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The Sandwich Shop

These are my thoughts. They are based on what I see going on around me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

I know very little about myself. If I did know myself better, I probably wouldn't be doing this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Shipwreck Of The "General Grant", A Firsthand Report (1869)

George Corneliussen

If you are a fan of the television show "Lost", you will enjoy reading about the real thing.

This is the first chapter of " Shipwreck Of The General Grant ". Written by H.D. Jarvis, a survivor the shipwreck. The story was printed in Harper's New Monthly Magazine in the March, 1869 issue. An up-to-date history of the shipwreck can be viewed at http://www.maanz.wellington.net.nz/projects/gengrant.htm

Chapter 1:
On the 28th of November, 1865 the ship General Grant , Captain William H. Loughlin, sailed from Boston to Melbourne. A fine westerly breeze urged her cheerily along, and the crew, of which the narrator was one, began the voyage in good spirits. During the second night out a heavy gale struck us, and while shortening sail the third mate, Rufus S. Tyler, was lost overboard. This ill omen was followed by good weather, which took us in sixty-eight days to the Cape of Good Hope.
Bad weather vexed us thence to Melbourne, which we reached on the 13th of March, 1866.
We remained in Melbourne about eight weeks, loading for London. By one of those coincidences which sailors dread we took aboard part of a cargo that had been intended for the steamer London. This ill-fated vessel had sunk in the Bay of Biscay on her voyage out, and there were many gloomy prophecies that no freight of hers would reach London in any ship. The rats are also said to have left our vessel. Our cargo consisted cheifly of wool and hides, with about four thousand ounces of gold. We sailed on Friday the 4th of may, 1866, with sixty passengers, among whom were six women and about twenty children. The men were nearly all miners, returning home with their families and what property thay had acquired at the diggings. The crew numbered twenty-three, four officers and nineteen men.
The Auckland Isles are a group of black basaltic rocks, lying about 1500 miles southeast of Melbourne, and 199 miles south of New Zealand. They are barren and uninhabited. Whalers and sealers occasionally visit them, and have left a stock of pigs and a few crazy huts. Many vessels have been cast away there, and an abundance of wreck-wood may be found on the shores. Captain Musgrave, of the schooner Grafton, was wrecked there in 1864, and remained eighteen months. He left a substantial hut, and at his instance the Government of New Zealand put goats, sheep, and domestic fowls ashore there, and planted English elms, oaks, and ash-trees. Nothing throve but the goats. Papers were also left giving the bearing of New Zealand and other useful information; but these seem never to have been found.
For five days the General Grant made good progress with a fair wind. The Captain had originally intended running to the northward of the Aucklands; but on the seventh day a southeasterly breeze sprang up, obliging him to beat to windward.
Heavy fog closed in, and a sharp look-out was kept for land. The last observation was taken that morning. Throughout the next two days the weather was so thick that we could scarcely see the end of the jib-boom from the deck. At 10 1/2 o'clock at night of the ninth day the lookout forward cried, "Land on the port bow." This was Disappointment. When fairly clear of the land, which he supposed to be the most northerly of the Aucklands, instead of the most westerly, the wind shifted from southeast to northwest.
All danger seemed past. The yards were squared and the doomed ship put on the straight course for Cape Horn. An hour later the look-out reported, " Land dead ahead ", but after inspection with the glass the officers declared it only a fog-bank.
Not many minutes later the wind died completely away, leaving a heavy sea. At the same time dawned upon us the terrible danger we were in. The sea and the current were carrying us toward a rock-bound, precipitous coast. The main island of Auckland lay directly ahead, and every swash of the sea was pushing us toward destruction.
A breeze, through ever so slight , might save the ship and enable her to run between the two islands. All passengers were called aft, all the crew on deck. In vain was every sail set, every yard braced to meet a breath of air. The tide took us at one time so far to the south that it seemed we might go clear. Then an eddy carried us to the northward again, nearer and nearer to the overhanging rock.
The scene on deck and in the cabins struck terror to the strongest hearts. Miners were seen tying up their gold in blankets, women were wailing and children shrieking. All hands were pulling at the braces as long as a spark of hope remained.
Cruel fate urged us pitilessly on, yet so slowly that it was a relief when the end came, and that long agony of hopeless waiting ceased. As we neared the land the lead was heaved to find anchorage, but no bottom could be found.
At half past one at night the jib-boom struck the rock at the foot of a cliff many hundred feet high, and with the bowsprit was carried away. This shock caused the ship to spin around and strike her stern, carrying away the the spanker-boom and rudder , and breaking the ribs of the man at the wheel. We now found ourselves drifting helplessly into a narrow cove inclosed by precipices of unknown height. The ship's sides were striking heavily against the rock, and there were thirty fathoms of water under her. All hope was gone; yet the captain stood nobly at his post, and the crew remained subordinate.
Lanterns were held over the side and carried up the rigging. Not a foothold for a bird could be discovered. The masts were not cut away, as they could not fall clear of the deck. There was too much water for anchoring.
So we drifted on, and the cove grew narrower. Suddenly the fore-royal mast struck the rock above and came tumbling down, followed by the other spars. As the main-royal mast and top-hamper succeeded we realized the appalling fact that we were being sucked into a cave of unknown depth.
The rock above was tearing the masts out of the ship and in detached masses, breaking holes through the deck and forward houses. After losing all the fore-mast, the sump of the main-mast caught against the solid roof, and stopped farther progress. But for this circumstance the General Grant would have sunk that night and none lived to tell the story.

To Be Continued: Next week the General Grant sinks, lives are lost and the survivors find themselves LOST!


Anonymous PB said...

This was written by H D Jarvis but he was not on the General Grant.
This is the account of one of the survivors - the clue is at the end when he states - "Yankee Bill" will ever long to grasp the hands of Tier, Caughey, Heyman, Ashworth, and his other companions in misery.
Yankee Bill can only be one person of the 10 survivors, the who came from Boston USA, William Murdoch Sanguilly (Ordinary Seaman).

7:37 AM  
Blogger poziers said...

I am interested in this story. When is the next episode?
My Great Grandfather was William Murdoch Sanguilly. After being rescued he returned to Boston but later joined an unsuccessful expedition to find the 'General Grant. He settled in Sydney in 1870 and died about 1903.

5:49 PM  
Blogger john said...

Dear Poziers,

Do you have any further information about your great-granfather? I'm researching the history of the General Grant (who isn't), and would be interested in learning more. My email is jmccrystal7@gmail.com

10:15 PM  
Blogger Mila Gisbert said...

Hi Poziers,

I am looking for information and descendants of William M Sanguilly, if you read this could you please contact me: gisbertmila@gmail.com.

This is for an Australian / Cuban anniversary event in 2016, so any leads on the history of Sanguilly and his Australian family is very welcome.

If the blog author, George Corneliussen or the other comment poster John have any useful information I will also be grateful for your input.



9:25 PM  

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