for safety. During 
the night she was kept before, the wind, and those on 
board employed themselves in bailing the boat, and 
stopping the leaks. Next morning masts were rigged 
did sails SQt, and the boat headed for the coast of 
Brazil, it being the nearest land, 600 miles distant W. 
by S., and arrived Nov. 2,. thirty-six miles north of 
Pernambuco, -for which place they immediately start- 
ed, and reache4 it on the evening of the 4th. They 
proceeded immediately to the house of Mr. Ray, the 
United States consul, who received them with all pos- 
sible kindness and hospitality, providing them lodg- 
ings in h*s own house, in which Capti H. and Mr. 
Austin continued afterwards to reside. 

Capt. Howes states that he has every reason to be- 
lieve that the fire originated in the lower hold, be- 
cause if it had originated in the between-decks it 
could not' possibly have communicated .so so^ to the 
salt-petre, which was all stowed in the lowei^old, at 
the bottom of the ship. There was a large quantity 
of linseed on board, which was 'stowed in the lower 
hold forward upon the saltpetre, and that has been 
known to ignite of itself when damaged by water. 
The ship leaked considerably forward in heavy 
weather, and the captain was of opinion that the water 
must have reached the linseed, and caused-it to fer- 
ment to such a degree as to ignite the suri'ounding 
cargo. He could assign no other cause, as no one 
had been into the hold for thirty days with a light : 
besides, the smoke came from amidships, where no 
person had ever been after *the ship left Calcutta. 

Five persons perished in the small boat, viz : — 
Henry Parkmlia ; Henry Erving, Boston ; Mr. James 
T. Bell, son of the late ex-governor Bell of |^ew 
Hampshire ; Samuel P. Nash, the mate, and a sea-r 
man, named Michael, an Italian. 



THE HAROLD. 32? 

A friend, in a letter, alluding to the death of James 
Thorn Bell, son of the late ex-governor of New Hamp- 
shire, by the destruction of tlie ship Harold, states the 
following facts : — 

" Six years ago. Gov. John Bell was surrounded by 
a happy family of four beautiful and highly cultiva- 
ted daughters, and^three fine boys, who were all ac- 
quiring a classical educatiou that they might be pre- 
pared to fill worthily those high stations, which they 
seemed destined by birth and circumstance to occupy. 

" Now, the father is laid in his grave ; and his four 
daughters, two of whom have left husbands and 
and children to mourn for them, have been laid 
by his side. His two oldest sons were members of 
Dartmouth College. Within two years, the eldest 
travelled into the Southern States for his health, and 
died, and was buried among, strangers. A little more 
than a year ago, James sailed for Calcutta on the same 
errand.. His health was partially restored, and he .was 
returning to the embraces of his excellent mother and 
only surviving brother, and has found his giaive in- 
the depths of the ocean." 

The following is an extract from Rev. Mr. Loth* 
lop's sermon in the Brattle Street Church, Boston, Jan- 
uary 19, 1840. 

After speaking of many recent destructive gales 
and shipwrecks, he says : — " But scarcely have we 
ceased to think and to speak of this calamity, ere 
another is brought to our knowledge, unexpected and 
unlooked for, not so general, in its nature, yet appeal- 
ing to and touching the deep sympathies of all. The 
sky is fail*, the atmosphere serene, the wind, though 
cold and wintry, is light and gentle, and an unclouded 
sun sheds over nature all the beauty and gladness 
that can ever dwell in a winter's landscape. A moth- 
er's heart is beginning to beat with joy. Her coun- 
tenance, which had worn the anxiety of ' hope de- 



32S SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTEUS. 

fevred,' is lighted np with a smile, for she feels that 
under such a sky, even a wintry approach to our coast 
is safe, and that the ship, richly freighted with her 
maternal affections, will soon arrive. It may come 
tomorrow ; — alas I tomorrow dawns only to bring 
death to her hopes and her dwelling, — to bring vis all 
a sad and mournful tale, how tjiat in the wildest 
track of the wild sea, the fire-spirit overtook that ship, 
and the majestic bark, ' that had bounded over the 
waters like a conqueror, became a mighty pillar of 
fire in the vast desert of the ocean,' and how, while 
some escaped, her son and others of our fellow citi- 
zens, around whom have gathered the affections of 
fond hearts, were lost. There is, there must be, it 
seems to me, for I cannot speak from experience, 
there must be 'a fearfulness in the soHtude ef the 
ocean, which every one must feel, under whatever 
circumstances he traverses its mighty depths. Night, 
with its storms and tempests, may add to th© sensa- 
tion ; but there is in the very vastness of the waters,, 
in th^awful uniformity of their murmurs, and in their 
unchanging aspect, a loneliness so deep and perfect 
that the human heart has no passion of hope or fear, 
■which it does not deepen or overcome. The moon- 
light of a desert solitude, the gloom of evening or 
midnight in a ruined city may carry the taaveller's 
thoughts through years of bygone happiness; but it 
is in his passage across the deep, in the hush and 
loneliness of the ocean tliat 'the visions and bodings 
of his own spirit become palpable and real.' This it 
is, that causes the misfortunes, that happen in the 
heart of the seas, to awaken in our breasts the deep- 
est sympathy with the sufferers. ' Their complete, 
absolute separation from the rest of mankind, makes us. 
feel for them, as if they had been the inmates of our 
own dwellings. And if the-y have actually beer^ 
known to us, if they hav^e lived in our neighborhood^ 
if our hands have ever exchanged with them the 



ESCAPE OF A BRIG. 329 

warm grasp of friendship and ^tfectioii. if they have 
mingled in our social or domestic joys, our hearts 
yearn in pity and tenderness, as we think^^of their fate. 
No tomb shall plead to their remembrance. No hu- 
man jiower can redqem their forms. The white 
foam of (he waves was their winding sheet, the winds 
of the ocean sliall be their eternal dirge. 

'' The news of the burning of the llarold therefore, 
touched the sympathies of all of us, even of those who 
did not personally know the sufferers. Men talked 
of it. at the corners of the streets, and expresed to 
each other their sorrow and regret.- In every circle, 
gathered around the fire-side- of every dwelling in the 
city, it was spoken of, and trembling prayers went up 
from all those, who had a son, a husband, a brother, 
traversing the vast deep." 



ESCAPE OF AN AMERICAN BRIG 

from destruction by a water spoilt^ off the coast of 
Brazil, July^ 1837. 

An American brig, (name not mentioned,) and her 
crew, had a very narrow escape from destruction by 
a water spout, in the month of July, off the coast of 
Brazil. The particular^ are related in a letter from 
an officer of the United States ship Erie : 

'•' The brig was bound to Monte Video ; and when 
within a few days sail of her port, about 3 o'clock in 
the afternoon, a water spout was observed at a short 
distance to leeward. Every thing was taken in, to 
the topsails, and they were lowered on the caps. In 
a few moments the water spout was close aboard, and 
passed at the distance of about twenty feet astern, 
with a rushing sound louder than the roaring* of the 
28* 



330 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

winds. As it passed, the brig's masts were slowly 
and gradually inclined to the water, until she was 
completely capsized. Fortunately, every body Avas 
on deck at the time^ and got upon the side of the ves- 
sel which was above water. .They cut away her 
masts, and she righte^i, full of water. The wind 
blew fresh the four succeeding days, during which 
time she lay with the sea washing over her; while 
in this situation, one or two vessels had passed with- 
out noticing them. As soon as it became more calm, 
they pum}X3d out the water, rigged jury-masts, and 
made the best of their way to Rio. 

'• This was a narrow escape, truly, and leads to the 
presumption, that the variation of a few feet in the 
course of the water spout, as it passed the vessel, 
would have caused her immediate destruction. If 
this supposition be correct, may we not find hi the 
foregoing account an explanation of the, as yet, un- 
known cause of the loss oh the same coast, and ii> 
about the same latitude, of several Baltimore vessels, 
with all on board, — the fine new brig Mary, some 
few years since ; the brig Cervantes, which had on 
board, as passengers, three experienced Baltimore 
captains, and three or four mates ; and, at a still ear- 
lier period, the loss of the brig Maryland." 



MIRACULOUS PRESERVATION 

of the crew of the Scotch ship Scotia^ by the New 
York packet ship Moscivs, December 5, 1839. 

The'*ship Roscius, Capt. ColHns, one of the New- 
York packets on her passage to Liverpool, Dec. 5, 
1839, fell in with the ship Scotia, bound from auebec 
for Glasgow, water-logged. Dr. Madden, who was 



THE SCOTIA. 331 

one of the passengers in the Roscius, has furnished 
the following interesting narrative of the rescue of 
the crew from a watery grave : 

"In the afternoon of the 5th of December, we fell in 
with the wre^k of the Scotia, bound from Q,uebec to 
Glasgow, burthen 600 tons, loaded with timber, wa- 
ter-logged, in lat. 46, Ion. 32 30. On seeing signals 
of distress flying, we altered our course and bore 
down on her ; on our vessel approaching, Capt. Collins 
hailed her. The answer was, ' We are wajer-logged 
— seventeen feet water in her hold!' The prompt 
reply of Capt. Collins was, 'If you want to come on 
board, put out your boats.' A cheer from the people 
of the sinking vessel followed : such a cry as men in 
desperate circumstances alone could utter ; and that 
thrilling cry went up as the simultaneous shout of 
men in the most extreme peril suddenly restored to 
life and hope : — and instantly every hat and cap was 
seen waving on the crowded poop. 

" An eff"ort was now made to approach us, but the 
water-logged vessel was utterly unmanageable ; she 
pitched heavily, as if she would have gona down 
headlong, the seas swept over her, and, as she rose, 
poured through her broken ports. Her top-masts had 
been cut away to ease her ; and the poop-deck, where 
the crew were congregated, seemed the only place of 
safety left them. 

'' In attempting to near, she came staggering down 
on us, and we were compelled to make sail to get out 
of her way. The sea was very heavy ; we again 
laid to, and were then about a mile from the Scotia. 
Night came on, and no boats were seen— the unfor- 
tunate Scotia was then lost sight of altogether. A- 
bout 6 o'clock, Capt. Collins hoisted a lantern, and 
the light was immediately answered by the Scotia. 
It was the opinion of the captain that one of* their 
boats had put ofl:' and had been swamped in attempt- 
ing to reach us, and that the survivors had determin- 
ed to wait till rfiorning before another attempt was 



332 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

made. It seemed, indeed, doubtful in the extreme if 
any small boats could live in such a sea. It is im- 
possible to sufficiently commend the conduct of Cap- 
tain Collins, as his anxiety to reach Liverpool before 
the steamer, Avhich was to have sailed ^x days after 
us, made every mpment of importance ; we had, 
moreover, seventy steerage passengers, and t\Yenty- 
one in the cabin ; and to forego taking advantage of 
a fair Vv^nd, and to lay to for a night in a heavy sea, 
with every appearance of an approaching gale, was a 
determination which, I greatly fear, many a master of 
a ship would have found great difficulty in forming 
and acting on. Capt. Collins, however, made this 
resolution prompt, and without any expression of im- 
patience at the detention it occasioned. His only ob- 
servation was, 'We must stay by them at all events, 
till morning ; we cannot leave them to perish there.*' 
''At 6 o'clock in the evening, cheering was heard in 
the direction of the Scotia ; the people, we supposed, 
had taken to the boats, and had then left the sinking 
vessel. In the course of an hour, or rather less, the 
long-bo9.t of the Scotia, filled with men, was on our 
lee quarter. By the admirable arrangements which 
were then made by Capt. Collins for rescuing»them, 
the men were taken on board without the least acci- 
dent. This boat brought eighteen ; the captain and 
five men still remained onboard the wreck, and were 
preparing to put off in the jolly-boat. No little anx- 
iety was felt for the safety of this small boat. In the 
course of half an hour, however, she was seen ; and, 
with two oars only, she gained the Roscius, and the 
captain and Jiis five men were soon taken on board. 
To the credit of Capt. Jeans of the Scotia, be it ob- 
served, that he was the last man to leave the sinking 
ship ; the anxiety expressed by the men who came in 
the first boat for the safety of their captain, and, in- 
deed, the terms in which the whole of his people, 
then and subsequently, spoke of him, showed how 
highly he was respected and esteemed by his crew ; 



\ 



/^ THE SCOTIA. 333 

^nd, if he had not been so, he would, probably, not 
have kej)t his ship afloat so long as he had done. 
Nor was the anxiety of Capt. Jeans for the safety of 
his crew less manifest : the first question he asked, 
on coming on board the Rose i us, was, ' Are all my 
people safe ?' The captani and crew were all Scotch ; 
and their conduct throughout reflected no discredit on 
their country. 

" When they came on board, they were worn out 
with continual exertion, — the men had been night 
and day at the pumps since the previous Tuesday. — 
but, exhausted as they were, they immediately turned 
to, and, with one accord, wei>t on deck and did duty 
with our crew ; and no sooner were the boats cast 
adrift than there was ample oq/sasion for their servi- 
ces, — a violent gale from the north-east set in, which 
must have rendered it utterly inijiossible for the peo- 
ple to have taken to their boats ; and the violence of 
which, on the'following day, must have been inevita- 
bly fatal, for it would have been impossible, to have 
kept the pumps going, — and the sea already, even 
before the gale from the north-east set in, was mak- 
ing a clear breach over her, and threatening to carry 
away her poop-cabin, the last place of refuge left for 
the poor people of the Scotia, except the top, where 
they had already stowed water and provisions, in the 
momentary expectation of being compelled to aban- 
don the deck. Thus, providentially was it that 
twenty-four human beings were preserved from a 
watery grave. 

" Captain Jeans addressed a letter to Captain Col- 
lins, expressive of the gratitude of himself and crew 
to him for his noble and humane conduct in rescuing 
them from 'certain death.' ' For all the kindness 
and generous treatment we have subsequently received 
from you,' adds Captain Jeans, ' we thank you from 
our hearts, and in the prayers of ourselves and fami- 
lies you never can be forgotten.'-* 



334 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS, 

in the vicinity of Boston and Cape Ann, which oc- 
curred during the tremendous gale and snow 
stor??i of December 15 and 16, 1839. 

It has, probably, never before fallen to the lot of 
the irihabitants of New England to have witnessed so 
many terrible disasters, by tempest and sea, and in so 
brief a period, as the furious and destructive gales 
which swept along our coast within the last two 
weeks of December, 1839, — carrying desolation* and 
death in their destructive pathway, and overwhelm- 
ing numerous families in the deepest gloom of heart- 
felt mourning. 

Often as we have been called to mourn with those 
who have mourned over the sad wreck of human 
hopes, we have never meX with any more calculated 
to excite the sympathy and commiseration of the 
friends of humanity, than the melancholy events 
which it is our duty to record. 

In giving an account of the distressing shipwrecks, 
the loss of life, and loss of property, which have been 
the terrific results of this tempest along the New Eng- 
land shore, we have taken much pains to collect our 
materials from the most authentic sources. 



DISASTERS IN BOSTON HARBOR. 

In Boston, the snow storm commenced about 3 
o'clock on Sunday morning, December 15, with a 
strong north-east wind, which continued throughout 
the day, occasionally relapsing into rain. In the 



BOSTON HARBOR. 335 

xiourse of the day the wind increased, and blew with 
great fury from the eastward ; and in the evening, 
for several hours, it amounted to a perfect hurricane, 
blowing with more violence than htid been known 
for years. The gale continued through the night, 
but abated somewliat after midnight. 

Most of the vessels in the streaiy dragged their an- 
chors ; and much damage was done- to the shipping 
lying at the \vharves, — some few of the particulars of 
which we give the reader : * 

S"ch. Harwich, lying at anchor iu the sfream, was 
forced against the ship Columbiana, one of the New 
Orleans packets moorell at a v/harf, — and carried 
away her mainmast, stove her stancheons, bulwarks, 
&c. The Columbiana, had her cutwater knocked off, 
was badly chafed, and had her anchor torn'aw,ay. 

Sch. Clarifida, of Boston, and a lighter sloop, lying 
at the same wharf, sunk alongside. 

Ship Propontis of Boston, from Cadiz, broke adrift, 
tore out her timber heads, ancl drove up the dock. 

Ship Forum; of Boston, parted her moorings, and 
drove up the dock, — she stove in her stern, had her 
foretopmast carried away, and sustained other injury. 

Ship Sterling, of Boston, broke adrift, aiid was 
very much chafed by falling across the dock. 

Brig Banian, of Boston, from Matanzas, dragged 
from the stream, and re*ceived considerable damage 
from' contact with the vessels at the wharves. 

At one of the wharves much damage was caused 
by the barque Creole, which drove from the stream, 
and came in contact with the brig Adelaide, which 
lost her bowsprit and was severely chafed. The Ad- 
elaide dragged against the Hamburg brig Erdwina, 
and damaged her sides, chain plates, &c. 

A lighter schooner was sunk by another vessel's 
bowsprit driving into her stern. 

Sch Herperus of Gardiner, from Pittston, at anchor 
in the stream, parted her chain, drove against ship 



336 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

Wm. Badger, parted her fasts, and both drove up, 
across the dock, lowest side to the sea ; the schooner 
carried away bowsprit, and stove her bow in port. 
The sliip had her side badly chafed, and the end of 
her jib-boom stove in the upper window of a four sto- 
ry brick store on the wharf. 

Brig Adelaide, for Trinidad, carried away her bow- 
sprit, &c. 

The Hamburg brig Erdwina, for Baltimore, chafed 
all her sheathing off fore and aft, split several planks, 
and stove a hole in her side, carried away chains fore 
and aft, jib-boom and main-boom. 

Brig Gertrude, from Mansanilla, stove part of her 
stern, and carried away bowsprit. 

Sloop Star filled and sunk. 

Brig Cyprus was considerably chafed. 

Schooner Clorinda lost her foremost and bowsprit, 
filled and sunk. 

Sloop Hepzibah filled and sunk. 

Schooner Thomas, from Portland, dragged her an- 
chors in the stream, drove against a wharf, and started 
several planks in her larboard quarter. 

Brig Banian, from Matanzas, dragged her anchors 
in the stream, drove in to the Eastern Packet Pier 
wharf, both anchors ahead, stove boat, storehouses, 
^c. 

The schooner Catherine Nichols, from Philadephia 
for Boston, went ashore on Sunday at 4 o'clock, P. 
M., on the S. W. side of Nahant, and three of the 
crew were drowned, the captain and one man saved. 



GLOUCESTER. 



337 



DrSASTERS IN GLOUCESTER HARBOR, 

in the gale of December 15. 1839. 

We aro indebted to a friend in Gloucester, who has 
kindly furnished us with the materials tor the follow- 
ing account of the destruction of life and property in 
that harbor, on Sunday, December 15. 




Gloucester harbor during' ihe slonn. 

Never have we witnessed so severe a storm, or one 
so disastrous and melancholy in its results, as that 
which set in on Sunday morning. Snow and rain 
came together, accompanied with a high wind from 
the south-east which soon increased to a gale almost 
unprecedented for violence, and which continued 
without abatement the whole of that day and most of 
Monday. Property and life have been swept away to 
an almost unparalleled extent, and the scenes of suf- 
fering and desolation that have been brought before 
29 



338 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

their eyes, have involved a whole community in sor- 
row. 

On Sunday morning there was in our harbor about 
sixty sail of vessels, which had put in, in anticipation 
of a storm. Of this large fleet, all that could be seen 
at anchor on Monday morning was about twenty^ and 
they having every mast and spar cut away, — a soli- 
tary pole in each only standing to bear aloft a signal 
of distress, and for assistance. These, tossing as they 
were like egg shells upon a violent sea, and exposed 
to the 3^et raging gale, liable every moment to part 
their cables and be driven to sea with all on board, 
presented a scene melancholy in the extreme. But 
when the eye rested upon the long line of wrecks 
that were strewed along the shore, and the innumer- 
able fragments of others, together with their scattered 
cargoes, — with here and there the cold and stiffened 
corse of a fellow creature, and the straggling groupes 
of the suffering survivors, — the feeling heart was sub- 
dued, and the strongest sympathy awakened in the 
breapts of all. 

Below we give an abstract of the particulars con- 
nected with this calamitous loss of life and property, 
and a list of the names of the vessels wrecked or 
otherwise damaged, prepared with much care, and 
which we believe to be mainly correct. 

Sloop Eagle, of Bath, — crew saved, vessel and car- 
go lost. 

Sell. Eliza & Betsey, of Mount Desert,'— sunk at 
her anchors, crew lost, their names were Joseph Gott, 
Alpheus Gott, Peter Gott, and Joseph Gott. 

Sch. Boston, of Belfast,— crew saved, vessel and 
cargo lost. 

Sch. Mary Jane, of Portland,— cut away masts, 
stove deck load, and afterwards brought into harbor,-^- 
crew taken off. 

Sch. Columbia, of Bremen, Me., — total wreck, — 
two men drowned whose names were Wm. Wallace 
^nd William Hofses. 



Gt,OUCESTER. 



339 



Sell. Neutrality, of Portland, — crew saved, vessel 
and cargo lost. 

Sch. St. Cloud, from New York for Prospect,— 
total wreck, — crew saved. 

Sch. Favorite, of Wiscasset, — vessel and cargo 
lost, — two were drowned, Mr. William Mann and 
Mrs. Sally Hilton. 

Sch. Sally, of Wiscasset, — vessel and cargo lost, — 
Capt. Drake and his brother were drowned. 

Sch. Fame, of Ellsworth, — vessel bilged, — crew 
saved. 

Sch. Delta, of Augusta, — vessel stranded above 
high water mark, no lives lost. 

Sch. Sarah, of Portsmouth, — no lives lost, cargo 
partly saved. 

Sloop Portland, of Brunswick, — driven ashore, no 
lives lost. 

Sch. Prudence, of Prospect, — crew saved, vessel 
and cargo lost. 

Sch. Sally & Mary, of Bristol, — crew saved, vessel 
and cargo lost. 

Sch. Industry, of Prospect, — crew saved, vessel and 
cargo lost. 

Sch. Mary Frances, of Belfast, — ^just as the custom 
house boat boarded her, her last cable parted, and she 
went to sea ; the boat took off the crew and two pas- 
sengers, Mr. B. F. Blackstone, and Dr. Boyden, of 
Belfast. 

Sch. Volant, — wrecked, crew supposed to be saved. 

Sch. Mary Gould, — wrecked, crew saved. 

Sch. Charlotte, — wrecked, crew saved. 

Sch. Walrus, of Bucksport, — wrecked at Pigeon 
Cove, crew all perished; four of the bodies found. 

Sch. Brilliant, of Mount Desert, — vessel and cargo 
lost, and the captain, (Amos Eaton,) and two of the 
crew drowned. 

Sch. Milo, of Bristol, — vessel and cargo lost, and 
one man (Samuel Sprawl) drowned. 



340 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

Sch. Splendid, of New Castle, — vessel and cargo 
lost, crew saved. 

Sch. North Carolina, of Calais, from Calais bound 
to Newport, with lumber, —cut away mast and rode 
out the gale, but sustained other injury by vessels 
drifting afoul of her. 

Sch. Antioch, of Ellsworth, — broke away from her 
anchors, cut away her masts, and brought her to ; 
rode at her anchors some time, and then parted one 
chain, and held on with one anchor. The crew left 
her about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and at 3 she 
drifted out to sea; she was afterwards discovered at 
Cohasset Rocks, gone to pieces. 

The following schooners were dismasted : — Supe- 
rior, of Ellsworth ; John, of Thomaston ; Wm. Penn, 
of Machias ; Gen. Jackson, of St. George; Mercator, 
of Danvers ; Fame, of Augusta ; Favorite, of Glou- 
cester ; Martha Ann, of Eden; Patriot, of Thomas- 
ton; Orlen, of Waldoboro' ; Harriet, of Westport ; 
Edward, of Mount Desert ; Mary Ann, of Ellsworth ; 
Fawn, of Long Island ; Fair Play, of Weymouth ; In- 
crease, of Bristol ; Julia Ann, of Sedgwick ; Resolu- 
tion, of Harpswell ; Congress, of Mount Desert ; Ma- 
rine, of Portland ; Economy, of Islesboro' ; Henrietta, 
of Westport ; Ariel, of Boston ; Alert, of Woolwich ; 
Fair Play, of Boston ; Norman, of Thomaston. 

Sch. Cassius, of Prospect^ — stern damaged and 
boat lost. 

Sch. Cooper's Fancy, of Mount Desert, — vessel 
sunk, crew saved. 

The sch. St. Thomas, of Haverhill, from Balti- 
more, rode out the gale in safety ; she left off Cape 
Cod, on Saturday night, one ship, two barques, and 
six brigs, — thick snow storm and blowing a gale. 

We have thus given a long list of the disasters 
which occurred in Gloucester harbor during the galo 
and storm of Dec. 15 and 16, — making tioenty-iwo 



fcLOUCESTEiR. 341 

total wrecks, — thirty-three vessels dismasted and oth- 
erwise injured, — with the loss, as actually ascer- 
tained, of more than twenty human beings. 

The bodies of twelve of those who perished, hav- 
ing been thrown ashore, were recovered. These, 
(with the exception of the remains of Mrs. Hilton, 
which had been removed to Boston by her friends,) 
were, on the following Sabbath, interred from the 
First Parish Church of Gloucester, where, in the 
presence of an immense audience, an appropriate dis- 
course was delivered by the llev. Josiah K. Waite, 
and the obsequies performed. A procession was 
formed, consisting, it is computed, of between two 
and three thousand people, who followed the dead to 
the place of burial. 

The following are the names of the deceased, as 
marked upon their coffins : 

Amos Eaton, master of schooner Brilliant. 

Peter Gott, > ^^ schooner Betsey & Eliza. 
Alpheus Gott, > 

William Hofses, ) r u r^ \ u- 

T]iriT iTr 11 > of schooner Columbia. 
William Wallace, 5 

Joshua Nickerson, master of schooner Walrus. 

Isaac Dacker. 

Reuben Rider. 

Philip Galley, — and two bodies, names unknown. 

The two following letters from a gentleman in 
Gloucester, will be found to possess much interest. 

"Gloucester, Sunday night, Dec. 15. 
''We have experienced a most disastrous gale of wind 
here to-day from E. S. E. A fleet of fifty vessels 
which came out of Portland yesterday put in here this 
morning in a thick snow storm, — from seventeen to 
twenty of which, as near as can be ascertained, have 
gone ashore in our harbor, and are total wrecks. 
29* 



343 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DJS ASTERS. 

'^ Our oldest sea captains say they have not experi- 
enced a gale like this since that of 1815. Truly. we 
have been called upon to-day to witness the most 
heart-rending scenes: aye, to stand on shore and see 
the poor sailors clinging to the last fragment of their 
frail bark, and staring grim death in the face, fully 
determined upon their fate. 

"Hundreds of our energetic and praiseworthy citi- 
zens, with undaunted courage, immediately repaired 
to the scene of disaster, and they have done all in 
their power to save the dying and drowiiing — and 
many, at the peril of their lives, like heroes, rushed 
into the surf and dragged men and women by means 
of ropes on shore, in an exhausted state ; but, alas ! 
many were doomed to the fate of a v/atery grave. 

" Too much praise cannot be bestowed on the un- 
bounded hospitality of our townsmen, in administer- 
ing to the wants and comforts of these shipwrecked 
hardy sons of Neptune. To-morrow will be a sad 
day in gathering up the mangled bodies of the dead. 

" 1 will close this mournful epistle, by adding, that 
the rain continues to pour in torrents, and the gale 
has not as yet abated any. The roar of the sea, re- 
sembling distant thunder, can be heard for miles 
along our rock bound shore. Most melancholy music. 
I doubt if the gale has been even worse on our whole 
coast, than we have experienced it in Cape Ann." 

'' Gloucester, Tuesday night, Dec. 17. 

" Since I last addressed you, I have gathered the 
following additional particulars relative to the late dis- 
astrous gale experienced on our shores. 

"A schooner, name unknown, drove ashore about 3 
o'clock on Monday morning, near the Cove, — part of 
the crew were saved. She belonged to Bucksport, 
and was loaded with corn, flour and furniture — vessel 
a total wreck ; cargo partly saved in a damaged state. 
Two other vessels came ashore and went to pieces, — 



GLOUCESTER. 343 

not a soul saved, yet heard of. The schooner Pru- 
dence, of Prospect ; Splendid, of Newcastle, and Mary 
& Eliza, of Belfast, have bilged, all lumber loaded. 
During the height of the gale on Sunday night, about 
twenty-three vessels were forced to cut away their 
masts to save them from a perilous fate. 

" Yesterday morning, I paid a visit to the awful 
scene of destruction, and what a melancholy sight did 
I behold. Tlie whole shore, as far as the eye could 
extend, was literally strewn with dead bodies in a 
horribly disfigured and mutilated state, so much so 
that many of their fellow sailors were unable to re- 
cognize them. Truly, this scene was enough to chill 
the blood of any eye witness, or melt a heart of ada- 
mant. Scattered here and there were ten thousand 
broken fragments of vessels, trunks, chests, boxes, 
bales, wood and lumber, the whole presenting a most 
frightful spectacle ; and yet all this immense loss of 
life and property seemed but the work of a moment, 
directed by the hand of Almighty Providence. But, 
enough, my heart already sickens at the recital of this 
horrid tragedy. 

"Some of our citizens, with a deep felt sympathy 
which they have nobly manifested from the outset, 
yesterday afternoon resolutely determined, at the im- 
minent risk of their own lives, to volunteer their as- 
sistance to the remainder of these almost perishing 
and distressed mariners. Wind still blowing, snow 
flying, and the sea breaking so as to render the at- 
tempt extremely hazardous, and fraught with danger, 
yet they gallantly manned their boats, and ere the 
the sun had set, they safely landed in comfortable 
quarters ninety human beings, all from dismasted ves- 
sels, two of which with valuable property, immediate- 
ly parted their cables and went to sea. The escape 
proved almost miraculous. This generous deed, on 
the part of our fishermen, needs no comment of mine. 



344 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

" About one hundred wreckers have been constant- 
ly employed, night and day, in saving all the proper- 
ty within reach. 

" At Sandy Bay, two vessels drove on a ledge of 
rocks with cargoes of flour and grain, and went to 
pieces, — all hands lost. The pier or breakwater, 
(that gigantic structure of stone,) at this place, also 
yielded to the fury of the elements, it being torn up 
about ninety feet. The stone fillers, weighing seven 
and eight tons, all started out. This fact seems al- 
most incredible. I have also heard of a wreck at 
Coffin's beach. At all events, lam credibly informed 
that the Austrian barque, which stranded a short time 
since, is now no more. 

" I feel it a duty I owe to myself, and in justice to 
the noble liberality of our fellow citizens, to state, 
that a public meeting was called last evening, to 
come to the aid of our shipwrecked mariners. The 
call was warmly responded to, and the meeting duly 
organized. Motions were moved and seconded, reso- 
lutions unanimously adopted, committees chosen, pa- 
pers drawn up, and the sum of $.500 subscribed on 
the spot. This act of generosity will ever redounpl 
to the honor of the inhabitants of the town of Glou- 
cester. 

" The total number of wrecked and dismasted ves- 
sels, is about forty. From twenty-five to thirty lives 
were lost, perhaps more ; twelve of the bodies have 
been found and taken care of." 

The following extract of a letter from the Rev. C. 
M. Nickels, of Gloucester, is a description of the hu- 
man suftering which he was called to witness during 
the late gale of December 15. 

" There were about sixty vessels in the harbor 
when the gale commenced. They began to break 
away from their moorings about 4 o'clock, P. M. 
At an early hour I repaired to the beach. There, 



GLOUCESTER. 345 

amid the roar of waves, the crash of falling masts, and 
the fragments of broken vessels and their cargoes, 
dashing furiously together, the scene was awful be- 
yond description. Probably twenty or thirty sailors 
perished ! I heard their piteous cries for help, but 
could not help them. Hundreds of us were within 
twenty yards, and, in some cases within ten, and yet 
were unable to afford relief. 

"I will select a single instance, which will give 
you some idea of the whole scene. It is the fate of 
the schooner Brilliant, of Mount Desert. I saw her 
when she first struck adrift. She was a large 
schooner, loaded with stone. The situation of the 
crew was perilous in the extreme ; and when they 
found that they must go ashore, they slipped their 
cables and ran her, bows on. The sea broke over 
her so high, that the men were obliged to go up into 
the fore rigging. After lying for a while in this po- 
sition, — not more than once and a half her length 
from the bank, — she was, by a very heavy wave^ 
brought side to the shore. Soon she began to break 
up, commencing about midships. The eyes of all 
were now fixed with intense anxiety upon this vessel ; 
she was the last one that went to pieces. We 
saw that the situation of the crew, who were in the 
starboard fore rigging off shore, was utterly hopeless. 
I felt, and could not lielp exj)ressing my feelings to 
some who stood near me, 'were I in their situation, 
I should want a very clear hope of heaven, and a 
very strong faith.' If ever I ofiered an earnest prayer, 
it was then, and in their behalf. We stood, every 
moment expecting to see the masts fall. The wave 
at length came which determined then* fate ; both 
masts fell off shore, and we knew the men were un- 
der them ! All was still as death, — the very wincls 
and waves, for a moment, seemed hushed in solemn 
pause. Nothing more did we expect to hear from the 
ill-fated seamen. But in a few moments the piercing 



340 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

cry came, 'a rope^ a rope V It produced great ex- 
citement among those on the shore, but all attempsto 
send them the desired aid were vain. We heard that 
cry again, — but nothing could be done. We waited 
fifteen or twenty minutes, and supposed that all was 
over. A number of us had left the beach, when one 
man, after being in the water for half or three quar- 
ters of an hour, was seen in the surf, and drawn out 
alive ; the bodies of two others were found under the 
broken fragments after the tide had fallen ; the rest 
have not been found. 

*' From one vessel a rope was sent to the shore, 
and two men on board made themselves fast to it ; 
but, uuliappily, it caught foul, and with the strength 
of all who could reach it, we could not get it clear. 
The men perished while one end of the rope to which 
they were attached, was in our hands ! On board 
another vessel, lying within twenty or thirty feet 
of those who stood on the bank, a lady and gentle- 
ma!i were seen till the last fragments were broken up, 
and then sunk before our eyes into a watery grave. 
In other cases, the struggling sufferers were washed 
away by the retreating wavn, just as they were about 
to grasp the hand that could almost reach them from 
the shore. 

'' The next morning, the whole beach was covered 
with the spars, and timbers, and broken cargoes of 
nearly twenty vessels ; while here and there might 
be seen a mangled human form, in some instances so 
wedged between the crevices of the rocks that they 
could not be moved till the tide had left them. 
Such a scene I never witnessed before, and hope I 
may rjever be called to witness the like again. 

"Several of the seamen from these wrecks tarried 
at my house while they remained in town. One of 
them, the captain of a brig, the evening before he left 
me, said, ' T really thought, when my vessel struck, 
we were all gone.' I asked him whether he thought 
about what would be his condition ia the future 



GLOUCESTER. 347* 

world ? ' Yes,' said he, ' I felt that my case was a 
doubtfLil one at best.' ' Did you pray ?' * Yes ; and 
I doubt whether any man, iu such a situation, could 
help praying, mentally, if not audibly. I feel that I 
ought to be a Christian.' " 

Extracts from the discourse of the Rev. Josiah K. 
Waite, delivered in Gloucester on the interment of 
eleven mariners, wrecked on Cape Ann, in the storm 
of Dec. 15, 1839: 

"Thou didst blow with thy •wind, tlie sea covered them; they 
gank as lead in the mighty waters." — Exodus xv.'xO. 

"The power of God displayed in the extraordi- 
narily .excited action of the elements, inspires awe ; 
and, when productive of destruction of life and prop- 
erty, strikes the beholder with consternation and dis- 
may. Hope and fear, thrilling sensations of horror, 
stimulate or paralyze the energies of the mind which 
endures or pauses to contemplate the resistless course 
of Almighty power, and the balTied efforts of human 
impotency. \i calm and self-possessed, it views the 
sublime grandeur of an aroused mighty element, and 
the scene of its fury and devastation, with the most 
deep and strong, yet tender and compassionate, emo- 
tions of its godlike nature. 

" We have looked forth and seen the sea, ' the dark 
blue sea,' calm and beautiful as the lake on a sum- 
mer's eve ; and again we have looked,, and behold; 
the Lord blew his wind, and it arose in all its terrible 
majesty and strength, bearing down the hopes of man, 
and, in its sublime convolutions and far-resounding 
roar, we have seen the upturning arm, and heard the 
voice of Jehovah, the invincible, discoursing of power 
and jfiiight, of human nothingness, with that deep el- 
oquence and solemn pathos, which caused the face of 
the boldest to blanch, and brought the heart of the 
most stubborn to the knee, ii^subdued and profound 
adoratioQ and awe. 



348 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

" They too, who now lie powerless, silent, dea(i, 
before us, on this day week, not only saw and heard, 
but wrestled manfully, though vainly, with the con- 
flicting, irresistible power of God's agents, the wind 
and the wave. * They sank as lead in the mighty wa- 
ters, and the sea covered them.' 

'' This allusion and scriptuaral application you will 
understand as made to the dreadful catastrophe and 
solemn events of the past week, — to the human havoc 
of the late storm upon our coast and in our harbor, 
which has thrown the pall of sadness over this whole 
community. 

" The wrecks? — the wrecks? — what more of them? 
How many and what lives have been lost ? How 
many bodies have been found ? Such have been the 
subjects of inquiry, and engrossing topics of conversa- 
tion during the past week, at our firesides and by the 
way. 

*' To thace inquiries no definite or satisfactory in- 
formation can yet be given, but we know, alas! we 
see the melancholy evidence before us, that many 
hearts which throbbed quick and beat high with 
hopes so lately, now lie cold and stiff in death ; and 
more there doubtless are over whom the sea-weed 
waves, and the ' illimitable waters chant their funeral 
dirge.' 

^* These hapless beings, our brethren and country- 
men, strangers all to us, 'sank as lead in these mighty 
waters, and the sea covered them.' Their remains, 
here before us, were thrown by the violence of the 
waves upon this most inhospitable coast, — but not 
among inhospitable hearts, which do not sympathize, 
or which, over the grave of the seaman and stranger, 
will refuse humanity's last tribute, — a tear. 

* Ours are the tears, tho' few, sincerely shed, 
When ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead.' 

'* Let ns now, my friends, sketch to ourselves a 
hasty, and, necessarily, very imperfect picture of the 



GLOUCESTER. 349 

closing scene in the lives of these our unfortunate fel- 
low beings. 

^' In imagination, we see them leaving their homes 
under the cheering smiles and benedictions of wife, 
children, friends. — They embark with buoyant hopes 
and prayers for a prosperous voyage, and for a speedy 
and safe return. We see tliem in their freighted 
barks pursuing their course o'er the billowy main, but 
anon, — the sky darkens, the wind roars around them, 
preluding a storm : they make our harbor, cast anchor, 
and hope here to lie in safety. Alas, delusive hope I 
They see the mighty waves roll on the 'increasing 
fury of the gale :' anxiety, fear and anguish fill their 
hearts as their vessels yield to the heavy sea. as they 
slip their cables, or drag their anchors, and are borne 
in fearful proximity to this rock-bound shore. — We 
see them in imagination, but some who now hear me, 
saw them in reality, and with inexpressible commis- 
eration, when, despairing of relief, they ran their ves- 
sels amidst the angry surf or death-threatening break- 
ers, to take chance among the fragments of their riv- 
en hulls. But who can depict the awful scene, or 
imagine the horrors that ensued, when, having struck 
•the shore, vessel after vessel was shattered and broken 
up by the battering strokes of the heavy sea,— r-when 
one human being after another was swept by the 
swelling wave into the raging, foaming deep ; and 
when others, in attempting to gain the strand in 
boats, were immediately submerged in the eddying 
waters, or borne back by the reflux of the shore-lash- 
ing surf. 

'•'Night now closes in upon that heart-rending 
scene, — and what a night ! in v/hich our rocky prom- 
ontory was shaken by the Storm King to its very 
centre, was that, to the horror-stricken victims, 
among whom the angel of death continued his work 
of destruction and slaughter amidst the roaring of 
winds, — the rush of waters, — the falling of spars,— 
30 



350 SHIPWRECKS i.ND OTHER DISASTERS. 

the crash of timber, and the shrieks of eternity-ex- 
pecting men and women. 

* O, I have suffer'd 
With those that I saw suffer ! a brave vessel, 
Who had no doubt some noble creatures in her, 
Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock 
Against my very heart 1 Poor souls ! they perished.' 

" Faric3^ may essay to paint the scene, but it far 
transcends the power of the pen to describe, or the 
agitated minds of those who escaped or witnessed the 
imminent perils and havDc of that night, fully to 
imagine its appalling terror. 

"At length the prayed-for day dawns upon the re- 
maining but unreheved survivors of the storm. Up- 
on the billows, agitated by the yet unspent fury of 
the wind, were presented to view the work of das- 
tructive power and darkness — strained, leaking and 
sparless vessels, with signals of distress flying above 
their hulls, appealing, and not in vain, to the human- 
ity of our citizens, to whose noble, most praise-wor- 
thy and hazardous exertions, many are indebted for 
their relief from soul-rending anxiety, and some, for 
their rescue from a watery grave. 

^' And now again, along our iron-bound coast, what- 
a scene of destruction of chattels, merchandize, stoven, 
dismantled wrecks, and of denuded, dead and man- 
gled human bodies ; in view of which the heart sick- 
ened in pitying hiunanity, while the soul bowed in 
awe as it traced the footsteps, of Him, who had so 
lately passed there in terrible majesty and power. — 
They, who witnessed the scene, will never forget, 
when the winds of heaven howl about their dwellings, 
to think of the perils of the mariner, and the omnipo- 
tence of God. • 

"As in shrinking horror I gazed upon the robust 
form, the sinewed arm, the manly countenance which 
had faced the tempest and battled with the elements, 
now stretched lipon the sand, stiffened in death, unre- 



GLOUCESTER. 351 

cognized by friend lo tell their history, I was forced 
in imagination to think of the home, the wife, chil- 
dren and friends, to whose lips the bitter cup of afflic- 
tion was so soon to pass, and I felt that the time had 
indeed come, when, in^the language of the poet, 

* No more for him the blazing hearth will burn, "^ 
Or busy housewife ply her evening care — 
No children run to lisp their sire's return, 
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.' 

*' And what are the moral uses we are to make ol 
the startling and melancholy events, iii consequence 
of which we have now assembled ? The hand-writ- 
ing inscribed by the finger of God upon this sad ca- 
tastrophe, if I have rightly interpreted it, teaches no 
new, but enforces tlie well-known great, yet unreal- 
ized and. .too often forgotten solemn truths — the Om- 
nipotence of God, — the impotency of man — the un- 
certainty of life, and the necessity of immediate pre- 
paration for eternity. 

'•' ' Man in the midst of life is in death.' The most 
serene sky and beautiful undulating wave, are but 
precursors of the lowering heavens and raging billow. 
The home-bound voyage, so replete with buoyant 
and anticipative bliss, is but 'a surer and speedier 
passage to the tomb.' Death is the crisis and the 
consummation of our mortal being. But it is uncer- 
tain when, how or where it may take place. In vig- 
orous and efficient health, in the midst of useful la- 
bors, acquired honors, blissful enjoyments and strong 
earthly attachments, death may come upon us as a 
thief in the night, we know not when; In a world 
where dangers lurk and casualties befall the most 
cautious and apparently the most inexposed, how 
many fall, they know not how. We know not where 
we shall die — whether at home amidst sympathizing 
•friends, or abroad where no hand is to administer 
comfort, and no heart to impart consolation in the 
last conflict of nature. Neither can we know, as we 



352 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

might desire, whether our remaiins wiH repose by the 
hallowed spot of kindred dust, or fill a space which 
no eye can ever trace, or rest beneath the turf which 
no tear of kindred will ever bedew. 

*'But why do I remind yoaof these things? Sure- 
ly, I need not to tell you, brethren, that life is uncer- 
tain, and that we know not how, where or when 
death will usher us into eternity : — forj a deep, solemn, 
and awfully emphatic voice comes to us from yonder 
sea-driven, tempest-tossed, rock-battered dead, pro- 
claiming this truth, and repeating the yet timely 
warning, ' Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye 
think not, the son of man cometh.* 

^' They, doubtless, while in the flesh, as little real- 
ized the force and solemnity of this truth, and were 
as unprepared to meet their last summons, as are 
many who now hear me. 

'' Did they, think ye, imagine, when entering our 
harbor, that the evening of that day of ' rest from 
earth-born cares,' would be to them the morn of a 
never-ending sabbath -* Did they think of the awful 
waters with which they were to be baptized ere their 
spirits reached the eternal Ashore ? Did they think 
that the haven which they here made, might be their 
last this side of the heavenly, or that its deep caverns 
might be their sepulchre, and its foaming billows 
their winding sheets? Ah f no, they counted on 
many days, and as fondly and reasonably hoped to 
descend to the grave under the usual premonitions of 
death, as we do now. But the sun of their human 
existence went down like lightning, ' they sank in 
the mighty waters and the sea covered them,' — yet 
above the thunders of the rushing surge, hoarse blasts 
and howling winds of that dreadful night, a thrilling, 
warning voice is heard knocking at the door of , our 
hearts,' saying, ' Prepare to meet thy God.' 

" Rescued survivors of the storm ! — May the se'ri- 
ous and vivid impressions of that eternity, from the 



GLOUCESTER. 



353 



very portal of which yon, in an especial manner, have 
been brought, be sanctified to you, whom the sword 
of the angel of death passed over on that tragical 
night, when you beheld the terrible majesty, and ex- 
perienced the mysterious salvation of God's power 
and grace. We fervently join in your songs of 
thanksgiving, brother strangers, and pray that you 
will henceforth devote your hearts to the service of 
the«most High God, relying for aid on that same out- 
stretched almighty arm which rescued you from the 
mighty waters, when they had well nigh gone over 
you. We deeply sympathize with you in your mis- 
fortunes, and especially do. we sympathize in the an- 
guish of those afflicted, distressed and lacerated hearts 
which we most devoutly invoke the Father of the 
fatherless and the widow's God, to heal and sustain, 
to console and spiritually bless." 




30^ 



354 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



DISASTERS AT OTHER PLACES 

on the shores of Neiv England, — at 'Newbiiryport, 
Marblehead, Cohasset, and at Provincetown, 
in the gale and snow storm of Decem- 
ber 15 and 16, 1839. ♦ 

Newbiiryport. — From 10 to 12 o'clock on Sunday 
night, Dec. 15, the wind, which had shifted a point 
or two more to* the N. E., blew a perfect hurricane. 
Several of the wharves, which were overflowed by 
the high tide, were much injured, and' large quanti- 
ties of wood, lumber, &:c., were floated into the docks. 
About fifteen or twenty vessels lying at the wharves, 
suffered more or less damage, — though none were 
wrecked, nor, according to the best authority we can 
find, were there any lives lost. 

The keeper of the lights on Plum Island, desaribes 
the tide as having flowed quite across the island in a 
number of places, making many deep ravines, and 
causing many acres of meadow land to be covered 
with sand. The hotel and site, with almost all the 
the buildings, were surrounded with one entire sheet 
of water, as well as the road leading to the bridge. 
The violence of the gale was such, as to remove ma- 
ny sand hills, forming at the same time many lakes 
and ponds. He also remarked that the whole easteJtn 
side of the island had washed away to an astonishing 
degree. 

Marblehead. — During the gale at Marblehead, the 
sell. Minerva, from Pittstown, Kennebec, bound to 
Plymouth with wood, hay. &c., cut away both masts 
and bowsprit, and threw over deck load of hay. 

Sch. Paul Jones drove high and dry on the rocks 
and bilged. 



COHASSET. PROVING ETOWN. 355 

• 

- Sch. Sea Flower, with, a cargo of corn and flour, 
stranded on the beach, making a total loss of vessel 
and part of the cargo. 

Sch. Brilliant lost her main boom, and had her 
stern ripped down. 

Sch. Tasso, slightly damaged. 

On River Head Beach, the schooners Mary, John 
Q.. Adams, Phitns, Two Brothers, and the Bnrlington, 
(the latta: lost her rudder,) were all driven up high 
and dry. but have since been got off. 

The stern of a small craft was found on River 
Head Beach, probably wrecked on one of the islands 
at the mouth of the harbor. 

Cohasset. — The Swedish brig Preciosa, which 
sailed from Boston on Saturday, Dec. 14, anchored 
inside Cohasset Rocks, Monday forenoon, and cut 
away both masts. 

Sch. Antioch, of Ellsworth, laden with lumber, and 
supposed to have drifted out of Cape Ann harbor, 
struck on Nichol's Rock about 7 o'clock on Tuesday 
morning, and went to pieces ; she was dismasted, and 
had no one on board when she struck. 

Sch. Margaret, of Bath, was driven high and dry. 

British brig Susannah, drove up to Q^uincy. 

British schooner H. Davenport, for Annapolis, went 
ashore on Hospital Island. 

Provlncetowii. — The following are extracts from a 
letter,' dated Provincetown, Dec. 17, 1839: 

" The brig Rideout, from Bath for Matanzas, came 
into the outer breakers, on the back of the Capes, 
about 2 o'clock this afternoon, immediately capsized, 
and all on board perished. She was a new brig, on 
her first voyage. 

'' A Portland brig, from Havana for Boston, with 
sugar and molasses, went ashore about one mile north 



356 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

of Highland Light, — vessel, and cargo a total loss, — 
two of the crew drowned. 

'^ Sloop Independence, of Charlestown, loacled with 
sand, sank the same day, — the crew took t^the rig- 
ging, where they remained two honrs, and^Jffter two 
attempts, they were rescued by a whale-boat, doubly' 
manned. 

'' Since writing the above, I learn there is another 
brig in the outer breakers on the back of the Capes, 
with the crew in the tops. Also, a large schooner 
resembling a New York packet, with both masts cut 
away. Likewise, a large lumber-loaded brig in the 
surf, — masts cut away, deck load gone ; the crew are 
on board, but no assistance can yet be rendered them, 
though many people will remain on the beach, during 
the night, to render assistance if possible." 



WRECK OF THE CATHERINE NICHOLS, 

on Nahant Rocks, in the gale and snow storm of 

December 15, 1839. 

The schooner Catherine Nichols, Capt. Woodward, 
of Charlestown, bound home from Philadelphia, load- 
ed with coal, was wrecked on Nahant, Sunday, Dec. 
] 5, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. 

Capt. W^oodward states that he first made Egg 
Rock, and then ran round into a cove on the south- 
west side of Nahant, and anchored. The wind was 
then favorable, and they were sheltered by the high 
hills from the violence of the tempest ; and the crew 
might easily have reached the shore in the boat. 

In about half an hour, the schooner broke adrift, 
and passed by Baylies Point, struck once heavily, 



THE DEPOSIT, 357 

and was thrown round on the shelving rocky shore, 
where she immediately went to pieces. With great 
difficulty, and by the assistance of the hospitable in- 
habitants of Nahant, the captain and three of the 
crew got on shore alive ; but one of them, Mr. John 
Whiton of New Bedford, died before he could be car- 
ried to a place of shelter. 

Tlie mate clung to the vessel, which was entirely 
broken to pieces, to the last. He died amidst the 
roaring surf; and when found, he was destitute of 
every particle of clothing, except his stock and stock- 
ings, and was washed in among the rocks of that rug- 
ged shore. JMr. Levi Hatch was drowjied, or died 
from bruises received before he could reach the 
shore; he left a wife and two children at North Yar- 
mouth. The bodies of these two unfortunate men 
were taken to Lynn, where they were buried. An 
appropriate funeral discourse was preached by Rev. 
Mr. (Jook, and a large number of citizens followed 
the bodies to the burying ground. Another of the 
crew, John Lindsay, of Philadelphia, was also lost ; 
but his body was not recovered : when last seen he 
was clinging to the fore-rigging, which, with the 
foremast, drifted off to sea. 



WRECK OF THE SCHOONER DEPOSIT, 

071 LaJx'cman^s Beach, Ipsivich, in the gale of De- 

cemher 15, 1S39. 

The schooner Deposit, Capt. Cotterell, from Bel- 
fast, Me., went ashore on Lakeman's Beach, in Ip- 
swich Bay, at 12 o'clock, on Sunday night, — and 
four of the seven on board perished from cold and ex- 



358 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHLR DISASTERS. 

posure. Great credit is due to Mr. Greenwood, keeper 
of the light-houses, to Mr. Marshall, and to others, for 
their noble exertions to rescue the survivors from a 
watery grave, and also to Capt. Lakeman 'and his 
family for their kindness. The particulars of this 
melancholy loss we believe are substantially these : 
Mr Marshall first discovered the wreck on Monday 
morning, and after giving the alarm, himself and Mr. 
Greenwood repaired to the scene. Although the ves- 
sel was close on shore, a boat could not live for a 
moment in the surf, but Mr. Green Avood dashed into 
the water and succeeded in reaching the vessel, and 
with a rope hauled in Mr. Marshall and the boat. 
They found the people on board, among whom was 
the wife of the captain, almost exhausted, the sea 
making almost a continual breach over the vessel. 
The boy was already dead, lying in the scuppers, 
and a negro on board, also, soon after laid down and 
died. The storm was still raging with unabated fury, 
threatening every moment to dash them to pieces ; 
and the piteous cries of those who yet survived in- 
duced the noble hearted fellows to make an attempt 
for their rescue, desperate as it seemed without fur-' 
ther assistance, as they could not live many minutes 
on board. The captain, almost senseless, and com- 
pletely exhausted, was first lowered into the boat 
with Mr. Marshall; but a wave instantly upset it, 
dashing Marshall under the vessel. He, however, 
rose to the surface, and saved himself by catching 
hold of a rope : but the captain was drowned of course, 
as he was incapable of helping himself. 

Mr Greenwood stated, that the horrors of the storm, 
the sight of the dead around him, and the cries of the 
dying for succor, were as nothing to the terrific 
shrieks of the captain's wife, as she saw her husband 
buried beneath the waters. Two of the crew were ^ 
got ashore, one of them by floating on the boom ; the 
bereaved woman was then lowered from the stern by 



THE DEPOSIT. 



359 



ropes, and Messrs. Greenwood and Marshall, standing 
each side of her in the water, took advantage of an 
inward wave, and run her ashore in their arms. The 
three were conveyed to the house of Mr Lakeman, 
and medical assistance procured. The names of the 
three survivors arc Mrs. Cotter^U, George Emery and 
Chandler Mahoney. . * 

The dead bodies were taken to town and decently 
interred on Wednesday. The services were perform- 
ed before a large concourse of people, and were such 
as the solemnity of the occasion demanded. There 
was a general expression of sympathy for the bereaved 
friends. The bodies were followed to the grave by 
sixteen sea captains as bearers, and a long procession 
of citizens. Never has an event transpired in this 
town which called forth such an expression of feeling 
as was manifested on this occasion. The compara- 
tive youth of the crew added to the grief which hung 
over- every one present. The expression upon the 
dead bodies was striking. The face of a young man 
named Durham was peculiarly sweet. He seemed 
to be in a calm slumber, rather than a breathless 
corpse. 

Every attention was bestowed upon the survivors, 
and every thing done to make them comfortable ;— 
and although a frowning Providence cast them in 
distress among strangers, th^y found in them sympa- 
thizing friends. 




360 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



ESvCAPE OP THE SHIP UNITED STATES, 

off Cape Cod and Nantucket Shoals j in the gale of 

December 15, 1839. 
♦ 

The following interesting account was written by 
a gentleman, who was a passenger in the ship : 

" The ship United States, Capt. S wanton, of Bath, 
Me., passed Seguin on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1 o'clock, 
P. M. The sea was very smooth, with a pleasant 
breeze from N. W., w^hich continued till evening, 
when it hauled to the north, and in the course of the 
night veered to the east and blew very fresh, — at 6 
o'clock, Sunday morning, the ship was put under 
close-reefed fore and mizen-topsails, double reefed 
maiu-topsails, and fore-top-mast stay-sail. . The wind 
contiimed veering and. increased to a gale, when, at 
10, A. M., estimating Chatham light to bear west fif- 
teen miles distant, and the ship head off to south, and 
making two or three points leeway, it was judged 
impossible to weather Nantucket shoals, and accord- 
ingly ^vore ship, and laid her on the other tack, when 
she headed up N. N. E. On account of the rigging 
being new, and having been fitted in cold weather, it 
stretched 'exceedingly in this tremendous gale and 
heavy sea ; and we were very apprehensive that our 
masts would go by the board. 

'^ Our only chance of escape, with Cape Cod so near 
under our lee, was in carrying sail ,* for had the ship 
been hove to, she would inevitably have drifted 
Eishore in a few hours. No canvass but the strongest 
could withstand the force of this furious gale. In- 
deed, our fore-top mast stay sail blew out of the bolt 
rope, and several of the points in the main-top sail 
cut through the reef-band. The gale continuing una- 
bated, the ship was kept close hauled on the star- 



THE UNITED STATES. 361 

board tack until 6 o'clock, Monday morning, at which 
time the wind having veered to N. E., and judging 
Ca}^e Ann to bear west twenty miles distant, wore 
ship and stood E. S. E. From the commencement 
of the gale the rain had poured down incessantly, 
with snow and hail occasionally, and on Monday 
morning we experienced a severe snow storm and 
squall. 

" The sea, during Sunday night, was running so 
heavy as to lay the whole length of the jib-boom in 
the water ; and a sea struck the lee fore-yard-arm, 
and carried away studding-sail-boom in the iron. Be- 
fore wearing ship on Sunday, the slack of the back- 
stays was taken in, and after wearing, all hands were 
employed in setting up the lee rigging, and on Mon- 
day, after again wearing ship, which brought the 
starboard rigging to leeward, they were enabled to 
make the masts and topmasts quite secure ; but the 
top-gallant back-stays kept continually stretching, 
particularly the main, the royal-yard being athwart. 
At 6 o'clock, P. M., being in the trough of the sea, 
the main-top-gallant-mast rolled away just above the 
cap. Notwithstanding the very heavy sea, and severe 
gale, the wreck was cleared, and the spars, sails and 
rigging safely stowed away on deck. 

'•On Tuesday, the wind veering to N. N. W., wg 
ran out of the south channel under double reefed top^ 
sails, the wind still blowing a heavy gale, although 
it was quite moderate in comparison with what we 
had so recently experienced. The ship proved first 
rate in every respect, and all praise is due her excel- 
lent commander for his unremitted and successful ex- 
ertions in saving the ship from the fury of this dreads 
ful storm." 

31 



363 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



WRECK OF THE BRIG POCAHONTAS, 

on Plmn Island^ December 23, 1839,-^m/A the loss 

of the whole creio. 

On Monday morning, Dec. 23, soon after daylight, 
Capt. Brown, at the hotel on Plum Island, discovered 
the wreck of a vessel, dismasted, on a reef which lies 
one hundred and fifty yards from the beach, and near- 
ly half a mile east of the hotel. From the papers, 
trunks and fragments of the vessel strewed on the 
beach, she was known to be the brig Pocahontas, of 
Newburyport, Capt. James G. Cook, which sailed 
from Cadiz the latter part of October, for that port. 
When first discovered, we learn that three men only 
were seen, one lashed to the taffrail, nearly, or quite 
naked, and apparently dead, and two clinging to the 
bowsprit. In a short time, and before the intelli- 
gence had reached town, the -weather being so thick 
that no signals from the island. could be seen, only 
one man, and he clinging to the bowsprit, remained. 
The tremendous sea running, rendered it impossible 
to render any assistance to the only survivor of this 
ill-fated crew, who maintained l^is position for some 
hours, having lost it once and regained it, in -sight of 
many people on the beach, who had no power to re- 
lieve him, until he was swept into the surf a second 
time, and was seen no more. 

The place where the brig struck is the most dan- 
gerous spot on the island, as between it and the shore 
Is a wide space of water deep enough to float the 
largest vessels. Had she been a quarter of a mile on 
either side, she would have run on a dry and smooth 
beach. It appears that she must have anchored some 
tin^ in the course of the night, and being too near 
' t^l]|.e^hbre for good holding ground, dragged from her 



THE POCAHONTAS. 




Wreck of the Pocahontas. 



anchors and went stern foremost on the reef, where 
she thumped until her stern was stove in, and the 
fearful breach which the sea made continued to tear 
her in pieces nntil nothing but the skeleton of what 
was once a noble vessel remained. 

.When she came into the bay, and whether those 
on board-knew her position during the gale; whether 
the majority of them were swept off together, or one 
by one, being overpowered by the intensity of the 
cold and the violence of the sea, will never be known, 
as uot one of the twelve or thirteen souls on board is 
left to tell the sad tale. It is heart-rending, indeed, 
that the toil-worn mariner, after beating about on a 
stormy coast for many days, should be wrecked and 
perish within sight of the smoke ascending from his 
own hearth. 

Among Capt. Cook's papers, washed ashore from 
the brig Pocahontas, the following list, with accounts 
annexed, was found, the two first being the names of 
the captain and mate, and the others probably those 
of the crew : James G. Cook, Albert Cook, Simoa 



364 



SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



Day, Samuel Johnson, Wm. Merriam, Wm. Floyed, 
John Peterson, John Smith, Moses Woodman, Peter 
Johnson, Henry EUiSy John Wilson, Wm. Wails. 

The funeral of Mr. Cook, the first officer of the Poca- 
hontas, and seven of the crew, whose bodies had been 
found, took place from the Federal street church, in 
Newburyport. The house was filled with an im- 
mense concourse of people, not less, probably, than 
2,500 m number. The services were of a deep- 
ly impressive character, and the silence and solemnity 
of the crowded audience spoke quite as seriously to 
the spectator, as did the voices of the officiating cler- 
gyman, or the clear and mournful tone of the requi- 
em. The coffins were placed in the broad aisle, and 
an American ensign thrown over each. After the 
close of the exercises at the church, a procession of 
several hundred citizens formed, notwithstanding the 
severity of one of the coldest days of winter, and pro- 
ceeded with the bodies to the grave, while all the 
bells in town were tolled, and the flags were dis- 
played at half mast. 




GALE IN BOSTON. 365 



ANOTHER DISASTROUS GALE, 
•i?i the vicinity of Boston and Cape Ann, December 
27, 1839. 

A letter from Boston, states the following particu- 
lars of the gale in that place : — 

'f On the i]ight of Friday, Dec. 27, we were visited 
with another, very severe storm, from E. S. E. It 
commenced raining early in the evening, and in a 
short time after it began to blow very violently, and 
continued nntil midnight, when it increased to a fu- 
rious hurricane, not abating until about 7 o'clock 
next morning. The destruction of property is very 
great. The tide rose higher than it did in the gale 
of the loth of this month, and overflowed the wharves, 
doing great damage to them, and injuring considera- 
ble property in the cellars. A great quantity of lum- 
ber was washed from the wharves. The Front street 
dyke was broken down, owing to which the water 
overflow£d nearly all the low land between Front 
and Washington streets." 

The damage done to the shipping in the harbor was 
very great. 

The ship Geneva, of New York, had her bowsprit 
and head rigging carried away, her starboard anchor 
torn from the bow, which hanging by the chain badly 
chafed her cut- water. Her head and stem, to the 
water's edge, were completely smashed level with the 
bow. 

Four water boats were sunk at the wharves. ^ 

Sloop Helen, from New Bedford, drove from ftfer; 
anchors in the stream into one of the docks, and car- 
ried away her mast and bowsprit. 

Ship Argo, lost head, carried away bobstays, and 
was otherwise damaged about the bows. 
31* 



366 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

• 

Sch. Allen, from Jacmel, lost topmasts — was cut 
down amidships, and broke from her fastenings. 

Brig Lincoln, from Havana, struck on the Spit, 
knocked off her rudder, lost fifty hhds molasses from 
off the deck, cut away main-mast, beat over, anchor-' 
ed, and rode out the gale. 

Ship Concordia parted her stern fasts, drove against 
the stern of brig Magnet, injuring the stem of the 
ship and the stern of the brig. The latter also tore 
away her chain plates, which had just been renewed 
in consequence of injuries in the previous gale. 

A letter from Charlestown dated Dec. 28, says, 
'' One of the most singular and rem.arkable wrecks 
occurred during the gale of last night, and this morn- 
ing, which we have ever had to record. 

'•The ship Columbiana, of over 600 tons burthen, 
was lying last night .at Swett's wharf, in this town, 
and broke from her fastenings this morning, about 5 
o'clock, at near high tide. She was partly loaded 
with ice. Driven by the wind and tide together, she 
came bows on against the old Charlestown bridge, 
and made a clean breach through it. She next 
brought up against the wharf at the draw of Warren 
bridge, and here the scene was most remarkable. A 
story-and-a-half house stood upon the wharf, occu- 
pied by Mr. Dix, who is engaged in attending the 
draw of the bridge, lighting lamps, &c. Himself and 
family, consisting of nine persons, were in bed at the 
time, and all escaped without any injury, notwith- 
standing the building was entirely demolished. No 
two parts of it are left together' but all presents a 
scene of chaos which cannot be imagined. One 
large fragment of the chimney stands poised many 
feet from its original position, and directly beneath it 
is the family bureau, bedding and chairs. Part of 
the roof was thrown overboard, and another part pro- 
jected on the bridge. The piers on which it stood, 



BOSTON. NEWBURYPORT. 367 

forming a part of the wliarf, are broke or bent over, 
and the flooring carried away. The bridge was 
much injured — the fencing broke down and the side- 
walk thrown up for some distance. » 

"It is remarkable in what manner the inmates 
succeeded in escaping with tlieir lives and limbs. 
One man, we are told, was thrown overboard, but 
succeeded in regaining the wharf, without receiving 
injury. The children were also saved from their 
beds without harm and found shelter in a fruit shop 
at the hither end of the bridge. 

"The ship probably slipped her fastenings, on ac- 
count of the very high tide, which flowed over many 
of the wharves. She does not appear to be at all in- 
jured, unless her bottom be chafed. We are told 
that Capt. Barker was on board the ship until mid- 
night, and finding all safe, left the mate in charge ; 
who, when he found the vessel adrift, took the helm 
and steered her. She passed directly through the 
old bridge, as though there had been no obstacle in 
her way. She would also have passed through the 
Warren bridge had not the mate luffed her so as to 
strike the wharf, and bring her broadside to the bridge. 
By this movement the bridge was saved." 



NEWBURYPORT. 

In a letter from Newburyport, the following partic- 
ulars are given : — 

" On Friday night vv^ were visited vMth another 
destructive gale, being the third which has occurred 
■ during the present month. The wind which had 
blown a fresh breeze during the evening, strength- 
ened to a strong gale soon after .10 o'clock, and at 
midnight greatly increased in violence, and did not 
abate until towards daylight. The tide is stated to 



368 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

have risen higher than it has at any time before for 30 
years, completely overflowing all the wharves, and 
setting adrift and destroying a large amount of prop- 
erty. The damage to the shipping at the wharves 
has also been much greater than has ever been expe- 
rienced before. 

" The Panama, of Wells, a large top-sail schooner, 
lying at Bayley's wharf, with part of a cargo of flour 
and corn on board, sunk at the wharf. 

'' Sell. Actor, partly loacLed with salt, onions, (fee. 
for the south, filled and sunk at the wharf. 

'' The schooners Harmony,- Van, and Union, also 
sunk at the wharves. 

^' The schooners Tyro and GVampus, had their 
sterns completely stove in, and sustained other dam- 
age. 

" The schooner Vulture, had her maintopmast 
broken ofl', parted her fasts, stove in her stem, and 
sustained considerable other damage. 

" A new brig lying at the head of Cushing's wharf, 
was so badly chafed, that many of her planks: will 
have to be taken out. 

" Sch. Nun, which came in from Boston, just be- 
fore the commencement of the gale, with a valuable 
cargo, parted her fasts and drove to the upper side of 
a mast yard, where, after breaking ofl" her bowsprit, 
davits, and tearing out one side of a shed, she lay in 
a snug berth. 

'' Schrs: Traveller, of Wells, and Herald of this 
port, had their sterns stove in. 

^^ Schrs. Tom Bowling, and Orison, of Wells, lost 
their bowsprits. •# 

" Sch. Nancy, which was badly damaged in the 
gale of the 15th, and had just been repaired, was« 
again considerably damaged. 

'' Schrs. Hope, Atlas, Ellen, Retrieve, Mercy & 
Hope, Aurora, Mechanic, Harriet, Alphion, and 
Baltic, were also badly chafed or otherwise damaged. 



NEWBURYPORT. GLOUCESTER. 369 

*' The ice driven in from the flats by the heavy- 
swell, has swept oil nearly or quite all the out-build- 
ings, belonging to the houses on the lower side of 
Water street, from Hale's wharf down. The two 
story building at Mr. Woodwell's carpenter's yard, 
was entirely demolished; a two story building, be- 
longing to Mr. Brooklings, was also destroyed ; and 
several one story buildings were swept off; the cel- 
lars of the houses were filled with water, and had 
the storm continued, it would have endangered the 
safety of the houses themselves. 

'• The wharves are many of them considerably injur- 
ed ; and the docks filled with wood and lumber, of 
which, much no doubt will be lost, as th.ere is a heavy 
freshet in the river. 

"The tide flowed into a store on Bailey's wharf, 
where a large quantity of sugar was stored, and dam- 
aged that on the lower part of the store to some ex- 
tent. We learn also that some oil was lost from Has- 
kell's \vharf, and a large number of small boats were 
stove to pieces at the lower end of the town. 

" The ice -from the flats is piled up on the lower 
part of Water street, so that large quantities of it will 
have to be removed before the road will be passable. 

" It is altogether unprecedented, that three severe 
gales, — two of them heavier than any we have had 
for many years past, — should occur within a period 
of fourteen days." 



GLOUCESTER. 

An account from Gloucester, states, that ''the wind 
on Friday night, Dec. 27, blew a perfect hurricane, 
and threatened to sweep every thing before it, as 
with the besom of destruction. • Houses were almost 
made to totter from theirvery foundations, and it was 



370. SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

a fearful as well as sleepless night to thousands of 
our inhabitants. From 4 to 6 o'clock in the morning 
the tempest was at its acme, and the roar of sea and 
wind was truly frightful. — Fortunately, but few ves- 
sels were at anchor in our harbor — had there been as 
many as there were in the gale of the loth, the des- 
truction of life and property must have far exceeded 
any thing in the annals of storms. 

" Out of the six or eight vessels that were at anchor 
in the outer harbor, four of them went ashore, of 
which we give the following particulars : 

" Brig Richmond Packet, of Deer Isle, from Rich- 
mond for Newburyport, with corn and flour, went 
ashore on the point of rock near the Steep Bank, 
and went entirely to pieces. The crew were all 
saved. Never was a niore complete wreck than this. 
The next day there was not a piece as big as your 
hand to be seen of her. But the most melancholy 
part of the story remains to be told : on the vessel's 
striking, the captain jumped overboard with a rope, 
and succeeded in getting safely upon the rocks. 
Having made fast the rope, and when about ready to 
get his wife, who was on board, ashore by its means, 
the brig took a sudden lurch and snapped it ; the la- 
dy was then let down upon a spar iiito the water, but 
hardly had she reached the element when a heavy sea 
swept her olf, and she was heard and seen no more ! 
Her body was discovered, on the succeeding Mon- 
day, lying upon the coal in the hold of the sch. The- 
tis, ashore near the same place, where it had been 
washed by the sea, the hatches of the Thetis, as well 
as her comi)anion-way, having been forced open. 

'• Brig Aladdin, of North Yarmouth, from Baltimore 
for Portsmouth, with flour and corn, went ashore on 
Half Moon Beach, near the above. Her stern was 
stove in so that the water ran fore and aft in her 
hold. No lives lost.* 

"Sch. ThetiSjof and for Portland, from Philadelphia, 



GLOUCESTER. PROVINCETOWN. 371 

with coal, went ashore close to the Aladdin, and bilged. 
The vessel is a total loss, but the cargo was saved. 
No lives were lost. 

'' Sch. Bride, of Eastport, from Georgetown for Sa- 
lem, was run ashore, by the master, on the beach 
near the Cut Road, to save himself from a worse fate. 
She stove her bottom, but was got off, and saved her 
cargo, (corn and flour,) in a damaged state. 

'^'Sch. St. Cloud, of Blue Hill, Me., from New- 
York for Sullivan, Me., cut away her masts and held 
on." 



PROVINCETOWN. 

A letter, dated Provincetown, Dec. 2S, says, — ' 
''Last night and this morning we were visited with 
another violent gale of wind, which has done much 
more damage here than any former gale within the re- 
collection of our oldest people. The loss of property 
cannot be estfmated at less than ^50,000, which prin- 
cipally falls upon the inhabitants. of this town. The 
wind blew jvith great violence, causing the tide to 
rise much higher than usual ; and nearly every ves- 
sel that was fastened at the wharves, broke loose and 
drifted among the stores and dwellings along shore, 
demolishing every thing in their way. 

'•Mr. Jesse Small lost his store and about one half 
of his stock of English and West India goods. 
Eight or ten other stores, containing fish, were thrown 
down by the vessels, and the fish much damaged. 
About twenty salt mills were blown down, and a vast 
quantity of salt works blown away. Many cellars 
of dwelling houses were overflowed, and, in some 
instances, the inmates were compelled to leave their 
houses and seek shelter with their more fortunate 
neighbors. Some of the wharves were entirely 



372 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DJS ASTERS. 

swept away ; and, in fact, our shores are piled up 
with fragments of wrecks, buildings, barrels of mack- 
erel, lumber and spars. 

"The loss to our shipping is immense : Brig I mo- 
gene, (whaler,) it is thought will be a total loss; 
brig Fanny, (whaler,) suffered much in her hull ; 
schooners Caroline, Brenda, Amazon, and Aliifte & 
Nancy, lost their sterns, and received much other 
damage ; schooner Delphi lost most .of her sails, and 
had her hull badly damaged ; schooner Joseph Helen, 
loaded for New Orleans, lost windlass, bowsprit, fore- 
mast sprung, and badly damaged in her hull ; all the 
above are very high up on the beach, and the brigs 
must be screwed up and launched before they get 
off. 

" Sell. Elizabeth Ann,, of and for Halifax, from 
Boston, with flour, grapes, raisins, &c., drove ashore 
and sunk, — her decks were under water at high tide, — 
the cargo has been landed in a damaged state. 

^' Seh. Olio, from Norfolk for Boston,' drove high 
up on the beach, lost main-boom, bowsprit, and re- 
ceived other damage. 

" Sch. Planet, from Bath for Baltimore, with lum- 
ber and pickled fish, is also high up on the beach. 

" Sch. Fleet, loaded for Baltirnore, went ashore 
with both anchors ahead — she drifted afoul of schoon- 
er Olio in the stream, arid both vessels came ashore 
together. 

" Sch. Pandora, from New York for Boston, with 
flour, &c., went ashore, but did not receive much 
damage. 

" Sch. Altorp, from Richmond, with corn and bread, 
— ashore high and dry. 

" The new schooner Wm. W. Wyers, for Norfolk, 
high up on the beach. About twenty other vessels, 
principally fishermen, suffered greatly in spars, rig- 
ging, and hulls badly damaged. 

^' Brig Wave, from Bath for Matanzas, having late- 



PROVINCETOWN. SALEM. 373 

!y got off shore at- Truro, up high on the beach in 
this harbor. 

*' 1 have heard of no lives lost as yet. Mr. Rich- 
ard Atkins had his leg broken while endeavoring to 
save his property. Mr. Henry Lawrence, of Barnsta- 
ble, of the crew of schooner Rowena, had his leg 
brokeffand shockingly mangled between two vessels. 

'' Mr. Franklin xVtkins lost his shop and whole 
stock of leather, shoes, &C., which were swept away 
by the tide." 



SALEM. 



At Salem, the gale was very severe. A letter from 
that place says : 

*' Great damage was done at our wharves last night. 
Several vessels have sunk, and many more driven 
ashore and dismasted. We have heard of no lives be- 
ing lost as yet. The storm was the worst we have 
had this season." 



AN AGGREGATE 

of the loss of life and property at sea, on the eastern coast 

of New England, during a part of the months 

of December, 1839, and January, 1840. 

The following is a brief summary of the loss of 
property and life in the gales of December and the 
first part of January : 

'' The loss of property and life by sea within the 
brief period of a few weeks, has been altogether un- 
paralleled in the history of past years. Look at the 
events which occurred on our coast in the month of 
December, 1839, and in the beginning of January. 
32 



374 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTER^*. 

" In the first two weeks of December, eight vessels 
were lost, mostly on our eastern coast. On Sabbath, 
the 15th of December, it will long be recollected that 
there was a severe snow storm, accompanied, on the 
eastern shore of Massachusetts, with -a violent gale of 
wind. In that single storm no less than ei^i^^-nine 
vessels were totally lost, together with about ninety 
lives. Of these shipwrecks, sixty-one were' at or 
near Cape Ami ; tw^enty-one around Boston harbor 
and Cape Cod ; and the remainder at other places not 
far distant. From that time until the close of the 
month, the total losses which have already been re- 
ported, amount to eighty-four vesselsr, and eighty- 
nine lives. ^ 

'' Some of these losses will long be remembered, 
such as, the wreck of the Pocahontas on Pliim Island, 
whh the loss of her whole cre\v ; and the loss of the 
Lloyd on Nantasket Beach, where but one man es- 
caped to tell the melancholy tale. From the 1st to 
to the 1.5th of January, the loss o'f eleven vessels had 
already been reported, with the loss of about 255 men, 
allowing 150 to be tlie number lost in the Lexington. 
Putting these numbers together, we have a total of 
192 vessels entirely lost, in the short space of si?; 
weeks, and about 340 lives." 



CAPE ANN HARBOR. 

Importance of having one or more Breakioaters and Piers, 

The disastrous consequences of the late tremendous 
■ and destructive gale on our coast, and especially in 
Gloucester harbor, render it of the highest importance 
that measures should be immediately adopted for ren- 
dering that capacious and valuable roadstead secure 
against the effect of storms, from all points of the 
compass. Being situated near the extremity of the 



CAPE ANN HARBOR. 375 

great northern Cape which forms one side of Massa- 
chusetts Bay, there is not a haven on the coast of 
New Enghmd, which is so often sought, for the pur- 
pose of escaping from immediate or threatened dan- 
ger, by the numerous coasting and fishing vessels 
employed betVeen the eastern and southern ports of 
the Union, as well as those engaged in foreign com- 
merce. ItJs not lincoji^mon for two or three hun- 
dred to be assembled there at one tirae^ in adverse 
weather. Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, 
are directly interested in the facilities which that har- 
bor affords to their navigation : and so valuable was 
it considered by the officers of the navy who had ev- 
er vi?ited it, that Commodore Bainbridge caused a. 
survey to be made, immediately after the last war 
with Great Britain, from which it was ascertained 
*.hat the advantages which were there presented, from 
the extent of area, depth of water, freedom of access, 
excellence of anchoring-ground, and the peculiarly 
favorable topographical features of the surrounding 
shores, "W^re far greater than had been anticipated, 
even by those t\^ho had been the longest and most 
thoroughly acquainted with the hydrography of that 
portion of the coast. 

But to give the desirable, and, as is confidently be- 
lieved, attainable security against the influence of the 
winds, it is indispensable that one or more Breakwa- 
ters and Piers should be erected at the entrance of 
the harbor. It is now hand-locked in all directions 
except lbs south ; and so abundant are the means of 
accomplishing such a work, from tiie numerous ex- 
cellei^ grauite quarrie^in the immedlate*vicinity, and 
the character of the shores and the bottom, which are 
formed of continued ledges of primitive rock, that it 
is only requisite to show the importance and practica- 
bility of its being executed, to obtain from the Na- 
tional Government the efficient means. 

We have engineers equal to those of any of the 



9 



376 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

European nations, and there cannot be a doubt that 
Breakwaters and Piers can be constructed, in such a 
manner as will render the harbor perfectly safe against 
the terrific force of even such a gak as has strewed 
its shores with the wrecks of nearly sixty sail orves- 
selsj and in whose destruction numerous lives were 
lost. 

Let there be meetings hejli in all the principal sea- 
ports on the coast of this State, for taking this sub- 
ject into consideration, and such examinations and re- 
ports made, as will best promote the great object 
which it is very desirable should be accomplished. 

The advantage to be derived by the immense num- 
ber of fishermen which navigate Massachusetts Bay, 
is alone sufficient to warrant the erection of such 
works as have been suggested ; but when all the 
other great commercial interests are considered, invol- 
ving the enormous amount of property which is con- 
stantly at risk, and the value such a place of refuge 
would be to our ships of war, there is no longer a 
question as to the expediency of such inquiries being 
made, as shall test the practicability of such improve- 
ments being made as will fully subserve the purposes 
desired, and justify the appropriation of whatever sum 
may be found necessary to effect them. 



WRECK OF THE BRIG PALMER, 

near ^ Newport ^ R. /., December 27 j 1839, wHh tke 

loss of all en board. 

The following account is from a gentleman of New- 
port : — 

'' It is our painful duty to announce the loss of a 
vessel on our shores, and almost certainly, of all oa 



A 



THE PALMER. 377 

board of her, during the short but tremendous gale 
wtiich occurred here on Friday night, Dec. 27. Pie- 
ces of a wreck, parts of boxes, flour-barrels, etc., were 
picked up, on Sunday morning, on the sliore at the 
north part of the town, and pieces continued to drift 
ashore throughout the day. Other fragments were 
picked up on Rose Island ; and on the eastern shore 
of Conanicut, among parts of the wreck, was a quar- 
ter deck, almost entire, and part of a head, on which 
was the name * J. Palnf6r.' 

" Tliere can be no doubt that it must have been 
the brig Palmer, from Philadelphia, bound to Boston, 
which was spoken on the previous Thursday off 
Block Island, by the pilot boat Superior, and reported 
to have lost her foresail in the late gales. On Friday 
evening, at dusk, a brig was seen standing towards 
the south end of this island, then about three miles 
off, and without any foremast — since that time noth- 
ing has been seen or heard of her, saving the melan- 
choly proofs of her destruction that have been thrown 
on our shores. It is uncertain whether she struck on 
Brenton's Reef, towards which she was standing 
when last seen, or was driven ashore on the east side 
of Beavertail Point ; in either case her destruction in 
such a gale was inevitable. We add with regret that 
there is no other ground for hope that one of her crew 
escaped, — all must have perished. 

'' Since writing the above we have heard that a 
quantity of corn has been washed ashore on the north- 
eastern part of Beavertail Point ; and about fifty bush- 
els have been taken up ; this with the numerous 
pieces of the wreck strewn along the shore, makes it 
most probable that she struck in that vicinity, — a ter- 
rible place in an easterly gale. We are also informed 
that the body of a man was seen in the surf, in the 
same vicinity, but the sea Avas so violent that it could 
not be recovered." 
32* 



37S SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



BURNING OF THE PACKET SHIP BOSTON, 

071 her passage from Charleston^ S, C, to Liv- 
erpool, on the 25th of Maij, 1830. 

The packet ship Boston., Capt. H. C. Mackay, 
sailed from Charleston on the 19th of May. On the 
sixth day out, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, a heavy 
rain commenced, and at 11 o'clock the same evening, 
there was sharp lightning with heavy thunder. The 
second flash struck the ship, burst the main royal 
from the gaskets and burnt it,; — knocked down the 
steward, and a sailor by the name cf Hopkins, — ^and 
filled the vessel with electric fluid. - The ship was 
soon after discovered to be on fire, and the hatchways 
were immediately cleared in order to get at and sub- 
due it. Holes were cut in the deck, and water plied 
freely in every direction, — but all was useless : the 
cotton in the main hold was on fire on both sides, fore 
and aft, and burning like tinder. The only alterna- 
tive was the boats, which were got out as speedily as 
possible ; the fire had progressed so rapidly, that there 
was barely time for the passengers and crew to get 
clear of the ship before the flames burst out. They 
had, however, succeeded in obtaining water and pro- 
visions suflnicient to sustain them, on short allowance, 
for about three weeks. 

Capt. Mackay thus remarked: "The passengers 
had exerted themselves to the utmost to assist us. 
The officers had, with unwearied exertion, coolness 
and activity, done all that men could do. The ship's 
crew worked like horses and behaved like men, — 
but all would not do. About three hours had chang- 
ed one of the best ships that ever floated to a com- 
plete volcano, and cast twenty-three persons adrift on 
the open ocean." 



THE BOSTON. 379 

The cabin passengers were, Sir Isaac Coffin, and 
servant ; Dr. William Bogne, and his sister, Miss An- 
sella Bogue ; Mr. Neil McNeil, and Mr. Samuel Os- 
good. 

Owing to the heavy rain and exposure, while in the 
boat, the shattered constitution of Miss Bogue, who 
was an invalid, soon gave way. To the divine will 
she submitted without a murmur, and, at 11 o'clock 
the next day, she died in the arms of her brother. 
On the following day she was committed to the deep^ 
their situation not admitting of the corpse being kept 
longer in the boat. 

They remained near the fire of the wreck for two 
days. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Thursday, 
they were fortunately discovered and taken on board 
the brig Idas, of Liverpool, bound for Halifax, and 
commanded by Capt. Joseph Barnaby, who, with his 
officers and crew, treated them with kindness and at- 
tention. They had rerrxained on board the brig but 
two days, when, on the succeeding Sunday, May 30, 
they fell in with the brig Camilla, Capt. Robert B. 
Edes, who generously offered them a passage to Bos- 
ton, and received them on board his vessel. 

We give the following highly interesting and 
graphic account of this event, written by a gentleman 
who was a passenger on board ; and though he has 
not summoned up all the horrors of the scene, which 
have been retailed in conversation, he has been suffic- 
iently minute, and imparted a degree of interest not 
often found in narratives of this kind : 

" We left the shore with joy in our hearts, for the 
sun shone brightly, and the wind was fair. Joy, did 
T say ? Yet there v/as a slight shade of sadness so 
blended with it, that I am not certain it would have 
been so welcome M^ithout. As our vessel glided 
along, we watched the dancing waves as they rose, 
broke, foamed, and then died away : and the sporting 



380 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

porpoises, too, as they gamboled in the foam beneath 
our bows. The wind grew fainter, and "the dolphins 
swam close to the vessel. Occasionally, a whale was 
seen to spout up water, and to raise its broad tail to 
the surface of the now tranquil ocean. At length the 
breeze wholly ceased, and all was still, save the flap- 
ping of the sails, that enemy of the sailor's speed. 
The scene was indeed changed, from the animation 
of the spray-crested wave to the grave undulation of 
the unexcited ocean. 

" There was on board our ship a gallant admiral, 
confined to his berth with the gout. Great was the 
desire of all his shipmates that he should witness the 
beauty of the scene, and enjoy the coolness of the 
closing day. But our entreaties were unavailing. 
He was too lame to ascend to the deck, where all but 
himself had assembled to listen to the songs of one, 
young and beautiful, whose tones were subdued by a 
lingering disease, which it was hoped this voyage 
would, if not entirely remove, at least allay for a 
time, until she could return to her anxious parents, 
from whom she had been separated for nearly three 
years. The intense interest with which all listened 
while she sang, appeared sufficient proof that her 
voice was in perfect unison with the gray twilight, 
which was fast falling around. After the music, con- 
versation divided our party into groups ; these, one 
ofter another, broke up and went below, until but one 
solitary being, bec:ides the man at the helm, remained 
on the quarter-deck. This being was the captain. 
His weather-beaten face and silvered hair were 
enough to convince you at a glance of his experience 
in navigation. To him we naturally looked, as to a 
barometer, to ascertain the state of the a.t[nospherej 
which, it must be acknowledged, at least the suspi- 
cions of one among us, indicated nothing favorable. 

''I had, but a few years before, been a*'lcommon 
sailor, and from the manner of the several captains 



THE BOSTON. 381 

with whom T had sailed, had observed enough to 
know that danger was at hand, by the silence and 
restlessness of our own, as he paced the deck, now 
glancing at the heavens, now heading the ship in 
another directi(^n, — again looking at some dark clouds 
rising above the western horizon, and next, in a voice 
of thunder, ordering the royals to be furled, and t!ie 
top-gallant studding-sails to be taken in. This order 
quickly confirmed my suspicion, and brought two of 
our unsleeping passengers to the deck, who, perceiv- 
ing in the calm, clear sky over head, no cause for the 
order, retreated again to the cabin. But the practised 
eye of the captain saw not only the storm, but its 
rapid approach towards the vessel ; and before his 
commands could bo obeyed, the gale struck, and car- 
ried away both starboard and larboard booms. All 
hands were called up, and, almost as soon as said, the 
main and top-gallant sails were clewed up, and every 
thing put in trim to stand the gale ; for, from the way 
in which it had set in, we had every reason to antici- 
pate its rapid increase. We were not disappointed. 
Ere 12 o'clock the next day, the noble ship, on which 
but yesterday was crowded all sail to catch the lag- 
ging wind, was barely able to scud before the blast 
iifider bare poles. But we weathered the gale, which 
lulled towards night; and the sky so lately overcast 
by dark clouds, became clearer and clearer, till not a 
shade was visible in the ifxce of the broad heavens. 

" We had been watching the sun, as it appeared to 
descend directly into the sea, until it could no longer 
be seen. When we turned away, our attention was 
arrested by a small, dense, black cloud, which had 
ari'sen above the south-eastern horizon. After passing 
our comments on so singular a phenomenon, most of us 
went below to while away the hours in reading, play- 
ing at whist, or some other amusement, until tea time, 
when one of our number, who had been on deck, re- 
turned, and half-seriously observed, ' that dark cloud 






382 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

forebodes no good !' At ten o'clock a sharp flash of 
lightning blazed on our bark, followed quickly by 
a loud peal of thunder. Soon after, a tremendous 
crash was heard, like the falling of ten thousand 
grape shot on the deck, directly over our. heads. At 
the same time every thing seemed enveloped in one 
bright flame. The passengers looked at one another 
in wild amazement. A few shrieks followed the fatal 
shock, and a silence, as of death, succeeded. 

" When we had recovered our faculties sufliciently 
to look about, we found the captain and the mate 
bringing from the deck one of the seamen in a state 
of insensibility. He had been knocked down, with 
several others, by the electric fluid, but soon revived 
by the application of a dose from the medicine chest. 
It v/as ascertained that none of the men had sustained 
material injury. The deck was carefully examined^ 
but no incision could be found, nor could any traces 
of the lightning be perceived on the masts or rigging, 
except by the maiii-royal gaskets being severed, and 
the sail loosed without so much as being even 
singed. 

" The captain came below, assured us that all was 
safe, and proposed a game at whist, to remove the too 
painful impression of the shock. Every one retired 
to his state-room, from which we were soon attracted 
by the smell of fire. We rushed to the deck. From 
the after hold the smoke was rising fast. The hatch- 
ways were removed, and the ship was found to boon 
fire. Holes were cut in the deck, the scuppers 
stopped, and the water-casks stove in. Water was 
passed in buckets from the side, and plied into the 
hatchways. The passengers and crew were all busi- 
ly engaged. A few of the closely-stowed bales of 
cotton were broken out, and it was discovered that' 
the lightning had passed into the hold, torn open the 
bales from one end of the ship to the other, and left 
them in a blaze. The fire gained upon us rapidly, 



THE BOSTON. 383 

and the boats were now our only hope of safety. 
One of the passengers went to the pantry with a pil- 
low-case, in which he collected all the bread he could 
find. 

*' Meantime, feeling a presentiment that we should 
never see the shore again, I went to the captain, asked 
his advice, and, descending to the cabin, emptied the 
wine out of a couple of bottles upon the rich Brussels 
carpet, and after writing on two pieces of paper, that 
the ship Boston, H. C. Mackay, commander, had been 
struck b}^ lightning in the southern edge of the gulf 
stream, and that all hopes of saving her were given 
up, I bade all farewell, and, signing my name, placed 
a paper in each bottle ; then corking them tightly, 
and covering the corks with spermaceti, I threw them 
into the sea. The next thing was to save the admi- 
ral. As several were about to go below for that pur- 
pose, they encountered the gallant veteran at the 
cabin stairs. He, having heard of the danger, had 
ascended thus far by the assistance of his servant, 
and with great and painful exertion. A mattress was 
laid in the whale-boat, which was on the quarter. 
On this he was placed, with his servant by his side, 
while a man was stationed at each tackle. He at the 
bows seemed well aware of the critical situation in 
which they were placed ; but the man at the stern 
took out his knife, and when the wave rose to the 
boat, cut the tackle, so that when the latter rose 
again, the otliei' end being fast, the boat was lialf 
filled with water, and the sailor at the stern thrown 
into the deep. By this time the bow tackle was un- 
hooked, the boat cleared from the side, and the old 
tar taken, half drowned, from the sea, to receive a 
pretty severe reprimand from the fearless man whom 
he had so unintentionally immersed in a cold bath. 

" Whilst we were engaged aft, a part of the crew 
were busy in getting the long boat over the side. 
They had barely cleared it from the rail, when the 



384 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

half-consumed tackle gave way. It was with no 
little difficulty that it was saved. The passengers 
and crew, with the exception of Captain M. and my- 
self, took possession of the boat, and were soon at 
some distance astern of the ship. We were left on 
the quarter-deck, standing, as it were, over a volcano, 
expecting, every moment, that the planks would be 
rent from their fastenings, so great was the roar and 
crackling of the flames in consuming the elegantly 
finished cabin, on the couches of which we had rev- 
eled in luxury, when feasting our minds from enter- 
taining books, chosen from an extensive library be- 
longing to the packet. But even this precarious foot- 
ing was not long allowed us. The ship, no longer 
obedient to her helm, swung round, in consequence 
of which the flames turned upon us, and we were 
compelled to fly to the deep, as the least of the two 
evils; but fortunately the whale-boat tackle arrested 
not only the eye but the hands of the captain, as he 
was in the act of leaping into the sea, from which he 
was taken, almost immediately. My fate was not so 
agreeable. I had caught at some loose rigging hang- 
ing over the stern, by which I was suspended, being 
immersed alternately in fire and water, by the de- 
scending flame from the cabin windows, as the stern 
of the vessel rose on the wave that had just drenched 
me. Although I was discovered as soon as I had left 
the deck, it was some time before the long-boat could 
come to my relief; and when she did, it was not with- 
out great danger to those in her, from the roughness 
of the sea and the heai of the fire. 

" The captain was taken from the jolly into the 
long-boat, which he ordered round under the weather 
bow, and with two or three men ascended to the fore- 
castle, to get some wateY from the fore-run. While 
the men were passing it from the vessel" the captain 
was sitting on the rail, near the anchor, holding the 
boat by the painter. At this time the lady, mention- 



THE BOSTON, 385 

ed in the early part of this narrative, was in the stern 
of the boat, whicli was in great danger of being 
swamped by every sea. Of this she seemed not 
aware ; but when she raised her eyes to the main 
and mizen masts, which were tottering in the air, 
she uttered the most fearful shrieks, fearing that they 
would fall upon the boat. Fortunately, they yielded 
beneath their own weight, as the vessel rolled to 
windward, and fell in the opposite direction ; and the 
fore-braces being fast, the fore-yard was snapped short 
off in the slings. The weather arm of this immense 
spar fell within an inch of the captain's head ; but he, 
with that self-possession which characterized him 
throughout the whole of this fearful catastrophe, se- 
cured the boat, took the fore-top bow-line, went out 
to the bowsprit, and, by tying it to the fore-stay, pre- 
vented the yard-arm from swinging. This done, he 
resumed his seat, till the men were driven from their 
task by the devouring element. 

'' The captain was the last to leave the ship. At 
three o'clock in the morning, there were twenty-three 
of us, including the crew and passengers, on the bo- 
som of the ocean, in open boats, three hundred and 
sixty miles from land. Yet even this did not prevent 
some admiring the sublime scene ; and one, I know, 
wished his colors and pencils to sketch it, as the ship 
was tossed on the restless wave, high up against the 
gloomy sky. 

'' In ten minutes after we left, the fore-mast, like a 
pillar of flame, fell hissing into the deep. The admi- 
ral was now transferred to the long-boat, in safety, 
although the undertaking was fearfully hazardous, 
Once more among his fellow-passengers, in whose 
countenances he discovered strong symptoms of des- 
pair, this courageous sailor, unmindful of the contin- 
ual danger of heing overwhelmed in the angry sea, 
endeavored to banish the general gloom ; and with 
33 



386 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

cheerful songs and anecdotes actually inspired most of 
us with livelier emotions. 

"But, alas! there was an occurrence which ap- 
palled the stoutest heart of our little band. The fair 
being whose fatal shrieks that morning rose above 
the howling wind, now lay in her brother's arms. 
During those heart-rending cries she had severed an 
artery connected with the lungs. We saw by the 
red current fast flowing from her mouth, that death 
was busy at her heart. She seemed conscious that 
her hour was nigh, and made several useless efforts to 
speak to her brother, who bent over her in speechless 
agony, witli his eyes fixed on that pale face. Not a 
tear bespoke the emotion of his soul ; they were too 
strong to be dissolved in tears. Before noon she had 
breathed her last ; it became my painful duty to close 
her eyes, and taking the white handkerchief from my 
pocket, T passed it under her chin, and tied above her 
brow. Even the rough sailors wept at the scene of 
sorrow. All that day the sea ran mountains high. 
A third of a biscuit, and a gill of water, which vvas 
to be our daily allowance-, was eagerly devoured : but 
it appeased our appetites, sharpened by hard labor, 
and suffering from the intensely-piercing north wind, 
which incessantly swept over our unsheltered heads. 
But a colder comfort was in anticipation. In a few 
short days, one, but which ? — the lot would decide — 
must be sacrificed to satisfy the hunger of the others. 
It was not difficult to imagine the cold steel penetra- 
ting the heart of the unfortunate victim, to sever the 
thread of dear existence. It was evident that Sir 
Isaac Coffin — for the admiral was none other — had 
thought of the impending doom, when he looked on 
the seamen, who were regarding him with eyes of 
pity, experiencing, as he was, the twofold suffering of 
shipwreck and gout. 

" ' Ah, my brave fellows !' said he, in a tone sadly 
at variance with his words, 'don't anticipate a meal 



THE BOSTON. 387 

of me. You had better look to that yoniig painter. 
You will find him a tenderer morsel than I am !' 

The wind went down with the sun, the clouds fa- 
ded from the heavens, and the moon smiled on us, as 
we lay upon the heaving swell, that always follows 
a storm. Not faf off, the ill-fated ship, still uncon- 
sumed, threw her lurid light upon the pale faces of 
my companions. Dejection had humbled the heads 
of some, till, their chins resting upon their bosoms, 
they were buried in melancholy reflections. No hope 
of ever seeing home could they reasonably entertain. 
We were far out of the usual track of vessels going to 
and from Europe ,• and unless some ship that had 
been blown off her course should be attracted by the 
light of the ship that night, our intention was to steer 
for Halifax, Nova Scotia, that being the nearest land. 
We endeavored to sleep, but being crowded into so 
small a space, it was impossible. When daylight 
dawned, every one was on the alert. The horizon 
was scanned in every direction, but no sail appeared 
to gladden- our hearts ; and those in the whale-boats 
were requested — for misfortune had made all equal in 
authority — to go and get some light sails from the 
wreck, l^hey soon returned with a supply of royals, 
studding-sail, boom-irons, and other useful matters. 

" The superstitious sailors now began to murmur, 
and it was deemed advisable to consign the corpse to 
the deep. Accordingly, after the church service for 
the dead had been read from a prayer-book, which a 
pious sailor had pocketed before leaving the vessel, — 
in a canvass winding-sheet, to which a few spikes 
and a boom-iron were attached, the last solemn office 
was performed for one, whose unaffected and refined 
simplicity of character liad won the hearts of all. 
The brother knelt in silence, and with affectionate 
tenderness kissed the forehead of the departed. 
When the blue waves closed over her, and the calm, 
smooth, glassy surface of the sea bore no traces to 



388 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

mark the spot, no outward signs betrayed his emo- 
tion ; but the volcano raged within, and he was 
watched lest he should seek relief in the grave of his 
sister. 

" The seamen had been engaged in rigging sails to 
masts made of the boat's oars. The bread and water 
was divided between the three boats, in case they 
should be separated ; and the prows were scarcely 
headed for Nova Scotia, when the first mate roused 
us by the joyful cry of ' Sail, ho !^ on the starboard 
quarter. Even the noble but almost disabled admiral 
raised his head to see the distant hope. The whale- 
boat being the lightest was selected to run down to 
the distant sail, which the captain perceived, with 
the aid of his glass, to be a brig, apparently close 
hauled to the wind. Fears were entertained that she 
was beating against the wind, and might go about on 
the other tack ere we were discovered. We followed 
leisurely, and with inconceivable alarm, beheld, when 
the advance boat was near the brig, the smoke, and 
presently heard the report of a gun. Dismay took 
possession of , our souls, which somewhat abated when 
we perceived that the whale-boat steadily pursued 
her way toward the imagined enemy. The interest 
with which we watched grew more intense every 
moment, until we saw our comrades ascend the side, 
and the light thing that bore them drawn to the deck 
by the hands of a stranger vessel. Our turn came 
next ; and never was a more friendly reception given 
to the unfortunate, than was extended to us by the 
generous-hearted Englishman who commanded the 
brig. Long before the second boat reached the side, 
the captain had ordered his cook to provide us a dinner 
of the best the pantry afforded. The long-boat was 
dropped astern, and made fast to the taffrail, and the 
jolly-boat followed the first. 

" When all were safe, with prospects of again set- 
ting our feet on shore, the full extent of our misfor- 



THE BOSTON. 389 

tunes burst upon us. Mr. Bogue, whose loss no 
earthly power could restore, was arranging th<^ sor- 
rowful mementos of his once-worshipped sister in the 
sun to dry, whilst the big tears fell fast to relieve his 
bursting heart. The captain, who thus far had quell- 
ed each emotion of regret, stood with upraised hand 
clenching the main-swifter by the \veather rigging of 
the brig. Tears trickled down his sun-burnt cheek, 
as he beheld the remains of his shij) still burning in 
the distance. She had been his idol, as well she 
might have been ; for like a fair child, she was too 
beautiful to live. It seemed as if the consuming ele- 
ment, jealous of her repose on the fair bosom of the 
ocean, had resolved on her destruction. All sympa- 
thized with, and reverenced the tears of the 'smitten 
rock.' The faithful sailors saw, and wept with their 
captain. On the larboard quarter of the deck lay the 
brave admiral, still unable to raise his hand. Before 
the veteran sailor's admiring gaze, his servant sup- 
ported a large gold medal, presented to him by his 
gracious majesty, William IV. A smile of joy played 
round Sir Isaac's lip, when he perceived that the only 
valuable saved from among the many he possessed 
had'passed the ordeal uninjured. The last time that 
I was in the cabin of the ship Boston, I had taken 
from my trunk and placed in my pocket a small tin 
box, filled with keepsakes rendered valuable by asso- 
ciations. A larger one, in which the savings of years 
were deposited, I carried to the deck, and placed it 
where 1 could easily find it, when we should be 
obliged to leave ; but the hurried manner in which I 
had been driven from the deck by the flames, render- 
ed it impossible, even if I had thought of it, to save 
the treasure ; and now once more I was destitute of 
even a change of linen. By this time the dinner or- 
dered by our new friend was announced ; and, whilst 
we were doing it justice, in the simplicity of his heart, 
he acknowledged himself to be oDe of those numer- 
33* 



390 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

ous coasters on the American shore, who, never hav- 
ing studied navigation, take a bundle of shingles 
when about to leave port, to distribute on the trip out, 
that they may be enabled to find their way back. 
He told us that he discovered the smoke rising from 
what he supposed to be the low land of the West In- 
dies, about 12 o'clock, and calling for his spy-glass, 
ascended to the top. Perceiving a vessel burning, 
and at the same time three boats makrng towards 
him, he concluded at once that we were pirates, who, 
after robbing the ship, had set fire to her. With this 
supposition, he had ordered his mate to load the gun 
and fire it, to apprise us that he was not without am- 
munition to defend the brig. 

^' The third day after our deliverance we fell in 
with a vessel bound to Boston. Bidding. Captain 
Barnaby farewell, and thanking him for his hospitali- 
ty, we took our own long-boat, which had been tow- 
ing astern, and went on board the other brig. In two 
days the Camilla bore us into Boston, where the pack- 
et belonged, to inform the owners of their loss. The 
news spread like wildfire ; and before we reached the 
wharf, thousands had collected to see the imhappy 
sufferers. The young painter was once more in his 
native place, but without a home. ISjO one came for- 
ward to offer the rites of hospitality ; and had it not 
been for the noble admiral, who liberally employed 
him to paint his portrait, for which he paid double its 
value, he would have needed the wherewithal to keep 
soul and body together. Nor did Sir Isaac's generos- 
ity stop here. As a testimony of his approbation of 
Captain Mackay's conduct, he presented him with £i 
splendid gold watch and a hmidred pounds," 



THE PEACOCK. 391 



INTERESTING NARRATIVE 

of the miraculous escape of the United States ship 

Peacock from shipiareclc, after striking and 

grounding on a coral reef September 21;. 

1835. 

* The following account is extracted from the journal 
of an officer of the United States ship Peacock, and 
cannot fail to be pernsed with much interest, as giving 
the only minute and accurate details, e^er yet pub- 
lished, of the disaster which befell that vessel : — 

"About twenty minutes past 2 o'clock, on the 
morning of the 21st of September, all hands, e-xcept 
the watch on deck, were roused from unsuspecting 
sleep by a horrid noise, caused by the ship's bottom 
grinding and tearing over a bed of coral rocks. The 
ship was running at the rate of seven and a hai"f miles 
the hour when she struck, and her progression was 
not suddenly and fully arrested, but she ran on for 
some minutes after tlie helm was put up, — the wind 
being on the larboai-d quarter, and consequently off 
shore. 

'' When I reached the deck, it was starlight ; the 
breeze was fresh, and no land could be seen. By 
shifting the helm, the wind had been brought on the 
starboard side, the studding-sails were flapping, and 
the ship^s motion resembled the uncertain, wavering 
gait of a sick man, — grinding the coral as her sides 
were alternately rolled against it. No one knew 
where the ship was ; and it was not easy to explain 
by what means she had got on shore. The chronom- 
eters, hitherto unsuspected, were doubted ; and some 
suggested that the charts were inaccurate. This was 
in the first moments of excitement. When every 



392 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHEB DISASTERS. 

body was Iiurrying on deck, an amusing instance of 
the effects of habit occurred. A young gentleman, 
who has been rather a valetudinarian, was seen com- 
ing up on deck amongst the last, completely dressed, 
with a cloak hanging over his arm, — on being asked 
what he was about to do with it, (the thermometer 
standing at SO'^ Fahrenheit,) lie replied, 'I shall 
catch cold going ashore in the boat in the night air.' 

*'As the ship no longer moved forward, but lay 
floundering, as it were, from side to side, all sail was 
taken in, and an officer sent out to ascertain in what 
direction was the deepest water. In the meantime, 
the boats were hoisted out and an anchor got into one 
of them ; and on the return of the officer who had 
been sent to sound, it was carried about three hun- 
dred yards to the westward, where there was sufficient 
depth to float us, and there dropped with the view of 
heaving off the ship. 

''As the most speedy and ready means of lighten- 
ing the ship, about five thousand gallons of water 
were pumped overboard, — but it was in vain. The 
first gleams of day discovered a low sand desert about 
three miles east of us, trending north and south ; the 
water was in spots of a bright green from its shallow- 
ness, but dark where it was deeper. The work of 
lightening was continued ; a raft was constructed of 
spare spars, and laden with ])rovisions, and several 
tons of shot were thrown overboard. We found the 
tide falling, and, to prevent the ship from rolling en- 
tirely over, a large spar was placed one end resting 
against the bottom, and the other secured to the ship's 
side, so as to give effectual support. 

" About 10 o'clock, a large canoe, the stern and 
bows rising high, propelled by a thin square sail, ap- 
proached the ship. There were on board of her four 
men. We sent an unarmed boat towards her with 
an indifferent interpreter, a distressed Pole named 
Michael, (a passenger from Zanzibar to Muscat,) who, 



THE PEACOCK. 393 

having traveled over land from Poland to Bombay, 
spoke passable Arabic, Italian and Dutch, but little 
English. When near enough, he hailed the Arab, 
who manifested strong repugnance to communication. 
While our boat pulled rapidly towards him, he carried 
forward the tack .of his sail, and hauled close aft his 
sheet ; then the four savages stood up, and we could 
see their broad swords flashing in the sun, as they 
flourished them over their heads in a manner not to 
be misunderstood; so our boat returned without open- 
ing any amicable intercourse, and the canoe anchored 
close to the shore. 

" Later, an officer was sent towards the beach to 
ascertain the state* of the tide. An Arab, immediately 
on seeing our boat near the shore, sprang from the ca- 
noe and ran along the sand, brandishing his sword, 
showing that he would off'er opposition to the landing. 

"At meridian, we found our latitude to be about 
twenty degrees north, and were all of opinion that 
the ship was on the island of Mazeira, which, accord- 
ing to the charts, lies about ten miles from the main ; 
it is about thirty-five miles long, and ten or twelve 
broad, trending south-west and north-east. About I 
o'clock in the afternoon, we descried four large ca- 
noes approaching from the northward. They joined 
company wiih the one we first saw, and anchored 
close to the ship, now very much careened over from 
the falling of the tide. Three of the canoes were 
large, bearing two masts, and might be termed dows. 
In this fleet we counted twenty-nine men, each one 
wearing a crooked dagger in liis girdle; and there 
were spears and broad-swords enough in sight to fill 
all their hands, besides some match-locks. A spear 
or two was stuck up in the after part of each canoe, 
where there was a sort of poop, aflfording a place of 
shelter from the sun, and there were some negroes on 
board whose business seemed to be to pull the oars — 
they were evidently slaves. 



394 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

" After anchoring, several persons left the canoes 
in which they came and assembled on board another, 
which was paddled nearer to the ship. A tall old 
man with a white beard stood np, and, throwing up 
his naked arms and nodding his head, hailed ns; from 
his gesture we gathered that he inquired whether we 
would cut his throat if he came on board, and showed 
no great confidence in us. After a few moments 
they came along side and climbed on deck. 

''From the lawless and wandering character of the 
Arabs of this part of the coa&t, as well as from the 
behavnor of the canoes, we suspected they meditated 
an attack with the object of plunder ; and, so soon as 
they began to anchor, the crew Srmed themselves 
with cutlasses and pikes, and lay concealed for the 
most part behind the bulwarks. Some few, however, 
might have been seen grinding their cutlasses or 
pikes, and, as they mechanically ran their fingers 
over the edge to ascertain its keenness, casting their 
eyes ever and anon upon the canoes. 

" When the two Arabs entered the gangway, the 
decks were filled with armed men, whose eyes natu- 
rally followed the strangers as they moved aft, bow- 
ing and shaking hands with every individual they 
met, but in a manner that illy concealed their trepi- 
dation, arising from the scene into which they had 
been so suddenly and so unexpectedly introduced ; 
nor were the glances of our men 'calculated to allay- 
any fears they may have entertained. On reaching 
the after part of the quarter-deck, where the commo- 
dore and captain awaited them, they squatted them- 
selves upon an arm chest, and the old man talked 
away at a rapid rate, apparently unconcerned whether 
understood or not. 

" Their costume consisted of a large turban, a 
waist-cloth reaching nearly to the knees, and a girdle 
in which was stuck a khunger, or crooked dagger. 
The elder of the two was very talkative, and had 



THE PEACOCK. 395 

rather a cunning expression of face, while the young- 
er was more silent. His figure was slight, biU every 
one expressed, in strong terms, admiration for his 
beauty. A thick fell of curling black hair reaching 
to the shoulders — keen, dark hazel eyes — regular fea- 
tures — smooth, dark skin — and, above all, the intelli- 
gence of his countenance, gave his face the character 
of that of a beautiful female ; but the jetty mustachio 
and curling black beard, gave him the appearance of a 
young warrior. They partook of some sea-biscuit and 
sugar offered to them, but we were unable obtain any 
satisfactory information from them. Our interpreter, 
Michael, appeared not to be well skilled in Arabic. 
According to his version, they stated that Mazeira 
was under a sultan who would forward a letter for us 
to Muscat, if we would send on shore and request 
him to do so ; or, that they would carry a letter for 
one thousand dollars. They said forty more canoes 
were coming, and enquired how much money there 
was on board. 

'' In a few minutes they left us ; the younger, re- 
moving the kliuiiger from his girdle, and securing it, 
by the folds of his turban, to one side of his head, 
and then lowering himself by a rope down the ship's 
side, dropped into the sea, and swam gracefully to his 
canoe, followed by his elder companion. Soon after, 
they weighed, anchor and stood away to the south- 
ward. 

" When the tide rose, efforts were again made to 
heave the ship ofl', but were unsuccessful. Deeming 
our case now to be almost hopeless, a boat was got 
ready and sent early the following morning, under the 
command of passed-midshipman Taylor, accompanied 
by Mr. Roberts, who volunteered to embark on this 
dangerous expedition, bearing the treaty, for Muscat, 
to obtain means of carrying off the officers and crew, 
in the event of not being able to get the ship afloat. 
The sea was so smooth that we did not apprehend 



396 SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 

that the ship would soon go to pieces, but there was 
much to be feared from the Bedouin Arabs who had 
already visited us. 

" On Tuesday morn, the 22d, the work of lighten- 
ing was continued, and we saw, with feelings of regret, 
one half of our guns cast into the sea. The ship was 
lightened aloft by sending down the upper spars, and 
unbending the sails ; and, on renewing our efforts, we 
had the pleasure to find that the ship moved and got 
into ralher deeper water. The moment she began to 
move, new life was infused into all hands, and the 
men broke forth in a song and chorus, to which they 
kept time as they marched round the capstan, or 
hauled in the hawser by hand. 

" ' Heave and she must go,' sang one as a leader 
ia a high key, and all the, men answered in chorus, 
in deep, manly tones ' Ho ! cheerly.' 

'* ' Heave, and she will go.' 

*^'Ho! cheerly.' 

'^ When she moved more easily, those at the cap- 
stan, sang to the tune of the ' Highland Laddie,' 

" * I wish I were in New York town, 
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,' &c. 

- ^' At 2, P. M., we anchored in three and a half fath- 
oms water, yet the distance was so great to where the 
water was deep enough to make sail, that we were by 
no means sure of getting off; for incessant labor was 
wearing out the crew, and it was with difficulty the 
anchors were made to hold. 

^'' About 9 in the morning, two canoes, that had 
visited us the day before, anchored close to the ship, 
and their men sat, shaded by the mantles, silently 
observing our motions. They held -up to us a piece 
of plank ; whether it belonged to our own or some 
other unfortunate vessel, we did not know. In an 
hour they left us, and anchored close to our raft where 
they were joined by another. When we anchored, 
the raft was half a mile astern^ and in a little while 



THE PEACOCK. 397 

we discovered them robbing it of light spars ; and 
they would have probably taken otf other things, had 
they not been alarmed by the discharge of several 
muskets. 

" In an instant the launch was manned by volun- 
teers, and shoved off with Lieul. Godon, the second 
master, Mr. Caldwell, and Passed-midshipman Dar- 
lington. The canoes hauled close uj)on a wind, and 
stood to the southward and westward, while the 
launch pulled rapidly in a direction to head them off. 
It was some time before the canoes came within range 
of our guns, and then our own boat was somewhat in 
tlie way. A thirty-two pound shot was thrown very 
near to them, which had the effect to make them take 
on board the spars they had been towing. The wind 
being fresh, the launch did not get more than within 
long musket-shot, but she then fired several volleys. 
In all four guns were fired from the ship, but the ca- 
noes were too far ; and we saw the savages bearing off 
their prize in triumph before our eyes, without our 
being able to prevent it. 

" In the afternoon a kedge was carried out, but be- 
ing fresh, Ave had the misfortune to break or ' part ' 
the hawser, and were obliged to let go both bow an- 
chors. Towards day, when the tide, which rose and 
fell six feet, was low, the ship struck very heavily, 
and we found her leaking at the rate of a foot an 
hour. 

" The next morning, the 23d. while busied in get- 
ting our kedge, five large canoes, from the southward, 
manoeuvred in such a manner as to leave no doubt 
that they intC' ded to attempt cutting off the boats 
thus employed ; end the officer commanding them, at 
the instance of his men, sent to the ship for arms. 
Three well-directed shot turned the canoe back, and 
we saw them pass behind the low land, which proved 
to be a small island of sand. 

*' Having laid a kedge well out to windward which 
24 



398 



SHIPWRECKS AND OTHER DISASTERS. 



was off shore, and having hoisted the top-sail yards 
to the mast-heads, we hove up both anchors ; and, 
finding one broken and useless, threw it away. We 
commenced hauling in the hawser, which we watched 
with intense anxiety ; for had it broken, our hopes 
would have been almost over. Fortunately it held. 
The ship was well off the shore, but the water was 
only three and a quarter fathoms deep. The topsails 
were let fall and spread with great celerity, and at 
the same instant the back-rope of the kedge was cut, 
leaving us once more under the influence of our can- 
vass. At 6 o'clock we had beat off several miles, 
and anchored in six fathoms of water, with the island 
of Mazeira in sight, showing us that we were between 
it and the main. 

" In the niglit we dragged our anchors, but brought 
up again on giving more cable. Early on the 24th, 
we got under way, and beat off the Gulf of Mazeira. 
At sunset the southern extremity of the island was 
astern, and a last cast of the lead gave us thirty fath- 
oms in an open sea, after having been grinding the 
coral for fifty-six hours." 



t ^k-f JV-_ 







'J 



• TORNADO AT NATCHEZ. 407 

some with their roofs blown off, and all more or less 
injured. 

'' On the river the scene lost none of its horrors, — 
the enormous body of water now rolling in the ^Eis- 
sissippi, and swelling to the utmost limits of its banks, 
was lashed by the tornado into foaming billows, and 
the steamers and flat-boats were torn to pieces, and 
their scattered planks flew about in the wind like 
feathers. Here was, by far, the greatest loss of life, — 
the flat-boats were swamped and destroyed before the 
unfortunate men could escape to the shore. The 
steamboat St. Lawrence was lifted many feet out of 
water, and instantly dasheo' to the bottom of the riv- 
er with every soul on board. The steamboat Prairie 
was torn to pieces, — blown up by the wind worse 
than ever boat was blown up by steam, — the hull 
and ma(?hinery i^ all that is left of her. Of the 
steamboat Hinds, not a vestige has been discovered 
to tell the tale of who and how many went down to 
their graves during that awful evening. 

" There were at the landing, as has been ascer- 
tained, -one hundred and four flat boats, — only seve7i 
of which escaped the fury of the tornado. The other 
ninety-seven, with all the human beings they con- 
tained, (probably from three to five hundred,) have 
been, as it were, completely annihilated in the gen- 
eral crash. 

'' The total number of killed and wounded, as far 
as ascertained, up to May 13, is as follows : killed 
in the city, 48 ; on the river, 269, making a total of 
317. Wounded, in the city, 74 ; on board the boats, 
85, total, 1 59. The steamboat Hinds has since been 
discovered, at Baton Rouge, having 51 dead bodies 
on board, — forty-eight of whom were males, two fe- 
males, and one child." 

The immense amount of property lost has been va- 
riously estimated at from two to five millions of doU 
lars. 







TORNADO AT NATCHE2J. 



CITY OF NATCPIEZ. 

There came a kind of night across the sky, — 

'Twas bright noon-day, you know, — and then a sound 

Like thunder, — yet so strange ! I don't know why, — 
I thought 'twas like a roaring under ground! 

Then came crash after crash, like guns in battle, — 

And human screams were mingled with the rattle 1 

A large house fell beside me, and a beam 

Struck me insensible upon the ground : 
I heard a child cry, "Mother!" and a scream — 

A woman's piercing scream was the last sound 
That I remember. When my sense came back, 
I looked upon the wild tornado's track ! 

The dust was still around the ruins curling, 
As niy eyes opened iipon what had been,- — 

And a sick feeling through my brain went whirling, , 
When I looked round upon the dreadful scene: 

I saw a child straining its infant force 

To lift a beam from oif its mother's corse ! 

The wind was moaning now, as if in grief 
For its own angry deed,— and hunian moans. 

Pleading to fellow mortals for relief, 

Echoed the wind in melancholy tones, — 

And forms were hurrying from spot to spot, 

Calling aloud on names that answered not! 

Stranger, I saw a feeble hand upraisecl, 

Beckoning for assistance, and I ran, 
Dizzy with fear, bewil«lered and amazed, 

To lift the ruin from the dying man: 
I tugged the ponderous wall, till, faint and tired, 
I madly shrieked for help,— but he expired! 

Forms were seen crawling from the ruins, — some 

Mangled and bleeding, some unhurt, but staring. 
Covered with dust, and terror-struck, would come. 

With eyes wide set with horror, strangely glaring. — 
Some searched among the ruins, wildly shrieking,— 
And friends grasped hands and looked on without speaking! 
Around the streets family groups were weeping, — 

And men lay down a9 if they wished to die. 
I saw a little infant, calmly sleeping. 

Bathed with the tear drops from a mother's eye ! 
Nor is this half I stranger, you've heard enough, — 
Poor Natchez ! hapless " City of the Bluff!"