Author Topic: History Gone By the Board  (Read 10763 times)

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2015, 02:10:52 pm »
That is poetry, HatterJack.  Thank you.

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #31 on: September 30, 2015, 01:44:08 pm »
Many of our stories, thus far,  have been about the crews, or the circumstances surrounding our ships, rather than the ships themselves. This entry will hopefully be the first of many, in which the triumph and tragedy of the ship itself can be seen. It's time to remind ourselves that, while the men and the journeys were significant, they are but paragraphs in the stories of our ships.

Mary D. Hume has recently come into the fold, as one of the many whaling ships, and perhaps the most famous, but her story is largely unknown in its entirety, and as I have a personal connection to her timbers (literally), I feel compelled to begin my series on the history of the ships themselves with her.

From the time I was a child, I've felt a deep connection to the sea, in no small part due to a thousand year heritage of seamanship and naval service. I had always been taught to respect the deep, as nothing built by man can truly withstand the unbridled fury of the ocean. We've gotten better at building ships, and newer ships can withstand a lot more; in time, however, the sea swallows all.

My first real experience with this was when I was a young boy of perhaps 7 or 8 years, when visiting my grandparents in southern Oregon. My grandfather and my uncle, knowing I was immensely fascinated by anything having to do with the sea, took me to a small town along the coast called Gold Beach. It is there, where the Rogue River dumps into the Pacific, that I first laid eyes, and hands, on Mary D. Hume.

Before I continue, let's step into the way-back machine, and rewind time to this very spot in 1881. Mary D. Hume is nearby, about a hundred feet away, although still under construction, the wrights' knees cradling her as they finish repairing the last of the damage from a severe flood that nearly destroyed her, before she's christened and put into the river for the first time. Gold Beach was called Ellensburg back then, and Robert Deniston Hume had built the ship after salvaging the steam engine from his first ship, the Veruna, in order to support his cannery operation, after moving from Astoria in 1876 after the deaths of his wife and children. Christened Mary Duncan Hume after (and by) his new bride, on her launch 21 January, 1881, this ship would be destined for a legacy that many ships can only dream of. As an example of her status as a record holder, her keel was cut from a single 140 foot tall tree, which still holds the record for the largest single piece of lumber floated down the Rogue River.

For the next eight years, Mary D. Hume shipped salmon and other goods between Ellensburg and San Francisco, making mister Hume one of the richest men in Oregon, and allowing him to found both Ellensburg and Wedderburn as cities. Mary served her owner well, but as tends to happen in business, she was sold in 1889 to the Pacific Steam Whaling Company.

This is where Mary D. Hume's fame and fortune were made. During her first voyage for the Pacific Steam Whaling Company from 1891 to 1892, she caught and slaughtered 37 whales, and amassed enough baleen, whale oil, and blubber to return to port for a payout of $400,000 (equivalent to just over $10.5 million in today's currency), one of the most valuable takes in whaling history.

Her second voyage as a whaler was long, arduous, far less profitable, and tragic. Despite setting yet another record, this time for the longest voyage ever undertaken by a whaling vessel, she gained far more infamy than glory. It isn't known, officially, how many men lost their lives during the six years between 1893 and 1899, but the number was sufficient for the Pacific Steam Whaling Company to sell her off, rather than see any more men lost aboard a cursed ship. Most of the losses were due to scurvy, hypothermia, or lunacy (official cause of death). The bodies of the dead were stored in ice in the ship's holds until the spring thaw, and were then transferred to Herschel Island, Canada to be buried.

Her glory days now behind her, Mary D. Hume was sold to the Northwest Fisheries Company as a cannery tender in Alaska towing fishing vessels into Bristol Bay. Sometime between 1900 and 1904, she went into dry dock to receive a new steam engine. Shortly afterward, in 1904, she was caught in ice in the Nushugak River and sank.

This would not be the end of her, as she was tough as nails. Shortly after sinking, she was salvaged and sent to Seattle Washington for extensive repairs and a refit from a steam schooner to a tug. From here records conflict a bit, but in either 1906 or 1908, she was purchased by the American Tug Boat Company out of Everett Washington.

American Tug leased her out in 1914, after fitting her with 10 halibut dories for a brief and rather unfortunate career as a fishing vessel. The venture lost the company quite a bit of money, and Mary D. was soon returned to ocean tugboat duty.

In 1939, when the Columbia River lightship was decommissioned, the steam engine was salvaged and fit into Mary D. Hume, and she was given a rather extensive superstructure makeover.

In 1954, she received a 600 horsepower diesel engine, and her superstructure was overhauled yet again, this time putting her into the configuration we can see in her wrecked hulk today.

In 1973 she was purchased by the Crowley Maritime Corporation, having been sold several times over the preceding 36 years, but always proudly serving in her role as a tug. She continued her service for Crowley, towing ships and barges up and down the Columbia River, until 1977. She was retired by Crowley and reconditioned prior to 1978, when she sailed under her own power into the port at Gold Beach, less than 200 feet from where she was built.

This marks the end of her record-setting 97 years of active commercial sea service in the Pacific. It is not, however, the end of her story.

In 1979, she was added to the Register of Historic Places, and plans were made to use her as a maritime museum. Unfortunately, it took 7 years to build a rig and sling large enough to haul her out of the water for repairs and conversion. On the day she was lifted from the water, the sling broke, and Mary D. Hume fell unceremoniously into several feet of thick mud. Despite several attempts and a long legal battle over who actually owned the wreck, she never managed to get free of the mud, and has remained in the same spot ever since.

Finally, in 1992, her position on the Register came into question and she came under review, but due to her fame it was decided that her wreck still held significance among the maritime community, and her status was renewed. However, after the legal battle over ownership, the Curry County Historical Society no longer has the funds necessary to salvage the wreck and make the necessary repairs to make her seaworthy.

Every year takes a little bit of Mary D. Hume, as her planks disintegrate and her metal fittings corrode. In only a few more decades, if we're lucky, there will be nothing left of her but the entries in the record books. Such is the way of the sea. Having said that, if you're ever in the vicinity of Gold Beach Oregon, you should stop by and pay her a visit. When the tide goes out, if you're particularly brave (or insane) you can sneak up close and do as I did as a child (who didn't know better) and place your hands on her aging timbers and remind her that she hasn't been forgotten.

For those of you who can't make the trip, I give you these pictures:

Mary D. Hume in her prime, with her little friend Irene pulling logs through Deception Pass in 1938.



As I saw her as a child (a little before I believe, since the dock was still there at the time this photo was taken)


As she is now


I may revisit some of our ships from time to time, whether we've finished with them or not, as a simple reminder that while they may no longer be in service (or even still extant in many cases), they served a place in history, and so long as our forum exists, they will not be forgotten.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #32 on: September 30, 2015, 04:33:40 pm »
How very cool.  I'm going to want to get to know her thru her glory-year logs, and I'm glad she had such a long and useful history along the NW shore line.  Thank you.

Helen J

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2015, 05:26:03 pm »
What a fascinating story!  Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

jil

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2015, 05:38:34 pm »
Really interesting, thanks!

AvastMH

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #35 on: September 30, 2015, 06:06:54 pm »
oh boy - I missed this thread somehow - it looks fascinating - might have to wait til weekend to read it - but thank you hatterjack for all these tasty bits of history!  ;D

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #36 on: October 15, 2015, 06:47:31 am »
As we've seen, I've now begun to address the individual ships whose logs we so painstakingly transcribe. While I had initially hoped that I'd be able to do more than one ship every week or two, there have been times where finding records of our ships has been incredibly difficult, or beyond the reach of an (admittedly) amateur historian. That has, however, left me with rather significant gaps in my reports, that I feel can be filled in quite readily with some of the nonspecific, yet nonetheless fascinating bits of history that we may appreciate a bit more, given our vicarious connection to the times in which our logbooks are set.

This is going to be one of those posts.

While researching the whaling brig Horatio, one of the first records that caught my eye was a pair of letters dated 4 and 8 March, 1894, during the voyage directly preceding our own. In these letters, the Consul-General of the Sandwich Islands, Ellis Mills, wrote to the Assistant Secretary of State that Horatio had anchored on the seaward side of the reef with 6 men sick with smallpox. Additionally, an unknown, but significant number of the crew had died en route to the islands from the disease. Mister Mills was unable to determine the names of the afflicted crewmen, as the ship had been placed under heavy guard, the sick men moved into quarantine, and all contact with the outside world was completely cut off.

There are no further records of this quarantine, so the fate of the crew is completely unknown, as is the actual time of release from quarantine. The next reliable record available is actually from our logbook, with a new captain and new crew, setting sail a little over two years later. The next record at all is a manifest from Horatio verifying its second smallest take over the entire course of her roughly 21 year life.

This led me in quite a few different directions - surprising no one, no doubt. Firstly, I tried to dig as far into the health records of the Sandwich Islands as humanly possible to determine who the six crewmen aboard Horatio were, and how they fared. Finding absolutely nothing there (unsurprisingly, as record keeping in the 19th century really doesn't appear to have been a high priority for anyone), I moved on to the ship herself. Unfortunately, the only record available was a manifest from November 1895, at the end of that voyage, when they arrived in San Francisco under the command of two skippers, with rather abysmal returns for a two year cruise.

Now at a crossroads, I had to make a decision between two dark, and rather gruesome facets of life as a 19th century whaler. The creative part of me compelled to delve into the psychological torment of being trapped aboard a ship for weeks or months while your fellow sailors fell ill and died. Of course, this being a family friendly project, that single sentence is probably more than enough thought down that road. So instead, let's talk about smallpox.

Before I go too far overboard (I write this as though I haven't already done so), let me preface this by saying, thank heavens for modern medicine. Smallpox is one of two diseases that no longer exist in nature, thanks to advances in medical technology (the other being rinderpest, or steppe murrain). Short of large-scale biological warfare, we live in a world where we don't need to fear being infected with smallpox.

I'll spare us all the disturbing details, suffice it to say that smallpox was a virus with two strains of varying intensity, that killed one in three people infected with it in such a way that many of the survivors would go on to say that they wished that they had died rather than suffer the horrors of the disease. It spread rapidly, particularly among populations which had not had exposure to it prior to its introduction by an established outside source.

Smallpox existed for several thousand years, credibly dating back to roughly 1500 BCE, and likely having its roots a few hundred years prior. It was indiscriminate, infecting young and old, healthy and frail, famous and forgotten alike. In the 20th century alone, it was estimated to have killed as many as half a billion people worldwide. Ramses V of Egypt, Cuitlahuac, Huyana Capac, Peter II of Russia, Louis XV, Edward VI, all incredibly famous figures and leaders of their prospective countries with one common trait; they all died of smallpox.

Smallpox was such a powerful killer that it was, without question, one of the driving forces between the decline of the Stuart line, as it was through a serious of deaths from smallpox (as well as a few serendipitous executions and the sudden kidney failure of his brother Charles II) that led to James II to the throne, and thus his inevitable deposition as king, the "Glorious Revolution" and the establishment of the Commonwealth (not necessarily in that order, mind you).

Knowing this, there is something to be said about the potential profit in whaling. The men on Horatio's 1894 cruise would have stood, quite literally, shoulder to shoulder, firing harpoons from guns (thrown harpoons had long since been replaced by this point) into their quarry, using the combined weight of the men, the whaleboat, and the fact that the whale was slowly bleeding to death (or drowning in its own blood) to seal the creature's fate. They would be doing this, each knowing that the man beside him was infected with "the pox" and had a pretty high likelihood of not surviving the illness, let alone the trip. Or that the man on the other side was infected with syphilis, and the men in front were battling scurvy and lice. Enduring this and the stench of whale oil processing (which is where we get the phrase "trim the fat" from, by the way) that was so strong a whaling ship could be smelled before its masts cleared the horizon, all for the sake of a paycheck that, ironically, few would ever receive, as their pay was whittled away at by the costs of being a sailor.

So great was the draw that the crews put not just each other at risk, but the people they encountered along the way. It's estimated that the indigenous populations of Alaska alone were decimated by over 50% by diseases spread by their contact with American whaling crews in a single generation between 1850 and 1870 alone. Surprisingly, it appears that the impact that whaling had on the native population's ability to hunt was rather minor, as the indigenous peoples offset the decline in whale and walrus populations by hunting caribou instead.

We can scarcely afford to underestimate the power of money. As our whaling fleets worldwide have shown, and modern ivory poachers still, to this day, demonstrate, desperate men with little prospects for anything else will resort to  unintended genocide and the extinction of their quarry, driving themselves to the brink of death and beyond, just to have a chance to escape from a life of poverty.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #37 on: October 15, 2015, 05:48:33 pm »
I found an April newspaper article on the voyage of Horatio to Hawaii, and he lists 15 men who contracted the disease in that voyage.  I have to wonder how much is exaggeration, since all but 6 of them had completely recovered by the time they reached Honolulu.

http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=SFC18940428.2.82
San Francisco Call, Volume 75, Number 139, 28 April 1894


HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #38 on: October 16, 2015, 06:19:09 am »
To be completely frank, the overall tone of his story is pretty close to the mark, but I have to agree that some things do not add up, unless literally everything I've learned about smallpox is entirely wrong.

Smallpox has an incubation period of 12-15 days, and then a short 2-4 day prodromal phase (prior to lesions appearing in the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat). About 24-36 hours after that, a rash breaks out on the skin, starting with the face, and appearing, initially, much like chicken pox.

Unlike it's cousin, smallpox doesn't really stop there, but where it goes from that point depends on which of four types the strain the crew was infected with. Given that so few died, I have my theories as to which type it was, but I'll go through all four, just to illustrate how potent the disease actually is. In *all* of these cases, infected persons will be experiencing symptoms similar to a severe flu; high fever, muscle pain, weakness, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, backache, and involuntary prostration (assuming a fetal position), in addition to the symptoms of the individual types listed below.

In the case of the crew of Horatio, I believe that it was the most common type, which affects a bit over 90% of all persons infected with smallpox; ordinary type smallpox. In ordinary type smallpox, by the second day, the rash begins to evolve into a breakout of papules. By the third or fourth day, the papules fill with an opalescent fluid (mostly broken down tissue) becoming vesicles. Within 24 hours, this liquid becomes opaque, giving them the appearance of pustules, but smallpox pustules are, as mentioned before, filled with broken down skin tissue, so they aren't pustules in the strict sense of the word. By the sixth or seventh day, all of the lesions will have turned into pustules, which then continue to grow for the next two or three days until they reach their maximum size. At this point the pustules would be almost completely round, and be firm to the point of feeling like a small bead under the skin, in part due to their bases being firmly rooted deep in the dermis. At this point, the fluid contained in the pustules begins to slowly leak out and the pustules themselves deflate over the next three or four days. Within the next two to six days the infected person will begin to feel better as the pustules dry up and form into scabs, which then flake off, leaving the depigmented scars that are the classic hallmark of smallpox infection. This type of smallpox has a mortality rate of roughly 30-35%.

Generally, ordinary type infection distributes pustules in such a way that they are all individual, although there are typically more on the face than elsewhere on the body. However, there are instances where the pustules will form into sheets, creating a confluent rash which will sometimes pull the outer layers of skin from the underlying flesh completely off. In these cases of confluent rash ordinary type infection, the victim often remains ill even after the rash begins healing, and the mortality rate is nearly double the norm.

The second type is known as modified type smallpox, and typically only is seen in people who have been previously vaccinated but did not have the proper immunity buildup, or were infected shortly after immunization, before their bodies began producing the antibodies necessary to fight off the disease entirely. Modified type smallpox is essentially identical to ordinary type, but is much milder, and there is typically no fever associated with this type of infection. It was common, prior to the complete eradication of the disease, for physicians to misdiagnose modified type smallpox as chickenpox. This type of infection is rarely, if ever, fatal. There are no scientifically verified cases of anyone dying of modified type smallpox, but given that the disease has its roots prior to written record, it's impossible to rule out the possibility.

The third type is known as malignant type smallpox, and is characterized by pustules that remain nearly flush with the skin, extensive pustules on the mouth and tongue, a prolonged and severe prodromal phase, a prolonged high fever, and severe symptoms of toxemia, up to and including sepsis and septic shock. Malignant type is overwhelmingly seen in children (although it is still fairly rare, making up only five to ten percent of all cases) and was nearly always fatal.

The fourth and final (and most rare, making up approximately two percent of all known cases) form of infection is the hemorrhagic type. Hemorrhagic type smallpox is incredibly severe, accompanied by extensive bleeding into the skin, mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract. Rather than form pustules, the skin remains smooth, as the lesions create subdermal hemorrhaging, leaving the skin looking charred and black. For this reason, hemorrhagic type smallpox was once considered a separate disease, known as "black pox". Hemorrhaging typically begins within one or two days, starting with the eyes, and rapidly spreading to the spleen, kidneys, serosa (the goopy stuff that coats everything in your insides), and muscle tissue, and sometimes the heart, liver, bladder, and reproductive organs. At this point, typically only three to five days after infection, the victim usually dies. However, should they survive this point, it actually gets worse. Symptoms typically stabilize for a few days, until around the eight to tenth day, when they begin to find their blood no longer clotting, as platelets, prothrombin, and globulin are devoured by the bacteria as they rapidly reproduce, and in turn begin producing enzymes which actively tell the body to halt production and begin destroying prothrombin, dramatically increasing the hemorrhaging. Hemorrhagic type smallpox is virtually always fatal.

So... now that I've grossed everyone out, let's work on some numbers.

Ordinary and modified type smallpox had a total infection period of 17-20 days, with malignant type at 12-15 days, and hemorrhagic type at eight to ten days.

The outbreak began 2 days after leaving Mazatlan, 14 days after leaving San Francisco. Meaning the two men first to fall ill were almost certainly infected prior to the ship beginning its cruise. Within a week, 14 were infected, which matches the general timeframe, and implies that the two men who carried the disease aboard the ship initially spread it to their crewmates with ample time. Thankfully it appears that it was only those 14 who were infected in all, thanks to some quick action on the part of Captain Donaldson.

Now, it takes about two weeks for a *modern* ship to sail to Hawaii from Mexico at this part of the year, and yet it is implied by this article that it took Horatio and her half sick, half well crew nearly four months to make the trip. There is virtually no way possible for the story to hold water, unless the timeline was skewed by the newspaper. Perhaps the "touched at Mazatlan after 12 days out for water" is referring to 12 days out since its last anchorage for some other reason.

If that's the case, than the two men who first fell ill would have had to have contracted the disease at the place the were at 12 days prior. If they really went from San Francisco to Mazatlan in 12 days, then sailed directly to Hawaii from there, than the first sailors infected would have been carrying the disease before they came aboard for their first day on ship.

If that second sentence is true *and* it actually took four months to sail from Mexico to Hawaii, then the infection could not have spread anywhere near as rapidly as Crowley claims. Far more likely that after the first two men began to recover, but were still contagious, someone else got sick, and so on down the line with only one or two crewmen ill at any given time. However, the combination of wind and sea currents in that part of the world in the winter and spring make it almost impossible to take that long, unless Donaldson had the anchor dragging along the seafloor the entire time or they were simply adrift, and allowing the current and trade winds to take them to Hawaii without having to do the work of actually sailing in it.

Now that I have all of *that* out of the way, I'm a bit more confident in what *actually* transpired. Here's my theory.

  • 22 November, 1893, Horatio left San Francisco with the two infected crewmen unaware that they had contracted the disease only a few days before.
  • 4 December, Horatio anchors in Mazatlan for supplies.
  • 6 December, first two crewmen fall ill
  • 13 December, one of the first two crewmen dies
  • Between 13 December and 16 February, one member of the crew falls ill as another either gets well or dies, while the ship continues functioning as normal
  • 16 February, Crowley contracts the disease along with 7 others in a large outbreak. Captain Donaldson puts an end to the cruise and makes for Hawaii.
  • 2 March, Crowley gets well while 6 others remain ill.
  • 3 March, Arrival in Hawaii and Horatio placed in quarantine for 21 days to ensure no further spread of the disease.
  • 24 March, with no further signs of disease, the quarantine is lifted, Penniman takes over for Captain Donaldson, and Horatio continues her voyage. Crowley leaves the ship to return to San Francisco after promising Donaldson that he would preserve his reputation so that he can continue to work.
  • 27 April, Crowley arrives in San Francisco and sells his story to the Call, making Donaldson out to be a hero, and himself out to be a tragic victim of a horrible affliction having barely survived it.

I think that seems to be a far more likely scenario than the tale spun by Crowley. He knew enough about the ship that I don't doubt that he was aboard, and his brief statement regarding the nature of his illness implies that he was familiar with the suffering that the infection caused, so I have no reason to doubt that he may have indeed fallen ill (although with any fatalities, his notion of being the sickest among the lot is a gross exaggeration).

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2015, 02:11:46 pm »
Then Crowley is a very good story teller (not necessarily bad at all) and I'm glad to have you explain this.  :)

Bob

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2015, 03:03:21 pm »
Isn't that a sailor's second most important job?  ;)

Then Crowley is a very good story teller...

Randi

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2015, 03:21:12 pm »
Terrific find, Janet!

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #42 on: October 21, 2015, 01:31:31 pm »
We've come now to the third installment of our whaling ships, and while I must admit that I began with the whalers for rather selfish reasons (my direct connection to Mary D. Hume's wreck), I find that the more research I do into them, the more fascinating they become. A whaler's life was such that the Buddha could have pointed to whalers as a living embodiment of duality. The ships they sailed have proven to have stories that many sailors could only imagine in their wildest dreams. Some have proven to be more full of drama than Melville was capable of putting to paper when he wrote Moby Dick. The ships and their crews, no doubt, have even more stories to reveal, with enough digging into archives.

Today's ship is Milo, and her story is nothing short of extraordinary, even among such lofty company. And in typical HatterJack fashion, this post is going to be more about the story of her situation, rather than actually about her.

Milo set sail on 26 November, 1863, under the command of Jonathan Capen Hawes, from New Bedford. For the next year and a half, she served rather admirably as a whaler, hauling in prize after prize. As one of the largest ships in the Arctic fleet, this hardly comes as much of a surprise. It is not, however, her prowess in slaughtering and processing whales, blackfish, and walrus (of which she only managed three, surprisingly) that made her famous.

Her fame rests on an event that occurred on a single day, which was so pivotal a point in history, that some of its details are still subject to much debate among scholars. That day was 23 June, 1865.

On that day, the CSS Shenandoah, under the command of James Iredell Waddell, caught the Arctic whaling fleet unawares, burning eleven ships and capturing their crews over the course of a month, often three or four at a time. Milo was the only ship to survive, almost solely due to her size, and was bonded by the Confederate Navy for $46,000 to be used as a store ship for the crews captured. These crews were taken to San Francisco before Milo returned to the Arctic to continue her hunt.

On face value, this seems like a relatively minor event in the grand scheme of history. Ships are captured in the course of warfare fairly consistently. From a logistical standpoint alone, this makes sense, as a taken ship is one less in the hands of your enemies, with the added benefit of being a new ship for your, without having to use the resources to actually build a ship. There is, however, a bit of a hiccup here.

Despite its proximity to the time of the American Civil War, 23 June was quite a long time after the end of the war. Generally, it is considered that the war ended when Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on 9 April, 1865. Officially, the war ended 10 May (some say it was 9 May, by proclamation), when Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union Forces and the Confederate States government had no remaining presence to replace him. However, 23 June was the same day that the last of the Confederate troops were surrendered by Stand Watie.

In fact, on 27 June, one of the ships torched by Waddell and the Shenandoah, the captain of Susan & Abigail, provided Waddell with newspapers from 23 April, showing the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, and the Assassination of Lincoln, complete with a record of the flight of the Confederate Congress from Richmond, Virginia. Unfortunately for the whaling fleets, this newspaper was printed prior to President Davis' capture, and Waddell did not believe that the Confederacy would fall simply because Lee had surrendered.

It wasn't until 3 August that Waddell learned of the fate of the Confederacy, and that the war was, in fact over. During a chance meeting with a merchant barque out of Liverpool, he learned of the surrenders of Johnston and Smith, and the capture of Davis. It wasn't until then that he realized that he had found himself on the side that had lost the war. Following that meeting, Waddell ordered the Stainless Banner lowered, the guns dismounted and stowed below decks, and the hull painted to look like a typical merchant ship. He then made for England, to avoid being tried for piracy. It was well for him and his crew that he did so, as commerce raiders of the Confederacy were not looked upon well, and were left without amnesty during the Reconciliation. Only the crew of the CSS Alabama avoided charges of piracy (other than the crew of the Shenandoah), and then only because they surrendered as part of the Confederate Army, rather than Navy.

Many people state that the United Kingdom supported the Confederacy, a sentiment shared with Lieutenant Waddell, but this isn't entirely correct. British involvement in the American Civil War was not demonstrably different than, for example, American involvement in World War II, prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, albeit for different reasons. England was far too concerned with Napoleon and Bismarck to fret too much over Confederate cotton. Concerned enough that private groups would fund ships filled with munitions to break through the Union blockades in exchange for paltry amounts of cotton, but not concerned enough to commit troops to the Confederate cause. This was largely due to the fact that public opinion at the time rather heavily favored the Union, while only the elite had much interest in the Confederate cause.

They extended their harbors as safe havens for Confederate sailors, so far as to allow the Confederate Navy to call Liverpool their home port, but did not feel it worth the potential cost to even recognize the Confederate States as a sovereign nation, as outright war with the United States would have proven catastrophic for the British economy of the time, and there would have been virtually nothing to gain in the offing. Ironically, the United States had no issue with the blockade runners, despite the fact that they were frequently supplying Confederate troops with munitions and small arms, despite the Trent Affair, which nearly led to a full-scale war between England and the United States right at the onset of the Civil War (but that is a tale for another day, perhaps if we ever see logbooks for British mail steamers).

Knowing that it would be safe to flee to Liverpool, and having stricken the ensign and stowed the guns, Waddell made a three month trek, pursued by Union gunships for a rather unhealthy stretch of the journey "home". However, upon arrival, Shenandoah was not allowed to sail up the River Mersey without a flag. Thus the Stainless Banner was run up again, and left to fly for only a short few hours until Waddell officially surrendered both ship and crew to the British, seeking amnesty as privateers rather than pirates and possible war criminals. When her ensign was taken down with the British taking the ship on 6 November, 1865, it was the last time a Confederate flag was flown by a combatant of the Civil War.

Shenandoah would go on to be sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar (now a part of Tanzania), and eventually sank after a hurricane in 1872. Waddell returned to the United States after tensions cooled during the Reconstruction, taking command of the San Francisco for the Pacific Mail Company, and eventually took command of a small flotilla charged with policing the Chesapeake oyster fleets until his death in 1886.

Now, where in all this mess was Milo, you may be asking. The answer is quite simple, and not particularly glamorous, with one exception. From the time of her capture, for one month, she transported the crews of the eleven ships scuttled in the Arctic around her to San Francisco. On 25 July 1865, she was released back to the service of Captain Hawes, who saw to her repair and restock before returning to the Arctic to catch more whales, having wasted a month to the capture by Shenandoah. She would go on to sail until 7 May, 1869, when she returned to New Bedford at the end of her long voyage.

The one glamorous moment I referred to in her post-capture time occurred when Captain Ebeneezer F. Nye of the Abigail (not to be confused with the Susan & Abigail), who had spent 26 days as a prisoner aboard Shenandoah before being transferred to Milo, took a few men and one of the whaleboats, and using Milo as a screen between the whaleboat and Shenandoah, sailed over 100 miles to Cape Behring, where he boarded five ships and began spreading the news that a Confederate ship was in the area sinking ships. Captain Nye would later prove instrumental during the 1871 arbitration between the United States and the United Kingdom as his testimony proved that Waddell was made aware that the war had ended, but continued raiding the whaling fleets anyway, as well as establishing that the bulk of Shenandoah's crew were made up of largely Australians picked up in Melbourne prior to their attacks on the whaling fleet in the Arctic. As a result of the privateering of the Confederate Navy, largely at the hands of the Shenandoah and Alabama, the United States was awarded a sum of $15.5 million, or nearly $304 million in today's currency.

All in all, the Milo's adventure after her capture was fairly uneventful, but the story surrounding her capture is fascinating, as it brings in to play international politics, economic warfare, piracy, 19th century litigation, and rather shocking acts of violence. History has a strange way of unfolding sometimes, and our humble logbooks are but keys to opening up history in ways that never fail to be surprising.

Janet Jaguar

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #43 on: October 21, 2015, 03:54:33 pm »
Very interesting.  Thank you again.

HatterJack

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Re: History Gone By the Board
« Reply #44 on: October 28, 2015, 11:07:47 am »
As we find ourselves pushing toward the inevitable icy grip of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, fishing fleets around the world are reminded of an event that occurred 144 years ago (at the time of this writing), of virtually unrivaled significance, and in which we find not one, but three of our whaling vessels caught up in, of which only one survived the incident. For the first time since I began this history project, we will be discussing multiple ships in a single entry.

June of 1871 saw 40 ships, the bulk of the American Arctic whaling fleet, sailing north through the Bering Sea, desperately hunting for bowhead whales. Over the next several weeks, the weather seemed to be on the whaling fleet's side, and the catches were consistent, albeit in smaller numbers than were hoped for. Among the 40 ships that passed through the Bering Sea were our very own Progress, Seneca, and John Wells.

During the second week of August, shortly after the fleet passed Point Belcher, a high pressure system built up in northeastern Siberia, and remained there. The subsequent shift in wind and wave patterns began pushing the infamous Arctic pack ice south. The ice caught up to the fleet in early September, surrounding every ship in the fleet as they spread out in line around 60 miles south of Point Franklin.

By the second week of September, 33 of the ships were completely trapped by the ice, among them the Seneca and John Wells. The crews of the trapped ships abandoned ship, and were rescued by the remaining seven ships, after taking to their whaleboats and crossing 70 miles of open ocean. The surviving ships had to abandon their catches and virtually all non-essential equipment and supplies to make room for their rescued passengers, before sailing south, out of the ice, en route to Honolulu, Hawaii. Miraculously, despite the loss of so many ships, there were absolutely no casualties due to the ice, and 1,219 of the 1,220 crewmen (the lone sailor accounted for in the list below) arrived safely in Hawaii aboard the seven surviving ships.

Despite this amazing rescue, the fact remained that the Arctic fleet was completely decimated. The blow to the whaling industry amounted to $1.6 million, equivalent to a bit over $31.3 million in today's currency. This would be a rather catastrophic blow to the industry as a whole, particularly as the two decades prior to the disaster had seen the industry faltering thanks to the discovery of petroleum. This single event was hardly the death blow to the whaling sector, but it was a heavy loss; one from which the fleet would never truly recover.

In honor of the gravity of the event that would come to be known as the "Whaling Disaster of 1871", below is a list of all 40 ships that were part of the arctic fleet, along with their fates. The ships listed in bold are ships that we have logbooks for, which include the disaster.

Roman - Crushed in the ice, 8 September
Concordia - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck found and burned by local Inuit.
Gay Head - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck found and burned by local Inuit.
George - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
John Wells - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Massachusetts - Abandoned by the crew and wrecked. One sailor remained with the wreck throughout the winter.
J.D. Thompson - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Contest - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Emily Morgan - Abandoned by the crew and lost. The wreck was later found ashore.
Champion - Abandoned by the crew and lost. The wreck was later found ashore.
Henry Taber - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Elizabeth Swift - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Florida - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck found and burned by local Inuit.
Oliver Crocker - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Navy - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Reindeer - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Sunken wreck found 1872.
Seneca - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck found ashore 1872.
George Howland - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Fanny - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Carlotta - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Paiea (also called Paia) - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Monticello - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Kohola - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck later found ashore.
Eugenia - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Julian - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Awashonks - Crushed by the ice, 8 September.
Thomas Dickason - Abandoned by the crew and lost. Wreck found ashore 1872.
Minerva - Abandoned by the crew. Ship found intact in 1872, and was manned on a return trip south, to return to the fleet.
William Rotch - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Victoria - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Mary - Abandoned by the crew and lost.
Comet - Crushed by the ice, 2 September.
Europa - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Arctic - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Progress - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Lagoda - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Daniel Webster - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Midas - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.
Chance - Survived and returned to Honolulu with survivors.

Peter Nichols wrote an in-depth history of this particular event in his book "Final Voyage".