The Project Gutenberg eBook, Tales of an Old Sea Port, by Wilfred Harold Munro

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Title: Tales of an Old Sea Port

A General Sketch of the History of Bristol, Rhode Island, Including, Incidentally, an Account of the Voyages of the Norsemen, So Far as They May Have Been Connected with Narragansett Bay: and Personal Narratives of Some Notable Voyages Accomplished by Sailors from the Mount Hope Lands

Author: Wilfred Harold Munro

Release Date: January 30, 2021 [eBook #64419]

Language: English

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Footnote anchors are denoted by [number], and the footnotes have been placed at the end of Part I, II and III.

Basic fractions are displayed as ½ ⅓ ¼ etc; other fractions are shown in the form a/b, for example 21/95.

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Copyright, 1917, by
Princeton University Press

Published November, 1917
Printed in the United States of America


Introduction: Old Bristol 1
Part I—Simeon Potter and the Prince Charles of Lorraine
1—Simeon Potter 37
2—Letter of Father Fauque 48
Part II—Norwest John and the Voyage of the Juno
1—Norwest John 97
2—Voyage of the Juno 100
Part III—James de Wolf and the Privateer Yankee
1—James De Wolf 205
2—Journal of the Yankee 225
Index 289

[Pg 1]



From the earliest days of the Plymouth Colony the name Mount Hope Lands has been applied to the peninsula in Narragansett Bay of which Bristol, Rhode Island, is the chief town. The history of this town is more crowded with notable incident than that of any other in New England. First and most picturesque is the story of the Norsemen. Around Mount Hope the legends of the Norsemen cluster, shadowy, vague, elusive, and yet altogether fascinating. Only legends they are and must remain.

After the lapse of a thousand years of changing climates and of varying shores no man can definitely locate the Vinland of the Vikings. Many have attempted to do so, and, like the late Professor E. N. Horsford,[1] have established their theses to their own satisfaction and the satisfaction of the present dwellers in their Vinland, but they have not succeeded in convincing any one else. One of the latest writers[2] approaching the subject without local prejudice, and judging of the past by the ever changing present, will have it that the physical conditions of the lands around Narragansett Bay in the eleventh century were such as to[2] make it more than probable that the “Hop” of the Norsemen is the Mount Hope of today.[3] In his conclusions all good Bristolians, yea more, all good Rhode Islanders, cheerfully join. Scandinavian writers insist that the name “Mount Hope” is of Norse origin. They assert that it is only an English spelling of the Indian name Montop, or Monthaup, and they are probably correct in their assertion. The Indians had no written language and our Pilgrim ancestors spelled the Indian words as they pleased, sometimes in half a dozen ways upon the same page. They go on to say that the termination “hop” was the name which Thorfinn and his companions gave to this region when they wintered here in 1008, and they bring forward the old Norse sagas to prove it. This is the story as the sagas tell it:

In the year of Our Lord 1000 the Norsemen first visited the shores of Vinland. They came from Greenland, a hundred years and more after their countrymen had discovered and colonized Iceland. Their ship was an open boat from fifty to seventy-five feet long, similar to the one dug from the sands at Sandefjord, Norway, in 1880, which is preserved in the museum of the university at Christiania. It was propelled by oars and had a short mast amidships on which was spread a small square sail. Both mast and sail were used only when the wind was fair. They came creeping along from headland to headland, seldom venturing out of sight of land in the unfamiliar seas. The mariner’s compass was then unknown, except perhaps to the Chinese, and the art of propelling a boat against the wind by “tacking” had not been developed, unless possibly by those same[3] Chinese. It would have been impossible to tack in one of the Viking ships. In the first place the sail area was too small and in the second place the steering was all done from one side. A long steering oar was fastened upon a fulcrum about two feet long on the right side of the boat, the steer-board, starboard side. On one tack the oar would have been useless because submerged, on the other equally useless because it could not go deep enough to “grip” the water. To men accustomed to the icy Arctic seas, voyages southward held out no terrors; they were only pleasant summer excursions.

Thirty-five men made up the party and their leader was Leif Ericson. His purpose was to explore the coasts which his countryman, Biarni Heriulfson, had seen several years before, when in attempting to cross from Iceland to Greenland adverse winds had driven him to lands lying far to the south, possibly the island of Newfoundland. Leif was sailing in Biarni’s ship which he had bought for the voyage. The first shores sighted they conjectured to be those which Biarni had seen. They offered no attractions. The explorers called the country Helluland, the Land of Broad Stones, and passed on to Markland, the Land of Woods, which may have been Nova Scotia. A few more days brought them to an island where they noticed a peculiar sweetness in the dew. They may have been the first “Off Islanders” to land upon Nantucket, which is noted for its honey-dew. Following the coast they came to a place “where a river flowed out of a lake.” The region was inviting but the tide was low and the explorers were obliged to wait until high water before they could pass over the broad shallows into the lake beyond. Here they disembarked and erected temporary habitations which soon gave[4] place to permanent dwellings when they determined to winter at that place. The new houses were easily constructed from the stones which abundantly covered the fields as they do even to this day.

The place seemed a paradise to the hardy voyagers. Fish of many kinds leaped from the waters of the river and bay. Salmon larger than any they had before seen were especially abundant. Many wild animals roamed through the forests, as the deer wander through the woods and pastures of Rhode Island at the present time. The denizens of the frigid zone rightly imagined that cattle might easily find provender throughout the winter, in a climate so soft and mild. They experienced no severe cold; “no snow fell and the grass did not wither much.” They had chanced upon one of the mild winters with which we are occasionally favored. Three or four times in the last thirty years the Mount Hope Lands have known seasons when there were but few snow storms and those slight, seasons when in the sheltered nooks of the forest the grass did not wither much. The next party encountered “real New England weather,” and doubtless objurgated Leif’s party for romancing concerning the climate. “The equality in length of days was greater than in Iceland or Greenland. On the shortest day the sun remained above the horizon from 7.30 to 4.30.”[4]

The dwellings having been completed, Leif divided his men into two parties in order to explore the country. One party was to remain at home while the other went abroad, and the exploring party was always to return at nightfall. Especial charge was given the men to keep together. The[5] fear of the unknown was a marked characteristic of the Dark Ages, even among the Norsemen who dreaded no human foes. One of the party was a German, Tyrker by name, a kind of foster father of Leif. He was missing one night when the explorers came home and Leif at once started in search of him with a party of twelve men. They were soon met by Tyrker, whom they welcomed with great joy. But the man acted most strangely. At first he spoke only in German, his mother tongue, and rolled his eyes and made strange facial contortions when they did not understand what he said. After a time the Norse language came back to him and he explained his queer behavior. He had chanced upon some wild grapes and the memories his discovery brought back were too much for him. Whether he had found some of the fox-grapes which are still so common in New England, or whether, as Professor Fernald conjectures, the fruit was either a wild currant or a rock cranberry, we can not know; but the adventurers were immensely pleased at his discovery. They filled the “long boat,” which was carried with them as a tender, with the dried fruit, when in the early spring they returned to Brattahlid, their home port. Because of the grapes the name Vinland was given to the region.

The return of Leif and the account his sailors gave naturally caused intense excitement in that quiet community. In the spring of 1002 Thorvald Ericson, taking his brother’s ship and probably some of Leif’s crew as guides, sailed on another voyage to Vinland. His object was to make a more thorough exploration of the country. Thirty men made up Thorvald’s party. Nothing is told of their voyage until they reached Leif’s booths in Vinland. There they laid up their ship and remained quietly through[6] the winter, living by hunting and fishing. The next year was spent in exploring the lands to the south. The second summer they turned their steps northward and in this northern expedition Thorvald was killed in a battle with the natives. His comrades buried him on the headland where he had proposed to settle. “There you shall bury me,” he told them after he had received his death wound, “and place a cross at my head and another at my feet, and the place shall be called Crossness ever after.” The winter of 1004-5 was passed in Leifsbooths gathering cargo for the return voyage. In the spring they sailed back to Greenland carrying large quantities of grapes as their companions had done. Because of Thorvald’s death the accounts of his voyage are probably more meagre than they otherwise would have been.

In 1007 the most important of the Norse expeditions sailed from Greenland. Its leader was Thorfinn Karlsefni. Thorfinn was both seaman and merchant. Sailing from Iceland to Greenland on a trading voyage, he had wintered at Brattahlid and there married his wife Gudrid. Naturally there had been much talk of Vinland the Good during the long Arctic winter and in the spring an expedition to explore the new country was fitted out. It consisted of three ships manned by one hundred and sixty men. With it went Gudrid and six other women, for it was proposed to colonize the land. Thorfinn spent the winter amid great hardships, caused by cold and lack of food, on what may have been one of the islands of Buzzard’s Bay. There his son Snorri was born, as far as we know the first child of European parents born upon the shores of the American continent. In the spring, coming at last to the place “where a river flowed down from the land into a lake and then into the[7] sea,” they waited for the high tide, as Leif had done, sailed into the mouth of the river and called the place Hop.[5] On the lowlands about them were self-sown fields of grain; on the high ground the wild grapes grew in great profusion. Deer and other wild animals roamed through the forests. The brooks as well as the bay were filled with fish. They dug pits upon the beach before the high tide came and when the tide fell the pits were leaping with fish. Just so today flounders may be caught along the Narragansett shores. The booths that Leif’s party had put up could not accommodate the new comers and additional houses were built inland above the lake. No snow fell during the winter. The cattle they had brought with them needed no protection and lived by grazing. None of the privations of the previous winter were experienced, and all things went well until the Skraelings, or natives, appeared. At first the Skraelings came only for trading. They wished to exchange skins for goods, being especially anxious to obtain little strips of scarlet cloth, and willingly giving a whole skin for the smallest strip. The Norsemen benevolently attempted to satisfy the desires of all by tearing the cloth into smaller and yet smaller pieces as the supply diminished. While the bartering was going on one of the bulls Thorfinn had brought with him appeared upon the scene, bellowing loudly. Thereupon the savages rushed to their canoes and paddled away as quickly as possible. A month later they reappeared, this time not to barter but to fight. In the combat that followed two Northmen fell and many of the Skraelings were killed. This battle convinced Thorfinn[8] that the lands though excellent in quality would be undesirable for a colony by reason of the hostility of the natives. He therefore turned his keels northward and returned to Greenland in 1010.

From this time expeditions to Vinland to procure grapes and timber became frequent. Because they had lost their novelty they ceased to be chronicled. As the saga puts it, “they were esteemed both lucrative and honorable.” One noteworthy one is given in the “Antiquitates Americanae,” that of Freydis and her husband Thorvald. The tale of Freydis is a grewsome one. She seems to have been entirely lacking in human sensibilities. Her husband murdered in cold blood all the men of a party that had opposed him but he spared their five women. Freydis seized an axe and brained them all. Possibly their mangled remains may have been buried at the foot of Mount Hope.

Other mention of Vinland is found apart from the Icelandic chronicles. Adam of Bremen in his “Historia Ecclesiastica,” published in 1073, describes Iceland and Greenland and then goes on to say that there is another country far out in the ocean which has been visited by many persons, and which is called Vinland because of the grapes found there. In Vinland, he says, corn grows without cultivation, as he learns from trustworthy Norse sources. This must of course have been the Indian corn, a grain that is hardly possible of cultivation in Europe north of the Alps.

The people of Iceland were more given to the writing of chronicles than were those of the countries of Europe, but unhappily Iceland was a land of volcanoes and eruptions were not infrequent. An eruption of Mount Hecla in 1390 buried several of the neighboring estates beneath its ashes.[9] Perhaps under those ashes may be lying other sagas that may at some time be brought again to light, as in the case of the scrolls of Pompeii. Mention of the lands that Leif discovered is found in the “Annals of Iceland” as late as 1347. The last Bishop of Greenland was appointed in the first decade of the fifteenth century and since that time the colony has never been heard of. Ruins of its houses may still be seen, but of the fate of those who dwelt in them we know nothing.

One witness there still may be to testify to the Norse visits. About thirty-five years ago a rock known by tradition but lost sight of for half a century was rediscovered on the shores of Mount Hope Bay. Upon it is rudely carved the figure of a boat with what may have been a Runic inscription beneath it. The writing was surely not graven by English hands and the Indians had no written language. May not the strange carving have been made by the axe of a Norseman? It is not remarkable that the rock was lost sight of for so many years. The inscription is inconspicuous and the rock is like hundreds of others along the shore. Moreover it was sometimes covered by the high tides of spring and fall. It has recently been removed to a more conspicuous position and may ere long be protected by a fence from the vandalism of the occasional tourist.

Fact and not fancy characterizes the Indian history of the Mount Hope Lands. First upon the scene steps Massasoit, “Friend of the White Man,” ruler of all the region when the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed upon the shores of Plymouth. Like all the Indian sachems, Massasoit had many places of residence. He moved from one to another as the great barons of the Middle Ages moved from one castle to another, and for the same reason. When provisions[10] became scarce in one place a region where they were more plentiful was sought. One of his villages was unquestionably upon the slope of Mount Hope. Not many weeks after the landing of the Pilgrims Massasoit had paid them a visit in their new settlement. In July, 1621, Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins were sent by Governor Bradford to return the visit. Of what happened to this “embassy” and to a second sent some two years later, Winslow presented a very full account, which may be read in very nearly all of the histories of the period. It is one of the most trustworthy and valuable pictures of Indian royal state that have come down to us from colonial days. Winslow found Massasoit occupying a wigwam only a little larger than those of his subjects. The sleeping place was a low platform of boards covered with a thin mat. On this bed, says Winslow, Massasoit placed his visitors, with himself and his wife at one end and the Englishmen at the other, and two more of Massasoit’s men passed by and upon them, so that they were worse weary of the lodging than of the journey. As the sachem had not been apprised of Winslow’s projected visit, he had made no provisions for his entertainment. No supper whatsoever was secured that night, and not until one o’clock of the next afternoon was food to be had. Then two large fish, which had just been shot (with arrows, of course), were boiled and placed before the sachem’s guests, now numbering forty or more besides the two Englishmen.

In 1623 tidings reached Plymouth that Massasoit was sick and likely to die. Edward Winslow was therefore sent to visit him a second time. With him went a young English gentleman who was wintering at Plymouth and who desired much to see the country. His name was John[11] Hampden, a name destined to become famous wherever the English language was spoken. The great John Hampden was born in 1594. He would have been twenty-nine years old at this time. He had as yet done nothing whatever to make himself famous and was a comparatively inconspicuous man, notwithstanding the prominent position his family had held for centuries in England. There is no record of his presence in England at this time. Like Oliver Cromwell he may have been considering a residence in America among men of his own religious faith, and for this reason may have made a preliminary visit to this country. Green, discussing in his “History of the English People” Cromwell’s scheme for emigrating to America, says: “It is more certain that John Hampden purchased a tract of land on the Narragansett.” Most important of all, the name of John Hampden appears in the list of the Charter Members of the Colony of Connecticut.

As long as he lived Massasoit remained the firm friend of the colonists. Upon his death, in 1662, his son Wamsutta (or Alexander) headed the Wampanoag tribe for a year, and then came Philip, Massasoit’s second son. Philip was a foe to the white men, made such by English treatment of his tribe. He was one of the ablest Indian leaders this country has produced, a wonderful organizer, a skillful diplomatist. From tribe to tribe he journeyed, inducing them to rest from their interminable wars and to turn their weapons against the common enemy of all. But for an accident which caused hostilities to begin a little while before the year (1676) Philip had fixed upon, the colonists would have been swept from the land. The war began in 1675, and Capt. Benjamin Church, the conqueror of Philip, wrote an account of it. Benjamin Church was one of our[12] greatest “Indian fighters.” He had lain in their wigwams, he had studied their character. Naturally and inevitably he came at last to the leadership of the colonial forces. When Philip’s plans had all come to naught, the Wampanoag sachem came back to Mt. Hope, to make his last stand and to die. Death came to him from a bullet fired by one of his own men who had taken service in Capt. Church’s company. In 1876, on the two hundredth anniversary of his death, the Rhode Island Historical Society, with appropriate ceremonies, placed a boulder monument on the top of Mt. Hope, with this inscription:


Beside Cold Spring on the west side of the hill a massive block of granite records that

AUGUST 12, 1676. O. S.

The Mt. Hope lands should have fallen to Plymouth by right of conquest, as they were included in the territory originally granted to that colony. But both the Colony of Massachusetts Bay and the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations claimed a portion of the spoils. So delegates of the several colonies were sent to argue the case before Charles II. Singularly enough another claimant appeared in the person of John Crowne, a poet. Crowne was a native of Nova Scotia. His father had purchased a large tract of land in that country which had become practically valueless because of the cession of Nova Scotia to[13] the French. He therefore asked that the small tract of land which had lately come into English possession should be turned over to him as a compensation. But Mt. Hope, though belonging to the English Crown, was not to be Crowne land. The Plymouth Colony agents claimed that the tract, comprising almost 7000 acres, part of it good soil and much of it rocky, mountainous and barren, for which they had fought and bled, should be awarded to them, more especially because it would afford to them the seaport which they lacked. Their arguments were convincing and the land was awarded to Plymouth by special grant, January 12, 1680. The king among other things demanded a quit rent annually of seven beaver skins. No other royal grant was made of conquered lands, but conflicting claims necessitated this.

Plymouth Colony at once placed the lands on the market, and September 14, 1680, sold them for $1,100 to four men of Boston, John Walley, Nathaniel Byfield, Stephen Burton and Nathaniel Oliver. The first three of these became residents of the town they founded. Of them, Byfield was the ablest and most distinguished. He came of good stock. His father was of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. His mother was sister of Juxon, bishop of London and later archbishop of Canterbury, who was a personal friend of Charles I, and attended that ill fated monarch upon the scaffold. Byfield was the wealthiest of the settlers. He had one residence upon Poppasquash near the head of that peninsula, and one upon what is now Byfield Street in the south part of the town. He was a man of unusual ability and large wealth. He was also a man of great liberality in all his dealings with the town. His public service was continuous and distinguished. His liberal mind resisted[14] the insane fanaticism of the people during their delusion on the subject of witchcraft, and in his will he left a bequest “to all and every minister of Christ of every denomination in Boston.” He lived forty-four years in Bristol, only leaving the town when his advanced age made the greater comforts of Boston necessary.

John Walley was also of good stock, his father being rector of one of the London churches. In 1690 he commanded the land forces of William Phipps in the expedition against Canada. He also, in his old age, was forced by disease to seek a more luxurious abode in Boston. Stephen Burton was said to have been a graduate of Oxford. He was undoubtedly the most scholarly man of the four proprietors. Oliver, a rich Bostonian, never resided in Bristol but sold his share to Nathan Hayman, another wealthy Boston merchant.

With men like these as sponsors for the new settlement, it was not difficult to secure settlers. The most noted among them was Benjamin Church, the Indian fighter already mentioned. Capt. Church built a house upon Constitution Street. (Church Street was not named in his honor. Upon that street stood the edifice which gave it its name, the building in which the members of the Church of England worshipped. There were many streets named for a like reason in colonial days.) He was the first representative of the town in the general court of Plymouth Colony and was many times elected to public office. In his later years he made his home in Little Compton, whence many of his descendants drifted back to Bristol. Because the town was to be the seaport of Plymouth Colony, many of the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims naturally came to dwell within its borders. In choosing Bristol for its name, the[15] settlers cherished a hope that, as in the case of its English namesake, it would become the great city upon the west. Boston on the east shore was the London of Massachusetts.

The new town was laid out on a liberal scale, with side streets crossing each other at right angles, and a spacious “common” in the center of the settlement. The grand articles stipulated that all houses should be two stories high, with not less than two good rooms on a floor. As most of the settlers could not well spare the time, if they had the means, for building a house with four rooms upon a floor, the “camelopard” type of dwelling was much in evidence. This presented a goodly appearance to the eye of him who stood directly in front, but degenerated greatly when one shifted his position, the roof sloping severely and persistently down to a woodpile. One chimney was deemed sufficient for a house. We should deem such a one more than sufficient. If of brick it was about fourteen feet square; if of stone, about twenty feet. All the chimneys had immense fireplaces, into which a man could sometimes walk without stooping, and all were admirably adapted to keep a house cold. The rooms were abominably drafty, and the high backed settle was an absolute necessity. A great pile of logs might be blistering the faces while the snow was drifting in through the cracks upon the backs.

The first house built is still standing just north of the town bridge. Deacon Nathaniel Bosworth was its builder, an ancestor of those who own it today. Only the southwestern part of the present structure was the work of Deacon Bosworth. The best house was naturally that of Byfield. It was two stories high, with a barn roof, and was nearly square, thirty by thirty-eight feet. It was torn down in 1833, and a hard job the destroyers had. The chimney[16] stood in the center of the house. It was built of imported bricks held together by mortar mixed with shell lime. This mortar had become hard as stone. When the chimney was overthrown it fell to the ground almost unbroken, as an oak tree would fall. Byfield had another house at the head of the harbor on Poppasquash. In each room were deep fireplaces, across which ran an oaken beam a foot square. One winter morning the owner of the house was surprised, when he came down stairs, to find the house even colder than usual. The front door was open and the floor was covered with snow drifts. As the door was never locked the phenomenon interested him but little, and he hastened out to feed his cattle. One ox was missing and the farmer went back to the house to organize a searching party, but as he opened the door and turned his eyes toward the fireplace, he changed his plans. There lay the huge creature tranquilly chewing the cud of complete contentment. It had found the door ajar, pushed it open and established itself comfortably upon the still warm ashes.

The town was founded for “purposes of trade and commerce” and early its sails began to whiten the seas. Naturally the first commerce was coastwise only. Then vessels sought the ports of the West Indies and Spanish Main, laden most frequently with that bulb whose fragrance lingers longest in the nostrils, the onion. The culture of this vegetable was one of the three things for which the town was noted for more than two centuries.

There once dwelt in Bristol a man named Sammy Usher, who was noted for his irascibility not less than for his caustic tongue. One day a visitor from Brown University was introduced to him. This young man, though a sophomore, was yet somewhat fresh, and Sammy did not like him. He[17] said, “Mr. Usher, I hear that Bristol is noted for three things, its geese, girls and onions. What do you do with them all?” “Oh,” said Usher, “we marry our girls as soon as they grow up, we ship our onions to Cuba, and we send our geese to college.” The first recorded shipment, however, was not of onions. November 6, 1686, Byfield placed a number of his horses on board the Bristol Merchant bound for Surinam. Possibly they may have been of the Narragansett pacer breed for which the south county was so long famous. Very early in the town’s history, sails were turned to the coast of Africa. The voyage was the most hazardous that could be taken, but the returns from a successful venture were enormous. There was profit on each leg of the voyage. The first leg was from the home port, with the hold filled with casks of New England rum and small crates of trinkets. One cask was ordinarily enough to secure a slave, but before the cargo was complete, all hands were likely to be down with coast fever. When the crew were again strong enough to work the vessel, the “middle passage” to the West Indies was made, and the live freight, which had been handled with as great care as are the cattle on the Atlantic transports today, was exchanged for casks of molasses. Then came the last leg of the voyage. The molasses was carried to Bristol to be converted into rum. This trade the town shared with Newport and Providence.

No stigma whatever was attached to the slave traffic as carried on in the seventeenth century and for the greater part of the eighteenth. The voyages, while always dangerous, were not always profitable. The vessels engaged in them were ordinarily small; sometimes they were sloops of less than a hundred tons. A fleet of them could be stowed away in the hold of a Lusitania. They had to be[18] small and of light draft in order to run up the shallow rivers to whose banks their human cargo was driven. Lying at anchor in the stifling heat, with no wind to drive away the swarming insect life, the deadly coast fever would descend upon a ship, and, having swept away half its crew, leave those who survived too weak to hoist the sails. The captains were, for the most part, God fearing men, working hard to support their families at home. One piously informs his owners that “we have now been twenty days upon the coast and by the blessing of God shall soon have a good cargo.” The number of negroes taken on board a ship was never large until the trade was declared to be piratical. Then conditions changed horribly. It did not pay to take more on board than could be delivered in the West Indies in prime condition. They were not packed more closely than were the crews of the privateers of whom we shall read later on.

Naturally not a few slaves found their way to Bristol. When the first slave was brought there we do not know. Nathaniel Byfield, in his will, gives directions for the disposition of his “negro slave Rose, brought to Bristol from the West Indies in the spring of 1718.” Quickly they became numerous. The census of 1774 records 114 blacks in a total population of 1209, almost one-tenth. At first they lived on the estates of their owners, and were known by his name, if they had any surname. After the Revolutionary War, when slavery had been abolished (mainly because it was unprofitable), they gathered into a district by themselves on the outskirts of the town. This region was called “Gorea” from that part of the coast of Africa with which the slave traders were most familiar. It continued to be known as such until the buildings of the great[19] rubber works crowded it out of existence in the early ’70s of the last century.

Naturally and inevitably the town became involved in the contest that resulted in the independence of America. The affair of the Gaspee was the first in which her people participated. The Gaspee was an armed schooner stationed in Narragansett Bay for the prevention of smuggling. Smuggling was as much in vogue in American waters as in the waters surrounding the British Isles, and was regarded with no more disfavor in one case than in the other. The commander of the vessel was Lieutenant Thomas Duddington, a man who was entirely lacking in tact, and who carried himself with such haughty arrogance as to make himself most obnoxious. One day while chasing one of the packet sloops that plied between New York and Providence, he ran aground on Namquit (now Gaspee) Point. His “chase” escaped and carried the joyful tidings of his plight to Providence. At once drummers were sent through the streets proclaiming the situation of the vessel, and calling for volunteers to destroy her before the next high tide. Eight long boats were furnished by John Brown, the leading merchant of the town, which were quickly filled by a rejoicing band. No attempt at disguise was made by those who took part in the expedition, but the oars were muffled to enable the boats to make the attack without being seen. As they drew near the vessel, a little after midnight, they were joined by a whaleboat containing a party from Bristol under the command of Captain Simeon Potter.[6]

Their approach was discovered by the watch upon the Gaspee, and as the boats dashed forward they were fired[20] upon from the schooner. The fire was at once returned by the attacking party, and the vessel was boarded and captured after a short but desperate struggle. In this struggle Lieutenant Duddington was wounded, though not seriously. The crew were captured, bound and set on shore. The vessel was set on fire and completely destroyed. Then, having been entirely successful in their expedition, the boats rowed joyfully homeward. Those who took part in the exploit made no effort to conceal it and some of them even boasted of what they had done. The British Government at once offered a large reward for information that would lead to the conviction of the bold offenders. Some of them were among the foremost men in the Colony and almost every one knew their names, the name of Abraham Whipple especially being on the lips of all the people, but no man of any character could be found to testify against them and none of them were ever brought to trial. The affair took place on June 10, 1772. It was the first contest in which British blood was shed in an expedition openly organized against the forces of the mother country, and it differed from all the other preliminary encounters because of the character of those engaged in it. Other outbreaks were the work of an irresponsible mob. Crispus Attucks, for instance, who fell in the so called Boston Massacre, was a mulatto and the men whom he led were of his type. But some of the leading men of Rhode Island sat on the thwarts of the nine boats, and their boldness seems almost incredible to us of the present day. It shows that while public sentiment at Newport and New York and the other great seats of commerce along the coast may have favored the king, the people of the Providence Plantations were already prepared to sever their relations with England.


The only “lyric” to commemorate the affair came from the pen of Captain Thomas Swan of Bristol, one of those who took part in it. His effusion has never appeared in any history of American literature, for good and sufficient reasons, but it is printed in full in Munro’s “History of Bristol.” The participation of the Bristol men in the Gaspee affair is often denied by “out of town” people. I have no doubt respecting the matter. My own grandmother, born in 1784, the daughter of a soldier of the Revolution who was born in 1762 and lived until 1821, and whose grandfather, born in 1731, lived until 1817, firmly believed in it. She had had opportunities for talking the subject over with two generations who were living on June 10, 1772.

In January, 1881, Bishop Smith of Kentucky, born in Bristol in 1794 and a graduate of Brown in 1816, wrote to me calling my attention to a slight difference between the “Swan Song,” as I had given it in my “History of Bristol,” and a version pasted upon the back of a portrait of Thomas Swan’s father by Thomas Swan himself. Capt. Swan was Bishop Smith’s uncle. The Bishop wrote, “I should not have troubled you on so inconsiderable a point had not the tradition in our family been that the Bristol boat was manned by men in the disguise of Narragansett Indians.”

When Bishop Smith penned those lines several men were living in Bristol who had heard the story from Captain Swan’s own lips. He delighted in telling it and was accustomed to give the names of Bristol participants. Those names had unhappily escaped the memory of his auditors. The correspondence on the subject of the Gaspee, which occurred during the Revolutionary War between Abraham Whipple and Captain Sir James Wallace, the commander of the British naval forces in Narragansett Bay, is worthy of another reproduction:


Wallace to Whipple:

“You, Abraham Whipple, on the 10th June, 1772, burned his Majesty’s vessel, the Gaspee, and I will hang you at the yard arm.—James Wallace.”

Whipple to Wallace:

“To Sir James Wallace; Sir; Always catch a man before you hang him.—Abraham Whipple.”

On October 7, 1775, the town was bombarded by a British fleet. The squadron consisted of three ships of war, one bomb brig, one schooner and some smaller vessels, fifteen sail in all. They had sailed up from Newport under the command of Sir James Wallace. A boat’s crew was sent on shore to demand sheep from the town. As they were not forthcoming, the boat returned to the ship and shortly afterward the whole fleet began “a most heavy cannonading, heaving also shells and ‘carcasses’ into the town.” (Carcasses were vessels bound together with hoops and filled with combustibles.) Singularly enough, no one was killed, though many buildings were struck by balls. The next morning the sheep demanded were furnished and the fleet sailed away. An epidemic of dysentery was raging at the time, seventeen persons having died within a fortnight; and the fact that at least one hundred sick persons would have to be removed if the cannonading was resumed influenced the town committee to provide the supply demanded. One life, however, went out because of the bombardment. The Rev. John Burt, the aged pastor of the Congregational Church, had for a long time been sick and feeble. When the air was filled with missiles he fled from his house, no one seeing him, and wandered away, weak and bewildered. The next morning, as he did not appear in the meeting house at the hour of service, his congregation[23] went out to seek him. They found at last him lying dead upon his face in a field of ripened corn.

About three years later, on Sunday, May 25, 1778, most of the houses in the center of the town were burned by the British. Five hundred British and Hessian soldiers landed on the “West Shore,” marched quickly through Warren to the Kickamuit River, and there burned seventy or more flat-boats that had been gathered together by the colonists for the purpose of making an expedition against the enemy. The raiders set fire to some buildings in Warren and then proceeded along the main road to Bristol, making prisoners of the men found in the farm houses standing near the highway. A force of perhaps three hundred militia had been hastily gathered at Bristol to oppose them. But, as is almost always the case, the number of the marauding troops was greatly exaggerated and the American commanding officer did not deem himself strong enough to oppose them. Withdrawing in the direction of Mount Hope he left the town to their mercy. The torch was first applied to Parson Burt’s house, which stood near the Congregational Meeting House.

Mr. Burt had died during the bombardment, as has been before related, but he had been fearless in his denunciation of royal tyranny during his life and his house was burned as a warning. Then the other buildings southward along the main street were set on fire, including the residence of Deputy Governor Bradford, this last being the finest house in town. One of the Governor’s negro servants had just begun his dinner when he saw the flames bursting forth. He was quite equal to the occasion. Running to the burying ground on the Common, not far away, he seated himself, frying pan in hand, upon a tombstone and calmly[24] finished his meal. Thirty or more buildings were burned, among them being the edifice of the Church of England, Saint Michael’s Church. This last structure was destroyed through a mistake, the incendiaries supposing that they were burning the Dissenters’ Meeting House. The sexton of Saint Michael’s refused to believe that his church was burned. “It can’t be,” he said, “for I have the key in my pocket.” From this time until the close of the war the tread of marching feet was heard almost daily. The soldiers, however, were only militiamen summoned hastily together to defend their homes. They were poorly drilled and still more poorly armed, the kind of soldier that springs to arms at an instant’s call. The immediate danger having passed, they returned to their farms and their workshops.

Until October 25, 1779, when the British forces left Newport, the fortunes of those who dwelt upon the Mount Hope Lands were hazardous in the extreme. Lafayette had established his headquarters in the north part of the town but was soon forced to remove them to “a safer place behind Warren.” The peninsula was so easily accessible that raids upon its shores were frequent. One result of the marauding expeditions was the cutting down of the forests that had lined the shores of Narragansett Bay. This was especially notable in the case of the island of Prudence, just at the mouth of Bristol harbor. Today the island is almost treeless, no attempt at reforestation having been made. The people of Bristol were wise in their generation and now from the harbor the town seems to nestle in a forest.

The winter of 1779-80 was one of the most severe ever known in the Colonies. For six weeks the bay was frozen from shore and the ice extended far out to sea. Wood in most of the towns sold for $20 a cord. The prices of[25] all kinds of provisions soared in like manner. Corn sold for four silver dollars a bushel and potatoes for two dollars. What their prices were in the depreciated Rhode Island paper currency we can only imagine. While the bay was still frozen some of the barracks on Poppasquash, that had been used by the French allies, were moved across the harbor on the ice. One of them is still used as a dwelling house. It stands on the west side of High Street just north of Bradford. From 1774 to 1782 the population of the town decreased 14.6 per cent. More noteworthy still, in that same period the percentage of decrease in the case of the blacks was more than thirty per cent.

In 1781 the town was first honored by the presence of George Washington. He passed through it on his way to Providence. It was a great day for the people of the place. They all turned out to greet the hero, standing in double lines as he rode through the streets. “Marm” Burt’s school children were especially in evidence. This lady was the widow of the Parson Burt who had died during the bombardment. She had sustained herself since her husband’s death by keeping a “dame’s school.” To impress the occasion upon the minds of her pupils she made them learn these lines:

“In seventeen hundred and eighty-one
I saw General Washington.”

Imagine the General’s emotions as he heard them singing the verse, at the top of their voices of course, as he passed.

Washington afterward made several visits to the town. In 1793 he spent a week at the home of Governor Bradford, at “the Mount,” Bradford being then a member of the United States Senate. The Bradford house is still standing.


Rhode Island was the last of the “Old Thirteen” to adopt the Federal Constitution. Then as always she chafed at the domination of Massachusetts. Because Bristol had been a part of Massachusetts before it became a part of Rhode Island it was still greatly influenced by the ideas of the “Bay Colony.” When in 1788 the question of adopting the Constitution was submitted to the people of Rhode Island, Bristol and Little Compton (which had also been a part of Massachusetts) were the only towns in which a majority in favor of the adoption was obtained. A great celebration took place in 1790 when the State became a member of the United States of America.

At once the energy which had lain dormant during the Revolutionary War revived. Commerce again became active. Evidence of this was manifested by the building of new distilleries. One, erected by the leading firm of ship owners, was opened in 1792. They were preparing for a renewal of the trade with Africa. For thirty-five years thereafter two hundred gallons of rum were here each day distilled. At one time five distilleries were in active operation. The last of them closed its doors in 1830, the business having ceased to be profitable.

In the first quarter of the last century two great religious revivals transformed the town. They began in Saint Michael’s Church in the rectorship of Bishop Griswold. The town then numbered about two thousand inhabitants, almost all of whom were more or less connected with the sea. The first among the laymen to take part in the movement was a sea captain who had just returned from a voyage to the Island of Trinidad. Before he left Bristol, the unwonted fervor of Bishop Griswold’s sermons and discourses had turned his thoughts toward the attainment of the holier[27] and higher life, whose glories the bishop was ever placing before his people. The awful solemnity of the ocean had completed the lesson. On Saturday night he returned from his voyage. The next day, when the bishop had finished his sermon, the emotions that stirred the soul of the sailor entirely overcame the modesty that usually kept him back from the public notice. Rising from his seat, he went forward to the old wine-glass pulpit in which the preacher was yet standing, and conversed with him earnestly for a few moments, while the congregation looked on with amazement at the unusual interruption. With that benignant smile which marked his gentle nature, Bishop Griswold assented to the request that was preferred; and placing his hand upon the shoulder of the eager enthusiast, he turned to the congregation and said: “My friends, Captain —— wishes to tell you what the Lord has done for his soul.” Then the quiet sailor told the congregation the story of the change that had been wrought in him; told it without a thought of the unusual part he was assuming; told it in the simplest words, with no attempt at eloquence or effect, but with the wondrous power of God’s love so plainly before his eyes that the minds of all his hearers went with him upon the sea, and felt the struggle which had brought his soul out of darkness into light. Never, even, had the inspired words of their pastor stirred the people of St. Michael’s Church more strongly. When he ceased there was hardly a dry eye in the congregation. Only a few well chosen words did the bishop add to intensify the lesson, and then dismissed his people with the usual benediction.

From that day the revival became general. Through the town it spread, until the minds of all were turned to[28] thoughts of the life that was to come. The sound of the workman’s hammer was unheard for a season, the horses stood idle in their stalls, the noise of merry laughter ceased as the crowds of serious worshippers poured onward to the churches. For days these remarkable scenes were to be witnessed; their effect could be observed for years.

The second revival came in 1820. Like the first it began in Saint Michael’s Church. It lasted for about three months. The first meeting was held in a private house. The Rev. Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, writing sixty years later, said: “It was with unbounded surprise that I went into the house at the hour appointed. It was crowded in every room, staircase and entry, as if some unusually crowded funeral were there. But for ministering to this people, hungry for the bread of life, I was there alone. They had placed a Bible and Prayer-book on the first landing of the stairs. The people were crowded above me and below me, as far as my eye could reach, in the most eager attention to the Word. It was the most solemn assembly I had ever seen, and its impression upon my mind and memory was overwhelming and abiding. But this was the commencement of months of work of a similar description, and from this day we had a similar meeting appointed for every evening. These were held in various rooms and houses throughout the town. The evening meetings were usually held in the Academy Hall. My whole time for about three months was given up to this one work. Three times every day I was engaged in addressing different assemblies in different parts of the town and of the surrounding country, and in conversing with awakened and anxious persons connected with these meetings. Such a scene in human society as Bristol then displayed, I had never imagined. The whole[29] town was given up to this one work. The business of the world was for a time suspended. The stores were in many instances closed, as if the whole week were a Sabbath.”

As in the former case the work spread through all the churches. Crowds came from surrounding towns to gaze upon the remarkable spectacle the town afforded. Such revivals would now be impossible. The busy manufacturing town of today would pay slight attention to exhortations to which the ears that were accustomed to tales of horrible disaster upon the ocean lent ready attention. Moreover, the descendants of the old colonial stock are comparatively few in number, and the new foreign element which forms the great majority of the population is not to be moved by religious appeals as were those whose lives were dominated by Puritan traditions.

The maritime element always furnished the most picturesque part of the Bristol story. Until half a century ago the boys of the town had the names of the famous ships and the exploits of the most famous captains at the tongue’s end. The most noted captains were Simeon Potter, John De Wolf and James De Wolf, of whom detailed accounts will be given later. We idealized those seamen, especially Simeon Potter. One sailor who was not a captain but a ship’s surgeon had had a most remarkable experience. He was an inveterate smoker and his inordinate use of the weed once saved his life. He was shipwrecked upon a cannibal island in the Pacific ocean. His fellow sufferers were all eaten by their captors. Because he was so flavored with tobacco, he was not deemed fit to be eaten at once by the savage epicures, and so lived to be rescued. He was also a most profane man. One day after a long attack of fever, which had wasted him almost to a skeleton, he ventured[30] out for a walk. Unfortunately, he had not noted the wind. He wore a long cloak and the wind was fair and heavy. Having once started before it, he was not able to stop, but went on, gathering speed and scattering profanity, until friendly arms at last rescued him, entirely exhausted except as to his supply of oaths. Depraved boys when caught smoking sometimes brought forward his case in extenuation of their own crime.

Boyish sports before the introduction of baseball in the “early ’60s” were largely nautical. As a matter of course every boy learned to swim almost as soon as he learned to walk. Before his anxious mother had really begun to worry about him he was diving from a bowsprit or dropping from a yard arm. One man whom I know still regards a forced swim of about half a mile which he took from an overturned skiff, at the age of nine, as the most delightful episode of his career. (He forgot to tell his mother about it until a considerable time, i.e., the swimming season, had elapsed.) One of the amusements of that olden time was unique. When we were about ten years old we were wont, as soon as school was dismissed, to hasten down to the wharves, “swarm” up the rigging of some of the vessels lying there, and having reached the point where the shrouds stopped, to “shin up” the smooth topmast and place our caps upon the caps of the masts. The one who got his cap on a mast first was of course the best boy. Singularly enough, I never remember to have proclaimed to my parents the proud occasions when I was “it.” My great chum in those days was Benjamin F. Tilley, who died quite recently, an Admiral in the United States Navy and one of the best loved officers in the service. When he was in Providence a few years ago, in command of the gunboat Newport, we indulged[31] largely in reminiscences of our boyhood, and among other things “shinned” up those masts again. Very strangely Tilley could not remember that he had ever proclaimed to his parents that he was “it.” Modest always were the Bristol boys in the days of my youth. Looking back upon these episodes with the added knowledge fifty years have brought, I feel sure that if I had told my father of my prowess, he would have said in his quiet way, “Perhaps you would better not say anything to your mother about it,” and would have gone away chuckling. He had been “it” himself. For we boys were simply exemplifying the traditions of our race. We were only doing what our forebears had done for generations.

In the earliest years of the town the names of streets in cities across the ocean were more familiar to its inhabitants than were those of the towns of the other Colonies. In 1690 fifteen of its vessels were engaged in foreign commerce, and the number of such vessels steadily increased until the Revolutionary War. When that struggle broke out fifty hailed from the port. Add to this the number of craft of every description engaged in the coasting trade and one can easily imagine the crowded condition of the harbor. Ship building was at one time a prominent industry. Statistics are not readily accessible but we know that from 1830 to 1856 sixty vessels were here built and rigged. After 1856 none of any importance were constructed until, in 1863, the Herreshoffs began to send from their yard the yachts that were to “show their heels” to all rivals. The decline of commerce dates from the revival of the whale fishery. In the earliest colonial days whales were captured along the coasts of New England by means of boats sent out from the shore whenever one of the great[32] fishes came in sight. This was not infrequently. (It was a whale cast up on the shore that saved Thorfinn Karlsefni from starvation when the Norsemen made their second visit to Vinland.) In the year 1825 the first whaler was fitted out for a cruise. The venture was unusually successful and other ships were quickly placed in commission. In 1837 the arrival of sixteen vessels “from a whaling cruise” is recorded on the books of the Custom House. The most noted of those whalers was the General Jackson, prize of the privateer Yankee. Of her more anon. In 1837 the Bristol whaling fleet numbered nineteen ships.

The bell which summoned the operatives of the first cotton mill to their work really sounded the death knell of the shipping industry. The man whose maritime ventures had been most profitable was quick to recognize the fact. James De Wolf was the first of Bristolians to transfer his capital from ships to factories. With the building of mills agriculture began to decline though for more than half a century onions and other vegetables continued to be exported to the West India Islands. The erection of the great buildings of the National Rubber Company completed the transformation of the town.

Very different is the place from the old Puritan town of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; very different indeed from the Bristol of sixty years ago. Sixty years ago the Puritan traditions still dominated. This fact was especially evident on Sunday. That day was observed with the strictness of the old Puritan Sabbath. Worldly amusements were frowned upon. Every one was expected to go to church in the morning, and a very large proportion of the population attended a second religious service in the afternoon or evening. If golf had been known no one[33] would have ventured to play it. Social ostracism would have followed any attempt at a match game of ball. The only foreign element was the Irish. Very nearly all the Irish had been born on “the old sod.” Today the Irish element is almost the dominant one and the descendants of the first immigrants are as thoroughly American in their ideals and sentiments as are those who trace their ancestry to the Founders of 1680. Sixty years ago there were perhaps a dozen names upon the tax lists that were not derived from the British Isles. No foreign tongue except the Spanish of the frequent Cuban visitors was heard upon the streets. Today the Italian language is everywhere heard and Italian names fill the pages of the directory. With the Italians have come also Canadian French and Portuguese. Walking over the “Common” one day not long ago I passed three groups of men and boys and heard from them not one word of English. One group was Italian, another French, the third Portuguese.

In the olden days the business was transacted along the wharves on Thames Street. That street was crowded with drays loaded with the products of every land, while sailors of all nations lounged about the water front. Today a sailor is a rare sight. The commerce has vanished and not a vessel of any size hails from the port. Even the pronunciation of the name of the street by the water has been changed and most of the dwellers upon that thoroughfare do not know that they are living upon the “Tems” street of our fathers. By day even in summer the streets of the town are almost empty, except for the visitors, and half the people are at work in the factories. But there is immense life in the place yet. The population is increasing by leaps and bounds and the wealth per capita is increasing[34] in the same way. When the great mill wheels cease to turn, a hurrying throng of operatives crowds the highways. Although they are now for the most part alien in speech and thought, their children, born in the old colonial port, will grow up imbued with the spirit of the place and will be Americans, Americans without the hyphen. The old seafaring spirit still exists, though mightily transformed. No longer do Bristol sails whiten far distant seas, no longer do the argosies bring into the harbor the products of India, the silks of China and Japan. From the port today go forth vessels of a very different type. They lack the capacious holds of the olden days but they carry sails larger than any the old captains ever dreamed of. Their business is not to carry merchandise; they sail forth from Narragansett Bay to lead the yachting fleets of the world.






Most famous among the names of the old sea captains of Bristol is that of Simeon Potter. For almost half a century Potter was the most conspicuous figure in the town in which he was born. He was also one of the influential men in the Colony and State of Rhode Island for a large part of that time.

Simeon Potter was born in Bristol in the year 1720. His father was not a man of fortune and the boy’s education was almost entirely neglected. His letters, even in advanced age, are those of an illiterate man who, apparently, had never attempted to remedy the deficiencies of his youth. Perhaps this is not to be wondered at. He went forth from Bristol an humble sailor lad whose only possessions were a sound body and an imperious will. After a comparatively few years spent upon the ocean he returned to his native town with a purse overflowing with riches, a man to be looked up to for the rest of his life.

His wealth was acquired in “privateering,” and tales of his captures upon the sea, and especially of his wild marauding descents upon foreign coasts, were familiar as household words to the ears of the Bristolians of three-quarters of a century ago. Those tales lost nothing in the telling and in them Potter came to be endowed with attributes he never possessed. This was especially the case with his stature. Like Charlemagne he continued to grow taller with each fifty years after his death. He came in time to be pictured as a giant in size and strength, a man whose success was[38] largely due to the might of his arm, and not to any especial mental ability. It was not until the narrative which follows had been brought to light that we were able to see him as he really was, a slight man. Possibly his great wealth rather than an overpowering personality may have been the cause of his large influence. His fortune was estimated at a quarter of a million dollars, which was an enormous sum for those days.

He plunged gladly into the conflicts of the turbulent age, and by a happy chance came forth from them all without serious injury. When wars ceased his restless energy forced him into constant litigations; he seemed never to be happy unless he had some legal contest on his hands. His intense pride had much to do with this. Like many self-made men he could brook no opposition; he exacted from his townsmen the deference invariably rendered by seamen to the quarter-deck, and never forgot that his success was due to his own unaided efforts. Very soon after the Prince Charles had returned from the raid upon Oyapoc it was visited by some officers from a British man-of-war then lying in the harbor of Newport. They were greatly pleased with the trim, man-o’-war appearance of the privateer and expressed their approbation of its commander. Unfortunately they did so with a patronizing condescension that was exceedingly galling to the young captain. When at last one of them ventured to ask “why he did not apply to his Majesty for a commission as the king would undoubtedly give him a larger and better ship” he could no longer contain himself. “When I wish for a better ship I will not ask his Majesty for one, I will build one myself,” he said, and, turning on his heel, left the Englishman wondering what he could have said that seemed so offensive.


Potter left the sea and came back to Bristol to live just after the town had been transferred from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. He was first chosen to represent the town in the General Assembly in 1752, and from that time until the Revolution, when he had become an Assistant, an office corresponding to that of a Senator today, his voice was continually heard in the colonial councils. After the war had really begun his zeal (though not his pugnacity) seems to have waned and he ceased to take an active part in the affairs of either town or State. Possibly the larger ability, the increasing influence and the more striking personality of his townsman, Governor William Bradford, may have had something to do with Potter’s retirement from participation in public life.

However that may be, when the contest that was to result in the independence of the United Colonies began he plunged into it with immense delight. These lines in his own handwriting, preserved to the present day by a descendant of one of his sisters (he left no children), show clearly his mental attitude at that time:

I love with all my heart
The independent part.
To obey the Parliament
My conscience wont consent.
I never can abide
To fight on England’s side.
I pray that God may bless
The great and Grand Congress.
This is my mind and heart
Though none should take my part
The man thats called a Tory
To plague is all my glory.
How righteous is the cause
To keep the Congress laws!
To fight against the King
Bright Liberty will bring.
Lord North and England’s King
I hope that they will swing.
Of this opinion I
Resolve to live and die

His participation in the destruction of the Gaspee has been already described. When the office of Major-General of the Rhode Island Colonial Forces was created his zeal and energy had so impressed his fellow members of the General Assembly that he was chosen to fill it. His tenure of office must have been brief. In 1776 he had been chosen Assistant (Assistants were elected by the vote of all the freemen of the Colony), but he did not present himself at many meetings of the Assembly. In fact so neglectful was he of his duties that a vote was passed requesting his reasons for absenting himself, and demanding his attendance at the next session. Undoubtedly the increased taxes had something to do with it. He was the wealthiest citizen of Bristol and one of the richest men in the Colony, and the possession of money was his chief delight. He could not bear to see it taken away from him even though the independence of the Colonies might thereby be assured. (One day a young nephew was talking with him and lamenting his apparent lack of success. “How, Captain Potter,” said he, “shall I go to work to make money?” “Make money,” said Potter, “make money! I would plow the ocean into pea porridge to make money.”)

In 1777 his name appears for the last time in the Colonial Records. At the Town Meeting held in Bristol in May of that year “Colonel Potter was chosen Moderator, but after the usual officers were elected he withdrew and refused to[41] serve any longer.” A tax collector’s account was then presented showing that he had neglected to pay all his taxes. Three years later, May 10, 1780, it was voted in Town Meeting “That the Assessors make enquiry and make report to the town at the adjournment of the meeting, what part of Colonel Potter’s taxes remain unpaid, and that Mr. Smith, the collector, be desired to apply to the Assessors of the town of Swansey to know at what time said Potter began to pay taxes in said town, and what part of his personal estate has been rated from time to time in said town.” Although he still retained his household in Bristol he had taken up his residence in Swansey, where the rate of taxation was considerably less than that of Bristol. In that Massachusetts town he continued, nominally, to reside for the rest of his life. Notwithstanding his residence in another State he still continued a member of Saint Michael’s Church. In 1792 a vote of the Vestry was passed, thanking him for painting the church edifice, and for other benefactions, and in 1799 he presented a bell (with a French inscription) to the parish. His name headed the list of vestrymen from 1793 until his death. He died, at the age of eighty-six, February 20, 1806, leaving no children. His estate was by will divided among his nine sisters and their descendants. All the beneficiaries did not fare alike. He had his favorites and his strong prejudices. As is almost always the case popular estimate had exaggerated the value of his property. Instead of a quarter of a million, less than half that amount was divided among his heirs. The inventory showed that he had made a great many “wildcat” investments.

From his house on Thames Street the old captain was borne to his last resting place in the burying-ground upon[42] the Common. It was the most impressive funeral the town had witnessed. All the people turned out to see the long procession, and to take part in it. The privateering exploits of his early life were again retold, the innumerable legal battles of his later days were again recounted. Full of strife and tumult were the centuries in which his life had been passed, stormy and passionate his own career had been. He was perhaps the last, he was certainly the most successful, of the old sea captains who, as English subjects, had sailed forth from Narragansett Bay to make war as privateersmen upon the foes of Great Britain. But among those who followed his corpse to its final resting place were men who in less than a decade were to sail out from Bristol harbor in a little private armed vessel whose success as a privateer was to surpass his wildest imaginings, a vessel that was to collect from English merchants a tribute many times exceeding that which he had exacted from the enemies of England. The story of that vessel will be told in the last chapter of this book.

Potter was most noted for his raid upon the coast of French Guiana of which an account follows. He was captain of a typical American privateer when Narragansett Bay was noted throughout the Colonies as a nursery of privateersmen. Rhode Island furnished more privately armed vessels for the service of the mother country during the eighteenth century than did any other American Colony. From the year 1700 to the Revolution at least one hundred and eighty such ships sailed out from its ports. They were long and narrow, crowded with seamen for their more speedy handling, and manœuvered with a skill that placed the slower ships of the French and Spaniards entirely at their mercy. They carried long guns which enabled them[43] to disable their adversaries at a distance, thus preventing their enemies from inflicting any damage in return. Because built for speed they were of light construction. A broadside from a man-of-war would have gone crashing through their hulls and sent them at once to the bottom of the sea, but the seamanship of their captains always kept them out of reach of such a broadside. Their greatest danger was from the gales that drove them upon a rocky coast. Then no skill of their captains could save them. Their slight frames were quickly broken to pieces, sometimes with the loss of every man on board. The Prince Charles of Lorraine was wrecked upon the rocks of Seaconnet Point not long after the voyage herein described.

The kind of warfare in which they engaged would not now be regarded as honorable, yet it was then approved by all nations. Not only did they seek prizes upon the ocean; a descent upon the coast of the enemy, a plundering of a rich town especially if it was undefended, was an exploit from which they derived the liveliest satisfaction. They preferred that kind of an expedition, for, as was always the case with private armed ships, their aim was simply to acquire wealth for themselves, not to inflict unprofitable damage upon their adversaries. Privateering was only a species of legalized piracy as far as these raids were concerned. Happily the ruthless bloodshed and the outrages which characterized the raids of the buccaneers and other pirates were never charged against sailors on the legally commissioned private armed ships. Their trade was brutal but they carried it on with the approbation of their fellow men because it was a custom that had prevailed from time immemorial.

Very rarely have records of their raids been preserved,[44] more rarely still accounts written by their victims. The one which follows was discovered and made public some three-quarters of a century ago by Bishop Kip of California. At the sale of a famous library in England he purchased a set of the “Letters of Jesuit Missionaries from 1650-1750,” bound in fifty or more volumes. In 1875 he published a volume containing translations of the letters relating especially to American history. From this volume, which has long been out of print, the following account is taken.

The owners of the Prince Charles of Lorraine were Sueton Grant, Peleg Brown and Nathaniel Coddington, Jr., of Newport. Simeon Potter of Bristol was her captain, and Daniel Brown of Newport was her lieutenant. Among the Bristol men on the privateer were Mark Anthony De Wolf (founder of the family destined to become most famous in the history of the town), clerk; Benjamin Munro, master; Michael Phillips, pilot; William Kipp and Jeffrey Potter, the last being probably an Indian slave of Potter. Upon her return from her cruise Captain Potter was summoned before an admiralty court, having been accused of certain high handed, not to say illegal proceedings. Among other things he was charged with having fired upon a Dutch vessel while his ship was lying at anchor in Surinam, Dutch Guiana. He proved to the satisfaction of the court that he had fired upon the Dutch ship at the request of the Captain of the Port, in order to “bring her to,” his own ship being between the vessel and the fort at the time and so preventing the fire of the fort. The admiralty judge decided that Potter had not been guilty of the offences charged, and that he had shown zeal and enterprise worthy of commendation and imitation. The trial proceedings combined with Father Fauque’s narrative give a complete history of the cruise.


The privateer sailed from Newport September 8, 1744, and arrived at “Wiopock, twelve leagues to the windward of Cyan,” October 28. Up to that time she had taken no prizes. Upon his arrival Potter took thirty-two men and made a descent upon the town. They reached it at midnight and were at once fired upon by its garrison, Captain Potter receiving a bullet in his left arm. Of course they took the fort; garrisons in the tropics were never equal to privateersmen as fighters. They took some twenty prisoners (the other defenders having promptly fled), six cannon and from sixty to seventy small arms. They remained at Wiapock twelve days while they sacked the town, taking from it everything of value. Some of the company were sent up the river to plunder plantations. All things taken were carried to Barbadoes and there condemned as French property, with the exception of some slaves detained at Surinam and some personal property which Potter sold at a “vandue” on his ship. Having stripped Wiapock (the name of the place was Oyapoc but American and English captains were never strong on spelling) to their hearts’ content, they sailed to “Cyann” (Cayenne) and dropped anchor at that place November 11. There they tarried four or five days, during which they sent plundering expeditions up the river. One of these came to grief on a shoal. The twelve men who manned the boat were attacked by one hundred and thirty soldiers, three of them were killed, four were wounded and the others carried to Cyann fort as prisoners. Thereupon Potter sent a flag of truce to propose an exchange of prisoners. The exchange was arranged and among those returned by the Americans was “a priest,” Father Fauque. Then the Prince Charles sailed to Surinam well satisfied with what had been accomplished. At Surinam Captain[46] Potter gave an entertainment to two English merchants and some masters of ships that were at anchor in the port. Seamen of that day were not always total abstainers and after the banquet the “vandue” was had of which mention has already been made. The prices obtained for the plunder were doubtless satisfactory for the most part to the sellers, but not in all cases. The goods sold “to the value of thirty or forty pieces of eight.” They belonged to the “company” and the captain purchased many of them on his own account thereby furnishing cause for the suit brought against him on his return to Rhode Island, from which suit he came out triumphant. Immediately after the sale the seamen demanded their share of the proceeds. Captain Potter told them they were still in debt to the owners for advances made and as his arguments were enforced by a drawn sword they were admitted to be valid.

In his testimony before the admiralty court the Indian, Jeffrey Potter, was more specific as to the plunder secured at Wiapock than any other witness. He testified that they took seven Indians and three negroes, twenty large spoons or ladles, nine large ladles, one gold and one silver hilted sword, one gold and one silver watch, two bags of money, quantity uncertain; chests and trunks of goods, etc., gold rings, buckles and buttons, silver candlesticks, church plate both gold and silver, swords, four cannon, sixty small arms, ammunition, provisions, etc. But the wealth secured on this raid could not have been very great. French Guiana at the present time has a population of only 30,000, of whom 12,500 live at Cayenne. The number of people then living at Oyapoc was much smaller than the population of today. The town burned by the marauding expedition sent up the river contained not more than seventy houses, and anyone[47] who has visited the countries lying along the north coast of South America knows that “the wealth of the tropics” is a wild figure of speech as far as the house furnishings are concerned.

Equally wild are some of the accounts of the raid. One writer states that “there can be no doubt that in this cruise Captain Potter and his command invaded and desolated 1500 miles of the enemy’s territory; that on the Spanish Main in his march he visited churches and dwellings, and brought from the field of his exploits large amounts of booty.” This writer was but repeating the tale as it had been told him in his childhood. He had never deemed it necessary to verify it. If he had considered the matter he would have realized that French Guiana is not a part of the Spanish Main at all, and a glance at the map would have shown him that between Cayenne and the mouth of the Orinoco River, where technically the “Spanish Main” begins, lie the hundreds of miles of coastline of Dutch and British Guiana. No privateer of the size of the Prince Charles could possibly have carried provisions and water sufficient for such a cruise if the expedition had been made in the vessel itself, and no ship’s crew of the size of that which Potter commanded could, by any stretch of the imagination, have made such a journey overland. Moreover no mention whatever of the Spanish Main, or of booty except that obtained at Cyann and Wiapock, is to be found in the records of the admiralty court. The statement affords an excellent illustration of the astounding growth of popular traditions.



Letter of Father Fauque, Missionary of the Society of Jesus, to Father ——, of the same Society, containing an Account of the Capture of Fort d’Oyapoc by an English pirate.[7]

At Cayenne, the 22d of December, 1744.

My Reverend Father,—The peace of our Lord be with you! I will make you a partaker of the greatest happiness I have experienced in my life, by informing you of the opportunity I had of suffering something for the glory of God.

I returned to Oyapoc on the 25th of October last. Some days afterwards, I received at my house Father d’Autilhac, who had returned from his mission to Ouanari, and Father d’Huberlant, who is settled at the confluence of the rivers Oyapoc and Camoppi, where he had formed a new mission. Thus we found ourselves, three missionaries, together; and we were enjoying the pleasure of a reunion, so rare in these countries, when divine Providence, to try us, permitted the occurrence of one of those wholly unexpected events which in one day destroyed the fruit of many years’ labor. I will relate it, with all the attending circumstances.

Scarcely had war been declared between France and England, when the English were sent from North America to cruise among the islands to the leeward of Cayenne. They determined to touch there, in the hope of capturing[49] some vessel, pillaging some dwellings, and above all, of obtaining some news of the “Senau,” which was lost not long since near the river Maroni. Having gone too far south, and the water giving out, they approached Oyapoc to obtain some. We should have been naturally informed of it, either by the Indians, who go out frequently to hunt or fish, or by the guard, which our commander had prudently posted upon a mountain at the mouth of the river, whence they could see to the distance of three or four leagues. But, on the one hand, the Aroüas Indians, who came from Mayacorè to Ouanari, having been seized by the English, gave them information of the little colony of Oyapoc, of which they were ignorant, and on which they had no designs when leaving their own country. On the other hand, the sentinels who were on guard, and who should have been our security, themselves acted as guides to those who surprised us. Thus every thing united to cause us to fall into the hands of these pirates.[8]

Their chief was Captain Simeon Potter, a native of New England, fitted out to cruise with a commission from Williems Guéene, Governor of Rodelan,[9] and commanding the vessel “Prince Charles of Lorraine,” of ten cannon, twelve swivel-guns, and a crew of sixty-two men. They cast anchor on the 6th of November, and began taking in water at the mountain d’Argent. (This is the name of the[50] country on the inner side of the bay formed by the river d’Oyapoc.) On the 7th, their long-boat, returning to the ship, saw a canoe of Indians, which was coming from Cape Orange. (This is the cape which forms the other point of the bay.) The English pursued them, frightened them by a discharge of their gun, seized them, and carried them on shipboard. The next day, having seen a fire during the night on another mountain, which is called Mount Lucas, they sent and seized two young men who were placed there as sentinels. They might have had time to come and inform us; but one of them, a traitor to his country, did not wish to do so.

After having in this way learned the situation, the force, and generally everything which related to the post of Oyapoc, they determined to surprise it. They attempted the enterprise in the night, between the 9th and 10th. But, fearing lest daylight might overtake them before their arrival, they turned back, and kept themselves concealed during all the day of the 10th. The following night they took their measures better. They arrived a little after the setting of the moon, and, guided by the two young Frenchmen, they landed about a hundred yards from the fort of Oyapoc.

The sentinel at first took them for Indians or negroes, who came and went at all hours during the night. He challenged them, but they made no reply, and he then at once concluded they were enemies. Every one woke up in surprise; but the English were within the place before any one had time to collect his thoughts. For myself, who was living outside the fort, and was roused by the first cry of the sentinel, having opened my door, I saw them file by in great haste; and, not being myself perceived, I immediately ran to awaken our Fathers.


So unexpected a surprise in the middle of a dark night, the weakness of the post, the few soldiers there to defend it (for there were not at that time more than ten or twelve men), the frightful shouts of a multitude which we supposed, as was natural, more numerous than it really was, the vivid and terrible fire which they kept up with their guns and pistols on entering the place,—all these things induced each one, by a first impulse of which he was not himself master, to take to flight, and conceal himself in the woods which surrounded us. Our commander, however, fired and wounded in the left arm the English captain, a young man about thirty years of age. What is singular, the captain was the only one wounded on either side.

Our two missionaries, however, who had no spiritual charge at this post, and one of whom, through his zeal and friendship, wished to remain at my place, pressed by my solicitations, took refuge in the depths of the forest, with some Indians of their attendants and all our servants. For myself, I remained in my house, which was distant from the fort about a hundred yards, having resolved to go first to the church to consume the consecrated wafer, and afterwards to carry spiritual aid to the French, supposing that some of them had been wounded there; as I thought, certainly not without reason, after having heard so much firing of guns, that our people had made some resistance.

I went out, therefore, to execute the first of these projects; when a negro servant, who, through goodness of heart and fidelity (rare qualities among the slaves), had remained with me, represented to me that I would certainly be discovered, and they would not fail to fire at me in the first heat of the contest. I yielded to these reasons, and, as I only remained to render to my flock all the services[52] demanded by my ministry, I felt scruples at uselessly exposing myself, and determined to wait until break of day to show myself.

You can easily imagine, my Reverend Father, what a variety of emotions agitated me during the remainder of that night. The air ceaselessly resounded with cries and shouts and yells, and with the discharge of guns and pistols. Presently I heard the doors and windows of the houses opened, and the furniture overthrown with a great crash; and, as I was sufficiently near to distinguish perfectly the noise they made in the church, I was suddenly seized with an inward horror in the fear lest the Holy Sacrament might be profaned. I would have given a thousand lives to prevent this sacrilege; but there was not time. Nevertheless, to hinder it by the only way which remained to me, I inwardly addressed myself to Jesus Christ, and earnestly prayed Him to guard His adorable Sacrament from the profanation which I feared. What took place was in a way so surprising that it may reasonably be regarded as a miracle.

During all this tumult, my negro, who was perfectly aware of the danger we were running, and who had not the same reason with myself for this voluntary exposure, frequently proposed to me to take to flight. But I was unable to do so. I knew too well the obligations of my office; and I could only wait for the moment when it would be in my power to go to the fort, and see in what state were the French soldiers, the greater part of whom I supposed to be either dead or wounded. I said, therefore, to the slave that on this occasion he was his own master; that I could not force him to remain with me; but that, nevertheless, I should be pleased if he did not abandon me. I[53] added that, if he had any grievous sin on his conscience, it would be best for him to confess it, to be prepared for any contingency, since he was not certain but what they might take away his life. This conversation made an impression on him, so that he recovered courage and remained firm.

As soon as day dawned, I ran to the church, creeping through the underwood; and, although they had sentinels and marauders on every side, I had the good fortune not to be seen. As I entered the sacristy, which I found open, tears filled my eyes when I saw the cupboard for the vestments and linen, where also I kept the chalice and the sacred vessels, broken open and shattered, and many of the vestments scattered here and there. I went into the choir of the church, where I saw the altar half uncovered, and the cloths thrown together in a heap. I examined the tabernacle, and found they had not noticed a little piece of cotton, which I was accustomed to place at the opening of the lock to prevent the ravers from getting into it. (This is an insect very common in the islands, which only comes out at night, and is very similar to the gadfly.) I supposed that the door was also broken open; but, placing my hand upon it, I found that it had not been touched. Overcome with wonder and joy and thankfulness, I took the key which these heretics had had under their hands. I opened it with reverence, and partook of the Sacrament, very uncertain whether I should ever again have that blessing; for what has not a man of my profession to fear from pirates, and these pirates, too, being English?

After I had thus received the Sacrament, I fell on my knees to return thanks; and I told my negro to go in the mean while into my chamber, which was near at hand.[54] He went there; but, in returning, was seen and arrested by a sailor. The slave begged for mercy, and the Englishman did not do him any harm. I showed myself then at the door of the sacristy, and immediately saw that I was aimed at. It was necessary, therefore, to surrender; so I came forward, and we took together the way to the fort. When we entered the place, I saw every face expressing the greatest joy, each one congratulating himself that they had captured a priest.

The first one who approached me was the captain himself. He was a man small in stature, and not in any respect differing from the others in dress. He had his left arm in a sling, a sabre in his right hand, and two pistols in his belt. As he was acquainted with some words of French, he told me “that I was very welcome; that I had nothing to fear, as no one would attempt my life.”

In the mean while, M. de Lage de la Landerie, Writer of the king, and our storekeeper, having appeared, I asked him in what condition were our people, and if many of them were killed or wounded. He answered me that they were not; that of our soldiers he had seen only the sergeant and one sentinel, and that on neither side was any one wounded but the English captain alone, in whose power we now were. I was delighted to learn that our commander, the officers, and their soldiers, had sufficient time to escape; and as by this fact the reasons which had induced me to remain no longer existed, and as my personal ministry was not necessary, I should have much preferred being at liberty, and, could I have done so, would have retreated. But I could not longer dream of that; and at that very moment two of our soldiers, who were found concealed, were seized, and increased the number of our prisoners.


At length dinner-time came. I was invited, but I certainly had no inclination to eat. I knew that our soldiers and the two missionary Fathers were in the depth of the forest, without clothes, food, or aid. I had no news of them, nor was I able to procure any. This reflection overwhelmed me; it was necessary, however, to accept their repeated invitations, which seemed to me to be sincere.

Scarcely had the meal commenced, when I saw arriving the first plunder they had made at my house. It was natural that I should be moved. Indeed, I showed it; so that the captain said to me, as an excuse for himself, that the King of France had first declared war against the King of England, and that in consequence of it the French had already taken, pillaged, and burned an English post named Campo, near Cape Breton, and that several persons, including children, had been smothered in the flames.

I answered him that, without wishing to enter into the detail of the affairs of Europe, our respective kings being to-day at war, I did not take it amiss; but was only surprised that he should have come to attack Oyapoc, which was not worth the trouble.[11] He replied that he himself exceedingly regretted having come here, as this delay might cause him to miss two merchant vessels, richly loaded, which were on the point of sailing from the harbor of Cayenne. I then said to him that, since he saw for himself how inconsiderable was this post, and that he had scarcely any thing to gain from it, I prayed him to accept a reasonable ransom, for my church, myself, my negro, and every thing belonging to me. This proposition was reasonable, but was, nevertheless, rejected. He wished that I should treat with him for the fort and all its dependencies. But I bade him[56] observe that this was not a fit proposition to make to a simple priest; that, besides, the Court of France had so little regard for the post that recent news from Paris had apprised us that it would be abandoned as soon as practicable. “Well,” said he, in a spiteful way, “since you do not wish to entertain my proposition, we must continue our depredations, and make reprisals for all that the French have done against us.”

They continued, therefore, to transport from our houses furniture, clothes, provisions, all with a disorder and confusion that was remarkable. What gave me the deepest pain was to see the sacred vessels[12] in these profane and sacrilegious hands. I collected myself for a moment, and, awakening all my zeal, I told them what reason and faith and religion inspired me to say in the most forcible manner. With words of persuasion I mingled motives of fear for so criminal a profanation. The example of Belshazzar was not forgotten; and I am able to say to you with truth, my Reverend Father, that I saw many moved, and disposed to return these articles to me; but cupidity and avarice prevailed, and on the same day all the silver was packed up and carried aboard the vessel.[13]

The captain, more susceptible of feeling than all the others, as he had always seemed to me, told me that he would willingly yield to me what he was able to return, but that he had no control over the will of the others; that all the crew having part in the booty, he was not able, as captain, to dispose of any but his own share; but that he would do all that was in his power to induce the others to agree to what I proposed. This was to pay them at[57] Cayenne, or at Surinam (a Dutch colony, which was not far distant, and where, they told me, they wished to go), or even in Europe by bills of exchange, for the value of the silver in the sacred vessels. But he was not able to obtain any thing.

Some time afterwards, the first lieutenant asked me, through an interpreter, “what induced me to surrender myself to them?” I replied to him, “that the persuasion I was under that some of our soldiers had been wounded had determined me to remain for their relief.” “And did you not fear being killed?” he added. “Yes, without doubt,” I said; “but the fear of death is not capable of stopping a minister of Jesus Christ, when he should discharge his duty. Every true Christian is obliged to sacrifice his life rather than commit a sin; and I should have thought that I was guilty of a very great one, if, having charge of souls in my parish, I had entirely abandoned them in their peril. You know, indeed,” I continued, “you Protestant people, who pride yourselves so much on reading the Scriptures, that it is only the hireling shepherd who flees before the wolf when he attacks the sheep.” At this discourse they looked at one another, and seemed to me to be entirely astonished. This lesson is, without doubt, something a little different from that of their pretended Reformation.

For myself, I was all the while uncertain with regard to my own fate, and I saw that I had every thing to fear from such people. I addressed myself, therefore, to the holy guardian angels, and I began a Novena[14] in their honor, not doubting but they would cause something to turn to my advantage. I prayed them to assist me in this difficult emergency in which I found myself; and I should say here,[58] to give a higher sanction to this devotion, so well known and so established in the usage of the Church, what I have recognized in my own particular case, that I have received each day the signal blessings of God, through the intercession of these heavenly spirits.

However, as soon as night approached,—that is to say, towards six o’clock, for that is the time at which the sun sets here during the whole year,—the English drum commenced beating. They assembled on the Place, and posted their sentinels on all sides. That being done, the rest of the crew, as long as the night lasted, did not cease eating and drinking. For myself, I was constantly visited in my hammock, since they feared, without doubt, that I would try to escape. In this way they were mistaken; for two reasons detained me. The first was, that I had given them my parole, by which I had again constituted myself their prisoner, and I could not go out of their hands except by means of exchange or ransom. The second was, that, as long as I remained with them, I had some slight hope that I might recover the sacred vessels, or at least the vestments and other furniture of my church. As soon as it was day, the pillage recommenced, with the same confusion and the same disorder as the day before. Each carried to the fort whatever happened to fall into his hands, and threw it down in a pile. One arrived wearing an old cassock; another in a woman’s petticoat; a third with the crown of a bonnet on his head. It was the same with those who guarded the booty. They searched in the heap of clothes, and when they found any thing which suited their fancy,—as a peruke, a laced chapeau, or a dress,—they immediately put it on, and made three or four turns through the room, with great satisfaction, after which they resumed their fantastical rags.[59] They were like a band of monkeys or of savages, who had never been away from the depths of the forest. A parasol or a mirror, the smallest article of furniture a little showy, excited their admiration. This did not surprise me, when I learned that they had scarcely any communication with Europe, and that Rodelan was a kind of little republic, which did not pay any tribute to the King of England, which elected its own governor every year, and which had not even any silver money, but only notes for daily commerce; for this is the impression I gained from all they told me.[15]

In the evening, the lieutenant informed himself of every thing which related to the dwellings of the French along the river,—how many there were of them, at what distances they were, how many inhabitants each had, &c. Afterwards, he took with him ten men, and one of the young Frenchmen who had already served as guide to surprise us; and, after having made all the necessary preparations, they set out, and went up the river. But they found nothing, or very few articles, because the colonists, having been warned by our fugitives, had placed all their effects in concealment, and particularly their negroes, who, more than any thing else, excited the cupidity of the English. Finding themselves thus disappointed in their hopes, they spent their anger on the buildings, which they burned, without, however, injuring the plantations. This, however, caused us to suspect that they had some intentions of returning.

As to those of us who were in the fort, we spent this night very much like the preceding,—the same agitations, the same excesses on the part of our enemies, and the same[60] disquietude on our part. The second lieutenant, who was left in command, did not lose sight of me, fearing, without doubt, that I wished to profit by the absence of the captain and the first lieutenant to make my escape. I had a great deal of difficulty in reassuring them on this point, and could not convince them. People of this kind, accustomed to judge others by themselves, are not able to imagine that an honorable man, that a priest, was able and obliged to keep his parole in such a case.

When the day dawned, he seemed a little less uneasy on my account. Towards eight o’clock, they all placed themselves at table; and, after a miserable repast, one of them attempted to enter into a controversy with me. He put many questions to me about Confession, about the worship which we gave to the Cross, to images, &c. “Do you confess your parishioners?” he presently asked me.

“Yes,” I replied, “whenever they come to me; but they do not do so as often as they should, or as I could wish them, for the zeal I have for the salvation of their souls.”

“And do you really think,” he added, “that their sins are remitted as soon as they have declared them to you?”

“No, assuredly,” I said to him; “a mere confession is not sufficient to produce this. It is necessary that it should be accompanied by a true sorrow for the past and a sincere resolution for the future, without which auricular Confession will have no efficacy to blot out sins.”

“And as to the images and the Cross,” he replied, “do you think that the prayer would be equally efficacious without this, which is the external of religion?”

“The prayer is good, without doubt,” I answered him; “but permit me to ask you, with regard to yourself, why in families do they preserve the portraits of a father, a[61] mother, or their ancestors? Is it not principally to awaken their own remembrances in thinking of the benefits they have received from them, and to animate them to follow their good examples? For it is not exactly the picture which they honor, but it brings back to them all which it represents. In the same manner, you need not imagine that we Roman Catholics adore the wood or the brass; but we use it to nourish, so to say, our devotion. For how could a reasonable being remain unaffected while beholding the figure of a God dying on the Cross for His love to us? What effect may not be produced on the soul and the heart by the image of a martyr who is giving his life for Jesus Christ?”

“Oh, I do not understand it so,” said the Englishman to me; and I well knew from his manner that their ministers deceive them in telling them that the Papists, as they call us, superstitiously reverence and adore the Cross and the images, valuing them for themselves.[16]

I was anxiously waiting for the return of those who had been to visit the dwellings, when they came to me to say that it was necessary I should go on board the ship, as Captain Potter wished to see me and speak with me. I had done every thing in my power by urging, soliciting, and representing, as earnestly as I was able, all the reasons I had for not embarking so soon. But I could gain nothing, and I was obliged to obey in spite of myself. The commander of the party on shore, who, in the absence of the others, was the second lieutenant, when I came to speak to him on this point, taking hold of his tongue with one hand, and with the other making a semblance of piercing or cutting it, gave me to understand that, if I said any[62] more, I might expect bad treatment. I had reason to think that he was annoyed at the strong and pathetic address I had made with regard to the profanation of the ornaments of the church and the sacred vessels.

We embarked, therefore, towards three o’clock in the afternoon, in a canoe; and, although the ship was not much more than three leagues distant (the captain having now caused it to enter the river), we nevertheless only reached it in about eight hours, in consequence of the remissness of the rowers, who were constantly drinking. When at a great distance I saw the hull of the vessel by the light of the moon, it seemed to me to be entirely out of the water. It had, indeed, run aground on the shore, and had only a depth of three feet of water. This was the occasion of great alarm to me; for I imagined that this might be the fault of my negro, whom they had selected as one of the pilots, and I thought that the captain had sent to seek me to make me bear the penalty which my slave merited, or at least that I should perish with the others in case the ship should be wrecked. What confirmed me for some time in this sad supposition was the little degree of welcome I received; but I have since been informed that there was no design in this, and that the cold reception which alarmed me was caused by the fact that they were all busy in working the vessel, to relieve themselves as soon as possible from the uncomfortable position in which they were.

As soon as our canoe had reached the ship, I saw descending and coming to me a young man, who murdered the French language in some little attempt to speak it, and who took my hand, kissed it, and informed me that he was an Irishman and a Roman Catholic. He even made the sign of the Cross, which he did indifferently well; and he added[63] that, in right of his office as second gunner, he had a berth which he wished to give me, and that, if any one should take it into his head to show me the least disrespect, he well knew how to avenge it. This introduction, though shared in by a man who seemed to be very drunk, did not fail to tranquillize me somewhat. He gave me his hand, to aid me in climbing up to the deck by means of the ropes. Scarcely had I mounted thither when I encountered my negro. I asked him at once why he caused the ship to run aground, and was reassured when he told me that it was the fault of the captain, who was obstinate in holding his course in the middle of the river, although he had repeatedly told him that the channel ran near the shore. At the same time the captain appeared on the quarter-deck, and told me, with great coldness, to go down into the cabin, after which he continued to devote himself to working the vessel.

My Irishman, however, did not leave me, but, sitting at the door, renewed his protestations of good-will, assuring me always that he was a Roman Catholic; that he wished to confess before I left the ship; that he had formerly received the Sacrament, &c. And, as in all his conversation, he constantly mingled invectives against the English nation, they made him leave me, forbidding him to speak with me for the future, under penalty of chastisement. He received this with a very bad grace; swearing, blustering, and protesting that he would speak with me in spite of them.

However, he went away; and scarcely had he gone when another came, as drunk as the first, and, like him, too, an Irishman. He was the surgeon, who at first addressed me with some Latin words,—Pater, misereor. I attempted to reply to him in Latin; but I soon found that these words[64] constituted the whole of his knowledge of the language; and, as he was no better acquainted with French, we could hold no conversation together.

In the mean while it grew late, and I felt sleepiness pressing on me, having scarcely closed my eyes during the preceding nights. I did not know where to go to obtain a little repose. The ship was so careened over that it was necessary to be continually fastened to prevent one’s self rolling. I wanted to lie down in one of the three berths; but I did not dare, for fear some one would immediately force me to leave it. The captain saw my embarrassment, and, touched with the miserable figure we made, sitting on the chests,—the storekeeper and myself,—he told us we could lodge in the berth at the bottom of the cabin. He even added, politely, that he regretted not being able to give one to each, but his ship was too small to do so. I very willingly accepted his offer, and we arranged for ourselves as well as we could on a pile of rags.

Notwithstanding all the disquietudes of my situation, I was drowsy from weariness, and during the night slept half the time. Being half the time awake, I perceived that the vessel had begun moving. It insensibly floated; and, to prevent it from afterwards settling down again, they drove two yard-arms into the mud, one on each side, which should hold the hull of the vessel in equilibrium.

As soon as day came, and it was necessary to take some nourishment, I had a new source of torment, for the water was so offensive that I was not able even to taste it. The Indians and negroes, who certainly are not at all fastidious, preferred to drink the water of the river, however muddy and brackish it may be. I inquired, therefore, of the captain why he did not procure other water, since very near[65] this was a spring, to which I was accustomed to send to procure the water I used at the fort. He made no reply, thinking, perhaps, that I wished to lead him into some ambush. But, after having thoroughly questioned the French, the negroes, and the Indians, whom he had taken prisoners, he determined to send the long-boat to land, with my slave. It made many trips during that and the following days; so that we all had the pleasure of having good water, although many scarcely used it, preferring the wine and rum which they had on the deck at will.

I ought, however, to say in commendation of the captain that he was entirely sober. He even frequently expressed to me the pain he felt at the excesses of his crew, to whom, according to the custom of these pirates, he was obliged to allow an abundance of liberty. He made me afterwards a disclosure, which was sufficiently pleasant.

“Monsieur,” he said to me, “do you know that tomorrow, being the fifth of November, according to our method of computation” [for we French people count it to be the fifteenth], “the English have a great festival?”

“And what is the festival?” I asked him.

“We burn the Pope,” he answered, laughing.

“Explain to me,” I said; “what is this ceremony?”

“They dress up in a burlesque style,” he said, “a kind of ridiculous figure, which they call the Pope, and which they afterwards burn, while singing some ballads; and all this is in commemoration of the day when the Court of Rome separated England from its communion.[17] To-morrow,” he[66] continued, “our people who are on shore will perform this ceremony at the fort.”

After a while, he caused his pennon and flag to be hoisted. The sailors manned the yard-arms, the drum was beaten, they fired the cannon, and all shouted, five times, “Long live the King!” This having been done, he called one of the sailors, who, to the great delight of those who understood his language, chanted a very long ballad, which I judged to be the recital of all this unworthy story. You see in this, my Reverend Father, an instance which fully confirms what all the world knew before, that heresy always pushes to an extreme its animosity against the visible Head of the Church.

During the night a large boat came to us, manned by rowers. The captain, who was always on his guard, and who was not able to lay aside the idea that our people were seeking to surprise him, caused them immediately to clear the decks. They at once fired their swivel-gun; but the boat, having made its signal, all was again quiet. It was the lieutenant, who had been to plunder the dwellings along the river. He reported that he had only visited two or three plantations, which he had found entirely deserted. He added that he was going to ascend the river again, to consign every thing to the flames. In fact, after having supped and had sufficient consultation with his principal, he departed again. I asked permission to go with him as far[67] as the fort to look for my papers, but it was refused me. However, to soften a little the pain which this denial gave me, Captain Potter promised that he himself would go thither with me. I therefore summoned up my patience, and endeavored by a little sleep to repair the loss of the preceding night; but it was useless. The noise, the confusion, and the bad smells did not allow me to close my eyes.

On Sunday morning, I waited to see some religious service, for up to this time I had not recognized any mark of Christianity; but every thing went on as usual, so that I could not refrain from showing my surprise. The captain told me “that in their sect each one worshipped God in his own way; that they had among them, as elsewhere, the good and the bad; and that ‘he who acted right would be approved.’” At the same time he took out of his chest a book of devotion; and I noticed that, during this day and the following Sunday, he occasionally looked at it.[19] As he always seemed to me to be very reasonable, I took pains, from time to time, to introduce into my conversation some word of controversy or of morality, which he received very well, having explained to him by the interpreters what he did not himself understand. He even told me one day “that he did not wish longer to pursue the business of privateering; that God might to-day give him property, which, perhaps, might shortly be taken away from him by others; that he was well aware he should take nothing away with him in dying; but, nevertheless, I should not expect to find more piety in a French, or even in a Spanish, privateer than I[68] saw in his ship; because these sorts of armaments were scarcely compatible with the exercises of devotion,” I confess to you, my Reverend Father, that I was astonished to hear such sentiments in the mouth of an American Huguenot[20]; for every one knows how entirely this part of the world is removed from the kingdom of God and every thing which can lead to it. I have often exhorted him to pray the Lord for light, and that He would not allow him to die in the darkness of heresy, in which he had the misfortune to be born and brought up.

As the boats were constantly going and coming, from the shore to the vessel and from the vessel to the shore, transporting the pillage, one came that very evening, bringing a French soldier and five Indians. He was one of our soldiers, who, fifteen days before, had been to seek the Indians to engage them to work, and, not knowing that the English were masters of the fort, had run into their hands. I represented to Captain Potter that, as the Indians were free among us, he neither ought to nor could take them prisoners, particularly as they had not been found with arms in their hands. But he answered me “that this kind of people were used for slaves in Rodelan, and that he should take them thither in spite of all that I could say.” He has, in fact, carried them away, with the Aroüas whom he had first captured in the Bay of Oyapoc. Perhaps he has a fancy to return to this country, and intends to use these miserable beings in making his descent on the coast, or perhaps he will release them at Surinam.

I had, nevertheless, on Monday morning, reminded him[69] of the promise he had made me that he would take me on shore; but he was not then able to do any thing, and I was obliged to content myself with fair words, so that I despaired of ever again visiting my old home. On Tuesday, however, he came to me to say that, if I wished to go to the fort, he would take me. I most willingly accepted the offer; but, before I embarked, he strongly recommended to me not to attempt flight, because, he assured me, I would be stopped by the discharge of a gun. I reassured him on that point, and we set out.

The commander of the boat was the second lieutenant, the same who had threatened to cut my tongue; and, as I complained to the captain, who had, without doubt, spoken to him about it, he made the strongest apologies on that point to me while on the way, and showed me a thousand acts of politeness.

Before I was scarcely aware of it, we arrived at our destination; and immediately I saw all those who were guarding the fort come to the landing, some with guns and others with swords, to receive me. Little accustomed to good faith, perhaps, they were always afraid that I should escape from them, in spite of all that I was able to say to quiet them on my account.

After we had taken a little rest, I asked to go to my house, and they conducted me thither under a strong escort. I began by first visiting the church, to enable me to see for the last time what was its condition. As I was not able to restrain my tears and sighs on seeing the altars overturned, the pictures torn, the sacred stones broken in pieces and scattered on every side, the two principal members of the band said to me “that they were very sorry for all this disorder; that it was done contrary to their intentions by the[70] sailors, the negroes, and the Indians, in the excitement of pillage and the heat of drunkenness, and that they made their apologies to me for it.” I assured them “that it was of God principally; and, first of all, they should ask pardon for such a desecration of His temple, and that they had great reason to fear lest He should avenge Himself, and punish them as they deserved.” I then threw myself on my knees, and made a special confession to God, to the Holy Virgin, and to Saint Joseph, in honor of whom I had set up these altars to excite the devotion of my parishioners; after which I arose, and we went on to my house.

I had five or six persons around me, who most strictly watched all my steps every moment, and, above all, the direction in which I looked. I did not then understand the occasion of all this attention on their part, but I have since learned it. These good people, avaricious to the last extreme, imagined that I had money concealed, and that, when I showed so much anxiety to return to shore, it was to see whether any one had discovered my treasure. We entered the house, then, together; and it was the occasion of sincere sorrow to me, I must confess, to see the frightful disorder in which it was.

It is now nearly seventeen years since I came for the first time to Oyapoc, and began to collect all that was necessary for the foundation of these Indian missions, foreseeing that this section of country, where the savages are so numerous, would furnish a great career for our zeal, and that the parish of Oyapoc would become, as it were, the storehouse of all the other establishments. I had not ceased ever after to be always making better provision, through the charitable cares of one of our Fathers, who wished to be my particular correspondent at Cayenne. God has permitted that one[71] single day should destroy the fruit of so much labor and of so many years, that His holy name might be praised. What gave me most concern was, to know that the three missionaries who remained in that quarter were stripped of every thing, without my having it in my power for the present to procure even the merest necessaries, notwithstanding all the liberality and the good intentions of our Superiors.

At last, after having gone rapidly through all the small apartments, which were used as lodgings for our Fathers when they came to visit me, I entered my study. I found all my books and papers on the ground, scattered, mingled together, and half torn to pieces. I took what I could; but, as they pressed me to finish, I was obliged to return to the fort.

In a few hours afterwards, those arrived who had been to plunder the dwellings; and, after being a little refreshed, they continued their route to the ship, carrying with them what they had pillaged, which, by their own acknowledgment and to their great regret, was inconsiderable.

The next day, all the morning was passed in making up packages, in destroying the furniture which remained in the different houses, and in tearing off the locks and hinges of the doors, particularly those which were made of brass. At last, about mid-day, they set fire to the houses of the inhabitants, which were shortly reduced to ashes, having been only roofed with straw, according to the custom of the country. As I saw that mine would certainly share the same fate, I was very pressing to be conducted thither, that I might recover more of my books and papers than I had hitherto been able to secure. The second lieutenant, who was then in command, made a parade before me of[72] discharging a pistol, which he carried in his belt, and then he immediately loaded it, taking great pains that I should see it. I have since learned why he took so much trouble in this matter. Immediately afterwards, he said to me that, if I wished to go to my house, he would conduct me.

Having reached my house, I went again to look for certain papers; and, as there remained with me only a single sailor, who spoke French, all the others being a little scattered, he said to me, “My Father, all our people are at a distance; save yourself, if you wish.” I was well aware that he wished me to attempt it, and I therefore replied coldly to him “that men of my profession do not know what it is to break their word.” I added “that, if I had wished to take to flight, I could long ago have done so, as there had been many favorable opportunities while they were amusing themselves with pillaging or drinking.”

At length, after having thoroughly searched everywhere without finding any thing more, I informed them that I had finished, and that we could go when it pleased them. Then the lieutenant approached me, with a grave and threatening air, and told me, through the interpreter, “that I must show the place where I had concealed my money, or I would find myself in trouble.” I answered, with that confidence which truth gives, “that I had not concealed any money; that, if I had thought to put any thing in a place of safety, I should have begun with those things that are used at the altar.” “Deny the fact as you will,” the interpreter then replied to me by order of the officer, “we are certain, and cannot doubt it, that you have a large amount of money, for the soldiers who are our prisoners on board have told us so; and yet we have found but very little in your wardrobe. You must, therefore, have concealed it;[73] and, if you do not immediately give it up, take care of yourself. You know that my pistol is not badly loaded.” I fell on my knees, saying “that they were masters of my life, since I was in their hands and at their will; that if, however, they wished to go to that extreme, I begged them to allow me a moment for prayer; that, for the rest, I had no other money than what they had already taken.” At last, after having left me for some time in that position, and looking at each other, they told me to rise and follow them. They took me under the gallery of the house, which was built over a little grove of cocoa-trees, which I had planted like an orchard, and, having made me sit down, the lieutenant also took a chair, and then putting on an air of gayety, he said, “that I had no occasion for fear, as they did not intend to do me any injury; but that it was impossible I had not concealed any thing, since there was sufficient time, as I had seen them from before my door when they came to take the fort.” I replied to him, what I had already said so often, “that we had been so much terrified by the noise they made during the night, with their shouts and cries, and the incessant firing they kept up, that at first we thought of nothing but escaping death by a speedy flight; the more so as we imagined that they had scattered themselves at the same time through all the houses.”

“But, after all,” he replied, “the French prisoners are well acquainted with your means. Why should they have told us that you had plenty of money, if it were not true?”

“Do you not see,” said I, “that they wished to conciliate you, and make their court to you at my expense?”

“No, no,” he continued; “it is because you do not wish to give up your money. I nevertheless assure you, and I give you my word of honor, that you shall have your liberty,[74] and that we will release you here without burning your houses, if you will, after all, show your treasure.”

“It is entirely useless,” I answered him, wearied with all these conversations, “that you follow me up with these earnest appeals. Again, once for all, I have nothing else to say to you but what I have so often repeated.”

He then spoke to the sailor who acted as interpreter, and who had kept his eyes on me during all this interview, to see whither I directed my looks. He then went out to visit my cocoa-grove. I then recalled a little interview I had with the captain, a few days before. I said to him “that, if the sentinels had done their duty, and given us notice of the arrival of the enemy, we would have concealed our most valuable effects.”

“In what place,” he asked me, “would you have hid all these things? Would you have hid them in the ground?”

“No,” I replied; “we would have been contented with carrying them into the woods, and covering them with branches.”

It was, then, for this, that these cunning pirates, who weigh and put together all our words, imagining that I did not have sufficient time to carry very far what I esteemed most precious, were induced, as the last effort of their cupidity and distrust, to make a search under the trees in my garden. But it was impossible that they should find what had never been placed there; so the sailor soon grew tired of searching; and, he having returned, we went together to the fort,—they without any booty, and I with some few of the papers I had collected.

Then for some time they consulted together, and about three o’clock they went to set my house on fire. I prayed them at least to spare the church, and this they promised[75] me. But, notwithstanding, they burned it; and when I complained, they told me that the winds, which that day were very high there, had undoubtedly carried thither some sparks, which had set it on fire. With this answer I was obliged to be contented, leaving to God the time, the care, and the manner of avenging the insult offered to His house. For myself, seeing the flames rising up to the clouds, and having my heart pained with the most lively sorrow, I began to recite the seventy-eighth Psalm, “Deus venerunt gentes,” &c. (“O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance,” &c.)

At last, after every thing was carried to the boats, we ourselves embarked. It was a little after five o’clock; and the sailors, who were to follow us in two small boats, finished by burning all the buildings of the fort. At length, having rowed out a little into the river, and allowing themselves to clear the shore very slowly with the current, they shouted many times, “Houra,” which is their “Vive le roi,” and their cry of joy. They had not, however, any great occasion to pride themselves on their expedition, since, had it not been for the black treason which delivered us into their hands, they would never have succeeded. Neither was it of any use; because, though they had inflicted a great injury on us, they had themselves derived very little profit from it.

I had expected to find the ship where I left it; but it had already stood off in such a way that we did not arrive there till the night was far advanced; so that they did not discharge their booty until the next day, the morning of the 19th of the month. During the whole of this day they made no progress, although they used their oars, as their sails were useless for want of wind. This delay disquieted me[76] very much, because I wished as soon as possible to know my fate. “Would they leave me at Cayenne?” I said to myself. “Will they carry me to Surinam? Will they take me to Barbadoes? or even as far as New England?” And, as I was occupying myself with these inquiries, lying in my berth, which I was not able to quit on account of my great weakness and the seasickness, which afflicted me terribly, some one came to tell me that they had sent on shore three of our soldiers, with one old Indian, captured in the canoe of the Aroüas, of which I have already spoken. I was a little surprised; and, on asking the captain the reason, he told me that it made so many useless mouths the less.

“And why,” said I, “do you not do the same towards all the other prisoners?”

“It is,” said he, “because I am waiting for a good ransom for the rest of you.”

He would have given a much truer excuse if he had said, that, wishing to make a descent on Cayenne, he was afraid that some of his people might be captured, in which case he wished to have some with whom to make an exchange, which did in reality happen, as we shall see in the end.

The wind having freshened a little in the evening, we continued our voyage through the whole night, and before noon approached Cayenne, off a high rock named Connestable, and which is five or six leagues distant. They had already learned of the disaster which had befallen Oyapoc,—perhaps by a note which a young Indian had written, or perhaps through some inhabitants of Aproakac, who had come to take refuge at Cayenne. But they were ignorant of all the circumstances; and the public, as it commonly happens in such cases, set in circulation many reports, each one more false than the last. Some said that every person[77] at Oyapoc had been massacred, and that I, in particular, had suffered a thousand cruelties. Others published that there were many ships there, and that Cayenne would be obliged to submit to the same fate. What seemed to give a little sanction to the last news was, that the ship which had captured us carried with it three boats, which, with the long-boat, made five vessels. All having sails and looming up, at a distance caused them to make a formidable appearance to those who were on shore.

For myself,—in the persuasion I had that our Fathers, whom I had left in the woods, or some other of the French who had fled, would not fail to go as soon as possible to Cayenne to give them certain intelligence of our sad lot, or at least to forward ample information with regard to it,—I imagined they would send some one to rescue me. But I was deceiving myself, and they were entirely ignorant of every thing that had happened to me. So Friday passed, and the next day we cast anchor very near the Enfant Perdu. This is a rock, distant from the land six thousand and thirteen toises,[21] as it has been exactly measured by M. de la Condamine, member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, on his return from Peru.

Towards nine o’clock in the morning, after a great stir in the ship, I saw two large boats set out, which went to a little river called Macouria, especially to plunder the residence of a certain lady; in revenge, they said, for some grievances which had been previously suffered by the English, who had gone there to purchase syrups. For, my Reverend Father, you must know that in time of peace that nation trades to this place, principally to furnish horses[78] for the sugar plantations.[22] As I saw but thirteen men in each boat, including two Frenchmen, who were to serve as guides, I began from that moment to entertain some hopes of my liberty; because I fully believed, as the weather was very clear, they would see this manœuvre from the land, and not fail to fall upon them. I was thus indulging in these pleasant thoughts when they came to tell me that the boats were about to go first to Couron, which is about four leagues distant from Macouria, to capture there, if possible, Father Lombard, the missionary, who had labored with so much success and for so long a time in Guyane, in the conversion of the Indians. Their object was, that they might exact a ransom for him in conformity with his age and merits.

I leave you to imagine how like the stroke of a thunderbolt news of this kind came upon me, for I was well assured that, if this worthy missionary should be brought on board our ship, he would entirely sink under the fatigue. But Providence, which was not willing to afflict our missions to this extent, defeated their plan. They ran aground on the way, and were obliged to hold to their first design, which was to ravage Macouria alone. They, in fact, arrived there on Sunday morning, and spent that day and the following night in pillaging and destroying the dwelling which was the object of their hate. On Monday morning, after having set fire to the buildings, they returned on board, without having received the least opposition from any one. The negroes were so thoroughly terrified that they did not dare to show themselves, and the French who[79] had been dispatched from Cayenne on Sunday morning had not yet been able to reach there.

During this expedition, those who had remained with me in the ship reasoned each one in accordance with his desires or his fears. Some prophesied a fortunate result to this enterprise, and others wished for it. At length, as each one was thus indulging in his own peculiar views, I saw again a great movement on board of our ship, towards three o’clock in the afternoon. It was caused by the departure of the boatswain, an energetic man, bold and determined, who, in command of nine men only, went in the long-boat to attempt a descent on the coast very near Cayenne, using as his guide a negro, who knew the coast, because he was a native of it. Perhaps also Captain Potter wished to make a diversion, and in that way prevent their sending a force from Cayenne against those of his people who had gone to Macouria.

However that might be, when I first learned the departure of the long-boat I could not doubt but that the Lord wished to relieve me from my captivity, persuaded as I was that, if the first party was not attacked, the second certainly would be. And what I anticipated in reality took place. The ten Englishmen, after having pillaged one of our dwellings, were encountered by a company of French, and entirely defeated. Three were killed on the spot, and seven were made prisoners. On our side there was but one soldier wounded, in the shoulder, by a musket-shot. As to my poor negro, it is surprising that in this fight he was not even wounded. The Lord, without doubt, wished to recompense him for his fidelity to his master. It was from him that they at length learned at Cayenne the particulars of the capture of Oyapoc, and every thing that related to me personally.


We who were on board were exceedingly anxious to learn the result of all these expeditions; but nothing came either from the shore or from Macouria. At last, when the sun began to appear, and it became sufficiently light for us to see at a distance, there was a constant stream of sailors going up to the round-top and coming down, who always reported that they could see nothing. But at nine o’clock, Captain Potter came himself to tell me that he had seen three boats which, leaving Cayenne, had gone in the direction of Macouria, and no doubt were in pursuit of his people. To tranquillize him a little, I answered, “that they might be the boats of the inhabitants, who, after having heard Mass, were returning to their homes.”

“No,” he replied, “those are boats full of people. I have seen them perfectly with my glass, at a distance.”

“Your people,” I suggested, “will perhaps have left the river before the others reach it, and after that there can be no collision.”

“All this does not worry me,” he said. “My people are well armed and full of courage. The fortunes of war must decide it, if the two parties meet.”

“But what do you think of your long-boat?” I asked him.

“I think it is captured,” he said.

“Excuse me,” said I to him, “if I say to you that there was a little temerity in your running the risk of a descent with so small a force. Do you, then, imagine that Cayenne is an Oyapoc?”

“That was far from being my idea,” he answered; “but it is the too great ardor and excessive energy of the boatswain which has caused it. So much the worse for him if he has come to evil! I am, however, sorry for it,” he continued; “for I have a great esteem for him, and he was[81] very necessary to me. He has, without doubt, exceeded my orders; for I had advised him not to land, but only to examine from a short distance as to the most commodious place to disembark.”

After we had thus conferred together for a short time, he caused them to raise the anchor, and approached as near as possible to land and to Macouria. His object was as much to cut off the way for our boats, as to cover his people and shorten the return for them.

Nevertheless, all Sunday passed in great anxiety. Our enemies were aware of the fact that there were three ships in the harbor, because the boats going to Macouria had approached sufficiently near the port to discover them, and they had made the signal agreed upon with Captain Potter. But some had fears lest these vessels might come out and attack the ship during the night. So, about seven o’clock in the evening, they placed two swivel-guns in the windows, besides the twelve which were on deck along the sides of the ship. But the captain was very composed. He told me “that, so far from fearing that they would come and attack him, he, on the contrary, desired it; hoping thus to gain possession of those who should dare to approach him.” He was thoroughly armed as a privateer: sabres, pistols, guns, lances, grenades, balls filled with bitumen and sulphur, grape-shot,—nothing was wanting.

I believe that no one slept that night. However, nothing appeared, either from Macouria or Cayenne, which was the cause of great uneasiness to us all. At length, at eight o’clock in the morning, the captain came to tell me that he had seen a great deal of smoke on the shore at Macouria, and that his people had without doubt set fire to the buildings of Madame Gislet. (This is the name of the lady to[82] whose residence the English had particularly directed their attention.) “I am very sorry,” he added, “for I had expressly forbidden them to burn any thing.” A little while after, they saw from the height of the round-top five canoes or boats, some of which seemed to be pursuing each other. They were our French people, who were giving chase to the English. Captain Potter, an able man in his profession, at once perceived this, and took measures accordingly; for he raised his anchor, and made again a movement to approach them. He called all his people to arms, having at the same time obliged all the prisoners, whether French or English, to descend into the hold. I wished myself to go there also; but he told me I could remain in my cabin, and he would notify me when it was time.

In the midst of this excitement, one of the boats which had come from Macouria drew nigh, as by dint of rowing; and to assure themselves that they were English, those in the vessel raised their pennant and flag and fired a gun, to which the boats having responded by the discharge of a musket, the signal on which they had agreed, tranquillity succeeded this first movement of fear. But there remained as yet one boat behind, which was coming very slowly with the pagaye (a kind of scull, or oar, which the Indians use to row their canoes), and they feared that it would be captured by our boats. No sooner, therefore, had the officer who commanded the first discharged in haste the little they had brought with them, than he hurried back to convoy it. After having conducted it to its destination, and all the little booty they had taken having been embarked in the ship, each one thought of refreshing himself to the utmost for the fatigues of this marauding. Punch, lemonade, wine, brandy, sugar,—nothing was spared. Thus passed the rest of the day and the night of Sunday to Monday.


Among all these successes,—which, however inconsiderable they really might be, were yet occasions of triumph for them,—there remained one great source of chagrin, which was the capture of the long-boat and of the ten men who had landed in it. It became necessary, therefore, to think seriously of some means of rescuing them. For this reason, on Monday morning, after having consulted among themselves and held council after council, they came to find me, to say that, their ship dragging considerably, perhaps on account of the currents, which are very strong in these latitudes, or perhaps because they had only one small anchor remaining, they could not longer hold their anchorage, and they thought, therefore, of going to Surinam, a Dutch colony, twenty-four leagues or thereabouts from Cayenne; but, however, they very much wished to receive first some news of their long-boat and the people who had landed on Saturday.

I told them, in reply, “that this was very easy; that it was only necessary to fit out one of the boats which they had taken from us, and to send it to Cayenne with the proposal for an exchange of prisoners.”

“But would they be willing to receive us?” they asked me; “would they not inflict on us some injury? Would they permit us to return?”

It was easy for me to remove doubts which had so little foundation, by telling them, as is the case, “that the law of nations is the same in all countries; that the French did not pride themselves less than the English in observing it; that nothing was so common among civilized people as to see the generals mutually sending heralds-at-arms, trumpeters, or drummers, to carry their terms of agreement; and that, therefore, they need have no fear for those of their crew whom they might send to land.”


After renewed consultations, which they held among themselves, they began to make their proposals, some of which I found to be entirely unreasonable. For example, they wished to have returned to them their boat with all the arms, and to have all the prisoners released, whatever might be their number, in exchange for only four Frenchmen, which was our number.

I answered him, “that I did not think they would accede to this article of war; that, as far as it related to men, the usage is to change them head for head.”

“But, you alone, do you not value yourself as much as thirty sailors?” said one of the crowd to me.

“No, certainly,” I answered; “a man of my profession, in time of war, should not count for any thing.”

“All this is very well for wit,” said the captain; “but, since you take it in that way, I must go and make sail. I am able very well to bear the loss of ten men; it leaves me a large enough crew to continue my voyage.”

Immediately he went out of the cabin to give his orders, and they began working the ship, &c. But, through all this manœuvring, I saw very well that it was only a feint on their part to intimidate me and induce me to offer them two thousand piastres, which they had already demanded for my ransom.

Nevertheless, as I had a great desire to free myself from their hands, although I did not let it appear outwardly, I took occasion to call Captain Potter and say to him, “that he need not be influenced by my views; that he could at any time send a boat to Cayenne to make the proposals which he judged proper, leaving it to Monsieur the Commandant to accept or reject them.” He followed this suggestion, and begged me myself to dictate the letter which[85] he wished written; and this I did, as his secretary, following exactly what he caused me to say.

I also, on my own account, wrote a few words to Monsieur d’Orvilliers and Father de Villeconte (our Superior-General), praying the first to stipulate in the articles of negotiation, if he had an opportunity, that they should return to me every thing in their possession belonging to my church; offering myself to pay as much silver in weight as would equal that of the silver vessels, and a certain sum on which we would agree for the furniture, ornaments, and linen. At the same time, I begged our Father, if this negotiation succeeded, to send me the silver and the necessary balance for the account, by the return of the boat, to the place where the exchange of prisoners was to be made,—that is to say, half-way between the ship and the land.

All these letters being prepared, the boat was dispatched, and they sent in it, as the bearer of these letters, a sergeant who had been made prisoner at Oyapoc. He was ordered to use the utmost diligence; and, as he was an energetic man, we should have had a prompt reply, but the wind and the current were so contrary that they could not make the port of Cayenne. We were all exceedingly disappointed: the English, because they began to be in want of water and their ship drifted again considerably, having only, as I have said, one small anchor, which they were obliged to manage with a grappling-iron; and we Frenchmen, because we were very anxious to regain our liberty. It was necessary, however, to be patient and to resign ourselves to the will of God until He should cause some new way to be opened.

At last, on Wednesday morning, having determined to ask the captain what course he had determined to pursue,[86] I was agreeably surprised by hearing him say “that if I wished to go to Cayenne I was my own master, with the condition that I should cause to be sent back all the English who were prisoners there.”

“That does not depend upon me,” I said to him; “but I will promise to make every effort with Monsieur the Commandant to obtain it.”

After some slight objections, which I easily removed, we wrote a new letter to Monsieur d’Orvilliers, of which I was to be the bearer, and, every thing being ready, we embarked—four French and five English—to go to Cayenne. In taking leave of the captain, I said to him, “that if the war continued, and he or any others of his nation should come to Cayenne, I could not again be made prisoner.” He answered me, “that he knew that already; the custom being not twice to make prisoner of the same person in the course of the same war, at least, unless he should be taken with arms in his hands.”

I then thanked him for his honorable treatment of myself, and, grasping his hand, I said to him: “Monsieur, two things give me pain at this parting. It is not exactly the pillage you have made at Oyapoc, because the French will perhaps return you the same with interest; but it is, in the first place, because we have not both of us the same faith; and in the second place, because your people have not been willing to return to me the furniture of my church on the conditions I proposed, reasonable as they are, for it causes me to fear lest the profanation of what belongs to the temple of the Lord may draw down His anger upon you. I would advise you,” I added, while embracing him, “to pray God each day to enlighten you as to the true way to heaven; for as there is but one God, so there can be[87] but one true faith.” After which I descended into the boat which was to carry us; and immediately I saw all the crew come up on deck, the flag and pennant were hoisted, the gun was fired, and we were many times saluted with “Houras,” to which we replied as often with “Vive le roi.”

Scarcely had we gone a quarter of a league on our way when the ship got under sail, and, toward five o’clock, we lost sight of her. The sea, however, was very rough, and we had only miserable oars to row with, when, to complete our difficulty, our rudder became disabled. A hinge, which was held in its place by a screw below, came out and fell into the sea. We then resorted to the only expedient in our power, that of attaching the ring of the rudder to the stern-post of the boat; but the iron shortly wore off the cord, and we found ourselves in great danger. What increased our fear was, that the night became very dark, and we were far distant from land. We determined, therefore, to anchor until next morning, when we could find out some way to relieve ourselves from this unfortunate condition. As the English appreciated better than we did the peril in which we were, one of them proposed to me to hoist the lantern high up on one of the masts, as a signal for succor. But I represented to him its uselessness, because we were too far distant to be seen, and, besides, no one would dare to come to us in the uncertainty whether we were friends or enemies.

Thus we passed a distressing night, between life and death; and what was very remarkable is, that we had anchored, without knowing it, between two large rocks, which we did not see until day dawned. After having returned thanks to God for having so visibly protected us, we resolved to gain the river, that, if possible, we might[88] repair the boat, or procure another at the neighboring dwellings, or, as a last resource, go by land to Cayenne. But behold! a new accident. As we took down the large mast, not having much strength of crew, they allowed it to go on the opposite side from that on which it should naturally fall. We all thought it would have crushed M. de la Landerie, but happily he had only some slight bruises. We took at that time—the sergeant and myself—one oar to steer, the others each taking one to row; and, aided partly by the wind (for we carried our foremast to enable us to avoid the breakers), and partly by the tide, which began to rise, but, above all, conducted by the Divine Providence which guided us, on the morning of the 26th we entered the little river Macouria, which I have already mentioned. None of us were acquainted with the channel; so that the English themselves earnestly avowed that it was God who had conducted us, safe and sound, in spite of the great dangers.

Our first object was to obtain some means of getting to Cayenne; but this was not an easy matter. In addition to the fact that we could not find a boat or any way of repairing our own, the negroes, who were the only persons left at the dwellings, were so frightened that they did not wish to recognize us. As it had already become known that I was a prisoner, they feared lest the English had sent me ashore as a lure, through my means to entrap the slaves. Nevertheless, after many protestations and prayers and solicitations, I reassured some, who, more courageous than the rest, dared to approach us; and, through their means, we obtained some little refreshment, of which we certainly stood very much in need. For myself, as I was scarcely able to take any nourishment, and for this reason was very weak, I was hardly able to sustain myself.


As soon as each one was a little recruited, I consigned to the negroes the boat, which we left in their care with all the rigging and sails, and we set out on our journey to Cayenne, along the borders of the ocean. We did not wish to go into the interior of the country, for fear of affording our enemies a knowledge of the place, which hereafter might be an injury to us. The night which followed favored my design, and I can say with truth that the five English whom I took with me saw nothing which could be of any service to them, if at any future day, in the course of this war, they should take a fancy to return to us.

It would be difficult, not to say impossible, my Reverend Father, to describe to you what we suffered during this journey of only three or four leagues. As the tide rose, and for that reason we were obliged to make our way over the high ground of the shore, where the sand is very shifting, we sunk into it; and most of us had the greatest difficulty to drag ourselves along, so that I frequently saw the greater part of our party obliged to stop and rest. The English, particularly, being little accustomed to march, found the journey very long, and would have been very willing to be back in their vessel. But it was their fault that they found themselves in such difficulty. In sending us ashore, they themselves knew that the boat in which we embarked was unseaworthy. They should have given me notice of it at the time, and I would have demanded another from the captain.

At last, by dint of encouraging and animating them, we reached the point which the river forms, and which fronts on the roadstead. It was about midnight when we arrived at the dwelling of Madame de Charanville, where the slaves, knowing the good heart and generosity of their mistress,[90] although alone, gave us the best reception they were able, to recompense us for the privations we had suffered. I had taken the precaution to send before us a negro of our party, to remove their fears on our arrival; for without this, we should have run a great risk of not being received, so great was the fright which had everywhere seized on these poor wretches. So good a reception gave great satisfaction to the English, who themselves feared being killed or maltreated by the negroes, which would certainly have happened had I not been with them. For this reason they never left me. At length, after having taken a little rest, as soon as it was day we embarked in a boat we had found, and continued our route to Cayenne.

No sooner had they seen us at a great distance, than they well knew from our white flag that we were the deputies who came to make terms; and they immediately sent down a detachment to the port, who received us at the point of the bayonet and with presented arms, as is the custom on such occasions. All the ramparts which fronted the roadstead, and the rising ground on which the fort is situated, were entirely covered with people. Having directed the sergeant to remain in the boat with all his company until I had spoken to the commandant, I myself landed. The Brother Pittet had recognized me with his glass, at a long distance, and hastened himself to give me his hand.

It was a very consoling spectacle, my Reverend Father, to see all Cayenne coming to meet me. In the streets through which I had passed, there was so great a crowd of people that I had difficulty in making my way. The rich as well as the poor, even all the slaves, pressed around to give me proofs of the pleasure which my restoration to freedom afforded them. Many bathed me with their tears[91] when embracing me. I do not blush to say that I was myself overcome in recognizing such great demonstrations of friendship. A large crowd followed me even into the church, to which I first repaired to return thanks to God for the great blessings He had bestowed upon me, and for which I pray you, my Reverend Father, to give thanks also.

Our Fathers and our Brothers distinguished themselves on this occasion, and extended their charity, in my behalf, as far as it was possible to carry it. As all my clothes were in a pitiable state, they eagerly brought me every thing which was necessary. In this way I realized to the letter the truth of that declaration of our Lord: “Quiconque quittera son père, sa mère, ses frères, pour l’amour de moi, recevra le centuple en ce monde.” (Whosoever shall leave his father, his mother, his brethren, for my sake, shall receive an hundred-fold in this world.)

We often talked together over the evils which might again happen to us, and I was always very much edified at seeing their holy emulation; each one wishing to sacrifice himself to succor the wounded in case of an attack. But I thought that having already had some experience in this matter, and not being able to be again made prisoner during the continuance of this war, I should have the preference, and begin the service in discharging the duties of our ministry. We can, however, hope that neither the one nor the other will be obliged to come forward in this way, but that the victorious arms of the king will shortly bring about a solid and lasting peace. As soon as I had made my report and forwarded my letters to Monsieur d’Orvilliers, who was in retirement in his house on account of the death of Madame his wife, he gave orders that the five English who had come with me should be conducted, with their eyes bandaged,[92] according to custom in such cases, to the guard-house, where they were to be confined; after which, he made the necessary arrangements for sending them back to their ship, with the seven other prisoners whom I have already mentioned, all of whom he was very willing to free, in a great measure through consideration to myself. On the following day, the 28th, they departed during the night in their long-boat, with all the tackle and provisions necessary. We have reason to wish that they should arrive safe in port, because we have written by them to the Governor of Surinam; and I myself on my own account have done so, to endeavor, through his instrumentality, to recover what belonged to my church, on the conditions agreed upon with Captain Potter when we parted. But if I should not succeed in recovering these things, I flatter myself that you, my Reverend Father, would be entirely willing to supply this deficiency by sending me a complete church service, for every thing has been lost.

On my arrival at Cayenne, I had found there the officer who was at Oyapoc when it was taken, and who since then has returned thither with the chief surgeon and a party of soldiers. Since that time, the commandant himself has gone back with the rest of the detachment, to await the orders which the Court shall give with regard to Oyapoc. The fort which we have just lost was built in 1725, under the direction of M. d’Orvilliers, Governor of this colony, and had thus been in existence but nineteen years. We do not know whether the Court will think proper to re-establish it.

It was a great consolation to me to learn that our two missionaries, the Fathers d’Autillac and d’Huberlant, have returned each to his own post, after having entirely got over[93] their fatigues before they went back. They had again much to suffer, until we were able to furnish them with assistance. They write me that the Indians, who had been at first exceedingly frightened, had begun to be reassured, and that they continued to render all the services in their power to the inhabitants who remained in that quarter awaiting the new order.

You see, my Reverend Father, a very long letter, and, perhaps, one a little too long. I should esteem myself happy if it is able to afford you any pleasure, for I had no other object in writing. I am, with respect, in the unity of your holy sacrifices, &c.


[1] The Landfall of Leif, The Problem of the Northmen, The Defences of Norumbega, The Discovery of the Ancient City, Leif’s House in Vinland, etc.

[2] W. H. Babcock, Early Norse Visits to America. Smithsonian Misc. Colls., Vol. 59, No. 19.

[3] Babcock, p. 139.

[4] Astronomical calculations demonstrate that the sun rose and set at the time mentioned, October 17, in Latitude 41°, 24′, 10″, almost exactly that of Narragansett Bay.

[5] In Old Norse the term “Hop” was applied to any inlet, fiord or harbor with a narrow entrance, widening inside not far from the entrance to a larger lake or lagoon into which a river flowed.

[6] The commander of the Prince Charles of Lorraine, of whom we shall write later.

[7] The words used by Father Fauque are “corsaire anglois.”—Trans.

[8] Les corsaires.

[9] Suspecting that Rodelan and Rhode Island were similar enough in sound to mislead Father Fauque, we examined the list of governors of Rhode Island, and found that William Greene was governor in 1744-5. This, therefore, was a Rhode Island privateer.[10] Father Fauque says Captain Potter was “Creole de la Nouvelle Angleterre.” He, of course, means he was a native of New England, and we have thus translated it.—Trans.

[10] The Prince Charles was owned in Newport. See ante, p. 44.

[11] Very true.—Ed.

[12] Some of these are still preserved in Bristol.—Ed.

[13] See testimony of Jeffrey Potter, ante, p. 46.—Ed.

[14] A series of devotions extending through nine days.—Trans.

[15] From 1715 to 1786 Rhode Island suffered from the issue of Bills of Credit, or paper money.—Ed.

[16] Nota bene.Ed.

[17] Either Captain Potter or Father Fauque, in this statement, makes a mistake. On November 5th, in England, they celebrate their escape from the “Gunpowder Plot.” There is in the Prayer-book “A Form of Prayer with Thanksgiving,” which is to be used on that day “for the happy deliverance of King James I. and the Three Estates of England from the most traitorous and blood-intended massacre by Gunpowder; and also for the happy arrival of His Majesty King William on this day, for the deliverance of our church and nation.” The common people call it “Guy Fawkes’ Day.”[18]Trans.

[18] Guy Fawkes’ Day was observed with great fidelity, as far as noise was concerned, by Bristol boys of the last generation.—Ed.

[19] Captain Potter was a member of St. Michael’s Church, Bristol, and as a good Church of England man was reading his Book of Common Prayer.—Ed.

[20] Potter was not a Huguenot. If Father Fauque had known of the heresies abounding in “Rodelan” his astonishment would have been equalled by his horror.—Ed.

[21] A toise is two yards.—Trans.

[22] “Narragansett Pacers” were greatly in demand in the West Indies, and on the “Spanish Main.”—Ed.






John De Wolf was born in Bristol on September 6, 1779. His father, Simon, the third son of Mark Anthony, founder of the Bristol family, was lost at sea with his older brother, Mark, in 1779 or ’80, when his only child was but an infant in arms. He was forced by poverty to begin a seafaring life at the age of thirteen. His great ability quickly manifested itself and at the age of twenty-four he was placed in command of a vessel bound on one of the most fascinating as well as one of the most hazardous voyages known to the commerce of that time, a voyage to the Northwest Coast. The story of his experiences he tells in the pages that follow. For some years after his return to his native town he continued in the Russian-American trade for which the knowledge of the language gained during his stay in Russian territory well qualified him. Having attained the age of forty-eight he retired from the sea and for some years lived, like many retired captains, the life of a farmer, upon the farm occupied for years as a summer home by his relative, the late Bishop Howe of Central Pennsylvania. Thence he moved to a farm at Brighton, Massachusetts, and, leaving that, spent the last years of his life with his daughter, Mrs. Downing, at Dorchester. Very delightful must have been those last years. The daring sailor whose nerves had never failed him in moments of greatest peril on the ocean was a man of tender nature and of a most lovable disposition.

Of him his granddaughter penned this beautiful picture:[23]


“I never knew a more beautiful old age. Beloved by those of all ages, he had many friends among the young people and was young with them, and his grandchildren were devoted to him. They called him ‘White Grandpa,’ on account of his silvery hair, to distinguish him from my father. They always knew in just what spot in the room to look for candy and fruits which he always had for them, and if there was anything they particularly wanted they were always sure that ‘White Grandpa’ would give it to them. Like so many old people it was hard for him to adapt himself to modern improvements. And especially the new ideas of shipbuilding were not always to his liking. At a window of a room in our summer home, commanding a fine view of Boston harbor, we would often find him holding his spy-glass at arm’s length, and if sometimes we would ask ‘What do you see, Grandpa?’ he would invariably reply, ‘I was looking at those blasted three masted schooners.’”

In the days of his life at sea a three masted schooner was almost unknown, and the schooner rigged vessel was rarely seen except on the American coast of the North Atlantic Ocean. Everywhere else square sails were the rule. Even the “tub” of twenty-five tons on which Captain De Wolf made his voyage of twenty-five hundred miles to Ochotsk was a brig. At his death no naval constructor had dreamed of a five masted schooner, and a seven master would have been deemed impossible. Today all the great colliers carry five or six masts and there is not a square rigger among them. The schooner rig is distinctively American. The first schooner ever constructed is said to have been built in Gloucester, Massachusetts, about the year 1713, by Captain Andrew Robinson. In two centuries it has driven the square rigged ship from the Atlantic coast[99] of North America. In the great ports upon the Pacific coast square sails are still frequent, though they are seen for the most part upon the masts of foreign ships. The schooner rig has conquered even that former home of most rigid conservatism which was opened to the commerce of the world in 1854, by a Rhode Island naval officer, when Commodore M. C. Perry dropped anchor near the little fishing village of Yokohama, Japan. As one passes through the “Inland Sea” today he notes that all the fleet craft skimming over its waves are rigged in the American way. The schooner has driven the slow moving “junk” out of business as far as those waters are concerned.

Captain De Wolf died in Dorchester, on March 8, 1872, aged ninety-two.





My only object in combining the reminiscences and memoranda of my first voyage as a shipmaster into a connected narrative is to leave some slight record of that voyage in my family. Although I am not one of those who regard everything beyond the smoke of their own chimneys as marvellous I think my expedition to the Northwest Coast was made a little remarkable from the circumstance that I met at Norfolk Sound his Excellency Baron von Resanoff, to whom I sold my vessel, and then crossed the Pacific in a little craft of twenty-five tons burden, and after an overland journey of twenty-five hundred miles returned home by way of St. Petersburg. This was a voyage and travels more than half a century ago, and I was probably the first American who passed through Siberia. I know that others have claimed to be the first, and have published descriptions of the country; but I had gone over the same route before any of these claimants were born. I have often regretted that I did not make any note of what I saw, and that I had not the requisite qualifications to write an extended account of it; but business called my thoughts in other directions. I must now be content to give this imperfect sketch, the materials of which are drawn principally from memory.




The Ship Juno.—Her Outfit.—And Voyage to the Northwest Coast.

I commenced a seafaring life at the early age of thirteen, and followed it through all its changes, continually rising in rank, until I reached my twenty-fourth year. Then, after a series of long voyages to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope as chief mate, in the summer of 1804 I returned to my native town, resolved on a short respite of a few months from a close application of eleven years. I had enjoyed this leisure but a little while, however, when my employers, Messrs. Charles, James, and George D’Wolf, purchased a fine ship,[24] called the Juno, of about two hundred and fifty tons burden, and projected a voyage to the Northwest Coast of America to collect furs for the China market. They proposed that I should take the command. I had no expectation of such an offer, since I thought myself too young and inexperienced to enter upon an entirely new branch of trade, and entertained some misgivings of my qualifications for such an enterprise. At the same time I could not so far doubt my abilities as to neglect so advantageous an opportunity, and I therefore accepted the trust.

Having engaged in the undertaking, we lost no time in making the necessary arrangements, in procuring a cargo suitable for traffic, and in preparing the vessel for the voyage. When ready for sea, the Juno and her lading were valued at $35,000. The Juno at that day was considered a crack ship, and her outfit embraced all that was needed[102] for both comfort and convenience. She mounted eight carriage guns, and was otherwise armed in proportion, and when hauled into the stream presented quite a formidable and warlike appearance. Such an equipment was essential in her time for the dangerous business for which she was destined. The crew also would now be considered too large for a craft of the same tonnage,—for it numbered twenty-six men and boys, viz: Samuel G. Newell, First Mate; John A. Thomas, Second Mate; James Moorfield, Clerk; Richard Cammett, Joseph Hooper, Armorers; Thomas Hunt, Boatswain; John Jones, Carpenter; D. Bucklin, E. Bucklin, W. H. Tripp, D. Tatton, J. Stokes, J. Wheeler, W. Foy, J. Marshall, J. D. Cook, W. Phipps, J. Wheesner, J. Powers, S. Patterson, Seamen; J. Hanson, Cook; E. D. Parker, Musician; R. Hitchcock, Tailor; T. Murphy, J. Mahoney, boys. Thus manned and equipped, we took leave of our friends, weighed anchor, and put to sea on the 13th of August, 1804.

Having now fairly embarked again on the ocean, which had become a home to me, I began immediately to attend to those duties which its dangers imposed. Our anchors and cables were soon stowed away, the crew divided, the watch set, and everything prepared for all winds and weathers. We sailed in a southeasterly direction, with light breezes, and for a number of days nothing varied the monotony which the sea wears to those who have been long accustomed to it. On the 20th of September we saw at a distance St. Antonio, one of the Cape de Verde Islands. We then bent our course to the south, and were favored with fine leading winds until we reached that region of the ocean between the northeast and southeast trade-winds, which is doomed to perpetual squalls and calms, thunder,[103] lightning, and rain. This vexatious weather was the source of one advantage, however. It afforded an opportunity for filling our water-casks, which was essential in the long voyage and moderate progress we were making.

On the 9th of November we crossed the equator in longitude 24° W. Fifty-six days to the line! Well, this certainly seems to be a long passage in comparison with those made in more modern times by the straight course pointed out by Lieut. Maury. Yet the difference is not so very extraordinary, when we consider the improvements in the sciences of navigation and naval architecture. Clippers may pursue a route with impunity which was not so safe or practicable for the square-built, seven-knot ships of half a century ago. The straight course was by no means unknown in those days, and it was sometimes followed; but with dull sailing vessels it was necessary to be more cautious, and make their “easting” while in the region of variable winds. That we crossed the Atlantic, in my time, thrice, as it is said, in going to the Cape of Good Hope, I deny. A majority of the passages made by the circuitous track would compare favorably with those made now by the same class of ships, notwithstanding the superior knowledge of winds and currents, and the numerous nautical instruments of which sea-captains avail themselves. At all events, navigation is not now carried on with more, if as much safety as formerly. Inducements are held out, in these go-ahead days, to make quick passages, regardless of ship and cargo, and the interests of the underwriters. Too implicit reliance is placed on instruments and figures at the expense of that most essential point in navigation, a vigilant lookout, and to the neglect of the use of the lead.

October 10th. We fell in with a large Spanish ship from[104] Havana for Rio Janeiro, ninety days out. Being now several degrees in south latitude, the weather was serene and the sea smooth; there was a fine breeze from the southeast. On the 12th, we spoke a Portuguese ship from Oporto, also bound to Rio Janeiro. She had a large number of passengers on board, many of whom were sick, as they were destitute of all kinds of vegetables. I supplied them with potatoes and onions, for which they were very grateful, and presented in return a quantity of Port wine. A continuance of the pleasant weather enabled us to make various repairs in the rigging, which had been drenched and buffeted by incessant tempests to the north of the line. The change seemed to put new life and animation into the whole crew. All hands were actively employed with a good will in their various departments,—the armorers at the forge, the carpenter fitting the boats for service on the coast, the sail-makers upon the sails. Thus the vessel was put in fine condition for meeting the rough gales of Cape Horn. These we began to encounter in lat. 40° S.

November 12th, lat. 48° S., long. 51° W., we fell in with the ship Mary, of Boston, Capt. Trescott, bound to the Northwest Coast of America, and I agreed to keep company with him until we had doubled the Cape. This arrangement could be no impediment to our progress, as our vessels were nearly equal sailors.—November 15th, we saw the Falkland Islands bearing from southeast to southwest, fifteen miles distant. From our longitude we judged ourselves to be nearer the western extremity, but the wind inclining westward compelled us to pass to the eastward of them.—November 19th, the wind from the westward increased to a gale, with a heavy swell, which brought both ships under short sail. At eight, P. M., the Mary bore upon[105] our weather quarter, about two miles distant. At ten, the wind continuing the same, I left the deck, charging the officer of the watch to be careful that we did not approach each other too near. At daylight it was perceived that she had approached us considerably, though she still held a position on the weather quarter at a sufficient distance to be out of danger. But through inattention of the officer on board the Mary to the steering, she was brought under our lee within hail; of this I was not informed by the mate in command on the deck. The Juno was making but slow progress through the water, being under short sail, with a heavy sea running, and obliged to keep close to the wind in order to avoid a collision. In this way, the ship’s headway would be so checked that she would fall off two or three points, regardless of the helm. While thus situated, the Mary was in the act of coming to, and the Juno falling off, when, before either ship had gained sufficient headway to be under quick command of the helm, our whole broadsides came into contact with a crash that made every timber quake. I immediately rushed on deck, and beheld with amazement our perilous situation. In which, spite of all our efforts to get clear, we remained nearly fifteen minutes, cutting and tearing our bulwarks, channels, and plank-sheer, and making sad work with our rigging. Finally we separated, and without apparently sustaining any injury below our plank-sheer.

This may be an uninteresting matter for record to many, but it is one of those casualties which not infrequently occur from a reckless neglect, or a want of ordinary judgment, and yet where no one is willing to acknowledge himself at fault. They show that caution is to be regarded as a cardinal point of practical navigation. I am bold to say,[106] that, if I had been apprised of our proximity, the collision would never have taken place.

When endeavoring to extricate the two ships, Mr. Stetson, first mate of the Mary, while on a poise upon her railing, to save himself from falling overboard, made a leap for the Juno, and landed on her deck. In the course of the day the weather became more moderate, and we put him aboard his own ship and continued our course without attempting to keep company with her. We were favored with mild weather until the 24th, which brought us into lat. 56° S. Here commenced a series of very severe gales from the westward, which continued with unabated violence for ten days. On the 5th of December the wind veered to the southward, which enabled us to make some progress, so that on the 10th I judged myself fairly to the north and west of the Cape, and a fine southwest wind was carrying us fast from it. On the 13th, as luck would have it, we fell in again with our old consort, the Mary, and sailed along with her until the 29th. Being then in lat. 44° S. and long. 85° W., I deemed it expedient to hold a consultation with my officers on the propriety of touching upon the coast of Chili, in preference to the Sandwich Islands, which was our previous intention. This was thought advisable on account of the damage sustained during our boisterous passage of one hundred and thirty-eight days. The copper on the ship’s bottom, which had been worn as thin as paper during a previous long voyage of three years, had now become full of holes, and was torn off in many places by whole sheets. This and other injuries which could not be repaired at sea, in addition to the fact that all our fuel was consumed except that stowed under the cargo, and on this account we had for some time been obliged to[107] dispense with cooking oftener than once a week, induced us to part company again with the Mary, and shape our course for Concepcion. I was well aware of the natural and deep-rooted jealousy of the Spaniards; but while I apprehended trouble on this score, I was determined to find admittance to some port, after having relinquished my original scheme of visiting the Sandwich Islands.

On the 1st of January, 1805, at 2 P. M., we saw land bearing from southeast to northeast, fifteen miles distant, and shortly after the island of St. Maria. At the same time we saw a ship standing out from the shore, which we spoke. She was a whaler from New Bedford. The wind was blowing so hard that we could learn nothing further. At sunset it had died away, and left us still four or five miles off Concepcion. As it was not practicable to make the harbor in the night-time, we tacked ship and stood out from the coast, with a view to holding our situation to the windward until morning, and at midnight we tacked and stood in again. At daybreak, however, we found the current had set us a considerable distance north of our port. I accordingly resolved to make sail for Valparaiso; since that was the principal port in Chili, we had reason to anticipate a better reception than at any place of less note, where our presence might have excited unjust suspicions of unlawful trade. Our sole object was to repair our vessel and obtain supplies for our voyage, and these by the laws of humanity they could not in justice refuse us.

The weather continued remarkably serene and pleasant, with light breezes and frequent calms; and as we coasted along within eight or ten miles of the shore, we had a most splendid view of the Andes, towering far above the clouds. On the morning of the 8th, we entered the bay of Valparaiso.[108] Before we reached a safe anchorage, we were visited by an officer from the Governor, who requested to know who we were, whence we came, and the object of our visit,—all of which I explained to his apparent satisfaction. The boat then returned to the shore with a message to the Governor, while the officer remained on board, saying that he could not suffer us to anchor until he received orders. But before the boat returned, the ship had reached the anchorage ground, and we came to immediately, notwithstanding his remonstrances. The boat brought a peremptory command to leave the bay; but this was out of the question, and so I as peremptorily refused. I was summoned before the Governor to present my papers for examination, and account for my conduct. After examining my invoices and other documents, and listening to a candid explanation of the reasons which induced me to come into port, he was convinced that my destination was the Northwest Coast. I was accordingly permitted to remain until I received further orders from the Governor-General, at St. Jago, to whom a messenger was despatched. In the mean time I was allowed to take on board as much wood and water, and fresh provisions, as I chose. The harbor was too rough and exposed, to make the repairs we needed, and therefore we weighed anchor and sailed for Coquimbo, where we arrived on the 20th, and dropped anchor in six fathoms of water, on the west side of the bay, about eight miles from the town. Here we remained until the 28th, when, having completed our repairs as far as practicable, we put to sea with a fine breeze from the south.

When we reached 4° S. lat., we had series of calms, with pleasant weather, and a very smooth sea. In this neighborhood[109] we saw great numbers of green turtle, and by capturing several we added a delicacy to our larder. February 20th, between 9 and 11 A. M., I obtained several distances of the sun and moon, the mean of which made the long. 108° W.; at meridian, I found we had crossed the equator into north latitude. The wind continued very light and variable until the 4th of March, when it inclined to the northeast. On the 16th, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer. At this point the winds again became variable and squally. On the 7th of April, we had strong gales and threatening sky, with rain at intervals. At 8 P. M. of that date I put the ship under short sail, and hauled upon the wind to the northward, deeming it imprudent to continue on our course through the night, because, by my calculations, we were in the vicinity of land. In the morning the weather moderated, and at 5 A. M. we saw land bearing from north-northeast to east, which proved to be the northern part of Vancouver’s Island. At 2 P. M. we saw Scott’s Island bearing north-northwest, sixteen miles distant. At nightfall the clouds wore an ugly look; so we hauled by the wind to the westward, under short sail. At midnight we had a heavy blow, but it died away by light, and we saw Scott’s Island again; at 9 A. M. it bore south, five miles. The wind beginning again to rise, I determined if possible to make a harbor before night. With this intention I shaped my course for Newettee.

Newettee was a small inlet in the northwestern promontory of Vancouver’s Island, and sheltered from the sea by a long island running nearly east and west. Between the two was a strait, through which we must enter to gain our port. As we drew near the entrance, the wind became very light, and at sunset we were still three miles from it.[110] Being myself entirely unacquainted with the coast, I was inclined to lay off until morning; but my officers were all more or less familiar with it, and so positive of their knowledge that I concluded to proceed. At eight in the evening we crossed the bar at the mouth of the strait, and entered. The wind had fallen now to a dead calm, and left us exposed to a very strong current, which carried us toward an inlet in the island to the north of us; and at the same time it was evident that we were approaching the shore very fast. Nothing could surpass the terrific appearance of the scenery; perpendicular cliffs towered from the water’s edge to a lofty height, against which the sea beat with great violence. The ship getting no steerage-way from her sails, and being in fact entirely unmanageable, we hoisted out our boats to tow. The long-boat, which was of the most consequence, sunk alongside; the yawl and the whaleboat were both got ahead, but were so light that they had very little effect on the vessel. We were now within three rods of a high projecting point, and the soundings showed forty-five fathoms of water. We let go the kedge-anchor to keep the bow off, and it had the desired effect. By great exertions in the boats, assisted in the ship by the application of all the oars we had, we barely succeeded in keeping clear of the rocks, which could now be reached with an oar. As the tide swept us along, we were threatened with destruction by every sea which dashed against them. At length, by the aid of a light air which sprung up, we got out of the irregular current near the shore, and, slipping our cable and leaving our anchor, moved towards the harbor on the south side of the straits. When about two thirds of the way across, I despatched a boat with an officer to find the entrance. The boat not returning in due time, I discharged[111] a musket as a signal. It was answered from a vessel lying within, and shortly after one of the officers came aboard her, and informed us that it was the ship Pearl of Boston, Capt. Ebbets.[25] He very politely offered to pilot us in, and by his assistance we were soon brought safely to anchor in fifteen fathoms of water. This was the 10th of April, 1805.


Newettee and the Natives.—Kygarney.—Norfolk Sound.—Sell Part of my Cargo to the Russians.—Governor Baranoff.—Chatham Straits.—Newettee again.—Return to Chatham Straits.—Trade with the Indians.—On the Rocks.—Sail to Norfolk Sound for Repairs.—Arrival of Resanoff and Party.—The Juno sold to the Russians.—Departure of my Crew for Canton.

At last I was at anchor on the Northwest Coast. Newettee was one of the southernmost harbors frequented by American fur-traders, being in lat. 51° N., and long. 128° W. It was nothing more than a nook, as I said before, in the northern end of Vancouver’s Island. We found it tolerably well sheltered from all winds except those from the north and northeast; on this quarter it was exposed to a reach of about three miles. As the prevalent wind during[112] our stay of ten days was from the south and southwest, we lay in perfect safety, notwithstanding it was one continued gale, accompanied with hail and rain. Everything around us, the sea, the sky, and the precipitous shore, covered with a forest of heavy timber, wore a most gloomy aspect. The Indians had no permanent residence here, but made it merely a place of resort for traffic on the arrival of ships. For this purpose it was considered at certain seasons one of the best harbors on the coast, as there are many large villages in its vicinity. We were visited daily by a great number of the Indians, who generally brought with them a few sea-otter skins, but not enough to make trade brisk. They were exceedingly sharp in all their intercourse with us, being great beggars, withal. It seemed impossible to satisfy them for their skins, and they were ready to grasp at everything they saw. They were a very stout and robust people, and in some things not destitute of skill. Their boats were hewn from a single log, and varied in size from sixteen feet in length and three in breadth, to thirty-five in length and six in breadth. Their paddles were made and ornamented with a great deal of neatness.

Deriving but little benefit from our traffic, we employed ourselves in putting the ship in good order for beating about the coast. By the 20th we had completed our work, and weighed anchor, and put to sea in company with the Pearl, directing our course to the northward of Kygarney, a harbor in lat. 54°30′ N., which, from its central situation, is considered the best place of resort for ships on their first arrival, to obtain information for establishing a rate of trade. For several days we sailed in a thick fog, which, lifting at intervals, showed us different points of Queen Charlotte’s Island. We gained our port on the 27th, and[113] found there the ships Vancouver, Captain Brown, and Caroline, Captain Sturgis, both of Boston; the latter, having obtained her cargo, about to leave the coast for Canton.

During our stay here we got in a new mizzen-mast in place of the old one, which was sprung, and furnished our vessel with such other spars as we thought we should need. We were daily visited by the Indians, who generally brought a few skins; but they were so extravagant in their demands for them that it was impossible to trade. We frequently had thirty or forty lying about the decks the whole day long, endeavoring to extort unreasonable prices for their furs, at the same time affecting the utmost indifference whether they sold them or not. Occasionally they were quite insulting; but policy induced us to put up with insults, in hopes of driving a bargain.

The numerous inlets in the vicinity abounded with salmon, and every other variety of fish, and wild game was very plenty. But on the whole the harbor was poor and unsafe. The land here, as at Newettee, was exceedingly elevated, rising abruptly from the shore, and covered with heavy timber, chiefly of the fir kind. The water is very deep, which compelled a vessel to anchor so near the land as to be exposed to any hostile demonstration on the part of the savages.[26] Attacks were not rare when only one ship was in port. From long intercourse with American traders, the natives had become extremely expert in the use of the musket, in the choice of which they showed great judgment and sagacity, and invariably selected a king’s arm in preference to the most finished fowling-piece. On account of the many instances of bloodshed by them, they were not allowed[114] to come on board armed, but it was necessary to show them every indulgence within the bounds of prudence.

Not being likely to receive much benefit from a longer stay here, I resolved to proceed at once to the settlement of the Russians on Norfolk Sound, since a great part of my cargo consisted of articles adapted to their use. We had rum, tobacco, molasses, sugar, rice, wooden ware, duffels,[27] &c., which the Indians will take only as presents, as well as those commodities intended for trade with them, viz. blankets, muskets, powder, and balls.

On the 7th of May we put to sea, with pleasant weather and a moderate breeze from the west, and directed our course to the northward. On the 8th, the wind increased to a gale, and veered to the south, which brought thick fog and rain. On the 9th it became clear, and we obtained a good view of the land, and discovered that we were near the entrance of the sound, about mid-channel, with Mount Edgecombe bearing northwest, ten miles distant. We stood in under a press of sail, and at about eleven came to anchor in Magee’s Harbor, as it was called, on the west side of the sound. We found erected on the shore a guide-post, pointing out the direction of the village, and the date of its establishment. We were soon visited by several baidarkas[28] with Kodiak Indians, from whom we endeavored to obtain information. The only word they used, which we could understand, was Baranoff, which we knew to be the name of the governor or superintendent of the settlement.[115] As soon as the news of our arrival in the sound reached there, a pilot was despatched to our assistance, and, the wind being favorable, he brought us round to the village, and we anchored on the 10th of May abreast of the fort.

Mr. Abraham Jones, an American in the Russian service, immediately came on board, with the Governor’s compliments, and kind offers of protection, and any aid we might need which it was in his power to give. Accompanied by Mr. Moorfield, I accepted an invitation to go on shore and have an interview with him. Mr. Jones officiated as interpreter. I was introduced by him to his Excellency, and received with every mark of friendship and hospitality. After exchanging the usual compliments, we were ushered into an apartment where we found a table spread with all the luxuries the place afforded. While we regaled ourselves with the sumptuous fare, the conversation turned to the subject of my cargo. The Governor appeared willing and desirous to exchange furs on fair terms for such articles as they needed. We returned on board in the evening, well pleased with our reception, I might say agreeably disappointed, as I had been led to believe from various reports that we should find the Russians little advanced from the savage state.

As the success of my voyage depended on the utmost possible despatch, no time was lost in establishing a rate of exchange with our new friends; which being adjusted to our mutual advantage, I was enabled to disencumber the vessel of a large portion of the bulkiest part of my cargo,—such as has been mentioned on a preceding page.

From the kind treatment received from the Governor, I was induced to form a very favorable opinion of him. He was sixty-five years of age, and had spent the last[116] eighteen years of his life at different stations on the coast, in the capacity of agent and officer of the Russian American Company,—excluded, as it were, from all civilized society, except that of a few of his fellow-adventurers. He possessed a strong mind, easy manners and deportment, and was apparently well fitted for the place he filled. He commanded the greatest respect from the Indians, who regarded him with mingled feelings of love and fear.

Owing to frequent storms of rain, which unavoidably retarded the progress of our business, my stay at this place was prolonged until the 27th of May. With pleasant weather and a moderate breeze we then weighed anchor, and sailed from Norfolk Sound. We proceeded up Chatham Straits as high as Lynn Canal, in lat. 59° N., thence southward to Newettee in lat. 51° N., touching at as many of the intermediate harbors as we found it practicable, and making some trade. We arrived at Newettee on the 28th of June, at the same time with the brig Lydia and the ships Vancouver and Athawalpa. The latter had been attacked by the Indians, who killed Capt. Porter and all the officers, and wounded many of the sailors. She had fallen in with the other ship and brig, belonging to the same owners, and had proceeded to this place for assistance. Here we found the Pearl and the Mary.

I shall not attempt a detail of the occurrences, or give a description of the harbors and inlets we visited in our voyage from Norfolk Sound. While here we rendered all the assistance in our power in manning and equipping the Athawalpa for Canton, and then, on the 11th of July, again left Newettee and sailed northward for Chatham Straits. Touching at a number of places on our passage, on the 27th we entered the mouth of the straits, and proceeded up as[117] far as Point Retreat in lat. 58° N. Here the Indians were very numerous, and appeared to have a great number of skins for sale, but declined trading, unless we brought the ship to anchor, which was unnecessary, as the wind was light and the sea smooth. There was nothing to interrupt a traffic if they really felt willing to open one; but, in order to comply with their wishes as far as possible, I made several attempts to get an anchorage, and was only prevented by the depth of the water. Still the Indians kept round us in great numbers, there being at least thirty or forty canoes of them. At the same time we perceived that they were all armed, and this, with their obstinacy, gave us strong suspicions that they were bent on mischief more than commerce. As it was nearly sunset, and there was no prospect of bringing them to terms, I concluded to make the best of my way down the straits. The wind was light, and the tide against us. The Indians, seeing plainly that we could make but little progress in the course of the night, went on shore, and returned at daylight. They came with the apparent determination to board us; but in their absence we had made ample preparations to meet in a hostile as well as a friendly manner. Seeing the impossibility of obtaining access to the ship by force, they changed their tactics, and were inclined to trade with us in a peaceable way. We therefore admitted one of the chiefs at the gangway, and through him commenced a brisk traffic, which continued until we had bought their whole stock of furs. They then left us to continue our course down the straits without molestation.

On the 5th of August we came to anchor in an extensive harbor, situated near the entrance of Chatham Straits, between Points Sullivan and Ellis. Here we were detained[118] several days by calms and light westerly winds, which blew directly into the harbor, while the entrance was so narrow that we found it impossible to beat out. On the 10th we got under weigh, with the boats ahead to tow; but the ebb tide began to run very strong, and drift the ship towards a small island lying midway in the channel. Notwithstanding our utmost efforts to avoid it by the use of oars and letting go an anchor, in the darkness which had come on we had approached nearer the shore than we supposed, and finally the keel struck upon the rocks. The stream anchor was carried out with all possible despatch in order to heave the vessel off, but in vain. The falling tide had left her too fast. The only alternative left was to secure her in the best manner possible before she began to keel over, and to prepare ourselves for defence in case of an attack from the savages. Having furled all the sails, sent down the top-gallant yards and masts, and lashed our heavy guns amidship, we equipped our three boats with arms, ammunition, and provision, lest the ship should bilge, which we had great reason to apprehend, as we had still on board about two thirds of our cargo. But as the tide left her we found that she did not lie so much on her beam-ends as we had anticipated, but was supported by three sharp rocks, one about midships, and the other two abreast the fore and mizzen chains; her keel had also taken the rocks in several places.

At sunrise the Indians began to assemble about us. At first they kept aloof, and seemed to entertain some suspicions as to our movements; but after going round the ship and examining her situation very carefully, we prevailed upon some of them to come alongside. We gave them to understand that we had hauled on shore to mend the copper;[119] and to convince them, I employed a gang of hands under the ship’s bottom for that purpose. At 9 A. M. we had low water, and as the perpendicular rise and fall of the tide was about fifteen feet, we could now walk all round the vessel, and under the keel in some places. In the mean time some of the officers were employed in trading with the Indians for their furs; and to make ourselves secure in case they had any hostile intentions, we succeeded in enticing one of the chiefs on board, whom we detained as a hostage. Thus relieved in a measure from any apprehension of an attack from the natives, and having done everything in our power to ease the ship, we lost no time in caulking and stopping in the best possible manner such places as had been strained open by her ponderous weight upon the rocks. The two seams below the plank-sheer were nearly an inch wide, as likewise every butt from the fore to the mizzen-mast. To clear the bilge of the ship we rigged one of our pumps in the main hatchway, and drew out a considerable quantity of molasses and water. After some brisk work, we had the satisfaction of finding that the vessel righted with the flowing tide, and at high water, to our great joy, she floated. When we hauled into the stream again, we were happy to find that she did not leak so badly as we had reason to anticipate. The only perceptible injury was on the side which laid on the rocks, and that was bent or hogged up, as the phrase is, about half a foot. We now liberated our hostage, after making him a very liberal present for his detention.

While we were aground, we had a favorable opportunity to examine the copper on the ship’s bottom, which proved to be in a very shattered condition; and as we had reason to apprehend more damage than was visible, I deemed it[120] advisable to proceed at once to the Russian settlement at Norfolk Sound, where, under protection from the Indians, we might discharge our cargo, and make repairs in peace. Accordingly, on the 12th of August we put to sea, and made the best of our way for that place. On our route we fell in again with the Mary, and, in company with her, arrived on the 14th, and anchored abreast the village. I was again received by Governor Baranoff with that kind and obliging hospitality which made him loved and respected by every visitor.

No time was lost in preparing to lay the Juno on shore, in order to ascertain the extent of the damage. In this I was greatly facilitated by the Governor, who allowed me to occupy an old hulk, into which I shifted my cargo, with the exception of the furs. We had collected about a thousand sea-otter skins, and these I sent to Canton by the Mary, which sailed on the 20th. Notwithstanding our utmost exertions, our preparations were not completed until the 1st of September, and then, to my great surprise and regret, I found twenty of the floor timbers broken, and the copper in a very ragged condition. I was, however, gratified to find the planks all sound and good except in one place, where the carpenter cut out a large fragment of the rock, which had penetrated the bottom, and adhered so closely as to prevent the admission of water. By the 6th of September we had completed such repairs as were practicable and hauled into the stream, knowing no other alternative than to make the best of our crippled ship, and endeavor to prosecute the remainder of our voyage with more caution.

Having again adjusted the rigging, replenished our stores of wood and water, and put everything in the best[121] possible trim for sea, I submitted to Governor Baranoff a project of an expedition to the southern coast of New Albion and California, which he readily accepted. My idea was to take on board fifty or sixty Kodiak Indians, with their canoes, for the purpose of catching sea-otter, those animals being very numerous on that coast. Everything in this new plan being agreed upon and settled, we were to wait until the 1st of October for the Indians, who were out on a hunting expedition, under the protection of two small vessels, and expected to return by the last of the month.

While we were waiting, the Russian brig Maria arrived at the settlement. She was under the command of Andrew W. Maschin, a lieutenant in the navy, and had on board as passenger Nicholas Resanoff, a nobleman, who, after an unsuccessful embassy to Japan, returned to Kamtchatka en route to the posts on the Northwest Coast belonging to the Russian American Company, in which he was himself a large proprietor. With him came also two other lieutenants in the Russian navy, Nicholas Schwostoff and John Davidoff, Doctor Geo. Langsdorff, and two ship-carpenters, Messrs. Korükin and Popoff, who were to build a ship at this place. To all these new-comers I was formally introduced by my friend the Governor, and received the assurances of his Excellency, Baron von Resanoff, that he would facilitate, in every way in his power, the execution of my California scheme. Several days after this arrival were passed in festivity and mirth, and business was entirely suspended. The appearance of so distinguished a personage, whose authority was for a time to supersede even that of the Governor, was an event of great moment.

In conversation with Dr. Langsdorff on the inconvenience[122] of building and equipping a large vessel where the necessary materials were so difficult to procure, I observed to him, jocosely, that I would sell them my ship, which would obviate the necessity of building. The conversation being communicated to his Excellency, he wished to know whether I would really sell my ship, and if so, what would be the price. This was a subject on which I had not reflected, and which required some deliberation on several accounts. Having about two thirds of my cargo on board, it was necessary to ascertain of what it consisted to estimate its value, being well aware that I could not dispose of my vessel by itself alone. How my officers and crew were to leave the coast was another serious difficulty. But while I was deliberating on the expediency of the measure, the two small vessels, the Yermerk and Russisloff, which I mentioned above, returned from the hunting expedition. The former, a craft of forty tons, appeared to be suitable for my purpose, and I therefore availed myself of the opportunity, and offered my ship, and the remainder of my cargo, for the sum of $68,000, payable in the following manner, viz.: bills of exchange on the Directors of the Russian American Company at St. Petersburg for the sum of $54,638; 572 sea-otter skins for the sum of $13,062; and $300 in cash; together with the fore-named vessel, the Yermerk, completely rigged, two suits of sails, four carriage guns, thirty muskets, with ammunition for the same, and provisions for my crew for one hundred days. This offer was accepted, and the Juno passed into the hands of the Russian American Company. On the 5th of October, I delivered her up, under a salute from the fort and the ship, when I hoisted the stars and stripes on the Yermerk, which had become my property.


Having consummated our bargain by delivering up our ship, and taking possession of our little craft, we set to work immediately to put her into a condition to transport ourselves and the sea-otter skins to Canton. This work was completed by the 15th; and while we were waiting for favorable weather to put to sea, his Excellency suggested to me the advisability of despatching the Yermerk for Canton, and remaining myself at the settlement until spring, and then embarking with himself and suite for Ochotsk, and proceeding to St. Petersburg by land. The kind and courteous manner in which this proposition was made to me was too flattering to be received with indifference. After duly considering the subject, having in view the probable advantage of presenting my bills of exchange in person the next winter, in accordance with the advice of my friends, I concluded to avail myself of his Excellency’s generous offer. I therefore gave the command of the Yermerk to my first officer, Mr. George W. Stetson, and the superintendence of the business to Mr. James Moorfield. Storms and adverse winds prevented them from sailing until the 27th, when, with a favorable breeze, they took their departure from Norfolk Sound, with our most fervent prayers for their welfare and safe arrival at Canton.

After taking a long parting look at the little vessel fading in the horizon, I returned to the village, full of melancholy forebodings of a tedious and dreary winter in that rude and inhospitable region. But it was of no use to repine; the business was settled, and I concluded I would take things as they came, and make the best of them. I had retained in my service, as valet, Edward D. Parker, one of my ordinary sailors, but a very useful man of all work. A barber by trade, he was also a tolerably good tailor, and[124] performer on the violin and clarinet. This latter accomplishment I thought might be useful in dispelling the blues, if we should at any time be troubled with that complaint. An apartment was assigned me by the Governor, adjoining the room of Dr. Langsdorff, to which I removed my goods and chattels. I had a sleeping bunk fitted up in one corner, and made everything as comfortable as possible for a long siege. Having thus taken up my residence among the Russians, I will pause to make some explanations connected with my narrative.


Nicholas Resanoff and the Japan Expedition.—The History of the Russian Settlement at Norfolk Sound and the Founding of New Archangel.—The Chinese Project.—Dr. Langsdorff and other New Friends.—Visit to the Indians driven by the Russians from Archangel.

In September, 1803, an expedition sailed from Cronstadt, Russia, for the Pacific Ocean, consisting of the two ships Nadeschda and Neva, the former commanded by Capt. Krusenstern, and the latter by Capt. Lisiansky, both experienced officers of the Imperial navy. This was the first adventure the Russians ever attempted in the Southern Ocean, and was prompted by the extension of the trade of the Russian American Fur Company. It had the double purpose of supplying the settlements on the Northwest Coast, and negotiating a commercial treaty with Japan, which, being near the settlements, would be a convenient place to obtain provisions and dispose of commodities. Encouragement had been given by a letter received many years previous from the Japanese, granting permission to come to[125] the port of Nangasaki; on the strength of this letter, and in view of the advantages and facilities for intercourse, it was thought expedient by the Imperial government to send an embassy to this strange people. Accordingly, Nicholas Resanoff, a nobleman and Chamberlain to his Majesty, the Emperor of all the Russias, was appointed, and embarked in the Nadeschda, with powers plenipotentiary to negotiate with the Court of Jedo. This part of the undertaking, as is well known, proved a failure. After remaining at Nangasaki six months, subject a part of the time to a partial imprisonment, and throughout to absurd formalities and ridiculous vexations, he despaired of bringing about a favorable result, and was compelled to depart for Kamtchatka, without even obtaining an interview with the Emperor, and, in fact, accomplishing nothing.

Baron von Resanoff was a person of rank and distinction, possessed of many amiable qualities, and highly esteemed by the Emperor Alexander. He was kind and affable to all around him, and always ready to hear complaints, and afford every redress in his power for grievances. He married the daughter of the famous Schelikoff, who was the pioneer in the Russian discoveries and settlements on the Northwest Coast. This circumstance caused him to be largely interested in the Fur Company. His mission to Japan having terminated unfavorably, his intention then was to visit and inspect all the stations of the Company on the coast. He left the Nadeschda therefore at Kamtchatka, and embarked on board the brig Maria. After touching at various Russian establishments, he finally arrived at Norfolk Sound. The Neva, Captain Lisiansky, pursued its course directly to the island of Kodiak, and thence to Norfolk Sound, where it arrived August 20, 1804, and joined, by previous[126] agreement, a small squadron of three vessels under the command of Governor Baranoff.

The Russians had formerly a settlement on the Sound, situated several miles from their present location, called Archangel, which was destroyed by the Indians, and all the inhabitants massacred. The Indians then established themselves on the spot, and erected strong fortifications. The object of assembling the vessels was to chastise and expel them, and this was accomplished after a siege of four days. The Russians then selected an elevated and commanding situation in the immediate vicinity. It was a singular round piece of land with a flat top, standing out in the sea, and bearing the appearance of a work of human hands. The only connection with the shore was by a narrow isthmus. Here they put up several buildings, mounted a considerable battery of heavy guns, and gave the place the name of New Archangel.

The Neva then returned to Kodiak, where she wintered, and in the fall of 1805 proceeded to Canton and rejoined the Nadeschda, which had previously sailed thither. The aim in this movement was to accomplish a third project of the Russian American Company, which, like the Japan scheme, was unsuccessful. They desired to obtain permission from the Chinese government to continue their intercourse with the port of Canton, and so enable their ships to return by sea from the settlements to Russia, with the proceeds of their furs. But the Chinese objected, and insisted on their confining themselves to their inland traffic at the north. Thus commerce for the future with Canton was interdicted. I relate these events because they took place but a short time previous to my sojourn at Norfolk Sound, and account for the presence there of several persons of distinction.


George von Langsdorff,[29] a native of Frankfort, Germany, was by profession a doctor of medicine and surgery, and by taste a naturalist. He was a volunteer on the Russian American expedition, and was in pursuit of science. On his arrival in Kamtchatka a second time, he was invited by Baron von Resanoff to accompany him to the Northwest Coast of America, as his physician. He was particularly moved to accept the invitation by the opportunity which was thus offered for the collection of specimens of natural history. The Doctor, unlike Baron von Resanoff, spoke the English language fluently. As I lived under the same roof with him, we became almost inseparable, participating both in each others’ pleasures and troubles. Lieutenants[128] Schwostoff, Davidoff, and Maschin were highly accomplished and meritorious officers, as were likewise the two ship-builders, Messrs. Popoff and Korükin. They all seemed to vie in attention and kindness to me as their guest, and by general invitation I dined with these gentlemen at the Governor’s table.

The stock of provisions at the settlement had been very small and of the poorest kind, and the increase of the population by the arrival of the Ambassador and his suite made the subject of supplies for the coming winter a matter for sober consideration; but by the purchase of the Juno they were relieved from all serious anxiety on that score, as a great part of her cargo consisted of good wholesome provisions, such as beef, pork, flour, bread, rice, sugar, molasses, rum, and tobacco. In fact, the desire to obtain these stores had great weight in their negotiations with me. There was still, however, some deficiency in inferior kinds of food, and a small vessel had been despatched some time previously to Kodiak. It was so late in the season she did not return. Now they were not afraid of winter storms, for they had the Juno to send on the errand. She sailed, under the command of Lieutenants Schwostoff and Davidoff, on the 27th of October.

In the mean while the whole village, comprising a population of 150 Russians, and perhaps 250 Aleutians, was actively engaged in preparing to meet the rigors of the approaching season. They built log-houses, work-shops, and barracks. My friend Langsdorff was all the time ranging the woods and the shores with his fowling-piece, in quest of wild game for specimens, with which, after they had been skinned for science’s sake, my man Parker made stews of various descriptions. Being merely a sojourner[129] at the settlement, I occupied myself in watching the labors of others, getting acquainted with the different characters and localities of the place, and learning the use and management of baidarkas.

By the beginning of November the novelty of our situation had worn off; the circumscribed range of our wanderings from the village became monotonous and tiresome, and, as a number of our associates had departed for Kodiak, we began to look round for some new object of interest. The Doctor had frequently expressed a desire to become more acquainted with the Sitcha Indians, and resolved on making them a visit at their village, on the opposite side of the island, if I would accompany him, to which I readily agreed. As these were the very Indians who had recently been so roughly handled by the Russians, it was considered by the Governor and other friends to be a rather perilous adventure; but we relied a good deal on our not being Russians, and upon the fact that I had been among them during the previous summer from a people with whom they were on friendly terms. Perceiving that we were bent on going, the Governor gave his consent, and furnished us with baidarkas, Kodiak Indians, and an Indian woman as an interpreter. The latter was a daughter of one of the principal chiefs of the tribe we were to visit. She had lived with the Russians five or six years, and with her as a companion we had little fear of any other than a friendly reception.

We soon completed the preparations for our departure. We took guns, pistols, powder, and shot, for shooting as well as for safety; rice, tea, sugar, biscuit, dried fish, and brandy, for our food. Beside some kitchen utensils for dressing these provisions and a small tent to sleep in, we[130] were provided with several ells of linen and woollen cloth, glass beads, needles, tobacco, large fishing-hooks, looking-glasses, and various similar trifles for presents to the Indians. Langsdorff, the interpreter, and myself each occupied a baidarka, and had two natives each to row.

We were three days in reaching the village, but beyond a few Indians, with whom we encamped at night, we saw nothing of interest. By nightfall of the third day we had nearly reached the place of our destination; but owing to a strong wind and tide, which were directly against us, we had the mortification of seeing the sun go down before the whole distance was accomplished. We were now in rather an unpleasant situation; to return was impossible, and to land might have excited suspicion, for the fire which was necessary as a protection from the cold would have betrayed us. We determined at last to make our way to the settlement, notwithstanding we should reach it in utter darkness. Scarcely was this resolution taken, when we were observed from the land, and hailed in a loud voice, but neither our interpreter nor our Kodiak oarsmen would reply. This sorely provoked Langsdorff and myself, and we were on the point of expressing our anger warmly, when a great commotion arose on shore. Suddenly, some hundred naked Indians, armed with muskets, and holding firebrands in their hands, thronged to the water’s edge. No sooner had we made known who we were, and approached the shore, than we were surrounded in a tumultuous manner by the Kaluschians, who dragged us towards their fortress, seizing upon our effects at the same time, whether to rob us of them or to restore them we were then ignorant. I expected nothing but an immediate and violent death. The scene certainly was one to inspire terror; the glare of the torches,[131] the gesticulations of the savages, the brandishing of the weapons, the rough handling we received, were not calculated to inspire confidence in men whom from the outset we had distrusted. But happily our fears were groundless, and the demonstrations of the natives, as we afterwards learned, were well intended offices of friendship.

We were hurried over a rather fatiguing road to the top of a high rock, on which stood the fortress, and were immediately introduced into the very spacious habitation of the chief Dlchaetin, the father of our interpreter. He assigned us a place directly opposite the entrance, where we spread a carpet, and, by the light of a very large fire on a raised hearth in the centre of the room, were subjected to the gaze of some hundreds of the natives. Shortly after, to our great astonishment, our packages were brought to us from our baidarkas, not the smallest trifle being withheld, although there were undoubtedly many articles among them which the bearers must have coveted, and under the cover of the night might have easily concealed. Even my musket, pistols, and powder-horn, which in my hurry I had left behind, were delivered to me without the slightest injury.

We had scarcely refreshed ourselves with a dish of tea and a glass of punch, when we were invited by the eldest and most distinguished of the chiefs, the commandant of the fortress, to come and visit him. He received us with much kindness, and presented me with a sea-otter’s skin, and Dr. Langsdorff with a beautiful sea-otter’s tail. Much fatigued, and in need of rest, we returned to the habitation of our host; but we found ourselves in too exciting a scene to permit of sleep. While eating a very good dish of fish and rice prepared by him, we were entertained with a lively[132] and pleasing melody, sung by a number of men seated round the fire, which had been piled up to a great height. Though the night was cold and windy, the savages went barefoot to the neighboring forest, and brought home large blocks of wood upon their naked shoulders, and heaped them on the hearth. It was incomprehensible how the roof, covered as it was merely with bark, was not entirely consumed. Once it did take fire; but a boy ran like a mouse up the side of the wall, and extinguished it. The sparks flew out of the opening at the top, and the flames roared as in a blacksmith’s forge; and we could not close our eyes till their fierceness had in a measure subsided, and the danger was less imminent, though the fire was very hot through the whole night.

On the morning of the next day we carried to the commandant from whom we had received the presents the evening before the counter presents due to him. At the same time, we made the proper tribute of presents to the parents of our interpreter, the latter having given us to understand that the sooner it was done, the greater would be their esteem for us. To her father we gave some ells of woollen cloth, a large knife, some fish-hooks, and some pounds of tobacco; to her mother a shift, some needles, a small looking-glass, some ribbon, and some glass beads. As soon as we had performed these necessary ceremonies, we were permitted to walk about wherever we chose, without the trouble of guides. Dr. Langsdorff even shot some birds close to the fortress without attracting any attention.

The natives of the Northwest Coast of America are called by the Russians Kaluschians, but this people call themselves Schitchachon, or inhabitants of Sitcha. Expelled from Norfolk Sound, they had fortified themselves here, upon[133] a rock which rose perpendicularly to the height of several hundred feet above the water’s edge. The only possible access to it was on the northwest side, and here it had been rendered extremely difficult by very large trunks of trees strewn over it. The rock itself was secured against the attack of an enemy by a double palisade, measuring from twelve to fifteen feet in height, and from three to four in thickness. A natural wall of earth beyond the palisading, on the side towards the sea, conceals the habitations so effectually, that they cannot be discerned from a ship.

The houses within the fortress were placed in regular rows, and built of thick planks, fastened to posts which formed the frame-work, and covered at the top with bark. The entrance was at the gable end, and was often stained with different colored earths. The interiors of their dwellings were indescribably filthy, filled with smoke, and perfumed with decayed fish and train-oil. The men painted their faces, and, as well as the women, delighted in profuse ornaments; like other savages, they were particularly pleased with glittering trinkets, or European garments. The women on the coast had one very strange fashion, which I think is peculiar to this part of the world. At the age of fourteen or fifteen, they make a hole in their under lip and insert a small piece of wood like a button. This is increased in size as they advance in age, until it is three or four inches long, and one or two wide. I saw one old woman, the wife of a chief, whose lip ornament was so large, that, by a peculiar motion of her under lip, she could almost conceal her whole face with it. You will naturally inquire the reason of this barbarous method of adornment. I might reply by asking the reason of some equally strange fashions among civilized nations. But, without casting any reflections on my countrywomen,[134] I may be allowed to make one observation, which has probably occurred already to my readers; and that is, that it is utterly impossible for the fair sex of the Northwest Coast to enjoy the luxury of a kiss.

The occupations of the Sitcha Indians, beside hunting and fishing, appeared to be making canoes, fishing-lines and hooks, and wooden ware. The women manufacture a kind of carpet out of the wool of wild sheep, and are very expert in wicker-work; some of their baskets are so closely woven as to hold water. Both sexes are expert in the use of firearms, and are excellent judges of their quality. I could not find that they had any organized government. Success in fishing and in the chase constitutes the source of their wealth, and consequently of their influence. In feuds between different families the right of the strongest prevails, and they are only banded together against common enemies.

Having passed two days at the Indian settlement, we set out on our return to New Archangel. On our route we visited the chief Schinchetaez, with whom we had passed a night on our way to Sitcha. This man had been friendly to the Russians, and was in consequence an outcast from his own people. He was glad to see us again, and entertained us hospitably. We gave him a few presents, which were thankfully received, and, had he been able, he would have given in return. While with him we saw some Kaluschian Indians go into the sea to bathe, when the thermometer was below freezing. They ran for some distance over the ice, and then plunged in, and performed all manner of antics, with the same apparent enjoyment as if it had been a warm spring.


After taking leave of our host we entered our baidarkas and resumed our journey; and in due time reached New [135]Archangel and our friends, without any accident or occurrence of sufficient interest to record.


Preparations for Winter.—Winter Amusements.—Resanoff makes an Expedition to California.—Battle between a Wolf and a Ram.—I sail for Ochotsk in the Russisloff.

Shortly after our return from the excursion narrated in the last chapter, our friends Schwostoff and Davidoff arrived from Kodiak with the Juno, and brought a considerable quantity of dried fish, oil, beans, &c., to increase our stock of winter provisions. The dried fish was called ukler, and was prepared by splitting and taking out the backbone of the fish, and then laying it in the sun. Thus cured, it was eaten as a substitute for bread. The people having now a fair allowance of provisions, the operations at the settlement went on quite encouragingly. In the course of the month of December the carpenter got the keel of a new vessel laid, and made good progress in cutting the timber and sawing the plank. The two brigs, Maria and Russisloff, were hauled upon the beach and shored up out of the tide’s way. They furnished very good accommodations for a large number of the workmen. The Juno remained riding at anchor in the harbor. Watchmen were stationed along the shore, in both directions from the fort, and shouted “All’s well,” from one end to the other, at intervals throughout the whole night. All were working cheerfully, and hard enough to kill anybody but Russians. The Indians made us frequent ceremonial visits, and displayed their talent for long speeches and for dancing. They[136] seemed anxious to bury the hatchet, and renew intercourse on friendly terms, which was also the wish of the settlers. In short, everything was in good trim for the winter.

The fare for the present allowed even to the poor workmen was tolerable, as a small portion of the cargo of the Juno was dealt out to them; but the officers had the control of all the luxuries,—if such they may be called; and these, together with the game and fish that were continually brought in, supplied the Governor’s table with an abundance of good cheer. There were seven of us who regularly dined at it, and by invitation we frequently had ten.

By the last of the month the weather began to grow cooler; yet, though it was December, we had little or no snow, but much rain and fog. In the forenoon I generally took a stroll along the shore, with my gun, to the place where the new vessel was building. One or two of the officers usually accompanied me; and after reaching the spot we would turn and walk the same distance, about a mile and a half, in the opposite direction. Sometimes we carried home a little game.

January brought cold, but not severe weather. The workmen began to flag. The poor fellows had been driven too hard, regardless of wet and snow. They were now getting sickly, and it was found necessary to ease off their tasks a little. The officers, on the other hand, lived comfortably enough, and even started a new kind of entertainment. The Russians build their log houses in a very substantial manner, of heavy timber, and stop the cracks perfectly tight with moss. Some of them were very large, accommodating after a fashion fifty or sixty persons. Several such were completed just at this time, and it occurred to us that they were well calculated for ball-rooms, and that we could pass away[137] the tedious hours of the night in dancing. We made out bravely in cotillons and contra-dances, but were rather deficient at first in female partners. Many of the under officers had their wives with them, and we picked out some of the Kodiak women, who were accustomed to the Russian dances, and learned the figures easily. When dressed in their finery they appeared quite respectably. His Excellency the Plenipotentiary was always with us on these occasions, and would upon an emergency take the fiddle, on which he was quite a good performer. Dr. Langsdorff and my man Parker took turns at the bow, and with plenty of good resin for the stomach as well as the bow, we made “a gay season” of it.

In February the weather was rather more severe than the previous months, but by no means so cold as in the United States, latitude 42°. The harbors and inlets about the sound were free from ice. With all our attempts to get up amusements, the time hung heavily upon our hands, and we did little else than sleep and long for spring. The Sitcha Indians brought in excellent fresh halibut, which they exchanged for fish-hooks and old clothes. To me especially they were very friendly, and came often to my lodgings, seeming to know that I was not one of the Russians.

The waters of the neighborhood abounded with numerous and choice varieties of the finny tribe, which could be taken at all seasons of the year. The poor Russians might have fared better than they did, had they been spared from their work to catch them. Labor and exposure began to tell on them. The scurvy had killed a number of them, and many were sick. Dr. Langsdorff frequently remonstrated in their behalf, but to little purpose.


There had been much talk of late among the higher officers upon the expediency of making an expedition to California, with a view to obtaining a fresh supply of provisions, and opening, if possible, a traffic with the Spanish Mission at San Francisco. By the first of March this enterprise was resolved upon and well matured, and active preparations were made to put it into immediate execution. His Excellency, Baron von Resanoff, decided to take charge of it in person. This arrangement gave me some uneasiness, lest he should not return in time to fulfil his promise to proceed with me in May in the Juno to Ochotsk. I explained to him how great the disappointment and inconvenience would be, if my departure was delayed until late in the season. But he silenced my complaints by assuring me that he had ordered the brig Maria, Captain Maschin, to be ready to sail for Ochotsk as soon as the season would permit. With this promise I was constrained to be satisfied. By the active exertion of Lieutenants Schwostoff and Davidoff the Juno was quickly put in sailing trim, and weighed anchor on the 8th of March for San Francisco. I was invited to accompany them, but declined. Deprived of my friends and companions, I occupied myself, as best I could, in making excursions in baidarkas about the shores and harbors.

Among the domestic animals of the village—and the number was very limited, there being two old cows, eight or ten hogs, and as many dogs—there were two sheep, a buck and a ewe, which I had presented to the Governor on my first visit. The ewe in the course of the winter had been devoured by the wolves or the bears, as it was said; but I thought it more probable by some of the half-starved Russians. The buck became quite a pet with the settlers.[139] Towards spring he began to take advantage of familiar treatment, and show many positive signs of a pugnacious disposition, and with very little respect for persons. As Billy and I were from the same country town, and appeared to be alone among strangers, I always made it a point, when I passed him, to salute him with the familiar phrase of “How are you, Billy?” and he would seem to respond by a look of recognition. It so happened, however, that one day, as I was coming from the Governor’s house upon the hill, after a good substantial dinner, and had reached the beginning of the descent where stood the sentinel with Billy at a little distance from him, I gave him the usual greeting, and began to go down, when, perfectly unconscious of having offended man or beast, I received a contusion in the rear, which sent me head-foremost down the declivity with telegraphic velocity, and with a shock which seemed to disturb my whole stowage, even to the very ground tier. I got up as soon as I could collect my scattered senses, and brushed the dust out of my eyes, when looking up the hill I saw Billy, the ram, from whom I had received the assault, making significant demonstrations of another onslaught. I had scarcely scrambled a little to one side before he came down again full charge. This time I dodged him, and, not meeting the check he expected, he went a considerable distance before he could recover himself. Still unsatisfied with the result, he was preparing to make another bolt up hill at me; but now, having the advantage of the ground, I was ready to receive him. The current was this time against him, and his headway a good deal impeded. I caught him by the neck and beat him, and endeavored to turn him off; but as soon as I let him go, he rushed upon me again. Finally, finding it impossible to get rid of him, I took a[140] stone to increase the solidity of my fist, with which I was obliged to pound the creature till the blood ran freely. There was still no yield in him. The sentinel, who had till how been looking on,—to see fair play, I suppose,—seeing that I should probably kill him, left his post and came to the rescue. Thus ended the farcical scene of a battle between a sheep and a Wolf, in which neither could rightfully claim the victory.

April came, and no movement was made towards getting the Maria off the beach, preparatory to the voyage to Ochotsk. Captain Maschin complained that he could not get men. In fact, there was so much work to be done at the settlement, and the number of hands so much reduced by the California expedition, that it was impossible to spare laborers for the vessels. Moreover, many of them were sick, and among the healthy there were no sailors; so operations in the navigation line were suspended.

May commenced with quite pleasant and warm weather. About the 10th, the ship Okain, Captain Jonathan Winship, arrived at the sound. He came direct from the United States without any cargo, but for the express purpose of obtaining Kodiak Indians and baidarkas for a voyage to California to catch sea-otter, on the same plan I had relinquished on the sale of my ship. He made all the necessary arrangements, and sailed about the middle of the month.

The mild weather melted the snow very fast, and by the last of May the frost was all out of the ground. Governor Baranoff was desirous of having a good kitchen garden, and so, to commence the business with a sort of flourish, we made up a pretty substantial picnic party. A little way back from the shore we found a considerable clearing without[141] underbrush, and here we staked out about two acres of land. It was good soil, deep and rich, and we all tried our hand at the spade. The Governor setting the example, we went to work with a good will. Soon getting tired, we adjourned to the refreshments, at which it was thought we showed more talent than at the spade. Some of us, they told us, got quite blue by the time we had finished our labors. This was the first ground ever broken for a garden at New Archangel. Another diversion was taking salmon, which at this season ran up into the creeks and inlets in great numbers. As many of the people as could be detached from their regular occupations were set to catching them, and curing them for winter provisions, in the manner I have before described.

While waiting impatiently for the arrival of the Juno, I made many excursions about the sound in my baidarka. About seven or eight miles from the village, there was a hot-water spring which I visited. Situated in a beautiful, romantic place, the water runs down from the foot of a high mountain, in a small serpentine rivulet, for several hundred yards, and empties into a broad basin, several rods in diameter, which has a sandy bottom. The heat of the water at its source is about 150°, and as it spreads over the basin below it cools down to 100°. It is strongly impregnated with sulphur, and with salt and magnesia.

To our great joy, on the 21st of June the Juno returned from California, with all our friends and a tolerable supply of wheat, jerked beef, English beans, &c.; but his Excellency failed to make any arrangement for the future. The Governor of San Francisco remonstrated against sending Russian subjects to hunt sea-otter on the shores and in the harbors of New Albion, and prevailed upon Baron von[142] Resanoff to promise to put a stop to all adventures of that nature.

I immediately applied to Resanoff to know how and when he intended to fulfil his promise of providing me a passage to Ochotsk. It was now the last of June, and there were no preparations in either of the vessels for that purpose. He told me that the Juno should be got ready as soon as the little vessel could be rigged to accompany her; but the little vessel was yet on the stocks, and it did not appear to me, from the rate at which the work was progressing, that she would be in sailing order before August. In fact, I became quite alarmed, lest the season should be so far advanced that I should be obliged to make a winter journey across the Russian Empire. I had had some conversation with Dr. Langsdorff about taking the brig Russisloff, if they would allow me, and making my own way to Ochotsk. The Doctor eagerly caught at the idea, and resolved to go with me, if I could obtain her. I accordingly made the proposal to his Excellency, and it was readily accepted. He offered to put as many men to work upon the Russisloff as I needed. She was a little craft of twenty-five tons burden, built by the Russian American Company at Bhering’s Bay, and in construction a kind of nondescript. She was lying high and dry upon the beach, but, with the assistance rendered, I had her ready for sea in less than a week, well stored with a plenty of the best provisions the place afforded. My crew consisted of seven men, three of whom were Indians and natives of Alashka, making with Dr. Langsdorff, my man Parker, and myself, ten in all. I am happy to say that everything was done by the authorities to expedite my departure, and they all seemed anxious to show me every kindness and attention in their power. Having[143] been furnished with the necessary papers for my voyage, I took leave of his Excellency Baron von Resanoff, Governor Baranoff, and my other friends, and put to sea on the 30th of June, 1806, shaping my course for the island of Kodiak.


Dull Sailing.—I touch at Kodiak and Alashka.—Take in Passengers at Oonalashka.—No Prospect of completing my Voyage this Season.—Determine to winter at Petropowlowsk.

Being at sea again, and on my own vessel, I had leisure for a more deliberate view of the step I had taken, in attempting to seek my own way to Ochotsk, in preference to waiting for the Juno. My little craft was large and safe enough for my purpose; but I was now convinced by her sluggish motion that it was very doubtful whether I gained the port of my destination before it was too late in the autumn to pursue my journey across Siberia. Our best sailing before the wind was hardly five knots, and by the wind two and a half. We had a voyage of 2,500 miles before us, and at a season of the year in that water most subject to calms, light winds, and fogs.

This tract of ocean, from longitude 130° west, along the entire coast of Alashka and through the seas of Kamtchatka and Ochotsk, was at that time the great place of resort of the right whale. Persecuted in all its other haunts, it had sought refuge in this northern region, where as yet a whaleship had never made its appearance. We were frequently surrounded by them. Sometimes they would take a position at the windward, and come down towards us, as if[144] they were determined to sink us; but when they had approached within eight or ten rods, they would dip and go under, or make a circuit round us. Most of them were much longer than our vessel, and it would have taken but a slight blow from one to have smashed her into a thousand pieces.

On the 13th of July we saw the high land near the entrance of Cook’s Inlet; and on the 17th arrived at the harbor of St. Paul, in the island of Kodiak, after a passage of eighteen days, and which might have been performed by an ordinary sailing craft, with the same winds, in ten days. Here my letters of introduction made me acquainted with Mr. Bander, the Company’s Superintendent. He received us with great cordiality, and readily procured me a man to serve as mate. He likewise furnished all the supplies we were in need of, and saw that they were put on board; so that Dr. Langsdorff and myself had little else to do than to look about and see the lions. The village consisted of about forty houses, of various descriptions, including a church, school-house, storehouse, and barracks. The school-house was quite a respectable establishment, well filled with pupils, under the especial care, as teacher, of the “Pope,”[30] or ecclesiastic. He instructed them in reading, writing, arithmetic, and keeping accounts. Many among them were excellent scholars in these branches. The Doctor and myself made an excursion to an adjacent island, where the Pope had a considerable tract of land under cultivation, raising potatoes, cabbages, turnips, cucumbers, and other [145]vegetables. He also kept several milch cows, and appeared to live in quite a farmer-like style. We concluded to pass the night with him, and were hospitably entertained by his wife.


Having taken on board some freight of skins and sea-elephant’s teeth for Ochotsk, and a cask of brandy for the island of Oonalashka, on the 23rd of July we took leave of our friends, Mr. Bander and the Pope, and started again on our route. The wind was so strong from the southeast that I found it impossible to weather the southern point of the island, and thus to get to the westward of it. I concluded to bear up, and pass through the Schelikoff’s Strait. This is a channel formed by an archipelago of islands (of which Kodiak is the principal), and the peninsula of Alashka. But by reason of light and contrary winds, we did not get fairly into the strait until the 26th, and shortly after encountered a strong wind from the west, with heavy squalls, which soon increased to such a severe gale, that we were compelled to seek shelter on the Alashka shore. Here I found my Indian sailors, who had proved good men from the beginning, to be of the greatest service. I mentioned above that they were natives of Alashka, and they were perfectly acquainted with the shore. They pointed out to me a good harbor, for which I steered; and as we rounded the point at its entrance, which was called Kudak, a baidarka containing one man came alongside. He turned out to be the father of one of my sailors, and they had not seen each other before for two years. They did not appear, however, to be over-rejoiced at this accidental meeting. They embraced each other after the Russian custom, had a little chat together, and then went about their business, without showing any disposition for further communication.


In the course of the night the gale increased so much that I deemed it prudent to let go our best bow-anchor; but with the return of light the wind abated, and the weather became quite pleasant. Doctor Langsdorff and myself took our baidarka, and went to the village, which was situated on the opposite side of the harbor from where we lay. It consisted of eight or ten habitations, which looked more like mounds of earth than houses. They contained but one room, of an oval form, and about fifteen feet across. The earth was dug out about three feet in depth, and raised from the surface about three feet more, and to enter we had to crawl on our hands and knees. The light was admitted through windows of transparent skins, as a substitute for glass. Their quarters were certainly comfortable for winter. The floors were covered with spruce boughs, and mats were laid over them, which made the apartment dry and warm. An aperture was left in the top for ventilation. The outside was covered with a luxurious growth of grass. The occupants were principally women, with a few old men; the young men had all gone out hunting the sea-otter, in the Russian service. Those at home seemed to be quite happy and contented, and were all employed in making water-proof garments from the entrails of sea-lions, for their husbands and sweethearts. We bought of them a number of articles of their manufacture,—curious and very neat work,—such as pocket-books, baskets, &c.,—and paid them in tobacco and beads.

On the 28th of July, the wind being moderate and favorable, we put to sea again, and pursued our course to the westward along the coast of Alashka. We made but slow progress on our voyage, and by the 9th of August we had only reached the end of the peninsula. The same day we[147] passed through between the island of Oonemak and the easternmost of the Fox Islands. On the 12th we arrived at the island of Oonalashka. I had no cause to stop here beyond the desire of replenishing our water-casks and stores. Owing to our tardy progress,—having as yet, performed only one third of the distance from Kodiak to Ochotsk,—our provisions were more than half consumed. I therefore felt myself constrained to put in for a further supply.

The Company’s Superintendent, Lariwanoff, a gentleman highly esteemed by them, had died a short time previous to our arrival, leaving a widow and an only child, a daughter about eighteen years of age. I was received by his successor with much kindness, and with an apparent disposition to facilitate my voyage. The harbor, Illuluk, was spacious and well sheltered on all sides. There was a good anchorage in four or five fathoms of water, on a sand and clay bottom, at a convenient distance from the shore. While making some necessary repairs on my little vessel, and getting supplies aboard, Madam Lariwanoff learned that I was bound to Ochotsk. She immediately came, and on her knees entreated me to have compassion on her lonely and bereaved condition, and let her and her daughter take passage with me. Irkutsk in Siberia was her native place, and thither she was desirous of returning after a residence on this island ten years. Her solicitations were so earnest that I had not the heart to refuse her, and notwithstanding our contracted accommodations, entirely unfit for a woman’s occupation, I resolved to take her under my protection. I went aboard, and set about making the best possible arrangements for her comfort, gave up my bunk, enlarged it sufficiently for the mother and child together, and partitioned[148] off the little cabin with a canvas screen. I immediately commenced taking on board their goods and chattels, with which, however, they were not overburdened; but she had been preparing to leave the island for some time, and had accumulated a goodly stock of provisions of various kinds,—several barrels of eggs, put up in oil, smoked geese in abundance, dried and pickled fish of an excellent quality, and other things equally good. Thus our fare promised to be the best the island afforded. In the mean time the Superintendent began to make objections, and throw difficulties in the way of the old lady’s going with me. She might make reports which would not redound to his credit. But I had it in my power to silence all his objections, having on board the cask of brandy, which it was at my option to leave with him, or take to Ochotsk. On his application for it, I demurred until he withdrew all his opposition to the widow’s leaving, and was willing to grant anything on the island we wished. He was a dear lover of “the ardent.”

Everything now went on smoothly, and in a few days we were ready for sea; but adverse winds detained us, and I seized the opportunity to take a stroll over the island with the Doctor and Superintendent. It was totally bare of trees and shrubs, and with little or no game but foxes. The whole value and importance of the Aleutian group consist in the sea animals taken on their shores and bays, such as fur-seals, walruses, sea-lions, and sea-otter; though of the latter there were few. This is likewise the principal depot of the fisheries of the smaller islands, and from here the furs are periodically shipped to Ochotsk. In the course of our ramble we ascended some high table-land with the hope of obtaining a view of the new island, which we were informed had recently made its appearance in the Sea of[149] Kamtchatka, to the northwest of Oonalashka; but we were disappointed by a thick mist’s setting in, which obscured all distant objects. After wandering about in the numerous fox-paths, and with great caution, to avoid the many traps set for those animals, we returned to the village, somewhat hungry and leg-weary, and with but little satisfaction to boast of, beyond traversing a region rendered classic by the verse of Campbell, in the “Pleasures of Hope”:—

“Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles,
On Behring’s rocks, or Greenland’s naked isles;
Cold on his midnight watch the breezes blow,
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow;
And waft, across the waves’ tumultuous roar,
The wolf’s long howl from Oonalashka’s shore.”

But, in fact, I was the only Wolf ever known upon the island. Nevertheless, I came near verifying the poet’s language, as I barely escaped being caught in one of those fox-traps; in which event I should have probably howled lustily, for they were terrible instruments.

August 16th, the wind and weather being favorable, Madame Lariwanoff, her daughter, and man-servant, came on board, and we put to sea; and I have every reason to believe with the fervent prayers of every individual upon the island for God’s blessing upon their patroness, and good speed to our little craft. The next day we saw the new island, to which I was desirous to get near enough to send a baidarka, particularly as the Doctor was anxious to get some specimens of natural history; but a thick fog coming up, and having a leading wind, we concluded to continue our voyage without loss of time. On the 18th we lost sight of the islands, and, with a light wind and rain, slowly pursued our course to the westward, across the Sea of Kamtchatka,[150] to the north of the Aleutian group; but such was our tardy progress, that by the 28th we had only reached the neighborhood of Atter, the most western island. Then for ten days in succession we had calms, fogs, and light adverse winds. Our patience was sorely tried, but the monotony of our life was alleviated by the numerous and great variety of sea-birds, which were constantly flying round us, and furnished endless sport with the musket. And here I feel bound to record the marvellous skill, or good luck, of the Doctor, as he killed a whole flock of four wild geese at one shot; and, what was still better, we got out our baidarka, and took them all aboard.

Still creeping along with the same dull winds and disagreeable weather, on the 3d of September we found ourselves in latitude 52° north, and longitude 170° east, which placed us a considerable distance southwest of Atter. We began to entertain fears lest we should not reach the port of our destination in season; but on the 6th, for the first time since leaving Oonalashka, we took a strong northeast gale, which carried us into the vicinity of the Kurile Islands. Our hopes began to revive, and the prospect of reaching Ochotsk to brighten; but again were we doomed to disappointment. A severe blow from the southeast obliged us to heave to, with a heavy sea running; and we drifted back over the course we had just sailed, at the rate of two miles an hour. A considerable quantity of the provisions for the sailors consisted of whale’s blubber, which was hanging on our quarter, and was of course well soaked with oil. This we found to be a great advantage, for it made a “slick” to the windward for nearly a mile, and prevented the sea from breaking over us.

Strong westerly winds continued to baffle us until the[151] 14th, when, having no hope of reaching Ochotsk before the autumn was so far spent that we should be obliged to make a winter’s journey across Siberia, we concluded to alter our course, and sail for the harbor of St. Peter and St. Paul, or Petropowlowsk, in Kamtchatka. We made port on the 22d, and anchored abreast the village. We were kindly and hospitably received by the Company’s Superintendent, as well as by the officers of the military department, and especially by Major Antony Ivanah and lady, who showed me many civilities. Madam Lariwanoff and daughter were taken in charge by the Superintendent, and provided with comfortable quarters. The Doctor and myself at once took temporary lodgings on the shore, until we could make permanent arrangements for the winter. Having discharged all the cargo, and dismantled our little craft, we hauled her up on the beach at the first spring tide. Provisions and accommodations were provided at the settlement for the crew as well as ourselves; and in fact the people seemed desirous to do everything in their power to render our stay amongst them as comfortable and agreeable as the nature of the place would admit.


Settled for another Winter.—Arrival of old Friends.—Dogs and Sledging.—A Russian Christening.

Detained for another winter, we endeavored at once to make the acquaintance of the inhabitants of the village, and to become familiar with the country in its vicinity. We were introduced to all the people of note, and kindly entertained by them. We made pedestrian excursions for several[152] miles in every direction, and visited all the common places of resort. The scenery was picturesque, and the view from the elevations was beautiful and grand. The Awatska Bay, or outer harbor, as it is called, is completely land-locked, and at the same time so extensive, that a thousand ships might ride at anchor in it with safety. The distant mountains, and particularly the high peak Awatska, add greatly to the landscape. The latter presents the imposing spectacle of a volcano in full blast, always overhung with a cloud of smoke, and constantly belching fire and lava.

We had only one source of annoyance at the village during the early part of our stay, and we soon became well used to that. I refer to the barking of the numerous dogs, though it can scarcely be called barking, for they howl like a wolf. At sunset regularly they would begin their serenade at one end of the settlement,—which, by the way, extended all round the harbor,—and in the course of half an hour all the voices would join in the chorus, and keep it up all night long. With this single temporary drawback, we passed our time very pleasantly until the first of November. By then we had visited on foot all the places in the more immediate neighborhood, and we concluded to make a short boat excursion to a small river named Paratunka, to see some warm springs situated several miles from its mouth. This spring issues from the ground in a boiling state, and spreads out over a basin excavated for its reception. It forms an excellent bathing-place, being of suitable depth, with a sandy bottom, and the bather can choose any degree of warmth he pleases. The water is impregnated with sulphur and other minerals. We found here some Russian invalids who had come to enjoy the use of the spring. All [153]the rivers in the neighborhood abounded in salmon, though it was so late in the season; and we protracted our stay for a day or two, hunting and fishing, and boiling our game in the hot water of the spring.


On our return to the village we were surprised to find one of our old Norfolk Sound friends, Lieutenant Davidoff, who had arrived at the harbor in command of the little new vessel built at Sitcha, and called the Awos. He had left the Sound in August, accompanied by the Juno, under the command of Lieutenant Schwostoff, and having Baron von Resanoff on board to be carried to Ochotsk. He had parted with them off the Kurile Islands. About the middle of November Lieutenant Schwostoff made his appearance with the Juno. After landing his Excellency about Ochotsk, he received orders to proceed to one of the southernmost of the Kurile Islands, and break up a Japanese settlement reported to have been established there. He found at the place four Japanese, with a large stock of goods for trade with the islanders, consisting of rice, tobacco, fish-nets, lacquered ware, salt, cotton, silk, and many other articles; all of which he seized without opposition, and brought Japanese, goods, and all to Kamtchatka. Thus we met our old friends in a very unexpected manner. As we were doomed to pass another winter in this region, their company was very pleasant, and to have the Juno in sight again was especially agreeable to me.

I now took lodgings in a shanty owned and occupied by a very clever old man, named Andra, and his wife and little boy. I called him in a familiar way Starruk, that is old man, and his wife Starruke, old woman. He was quite thrifty for the place, and was one of the few in the village who owned and kept a cow. This was a fortunate circumstance,[154] for good milk was a rarity in that section. His shanty was warm and comfortable, and was divided into three apartments. In one corner of the largest they made a bunk for me, and curtained it round. My man Parker slept in the same room on a movable bed. In the next room, which was the cooking-room, there was a large brick oven, or furnace, and on the top of this slept Starruk, his wife, and little boy. The third apartment was devoted to the cow and her fodder. At this place I took my meals at night and morning, but dined by general invitation at the Company’s table, at the house of the Superintendent. Comfortably settled in my new quarters, I prepared for a long winter’s siege.

It was necessary to be provided with a set of good dogs and a sledge. With the assistance of Starruk I was soon possessed of five of the best animals of the kind, and had them tied up near the house, that they might get accustomed to me, and be ready for use. In the spring of the year the dogs are turned loose, and left to provide for themselves, in the best way they can. Hence they are great thieves until the herring season comes, when they have an abundant supply of food, which they go into the water and catch for themselves, until they become very fat, and unfit for use.[31] At that season, too, great quantities of the herring are caught by the owners of the dogs, and split and dried in the sun, to feed them in the winter, when they give them nothing else.

I also purchased a first-rate sledge, at once light and handsome, fur garments, Kamtchatka boots, bear-skin, and everything needed to make my equipage complete; and,[155] now fully prepared, I waited impatiently for the snow. There had been already several squalls, but about the last of November the ground was well covered and the winter set in. My dogs were in good travelling condition, and I now made my first essay, with three of them to begin with. The style in which they tumbled me about in the snow was “a caution,” as Paddy says, and furnished great amusement to the villagers. But I persevered, with a determination to make myself master of the business, and at the end of a week was quite an adroit performer. The sledges were so constructed, that it required nearly as much skill and practice to keep in equilibrium as in skating; but when well understood, they afforded a most splendid recreation and agreeable exercise. Being soon able to harness and manage my five dogs with dexterity, we used frequently to make a party, consisting of Langsdorff, Schwostoff, Davidoff, and Miasnikoff, and go out on excursions to the neighboring villages, from ten to twenty miles distant. When the weather was unfavorable, we had balls and parties; and in this way the weeks and months of the long winter passed off quite cheerfully.

About the 1st of January, 1807, the Governor-General, Koscheleff, who resides at Nischney, which is the capital of Kamtchatka, made his annual visit of inspection to all the military posts on the peninsula. His entrance into Petropowlowsk with a long handsome sledge, a Kamtchadale on each side, as conductors, and a string of twenty dogs, was quite a new and pleasing sight to me. During his stay of five days, we had royal feastings and visitings; and when he left, half the village accompanied him to the distance of ten or fifteen miles, myself among the number. We made a string nearly a mile long.


The sledging in Kamtchatka is not without some adverse casualties to the best of managers. One occurred to me which I will narrate. I was coming from Melka, an interior village, with a load of frozen salmon, in company with my landlord, Starruk, and, my dogs being better than his, I got several miles ahead of him. The snow was deep, but the top was crusted, and the underbrush all covered. The surface was perfectly smooth, but interrupted by numerous large trees; and to avoid them our track was serpentine. At last we came to an inclined plane of a mile or so in length, and, my sledge being heavily laden, it became necessary for me to be constantly on my guard, and keep a sharp lookout. Accordingly I took the usual preliminary precaution in such cases, of sitting sideways, with the left hand hold of the fore part, left foot on the runner, and my right leg extended; my foot, slipping over the snow, operated as a sort of an outrigger. The dogs at the same time, fearful lest the sledge should run on to them, went down the declivity like lightning. The trees seemed to grow thicker and thicker, and to avoid them it soon became hard up and hard down with me. At last, coming to a sharp curve to the right, the sledge, shearing to the other side, struck with such force as to scatter my whole establishment, and I received such a blow on the head that it stunned me and laid me out on the snow unconscious. When I came to a little, and looked up, I saw my sledge was partly a wreck, four of my dogs had broken from their harness and gone on, while one, left fast in his gear, was sitting on his haunches, and watching me with wonder, as much as to say, “How came you here?” It was not long before Starruk came up. He asked me what was the matter. I replied that some one in passing had run foul of me. “No,” said he, “I [157]guess you run foul of that tree”; which, on collecting my scattered thoughts I found to be the fact. But as there were no bones broken, I brightened up, and, with the old man’s assistance, caught my dogs again, repaired damages and pursued my journey, not a little worse for my tumble.


I will mention another circumstance which occurred to me,—not that there was anything extraordinary in it, but merely to show the sagacity of dogs, and the convenience of travelling with them. I was coming from a village about ten miles distant. It was dusk when I started, and night soon closed in with Egyptian darkness and an arctic snow-storm. I could not see even my dogs. The new snow soon covered and obliterated the old track. It was difficult to tell whether I was going ahead or standing still, without putting my foot through the new-fallen snow down to the old crust. In this way I went on for an hour or so, the dogs making very slow progress, and very hard work of it. Not being able to see anything, I somehow or other became persuaded that the dogs had inclined to the left of the beaten track, and consequently I kept urging them to the right. Thus I went on for some time, until I found myself in a forest of large trees, and had much difficulty in keeping clear of them. At last I became decidedly bewildered, but convinced that I had lost my way. Not knowing whither I was going, and fearing that I might wander, the Lord knew where, during the long night, I concluded to halt, and make my dogs fast to a tree. I then sat awhile on my sledge, and listened, to see if I could hear anybody, and finally prepared my bear-skin and fur garments for a night’s bivouac. I had not lain more than an hour before I heard the howling of dogs; my own immediately answered them. I found they were approaching, and when I judged them[158] to be within hailing distance, I called out. A man called out in return, and soon drove up. It was a Kamtchadale coming from Petropowlowsk. It appeared that I had urged the dogs a considerable distance from the proper track, which, with the new-comer’s assistance, I regained. He told me not to attempt to guide the dogs, but to let them pick their own way. I accordingly sat on my sledge for an hour or so, scarcely realizing that I was moving, till at last I turned my eyes up, and found myself right under the light of my own window.

These little mishaps occurred while I was yet a novice in the art of sledging; but I soon became acquainted with the habits and dispositions of my dogs, and they became accustomed to me, so that I travelled fearlessly, alone or in company, and made excursions to all the villages in the southern part of the peninsula within a hundred miles of Petropowlowsk. While I was amusing myself in the southern, the Doctor was traversing the northern part of Kamtchatka all by himself, and collecting specimens of natural history.

I was always an admirer of the rigid adherence of the Russians to their religious forms and ceremonies. I never saw a Russian, high or low, who did not, both before and after eating, ask a blessing, and give thanks to God for his bounty, apparently with a sincere and thankful heart. Yet there were some things very absurd in their ceremonies. For instance, I was invited to the christening of a child at the house of the Superintendent, and requested to stand as godfather with Dr. Langsdorff, as it was necessary, I was told, to have two godfathers and two godmothers.[32] At[159] the appointed time we repaired to the house, where we found the pope and numerous guests already assembled. The pope had brought with him a small box, resembling a tea-caddy, containing, as was said, consecrated oil. A large tub full of water was placed in the centre of the room, and the pope’s apparatus near at hand. He then commenced the operation with prayers, after which, he took the child in his arms and plunged it under the water. Then, with a small brush and some oil from the box, he crossed the child all over its body and legs, and afterwards marched round the tub, and we, the godfathers and godmothers, followed, in Indian file, three times around. The child was then given to one of the godfathers, crossed again, and round the tub we went three times more. And so it continued until we all had taken our turns, and made fifteen circuits of the tub. Now I thought this, or the greater part of it, a nonsensical ceremony, and a piece of rigmarole; but it was not my part to find fault or object to it, and I willingly conformed to the custom.

When it was over, the tub was taken away, and a table put in its place, madam, the mother of the child, brought on the goodies, pies of flesh and pies of fish, cakes of various kinds, preserved berries, and many other things; but what astounded me most was that a bottle of real ardent spirits found its way to the table on this extra occasion, an article which had disappeared from among our stores several months previous. The pope paid his respects to it with peculiar unction, and a glowing countenance, and the rest of us were not slow in following suit. This was one of[160] the friendly gatherings to which I made it a point never to refuse an invitation; and I found the Russians very fond of celebrating birthdays, christenings, and as many holidays as they could make an excuse for.


Voyage to Ochotsk.—Journey from Ochotsk to Yakutsk.

About the last of March the snow began to disappear rapidly, and by the middle of April the ground was so bare that our sledging parties were abandoned. The ice had left the bay, and all hands were at work, under the directions of Lieut. Schwostoff and Davidoff, sawing and breaking up the ice in the inner harbor, in order to extricate the Juno and Awos, which had been preparing to sail for some time. By the 25th the channel was cleared, and the two vessels put to sea, with the four Japanese who had passed the winter with us. Their destination was the northern Japanese Islands, where they intended to land their passengers, and make some further attempts to establish an intercourse with the people.

By this movement I was prompted to get my little craft afloat and prepare for the remainder of my voyage. I was admonished, by those acquainted with the breaking up of the ice in the rivers at the head of the Ochotsk Sea, not to be in a hurry; but my anxiety to be off rendered me deaf to all remonstrances; and on the 22d of May I was ready. At this point I was beset by a number of persons, both male and female, for a passage to Ochotsk. I concluded to take five in addition to Madam Lariwanoff and daughter, viz. one elderly widow woman, one old woman and her daughter,[161] one very respectable young man in the Company’s service, and one other gentleman. Our party now numbered eighteen. We were tolerably well equipped, and had an abundant supply of such provisions as the place afforded. When our arrangements were all completed, Doctor Langsdorff and myself devoted a day to taking leave of the many friends who had entertained us during the winter; and I particularly of my old landlord and landlady, Starruk and Starruke. To the former I paid what he thought a very liberal compensation for the apartment I had occupied at his house. I also made him a present of my sledge, its equipage, and my dogs, with the exception of one, which I took with me. To Starruke I gave my bedding, curtains, and furniture. I then bade good-bye to these warm-hearted people, and left them with their warmest prayers for a prosperous voyage. Our passengers now came on board, and, after making the best accommodations for them our contracted quarters would admit, on the 26th, with fair weather, we bade adieu to Petropowlowsk, and weighed anchor.

Favorable winds continued just long enough to give us a good offing, when they became light and adverse, with calms, and so continued for several days. On the 30th, having just taken a brisk breeze, which was driving us along, for a wonder, at nearly five knots, we ran into a large whale which was lying near the surface. We somehow slid up his back so as to raise our little vessel two or three feet and throw her over on her side four or five streaks. It was like striking a rock, and brought us to a complete standstill. The monster soon showed himself, gave a spout, “kicked” his flukes and went down. He did not appear to be hurt, nor were we hurt, but most confoundedly frightened.[162] I sounded the pump immediately, and found that all was safe as to leakage, and we continued on our course quite satisfied with the result.

June 3d, we passed through between the second and third Kurile Islands from the southern part of Kamtchatka, and entered the Sea of Ochotsk. Here again we were annoyed by the calms, which continued with but little variance until the 14th, when we had reached latitude 58°. We now began to meet ice, at first so scattered that we thought it possible to push through it; but after working in amongst it for a few hours, it became so compact as to be impassable, and extended east, west, and north as far as the eye could reach, even from the masthead a solid mass. Finding it impossible to proceed any farther, and as the ice was closing rapidly around us, I deemed it advisable to avail myself of that better part of valor, discretion, and pole out as we had poled in; for I had soon discovered that our little craft was too slight to deal freely with heavy ice. Having gained the open water, I steered to the eastward all day without finding any passage-way. The wind proving unfavorable for sailing in that direction, we turned and went westward. Thus we continued for ten days, making various attempts to get clear of the ice, and at last succeeded. On the 26th, at meridian, we found our latitude 59°20′, and the land was in sight. On the 27th, we anchored off the mouth of the river Ochota. At 2 P. M., the tide turned, and we crossed the bar, entered the harbor of Ochotsk, and made fast to the Company’s wharf. Thus terminated a long and tedious passage of thirty-three days.

We were told here that the ice had only left the rivers and bays four or five days. We were likewise informed, to our great grief, that his Excellency Baron von Resanoff[163] had died at Krasnojarsk in Siberia, on his route to St. Petersburg. He had fallen from his horse on the road from Ochotsk to Yakutsk, which was supposed to be the cause of his death. The passport and letters I had previously received from his Excellency at once made me acquainted with the Company’s Superintendent, Mr. Petroff; likewise with the commandant of the port, Captain Bucharin. By both these gentlemen I was treated with the utmost kindness and civility; and, knowing my desire to be on my way to St. Petersburg, they were both anxious to afford me every facility in their power. A taboo was immediately put upon a sufficient number of the first horses that arrived from Yakutsk. With the greatest possible despatch, it was necessary to wait a few days, and in the mean time I was taken round the place to see the lions. They did not amount to much. The town was situated on a sand spit, washed by the sea on one side and the river Ochota on the other. The river Kuchtin unites with the Ochota near the harbor’s mouth, which, at the best, is an indifferent one, and not accessible to vessels drawing more than eight feet of water. The town is joined to the mainland by a narrow neck of marshy ground, which is often inundated. In fact, it appeared to me that any extra rise of the river or sea would swamp the whole place. Some ship-building was going on here, and many convicts were employed in the government service.

For my convenience, the privilege was accorded to me by the Company of selecting a Russian subject to accompany me on my road, as a kind of an assistant. A young man by the name of Kutsnetsoff, or Smith, was pointed out as one desirous of going with me, but the Superintendent did not feel authorized to release him from the service, unless[164] I should think proper to select him, and I accordingly did so. He had been ten years at the settlements on the Aleutian Islands, and was anxious to return to Irkutsk, his native place. He had a brother in Moscow, a merchant in high standing, who was at the head of the Company’s establishment there.

On the morning of July 3d, my horses, eleven in number, were brought out. They did not look very promising, as they had been overworked on the route hither. This was rather discouraging, for it was important that they should be in a good condition for a journey of 500 miles, through a country with no signs of a settlement except a few log shanties at great distances asunder, and no road but a serpentine footpath; moreover, we had a fair amount of luggage, and for comfort and convenience we were obliged to carry a tent, cooking-utensils, and bear-skins, &c. for bedding. Bad as they were, these horses were better than none, and I must make the best of them.

Having completed my preparations, I took leave of my highly esteemed friend, Dr. Langsdorff, who intended to remain a week or so for the promotion of his favorite object; also of Madam Lariwanoff and her daughter, my other passengers, and sailors,—particularly of the three Alashka Indians, who had proved themselves excellent men, and rendered me good service.[33] They fell upon their knees and[165] entreated me to take them with me. As this was impracticable, I could only make them a gratuity in rubles, and recommend them to the kindness of Mr. Petroff, in whose employ and charge they were. Having finished our leave-takings, we mounted our horses. There were five of us,—myself and two aids, Parker and Kutsnetsoff, and two Yakutas, the owners of the horses, and acting as guides. Three of the other six horses carried our luggage, and the remaining three were kept in reserve for a change on the road. Dr. Langsdorff, the Superintendent, Captain Bucharin, and other friends, accompanied us to the outskirts of the town to take another and a final farewell, and we then put spurs to our horses, and struck into the woods. We went on at quite a spirited pace until five o’clock, when we arrived at a small clearing called Medwescha Golowa, or Bear’s Head, where there were a few huts. Here we dismounted to lunch, and rest our horses for half an hour; and then resumed our journey. At seven in the evening we pitched our tent, and camped for the night, in a good place for our horses to graze. As we carried no provender, this was a matter of great importance throughout our whole journey. We turned our beasts loose, and the Yakutschians watched them by turns through the night. The distance we travelled this day since eleven o’clock was 45 versts.[34]

Ochotsk is situated in latitude 59°30′, and Yakutsk in about 63°. The direction of our course was west-northwest and the distance in a bee-line 500 miles; but by reason of the[166] tortuous nature of the route we were obliged to pursue, the distance was much increased. In such an extent of wild country there were doubtless many objects that would have attracted the attention of the man of science; but being myself neither naturalist, botanist, nor geologist, I had no call to search to the right or to the left for specimens. My business was to push on as fast as my horses could carry me, having an especial regard for my bills of exchange. I paid but little attention to the names of the numerous small rivers and mountains which we crossed, merely noticing some of the principal. To me the country wore even a greater degree of sameness than other unsettled regions.

July 4th. We collected our horses and struck our tent at 7 A. M., mounted, and continued our journey. Several large caravans of horses passed us in the forenoon, laden with flour and provisions for Ochotsk. In the afternoon, we crossed a ridge of tolerably high mountains, and then came upon swampy ground. At five o’clock we reached a small river; but it was so deep we were obliged to ferry our luggage over in a boat, and swim our horses. We went on until eight in the evening, when we encamped. The distance travelled this day was 47 versts.

July 5th. We had a thick fog and rain through the night. It cleared up in the morning, and we mounted at seven, and continued our journey through valleys and over mountains, with extremely bad travelling, the whole day. The weather growing hot, we were sorely annoyed by the mosquitos, and were obliged to wear leather gloves and a kind of hood in the shape of a sun-bonnet, with a gauze veil to protect the face. Our white horses became perfectly pink with the blood drawn from them by these insects. We pitched our tents at six in the evening. The distance travelled this day was 55 versts.


July 6th. Started at seven, and had pleasant, but rather warm weather. In the course of the day we forded several small rivers without unpacking our horses, and passed four caravans with stores for Ochotsk. At five in the afternoon we came to a small group of shanties where was kept a magazine of provisions and a stud of horses for government emergencies. This place was 190 versts from Ochotsk. Taking tea here, we proceeded until seven o’clock, and then encamped in a tolerably good grazing-place. The distance travelled this day was 55 versts.

July 7th. Started this morning at six. The travelling was extremely bad, and the ground swampy; the horses sank in the mire up to their saddle-girths. By noon we came to better going. Passed to-day, beside caravans, several droves of cattle on the way to Ochotsk. Distance, 60 versts.

July 8th. Fine weather, but the travelling very poor again. At ten in the morning arrived at the banks of the river Allacjun, one of the largest tributaries of the Aldan. We ferried our baggage across, and swam our horses. At three in the afternoon we halted and turned our beasts out to graze. Owing to the uneven and miry road they had passed over, they were much fatigued and galled. Distance this day, 40 versts.

July 9th. Started at six in the morning. Passed several caravans, and at five in the afternoon met the government post for Ochotsk. At nine, pitched our tent on the bank of a small tributary of the Allacjun. Distance this day, 65 versts.

July 10th. Rained all the fore part of the day. Our route was through a gorge between high ridges of mountains. Distance travelled, 50 versts.


July 11th. The weather was pleasant and warm, the country rugged and mountainous. At four in the afternoon we came to the foot of a high and steep mountain, and halted to make preparations for the ascent. Our horses had already become so weak and travel-worn, that it was doubtful whether they would succeed in crossing it. My Yakutschian guides lifted their tails to ascertain their strength. On those that had limber tails the weight of the baggage was reduced, and increased on those that had stiff tails. I noticed them also pulling hair from the manes, and tying it to the branches of trees; whether this was done to invoke the good, or propitiate the evil spirits, I could not make out. After they had adjusted things to suit them, we took off our coats, and started, leading our beasts. The ground was so very springy that it was with great difficulty that we could pick our way. Two of the baggage horses mired before we reached the top, and we were obliged to unload in order to extricate them. We finally gained the summit,—which after all was not so very high,—and, having rested a little, descended. Continuing our course through a narrow valley, at 6 P. M. we crossed the river Allakum, and stopped at a small cluster of shanties on its left bank. There was a ferry for bipeds, but such of the poor horses as were able were obliged to swim. The stream was so rapid, that mine had a hard tug to get across. Distance this day, 50 versts.

It was necessary to make a halt soon for a day or two to recruit, and this was a favorable place. The government had a station and postilion here. Four of my horses were completely broken down, and I left them, and hired six fresh ones. We also replenished our stock of provisions.

July 14th. Mounted at 5 A. M., and passed over a very[169] high mountain, and descended into a narrow, serpentine valley, in which we travelled the better part of the day. We passed several caravans and droves of beef cattle. Distance, 55 versts.

July 15th. Our route this day over boggy ground again, and the travelling was therefore as poor as ever. Our horses’ backs were very sore, and they were all nearly exhausted. We pitched our tent early in the afternoon at a good grazing-place, to give them a little rest. Distance, 40 versts.

July 16th. The weather this day was warm and pleasant, and road not so mountainous as it had been. At 5 P. M., one of our horses gave out, and we left him. Continuing on until seven, we pitched our tent on the banks of the White River. Distance, 50 versts.

July 17th. At 6 A. M. we mustered together our horses, and found that four were missing. We spent half the day in a fruitless search for them, and then concluded that they were either killed or frightened away by the bears, which are very plentiful in this region. We pursued our journey, much of the way through mud and water up to the saddle-girths. Distance, 30 versts.

July 18th. Struck our tent at 7 A. M., and at nine crossed the White River. All the early part of the day, until within twenty versts of the Aldan, we found the road very good. Here we saw before us an extensive morass, to avoid which it would be necessary to go the distance of thirty versts. This morass was about a quarter of a mile in breadth, and partially covered with water, interspersed with little grass knolls, which were soft and unsteady. Disagreeable as the prospect was, we concluded to go straight across. We accordingly fastened on the baggage tighter, stripped off all[170] our clothes but shirt and pants, and secured them to the saddles, and started, leading our horses, each one picking out the way for himself. In about half an hour we succeeded in flouncing through without accident; but it was a tiresome job, and we got well plastered with mud. Putting ourselves and luggage in order, we proceeded until 10 P. M., when we reached the government station on the right bank of the Aldan, having left two of our horses on the road exhausted.

We had now reached the principal station on the route, which was about two thirds the distance to Yakutsk; and I determined to halt for a day or two to recruit, after passing fifteen in the saddle. At first I was quite pleased with the idea of this land excursion, but I found in a very little while that it was no joke. I was sore all over, from head to foot. The clumsy saddles we rode were anything but convenient. The pommels were of wood and raised about six inches, and in the hollow between sat the rider. There was just space enough for an ordinary-sized man; and being myself light and spare of person, there was plenty of room for me to shake in my seat. I soon hit upon an expedient, however, to alleviate my suffering. I bolstered up with pillows, so that by the fourth day my pains and aches subsided, and afterward I was tolerably comfortable. Still the incessant torments of the mosquitos and miry roads were hard to bear. I soon grew sick of this horse-marine navigation, and came to the conclusion that the spray of the sea was far preferable to a mud bath. We made up as well as we could for the annoyance of bad roads, bogs, and small rivers, by taking reasonable care of the inner man. I mentioned before, that we took our cooking apparatus and provisions with us. We had bread and[171] sugar, and the tea-kettle was in constant requisition morning and evening. Sometimes at the shanties on the route we obtained a little milk. At noon we generally had a substantial lunch of Bologna sausage or corned meat, and a glass of schnapps.

Having rested and refreshed ourselves sufficiently, I made an arrangement with the postilion of the station to take us through the remainder of the distance, as from here to the banks of the Lena there were relays of horses at points twenty-five or thirty versts asunder.

July 21st. Being all ready for a move, our horses were gathered together at the river’s side. There was only one small boat belonging to the place, in which we made out to ferry ourselves and baggage over; but the poor horses were obliged to swim. Such was their dislike to the water, that we were detained half a day trying to force them in. At last we succeeded, by taking two of them by the halter, one on each side of the boat, and letting the others, five in number, follow on their own hook. The current was so rapid that they swam the distance of two versts, when the width of the stream at this point was only one, before they reached the opposite shore. They crawled up on the bank quite exhausted, and we were obliged to remain awhile for them to recover. At 2 P. M. we mounted and pursued our journey. At eight in the evening we pitched our tent at the first post-station after leaving the Aldan. The distance travelled was 35 versts.

July 22d. Changed horses and started at 6 A. M. The travelling was much improved, and at 5 P. M. we came to the second stand, on the bank of the Anger, after a ride of 50 versts. We passed over this river in the usual manner, and went on 25 versts more to the third station, where we[172] paused for the night, quite satisfied with our day’s progress.

July 23d. At 9 A. M. started with fresh horses and continued on our route. The travelling was still more improved, and the country generally had a more agreeable appearance. The high mountains had disappeared, and we rode over level prairies, beautifully diversified with grasses and a great variety and profusion of flowers. Among the latter the red pink predominated, the odor of which scented the whole atmosphere, and made the journey delightful. At 1 P. M. we changed our horses at the fourth station, and at six arrived at the fifth, where we passed the night. Distance, 60 versts.

July 24th. We had pleasant weather, and at 7 A. M. started on our route. At 8 P. M. we arrived at the seventh station, where we encamped for the night, and paid the postilion 35 rubles for the use of his horses, this being the last station to which he had authority to take us. Distance, 60 versts.

July 25th. At 7 A. M. we resumed our journey under the charge of another postilion. Our horses, since leaving the Aldan, had generally been very good; but this morning I found myself on a splendid animal, of a cream color, singularly and beautifully marked. A dark brown stripe about a hand’s breadth ran from the crupper to the withers, and then spread over the shoulders in a broad patch; his mane and tail reached nearly to the ground. I could see that he was well groomed and cared for, but I was rather shy about mounting him at first. I was assured, however, that he was well broken and gentle, and I found him so. He was certainly the most perfect creature of the kind I ever rode or set eyes on. The plains over which we travelled this day were dotted over with innumerable cattle and[173] horses grazing. At 9 P. M. we arrived at the tenth station and pitched our tent. Distance, 75 versts.

July 26th. At 7 A. M. we continued on our route, and at 4 P. M. reached the right bank of the river Lena, which I crossed, and was kindly received and entertained at the Company’s establishment at Yakutsk. This town, the capital of the province of the same name, covers a large space of ground. The houses were mostly of logs, but some were spacious and tolerably handsome, and surrounded with large gardens. The churches and other public buildings, with their cupolas, made quite a conspicuous and pleasing appearance as we approached the place, but the streets were irregular, unpaved, and muddy. The latitude of the town is 62°30′ N.

The breadth of the Lena at Yakutsk is about two miles. This magnificent river takes its rise in the southern part of Siberia, in lat. 52°. Its general course is northeast, and it empties into the Arctic Ocean in lat. 75°. With its tributaries it forms the principal channel for the discharge of the great water-sheds of the eastern part of the empire, and the thoroughfare of communication with the provinces of Ochotsk, Kamtchatka and the Aleutian Islands. Down this stream vessels carried the various articles needed in those distant regions, such as bread-stuffs, liquors, and manufactures, and brought up in return the furs and other commodities which found a ready market in China and Russia.



Yakutsk.—Different Modes of Travelling.—Voyage up the Lena.—I arrive at Irkutsk.

I determined to remain at Yakutsk a few days, to look around and ascertain the best mode of proceeding up the river to Irkutsk. The distance in a straight line was about 1500 miles, but by following the stream it would be much increased. There were post-stations the whole way, mostly on the left bank, and at intervals of twenty or thirty versts. At these horses were kept by the government, and one mode of making the proposed journey was in a small open boat, which was towed by them after the manner of a canal-boat, except that passengers changed boats at every station. Another mode, and that which I decided to adopt, was to hire a larger craft, with mast and sails, and perform the whole distance without changing; but I was to have the privilege of receiving assistance from the horses whenever necessary, and for this purpose I obtained an order from the government called a deroshner or poderoshner.

As soon as I had come to this conclusion, I commenced a search for a suitable boat, and at the same time I took the opportunity to look round the town. Accompanied by one of the gentlemen of the establishment, who devoted himself to my service, I visited all the public places, including the monastery, churches, and forts. I also called on several families, and was introduced as an American captain. Some of them were very inquisitive, and anxious to know where America was. It was a mystery to them how I got there, if I did not come by the way of St. Petersburg and Moscow. I explained as well as I could without an interpreter, but after all they appeared to be rather[175] sceptical. The Commandant, a cheerful and clever old man, was very kind and obliging, and we exchanged several visits. He asked for information with regard to our government and constitution, which I explained as well as I could; and as he understood no English and I very little Russ, it is quite possible I was taken for a very knowing chap. When I made a call at any one’s house, no matter what time of day it was, if I stayed long enough for the tea-kettle to boil[35] (which, by the way, was almost always kept boiling), I was asked to take a cup of tea, and it was considered almost an insult to refuse. The second cup was usually laced with a little ardent spirits. This tea-drinking I found to be the universal custom in Siberia.

The sables collected in the vicinity of Yakutsk are the finest and most beautiful in the world, and command a much higher price than those from Kamtchatka. As I had already collected a few skins as specimens, in my travels, I requested the Superintendent of the Company’s establishment to supply me with a pair of the very best this district produced, and he kindly complied. They were certainly of great beauty, very dark-colored and shiny, with very long and thick-set fur.

I found a boat in a few days, belonging to a couple of itinerant merchants, who had come down in her from the head-waters of the river, which I thought would answer my purpose. It was quite a nice boat, of about twenty feet in length; a little aft the centre there was a small round-house, with a sleeping-berth on each side. It had a keel, but was of light draft. The mast carried one large square sail; and we could row with two oars forward and two aft.[176] I chartered the boat for the passage, and was to deliver it up to the merchants, or their agent, when we had arrived at head-waters. One man who came down in it was to return with me, on condition he worked his passage; and I found that the owners themselves desired to accompany us to their home. I had no serious objection to this, provided they supplied their own provisions; and, in fact, I thought it might be rather an advantage, as they were acquainted with the river. I gave them to understand at the outset, however, that the cabin must be at my exclusive disposal, and to this they readily agreed. I accordingly sent on board my goods and chattels, cooking utensils, and provisions. The Commandant, at my request, very obligingly appointed a Cossack to go with me, and a smart, energetic little fellow he was.

Having made everything ready, I took leave of my friends in Yakutsk, and assumed the command of my little craft, on the morning of the 30th of July, and thus commenced what was to me an entirely new phase of navigation. The wind being adverse, I had the horses hitched on, and away we went. My crew consisted of my man Parker, Kutsnetsoff, the Cossack, the man who worked his passage, and together with the two merchants and myself made seven of us in all. My weapons of defence (of which, by the way, there did not seem to be much need) consisted of a pair of double-barrelled pistols with spring bayonets, and a large broadsword, with a conspicuous gilt hilt finished off with an eagle’s head. These implements looked dreadfully formidable and warlike, and I deposited them in a convenient place in my cabin. I assigned to Parker, Kutsnetsoff, and the Cossack the berth which I did not use, and they were to turn in and out by watches. The two merchants and the[177] other man were to select the best places to sleep they could find elsewhere. With matters arranged in this way, we went on in good style, the horses going most of the time at a gentle trot. In the course of the day we passed two post-stations.

On the morning of the second day, having accomplished about 150 versts of my journey, I stopped at a post-station, where the official appeared to be a much more wide-awake man than any we had passed. I sent my deroshner to be written on, and my Cossack ordered the horses to be attached. This order not being obeyed at once, I saw there was some difficulty, and sent Kutsnetsoff to see what was the matter. On returning, he asked me to go into the office myself. So, hauling up the collar of my shirt, and, assuming such an air of importance as I thought the case might require, I went and demanded the cause of my detention. “The horses are all ready for you, Sir,” said the postilion, “but those two merchants cannot go in that boat. The government don’t keep horses to accommodate travelling traders. If they want horses, they must pay for them.” There was no alternative, but that the fellows should leave the boat; and, to my surprise, they did it without a word of objection. Perhaps they were conscious that they had taken advantage of my ignorance to get a passage home free of charge. I was not sorry for their removal, although they appeared to be good men; for one of them was a constant singer of love-songs which were all High Dutch to me, and from his proximity to my quarters his well-intended music became very annoying. This difficulty removed, we proceeded again, under three horse-power. By the time we reached the next station, the wind became favorable, we hoisted our sail to the breeze, and cast off from the horses.[178] By keeping near the shore, out of the main current, we made better progress in this way than we had done previously, and passed several stations without stopping. And so we went on by sail or by horse-power, according as the winds were favorable or adverse.

August 6th, we reached Olakminsk, which is about 600 versts from Yakutsk. By this time I began to think the mode of travelling I had chosen very pleasant. The season was delightful, and the scenery as we passed along was diversified with objects of sublimity and beauty. At times we were moving through level country, and at times among high mountains; in some places the river was contracted to a narrow span by precipitous ranges of cliffs, and again its broad expanse embraced many islands. To relieve the monotony of the confinement on board my boat, I occasionally rode on horseback from one station to another, and found the change very agreeable. The country in some places was thick-wooded, chiefly with fir and birch; in others, it was clothed with shrubbery, and I noticed currant and gooseberry bushes, and frequently alighted to refresh myself with the fruit. We passed a number of small clusters of shanties, inhabited by Tunguscans, in the vicinity of which herds of cattle were grazing. Near the houses were domestic reindeer of a large size. The children were playing about in little groups, and the older ones were amusing the younger by holding them on the backs of the deer, and teaching them to ride,—making quite a rural and domestic scene.

We had at no time on our route any lack of good milk, and once we had about a gallon of rich cream given us. The idea struck me that it might be converted into butter; I therefore had it put into a large pot, and with a kind of[179] pudding-stick sat down at my cabin door, and as we were moving along began to stir it. In the course of half an hour I produced a lump of butter that would have put to shame seven eighths of the dairy-maids in this country.

I had long since noticed the great deference shown to the military in these parts, but I saw it particularly illustrated by my Cossack, in exerting his authority among the people at a post-station. He was scolding them for their laziness in hitching on the horses, and I could hear that he was making a very great lion of me. “Start quick, you rascals,” said he, “we have got a great American captain in the boat, going on government business!” And this seemed to accelerate everything, even the horses, for they travelled better after it.

On the 15th, we passed Witim, which is about 1,400 versts from Yakutsk. Here the favorable winds, of which we had availed ourselves for several days past, left us, and we took, as usual, to horse-power. A short time after, we came to a station of some ten or twelve houses, where the inhabitants were in great perturbation on account of the small-pox, which was raging among them. Some had fled from the place, and others would have gone had they not been detained by their families. The disease existed among them in all its stages, from the symptoms to the full pox. I had had considerable experience with it, and thought I might mitigate the suffering by inoculation. They were all desirous that I should do so, and gathered anxiously around me. I called for a needle and thread, and selecting one of the subjects whose pox was ripe, drew the thread through the pustules until it was saturated with matter. Then preparing the maggot (as I believe it is called), by cutting the thread into very short pieces, with my penknife[180] I made a little incision in the upper arm, placed in it one of the maggots and bound it there. I went through this process on seven or eight, and instructed them how to perform it; and as to their diet, to eat no fat or salt meat, but to confine themselves to bread and milk. They were very grateful for the advice, and for what I had done for them, and were desirous of manifesting their gratitude in some more substantial form, but it was declined.

After passing through an extensive grazing country, interspersed with large fields of grain, about 300 versts from Witim we came to rapids, with high precipitous banks on either side, where the velocity of the current was so great that we were obliged to hug the shore to avoid it. In some parts of it we could only get along by sending a small boat ahead to carry a line to warp by. This was a slow and laborious operation, and we were heartily rejoiced when we were through with it. The rapids once passed, the scenery became as interesting as it had been before, and the country, if anything, rather more populous and thriving. We saw, beside farming and grazing, a number of men engaged in fisheries along the banks of the stream. I could not see but that there was as great a degree of happiness here as in any other part of the world. The wants of the people were abundantly provided for by the produce of the soil and the river, and beyond this they seemed to have no desire.

After passing through some more rapids, where we were again obliged to cast off our horses and warp the boat, on the 19th we reached Kirinsk, which is about 1,650 versts from Yakutsk. From here we went on quickly, owing to the good path for the horses on the shore, and on the 26th reached Wercholinsk. This was a considerable town, situated[181] on the right bank of the Lena; but we pushed by it without stopping. We now began to be troubled with the shallowness of the water, but we made out with difficulty to reach Katschuk, beyond which there was hardly enough to float a canoe, and we concluded we had reached the head of navigation. According to agreement I delivered up my boat here, and took a post-carriage for Irkutsk, where I arrived on the afternoon of the 28th of August, 1807, and drove into the court square of the Company’s establishment.


Irkutsk.—Journey to Tomsk.—New Travelling Companion.—Tobolsk.—Russian Leave-taking.

I presented my letters of introduction from the Chamberlain, Baron von Resanoff, and was kindly welcomed by the Superintendent. He invited me to make his house my home while I remained in the place. I replied that my stay must be short, and begged him to assist me in procuring a convenient vehicle for my journey, so that I might not be obliged to change at every station, as I should if I went in a public conveyance.

I discharged my Cossack when I gave up my boat, and made him a present of fifty rubles, all my cooking utensils, provisions, and some other articles. He took his leave, with many thanks and good wishes, which I cordially returned. I had brought Kutsnetsoff home to his native town, from which he had been absent ten years. He started off immediately to find his mother. The next morning he made his appearance at my room, leading her in. She was a very dignified-looking elderly lady, dressed in black. As he introduced[182] her to me, she dropped upon her knees, and, while the tears from an overflowing and grateful heart were coursing down her cheeks, poured out her thanks for the interest I had taken in the return of her son. It touched me so deeply, that I could scarcely refrain from tears myself. It carried my thoughts home to my poor mother, and I raised her up, and assured her that, if I had done her son a favor, or brought comfort and consolation to her, I was amply compensated by the pleasure and satisfaction the deed itself afforded me. Kutsnetsoff had previously observed that he should like to go on with me to Moscow to see his brother, if his mother were willing. When it was suggested to her, she readily gave her consent, being also desirous that he should see his brother.

While we were talking about the matter, who should drive into the court square but Dr. Langsdorff. I was rejoiced to see him, but could not account for his being so close upon my heels. It appeared that he had arrived at Yakutsk shortly after my departure, and, making but a short stay, had been pushing on in the small boats, hoping to overtake and surprise me on the river. He had gained two days on me, but encountered all kinds of troubles and vexations, such as leaky boats, drunken boatmen, an inefficient Cossack guide, the upsetting of the boat, and loss of papers. He was quite chagrined when I told him that I, by taking a larger craft under my own control, had avoided all these difficulties, and had made quite a pleasant excursion of it.

The Doctor having decided to make a longer stay than I desired to, that he might visit Kiakta, across the Lake Baikal, I purchased a vehicle which I thought would answer my purpose. It was called a pervoshka, and was nothing more than a box rounded at the bottom, and fixed firmly[183] to the axletree without springs. A covered top reached from the back part nearly to the middle, resembling the top of a cradle. The forward part of the box was covered far enough to make a seat for the driver, from which a boot extended to the cradle-top. On the bottom of this outlandish concern I must either lie or sit upright throughout my whole journey. I therefore procured a good substantial feather-bed and put it in, with which and two or three well-stuffed pillows, my luggage, and other wadding, I thought I might get along without much chafing. As this carriage was only calculated for one person, I took a post-carriage of much the same construction for Parker and Kutsnetsoff.

Being now all ready for the road, I decided to stay a day or two, and look round the place with my friend the Doctor. I shall not attempt a description of this large, and I might say handsome town. It is the modern capital of Siberia, and is situated on the banks of the beautiful river Angara, which is one of the largest tributaries of the Yenisei. It was in that day, and I suppose still is, the great commercial emporium of the eastern part of the empire, whence the more distant provinces are supplied, and whither are brought the furs and the products of the fisheries from Kamtchatka, Ochotsk, and the Aleutian Islands; and through the frontier town of Kiakta, across Lake Baikal, the teas, nankins, silks, and other articles which are obtained from the Chinese in exchange for the sea-otter and sable skins, and find such a ready market in Russia.

Having a journey before me of 3,500 miles, and desirous of reaching St. Petersburg before the close of navigation in the autumn, I was prepared to travel day and night, and of course passed many towns and villages without noticing them, only making short halts for a day or two at some[184] of the larger or shire-towns to rest. I was provided with a new deroshner, and a good supply of copper money to pay for fresh post-horses. On the 31st of August, having hitched the horses to our vehicles,—that is, one in the shafts of each, and one on each side,—and having again taken leave of Doctor Langsdorff and the Company’s Superintendent, the Yemshik, as the driver is called, mounted his box, cracked his whip, and away we went, leaving the capital of Siberia behind us. The post-stations were about 25 versts, or 15 miles, asunder, and we were well attended at them. If we desired it, we could obtain something to eat, and I generally availed myself of the opportunity twice a day, taking a substantial meal, and topping off with a cup of tea, preparatory for which we almost always found the kettle boiling. The Yemshik’s signal for starting was the crack of his whip, and at that the horses would bound off at full speed, and he would begin to sing. The song, as well as the speed, was generally kept up from one station to another. The music was sometimes quite pleasant and cheering; the horses, at any rate, seemed to know that it meant “Go ahead.”

In this way we continued night and day. On the 6th of September we passed through Krasnojarsk, where the Chamberlain Baron von Resanoff had died. We continued on without stopping, and on the 7th reached the town of Poim, where I halted a couple of hours to deliver a letter from the young man Chlabnekoff, whom I took as a passenger from Kamtchatka to Ochotsk, to his brother. He called on me, and insisted on my going to his house, if it was only for an hour. His family wanted to see me. I took Kutsnetsoff with me, and we gave them all the information we could about their brother. We found a splendid collation[185] prepared for us, with Madeira wine such as we do not have in these days. After concluding the entertainment with a bottle of champagne, we started off; and whatever the facts may have been, we certainly felt much lighter than before. I merely mention this circumstance to show that there was no lack of “the good stuff” in Siberia. The Maine Law was not enforced there half a century ago.

On the 10th I reached the shire-town of Tomsk, and was constrained to acknowledge myself pretty well used up. I can assure those who have not made a trial of this mode of travelling, that to lay on one’s back in a carriage without any springs, for eight days and nights in succession, is no joke. When I alighted occasionally my whole frame was in a perfect tremor, yet the roads were not stony, but tolerably good. There was no regular hotel in the town, and so after a little inquiry we drove up to a large log-house, with a square enclosure in front, the owner of which was kind enough to entertain us. I immediately set Kutsnetsoff upon the lookout for a more easy and convenient carriage, and told him if he should find one to endeavor to dispose of my old one in part pay. In the mean time, having a letter from my friend Lieutenant Schwostoff to his uncle, who was Governor of the place, I waited on him. I was very cordially received, and invited to dine the next day.

In a short time Kutsnetsoff succeeded in finding a vehicle much better than the old one. It was quite a stylish affair, on springs, and two persons could ride in it conveniently; but I had to pay as much to boot, perhaps, as both carriages were worth. I called upon the Company’s agent to furnish me with 200 rubles, but he had received no particular instructions to advance me money, and was reluctant to do it. He was quite reasonable, however, and was willing to listen[186] to my story. While I was explaining to him who I was, and why I wanted money, there were several persons standing by. Among them was a good-looking, well-dressed man, who spoke up and said he would let me have as large a sum as I wanted, at which the agent said he was willing to supply me. After I had finished my business the gentleman who made the kind offer of his purse informed me that he himself was going to Moscow, and, if I had no objections, would like to take a seat in my carriage, and share the expense. I hardly knew what to answer, and I scrutinized him very closely. His face wore an honest look, and he had about his person two conspicuous orders of merit; so I concluded to accept his proposition. I found no reason afterwards to regret it. He was a Greek by birth, and a merchant of high standing. His name was Dementy Simonitch, and he had done several meritorious acts, for which he received medals from the Emperor Alexander, and likewise a present from him of a splendid gold watch and chain.

Having arranged this matter, I repaired to the Governor’s to dine and take leave of him. I found a great many gentlemen there, but not one who spoke English, so that I was almost a dummy amongst them. I understood enough Russ, however, to learn that they were desirous of inquiring into the nature and organization of our government. I explained all the prominent points as well as I could, and they appeared to understand, for they praised our institutions highly. If I was able, under the circumstances, to form a correct opinion, there was a good deal of the spirit of reform among them. After taking leave of the Governor, I commenced preparations to start the next morning. As I saw but little of the town, I can[187] say but little or nothing of it. It was quite a large place, the houses nearly all of wood, and the streets broad and in some places planked in the centre for the convenience of foot-travel, and yet in others so muddy that there was no comfort in moving round out of a carriage.

On the 12th of September I started with my new companion, and went on at the same breakneck pace as before. My new coach was far superior to the old one. We could sit up or lie down as we chose, and were not annoyed by the intolerable jarring of the body. My companion was very agreeable, and although he could not speak a word of English, and my vocabulary of Russ was too limited to hold a continued, intelligible conversation, we soon became accustomed to each other’s pantomimic gestures, and got along quite understandingly. On the 19th we arrived, without any casualties worthy of remark, at Tobolsk, the ancient capital of Siberia, and put up, as usual, at a private house.

Here my carriage-mate, Dementy, had acquaintances. He introduced me to the family of Mr. Zelinzoff, or Green, a highly respectable and wealthy merchant, and the proprietor of large iron-works at Ekatereinburg. He was himself absent from home, but, together with Dementy, I was invited by his son, who officiated as major-domo, to dine with his family while I remained in the city. I take pleasure in particularizing in regard to this family, on account of their marked civility and kindness to a stranger. It consisted of Madam Zelinzoff, three sons, a daughter, and a young man named Duro, who was a teacher of French, and spoke English fluently. They lived in splendid style, and spread a table for fifteen or twenty persons every day. Among the numerous invited guests was a French military[188] officer in the Russian service, who spoke English well, and with whom I had a good deal of chat. After dinner the ladies and gentlemen retired to a large hall, where there was a billiard-table and a piano, violins and flutes, on which the amateurs displayed their skill. This was the agreeable practice daily while I was there.

Perhaps I may be allowed here to make a few remarks in regard to the city of Tobolsk, though I cannot give a minute description of it. It is very singularly divided into the upper and lower town. The lower town seems to have been once the bed of the river Irtich, which now, uniting with the Tobol, runs through the western part of the valley, leaving both the upper and lower town on the eastern side, but divided distinctly by a steep bank, which was probably in former days the margin of the stream. The lower town is sometimes, though rarely, inundated; and on the other hand the upper town is inconvenienced by a want of water. Taking both sections together they formed a very large place, with a numerous and mixed population of Tartars, Bucharians, and Kalmucks. The public buildings were mostly of stone, but the private houses, with few exceptions, of wood. It was the great mart of trade with the eastern part of the Empire, and all the caravans from China and the distant provinces concentrated here.

This place had formerly been the Botany Bay, or penal settlement, of the Russians, and from the descendants of convicts a great and flourishing city had sprung up, with its wealthy merchants, thrifty traders, and literary and scientific men. The German and French languages were taught and spoken by all the better classes. All kinds of provisions were so cheap, that the poorest inhabitant never need suffer for food; and I could see here, as throughout[189] Siberia, the kindliest feelings manifested toward the lower orders of society.

Having remained at Tobolsk six days, we prepared to continue our journey. Two of the young Mr. Zelinzoffs were to accompany us as far as their father’s estate, at Ekatereinburg. Accordingly, after dining and making some preliminary arrangements for departure, the whole family, with their guests, assembled in the large room for a little chat and to take leave. Now this leave-taking was a somewhat formal piece of business, and I had misgivings as to how I should acquit myself with becoming gallantry. The custom with the gentlemen was for each to lay the right hand on the other’s back, and to kiss each other on both cheeks;[36] not unfrequently the noses came in rude collision. A lady presents you the back of the hand to kiss, and at the same time she kisses you on the cheek. Being all ready for action, the ladies and gentlemen placed themselves in a row round the room, and then the performance was commenced by the two sons who were going with us, and continued by my friend Dementy. By this time the perspiration had begun to start upon my forehead; but I saw it was of no use to be lagging, and so, summoning all my courage, I turned to, and went through the ceremony like a veteran courtier. The last of the ladies I came to was the daughter, a great beauty, and I was greatly tempted, in violation of Russian etiquette, to kiss her cheek, but I managed to restrain myself.



Flying Ferry-Boat.—Ekatereinburg.—Kazan.—A Dinner-Party.—Moscow.—St. Petersburg.—Good News.

After the ceremony described in the last chapter, we took to our carriages and proceeded to the ferry which crosses the Irtich, where we found what was called a flying ferry-boat, of sufficient size to transport several teams at once.[37] The hull of the craft did not swim deep in the water, but was furnished with a very deep keel along its whole length. It had a short mast, placed about as far forward as in sloops, and supported by shrouds. Now an anchor was sunk in the centre of the river some distance above, and from the anchor a rope, sustained on the surface by buoys, was extended and fastened to the bow of the boat. By means of a block and pulley this rope could be elevated about half the distance to the mast-head. When ready for starting, the bow, which was always pointed directly up stream at the landing-place, was pushed off a little, so that the current might strike the keel at an angle. This position was maintained by the use of the rudder; and as the boat could not drift down the river, on account of the anchor to which it was attached, it was driven sideways to the opposite shore. By this ingenious contrivance passengers and freight were carried across without the least trouble or labor.

On the 24th we arrived at Ekatereinburg. During our stay here of one night, our young friends showed us about the iron-works, and we saw all the operations, from smelting the ore to working it up into bar-iron. Gold ore was[191] dug here by the government, and the pure metal extracted by pulverizing, and washing it on an inclined plane covered with ridges, which stopped the gold, while the lighter substances were carried off with the water. It did not appear to be a very money-making process. The next day we took leave of our young friends, and pursued our journey westward to Kazan, on the river Volga, which we reached on the 30th. Here my carriage-mate, Dementy, was quite at home again, and we concluded to halt for a couple of days. The city was large and well built, and the most important place in the eastern part of Russia proper.

I had for some time experienced the good effects of Dementy’s badge of distinction, but it did us especial service here. It procured us an invitation to dine with the military Governor, who was himself of Greek extraction, and somewhat acquainted with my friend. I had no great desire to go among great folks, as my wardrobe was scanty, and the few clothes I possessed had grown pretty threadbare with the wear and tear of my three years’ cruise. I wished to decline, but Dementy said it would give offence. He had probably given an account of my adventures, and of my negotiation with the Chamberlain, Baron von Resanoff; and this, together with the mark of the Emperor’s approbation which he himself wore, had brought us into notice.

At the proper time the military carriage of the Governor came for us, and away we went in fine style. We found a great number of persons assembled at his house, including officers, military and civil, and many ladies. I was introduced as an American captain. I felt a little uncomfortable lest I should be questioned with regard to my official grade, as it might not have been good policy to have explained my claim to a captaincy. It was a splendid entertainment,[192] however, and, as I could not converse very intelligibly, I had little else to do than ply the knife and fork, while Dementy, who had somehow picked up all the particulars about me and my business, gave them my whole story, much to my satisfaction. After dinner we retired to another room, where coffee was served. The ladies questioned me about our country, and to show that they had some knowledge of American history, they spoke of Washington and Franklin in high terms. We conversed upon the subject until I had exhausted my whole stock of Russ in eulogizing those men.

October 2d, we started on our route for Moscow, our next stopping-place. We met with nothing remarkable excepting muddy roads and frequent altercations at the post-stations. There was evidently less respect paid to my friend’s decorations, and less alacrity in attending to us. We, however, reached the great city of Moscow on the 8th, and passed within the first circle, which is called the Zemlänoigorod. We wound along through the streets, as it seemed to me, for miles. At last Dementy pointed out a public house, where we stopped awhile to brush up and make ourselves look respectable,—after which Dementy left us. Kutsnetsoff sought at once the whereabouts of the Company’s establishment, and we started again, passed through the Bale gate into the circle of that name, and drove to the Company’s house. I entered the spacious stone building with Kutsnetsoff, and met his brother, the Superintendent, on the great landing-stair. He was a splendid-looking man. After the brothers had embraced each other, and while tears were rolling down their cheeks, I was introduced. I was cordially welcomed, and led into a large hall, where I was presented to the Superintendent’s lady, and Kutsnetsoff to[193] a sister he had never seen before. She was a very handsome woman, and richly dressed in the latest French style.

After exchanging mutual inquiries, I was told by the Superintendent that his house must be my home while I remained in the city. I replied that I was desirous of reaching St. Petersburg before the close of navigation, and consequently my stay must be short. They concluded that I could well spare a week. In that time I thought I could replenish my wardrobe with the latest European fashions, and at my request, a draper was sent for; he took my dimensions, and I was soon fitted out completely. My Kamtchatka sable-skins were converted into a lining for a great coat,—as something of that kind had now become necessary,—and they made a splendid article.

In the mean time, having leisure, I availed myself of the politeness of a young gentleman of the house, who offered to go round with me and show me the city. I made no note of what I saw at the time, and since then half a century has rolled by. I can only recall some of the leading features of the great metropolis, which may be interesting, as the date of my visit was but a few years before the conflagration which drove Napoleon from the country. The city is situated on an elevation which in shape resembles a turtle’s back. The river Moskva sweeps round nearly two thirds of it, and the land rises gently from the margin to the centre, which is so high as to command a splendid panoramic view of its whole extent. The city was divided into four departments or circles. The first, the Kremlin, situated on the crown of this eminence and enclosed with heavy ramparts of stone, formed a sort of fortress of very ample extent. It embraced within its walls magnificent cathedrals, palaces, and public buildings, all gorgeously decorated.[194] Here also was the great bell, which stands on the ground, with a triangular piece broken out of the rim. Its weight is said to be four hundred thousand pounds.[38] The next circle was the Kitaigorod, or Chinese Town, also containing several cathedrals, convents, parish churches, and many noblemen’s houses, interspersed with mean-looking wooden buildings. The third circle, which surrounded the former, was the Beloigorod, or White Town, and had a white wall. This was the business part of the city, and the streets, though mostly paved, were muddy and filthy. There were here, however, many public edifices, and handsome private houses, the residences of the merchants and traders. The fourth circle, called Zemlänoigorod, or Land Town, was surrounded with an earthen embankment, and enclosed an area of nearly ten miles. In this as in the other circles, there was a great diversity in the cost of the different structures, the very extremes of magnificence and meanness being mingled together promiscuously. I was very much impressed with the grandeur and beauty of the whole city; spread over more than twenty square miles of ground, adorned with a countless number of costly and elegant buildings, with thousands of spires and cupolas covered with silver and gold, when viewed from the Kremlin it afforded one of the most pleasing spectacles I ever gazed upon.[39]

I was loath to leave when the time allotted for my stay had expired, but there was no help for it. So, equipped in the fashionable rig with which the draper furnished me, I turned my face toward St. Petersburg. The Superintendent was kind enough to propose that Kutsnetsoff should[195] accompany me to my journey’s end, which proposal I gladly accepted. On the morning of the 17th, I took leave of the good friends who had shown me so much kindness, and stepped into my carriage, rode through the suburbs, and at noon emerged into the open country. We passed many villages and large towns, but continued on without stopping at any of them except to take our meals.

On the 21st of October, 1807, we reached the gates of St. Petersburg, and, after going through a thorough examination of passports, were permitted to go on. We drove at once to the Company’s establishment, where I was kindly received and entertained by Mr. Booldakoff, the first director of the Russian American Company. It was evening when I arrived, and as neither Mr. B. nor any one in the house could speak English, I remained partially ignorant of the business which most interested me until the next morning. A gentleman then came in who accosted me in good round English, and I was quite overjoyed at the sound. This was Mr. Benedict Cramer, a gentleman with whom I became very intimate in business afterwards. He was the senior partner of the house of Cramer, Smith, & Co., and was also one of the directors of the Company.

He soon threw light upon my whole business by saying that his partner, Mr. Smith, was in the United States, and had seen my owners and assured them that the bills of exchange, the duplicates of which had reached them through the hands of Mr. Moorfield, were good. Mr. Moorfield had been out with a ship in the course of the season, the bills had been accepted and paid with fifteen per cent advance, because Spanish dollars, in which they were payable, commanded that premium. The proceeds had been invested in hemp, iron, and manufactures and sent to America; and[196] the business had been transacted through his house. “You have now nothing to do,” he concluded, “but to take all the pleasure you can while you remain with us.” I shook him heartily by the hand, and made him a low bow; after which we walked out together to his place of business. He introduced me to his brother and Mr. L. Harris, the American Consul, who was connected with his firm; and in the same way I became acquainted with a number of influential gentlemen, from whom I received many civilities.

Mr. Booldakoff, whose house I made my home, showed me every attention. He took me in his carriage to all the places of note in the city, and had an audience with the Count Ramansoff, the Prime Minister, to whom I was presented. In short, every mark of respect that could be accorded to a stranger was shown me.


I sail down the Baltic in a Dutch Galiot.—Take Passage at Elsinore in the Mary for Portland.—Put in at Liverpool.—Home again.—Conclusion.

Things went on so smoothly and pleasantly at St. Petersburg that I took no note of time. Six days had already slipped by before I began to think of making a further move. There were no American ships at Cronstadt when I arrived, but I was told that there were always opportunities till the last of November to obtain a passage to England, so that I felt quite easy. Just as I commenced preparations for starting, however, war was declared between Russia and England, and all foreign ships left Cronstadt. I now thought it doubtful whether I could obtain[197] a passage to England, but I made all haste for the port, to make a trial, at least. Mr. Booldakoff gave me a letter to the harbor-master, the Consul one to his Vice, the Messrs. Cramer one to Messrs. Belfour, Ellah, & Co., at Elsinore. With these I took leave of my St. Petersburg friends, and started; but when I arrived at the Mole I was quite discouraged to find that there was not a merchant-vessel in sight. I called on the Vice-Consul, but he knew of no way to help me. Though thinking it would be useless, I determined to present my letter to the harbor-master. He read it, and after a little reflection, and a number of questions about my journey, said that I had better go down to the Mole head with him, and see what could be done.

We found, on inquiry, that there was one solitary vessel, a small galiot, lying at anchor below the Tolbeacon, about three miles off. She was bound for London, and he thought I could get a passage in her, if I were willing to try; at the same time he offered to send me aboard. I jumped at the proposition, and told Parker to get our goods and chattels into the boat as soon as possible. Thanking the harbor-master for his assistance, I started off for the galiot. She was a small craft, of seventy or eighty tons burden, loaded with tallow. The skipper was a little old Dutchman, short of five feet in height, and a mate and cook composed his crew. I asked him if he would take me as passenger to London. “Yaw,” says he. “And will you let my man work his passage?” “Yaw, goot,” says he. I paid the officer of the boat for his trouble, and he left us. Being now at leisure, I began to look round to see what kind of a ship and accommodations we had got. She was rather a flat-bottomed vessel, carrying lee-boards, to keep her from drifting to the leeward when sailing by the wind. I questioned[198] the skipper about the provisions, and he believed that there were enough, such as they were. The cabin was a trunk, so called, above the deck, abaft the mainmast, in which there were two boxes with slide-doors. One was his berth, and the other the mate’s. He informed me that I must sleep with him, and my man must turn in and out with the mate. I thought this a fair arrangement, and so we settled it.

It was morning when I went on board; and after dinner, which consisted of beans and buckwheat pudding, we got under way. The wind was light but favorable, so that we crept along down the Gulf at about the same rate we used to go in our little Russian vessel. The weather was moderate and the sea smooth, and after so much land-travel I enjoyed the change very much. We continued to grope along until we reached the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic. Here we took a westerly gale, which would have put a stop to our progress if we had not fortunately got under the lee of the island, and continued sailing from one end to the other of it for two days, when the gale abated, and the wind changed. This enabled us to continue on our course, so that on the 13th of November we reached Elsinore. Here I presented my letters from the Messrs. Cramer, and was kindly received by Messrs. Belfour, Ellah, & Co.

Though the galiot was detained by contrary winds, as long as there was no alternative, I concluded to stick by her; but on the second day I was standing on the pier and looking up the sound towards Copenhagen, when I saw a ship coming down with a large American ensign flying, at the sight of which my heart leaped right up into my throat. I waited until she came to anchor, and then called a shore-boat and went off to her. She proved to be the[199] Mary of Portland, Captain David Gray, and was homeward bound. This was joyful news, and affected me so deeply that I could hardly tell the Captain my story. At last, after making known who I was, and from whence I came, I asked him if he would take me as passenger, and he readily consented. I went immediately to the galiot to settle with the little Dutch skipper. To the question, how much was I to pay him, he answered that he only wanted “Was billig ist, das ist mir recht.” Not knowing exactly what that was, I tendered him twenty Spanish dollars, with which he was well satisfied, and made him a bonus of a pair of leather breeches, which he had worn ever since we left Cronstadt. Wishing him a prosperous voyage, I took my leave and my baggage and went on board the Mary. She was a fine ship, in ballast, and had a splendid cabin for the times. The captain was a social, clever fellow, and we soon became well acquainted. We left Elsinore on the 20th, and proceeded down the Kattegat. When we got down as far as Gottenburg, we found the wind blowing in heavily through the Sleeve, which obliged the pilot to put into Marstrand, a small port in Sweden. Here we lay two days.

On the 24th, we put to sea again. We passed the Naze of Norway, and steered for the Orkney Islands; but, owing to adverse winds and stormy weather, it was the 2d of December before we got through the Fair Isle Passage. We then encountered a series of westerly gales, in the course of which it was discovered that one of the ship’s rudder-braces had worked loose. It was deemed unsafe to pursue our course across the Atlantic, and Captain Gray accordingly altered his course for Liverpool, where we arrived on the 15th. This was a great disappointment to me, particularly[200] as my pecuniary resources were exhausted, and I saw before me unavoidable expenses; at the same time, I had no relish for the storms of a northern passage and a winter’s coast. I reconciled myself, however, with the prospect of seeing England; and as Captain Gray offered to supply me with money until I reached Portland, I was quite content. I went with him to a boarding-house, where we remained while the ship was undergoing repairs. In the mean time, I made myself acquainted with the city and its environs. At the end of two months the Mary was ready for sea again, and having taken on board a quantity of salt, we sailed on the 7th of February. We had a pleasant voyage, and arrived at Portland on the 25th of March. Here I settled with the Captain, to whom I was indebted for my passage, board, and sundry loans, the whole amounting to the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. I gave him a draft on Mr. John Park, of Boston, and it proved quite fortunate for him that I did so. His owners had failed just before our arrival, and, as they were indebted to him, he would have been a loser but for this draft.

You may suppose that I started with as little delay as possible for Bristol. I arrived there on the 1st of April, 1808, and thus terminated an absence of three years and eight months. In two years and six months from the time of my departure, the owners were in receipt of the proceeds of the voyage, which resulted in a clear profit of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I have now reached the end of my story; but before I lay down my pen, let me say a word more of the friends mentioned in the preceding pages. I continued in the Russian trade, in which I had made so successful a beginning, and[201] returned to St. Petersburg in 1809. It so happened that I found Dr. Langsdorff and Lieutenants Schwostoff and Davidoff there. The latter two gentlemen, since we last met, had been engaged in the war with Sweden, and had become honorably distinguished. While I was visiting the Doctor, they came over to pass an evening with us, and we sat talking of old times until two in the morning. They then started for their own lodgings, which were on the other side of the river. Langsdorff and myself accompanied them to the drawbridge, which was open for ships to pass in the night. Our friends, therefore, passed over a plank which lay from the bridge to a vessel in the river and regained the other side of the bridge by another plank, calling to us and wishing us good-night, when they were safe over, and we then went back to our quarters. The next morning we received the melancholy intelligence that two naval officers had been drowned in the Neva during the night, and, upon further inquiry, we learned that they were our friends. After we had parted from them, they became desirous, God knows for what purpose, to return to us again, and, in order to get over quicker, they attempted to spring from the bridge upon a bark that was going through. They mistook a sail for the deck of the vessel, and both fell into the water. The people in the bark endeavored to rescue them, but the night was so dark, and the current so strong, that they went under before they received any assistance. Though fifty years have gone by since the death of these young men, I cannot forbear to recall their many virtues and lament their untimely end.


[23] Perry’s “History of the De Wolf Family,” p. 50.

[24] Three months before this vessel had brought into Bristol the first cargo received from a Chinese port.—Ed.

[25] Ever since Captain Robert Gray of Tiverton, R. I., master of the ship Columbia of Boston, had, in 1792, sailed his vessel into the great river to which he gave the name of his ship, the trade of the northwest coast had been almost entirely in the hands of Boston merchants. The natives called all traders “Boston Men.” So, in the days of the Crusades, the Saracens called all Crusaders “Franks” because of the overwhelming predominance of the French nation. The Crusades were the “Gesta Dei per Francos.” Captain Gray’s act laid the foundation for the American title to Oregon.—Ed.

[26] Cooper seized upon this well known fact for some striking passages in his novel “Afloat and Ashore.”—Ed.

[27] Duffel, a coarse woollen cloth named from the town near Antwerp in which it was manufactured.—Ed.

[28] Leather canoes. They consist of a skeleton of wood, over which is stretched a covering made of the skins of sea-lions. They are long and narrow, and hold from one to three persons. Each person sits in a round hole just fitted to the size of the body.—[Author’s note.]

[29] George von Langsdorff was born in Heidelberg in the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1774, his father being at that time Chancellor of the University of Heidelberg. Having taken the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the University of Göttingen, he shortly afterward went with Prince Waldeck to Lisbon as his physician. On the death of the Prince he returned by way of England to his home. At the age of thirty he accompanied Admiral Krusenstern, as botanist, on a voyage around the world. Emperor Alexander I of Russia made him a Knight of the Order of St. Anne with the rank of Aulic Councillor, and also made him a Baron. Later he appointed him Consul General at the port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a post which he held with honor for many years. He died at Freiburg, Baden, in 1852, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. Besides other volumes he published an account of his trip around the world under the title “Bemerkungen auf einer Reise um die Welt in den Jahren 1803 bis 1807 von Copenhagen nach Brasilien, der Sudsee, Kamtschatka, und Japan.” The second volume treats of his journey “Von Kamtschatka nach der Insel St. Paul, Unalaska, Kodiak, Sitcha, Neu Albion, Kamtschatka, Ochotsk und durch Sibirien nach St. Petersburg.” Captain DeWolf must have had a translation of this volume at hand when he wrote his own story. The German naturalist and the American sea captain were evidently “two of a kind.” How highly the American esteemed his friend may be judged from the fact that he named his only son John Langsdorff. The boy was always called Langsdorff.—Ed.

[30] In the Russian Church all the priests are called Popes, i.e., Fathers, Papa = Father. So in the Latin Church all priests were Popes until the supremacy of the Pope of Rome was established. Cf. the development of the English “Parson.”—Ed.

[31] Dr. Langsdorff in his “Reise” devotes much space to the treatment of the Arctic dogs.—Ed.

[32] Even in the great Cathedral of Kazan, in Petrograd, the arrangements for a christening seem, to a foreigner, somewhat primitive. There not a tub is used for the immersion but an iron basin supported upon a tripod. Captain De Wolf had forgotten many features of the beautiful ceremony.—Ed.

[33] Dr. Langsdorff’s account of this incident shows Captain De Wolf’s character in a very beautiful light: “I cannot pass over in silence an affecting scene which occurred just before his departure. The three Aleutians whom I have frequently spoken of as serving as sailors on our ship, came to Captain De Wolf, and, with tears running down their cheeks, threw themselves at his feet and begged him to take them with him to his native land. ‘We will serve you without pay. We will ask only for a little bread and fish. We will follow your horses, even though we must go on foot a great part of the way. We would rather go with you than return to our own country.’ Mr. De Wolf was greatly troubled because he could not grant their request.” Langsdorff, Reise, vol. 2, page 292.—Ed.

[34] A verst is 212⅕ rods, or, roughly, five eighths of a mile.—[Author’s note.]

[35] It will be noted that Captain De Wolf nowhere speaks of vodka.—Ed.

[36] Our traveller was as much impressed with this habit of kissing as was Erasmus on his first landing in England. The Dutch scholar was pleased with the English fashion, which is, on the whole, far superior to the Russian style.—Ed.

[37] Flying ferry boats not unlike these may be seen on some California rivers today.—Ed.

[38] At least 448,000 pounds.—Ed.

[39] This was five years before the burning of Moscow in the Napoleonic War.—Ed.






The story of the life of James De Wolf reads like a chapter of wild romance. Without any advantages of birth, fortune or education his indomitable energy and his commanding abilities won for him a seat in the greatest deliberative assembly in the world, the Senate of the United States, and also secured for him one of the largest fortunes in America.

He was born in Bristol, March 18, 1764, the seventh son of Mark Anthony De Wolf, clerk of the Prince Charles of Lorraine, whose raid upon the coast of French Guiana under the leadership of Simeon Potter has already been set forth in this book. He was born of American parents upon the French island of Guadaloupe. The sudden fancy of Captain Potter rescued him from a possible life of obscurity upon that island that his children might rise to influence and power and wealth in America.

Mark Anthony De Wolf married a sister of Potter and became master of one of his brother-in-law’s vessels. More than a very moderate income he never enjoyed, and his sons were compelled to earn their own living at an early age. Following the natural trend of Bristol boys of that period they took up their father’s calling. All who reached manhood became shipmasters, and nearly all of them attained large riches. One of James De Wolf’s descendants, the Rev. C. B. Perry, tells in his book “The De Wolfs” this story of his ancestor’s entrance upon a seafaring life: “Several of them [the De Wolf boys] who had been[206] sweating in the corn rows one summer day flung down their hoes, declaring they would no longer hoe corn when they knew they could get places on their Uncle Sim Potter’s privateer about to sail from Providence. So off they trudged upon the road to that city. As after their long dusty walk they emerged from Seekonk Woods near the old ‘Red Bridge,’ James, the youngest but one of the party, becoming conscious of the dilapidated condition of his hat, and with the vanity of a handsome lad less resigned than his father to his appearance, cried out, ‘Boys, I’m not going through Providence like this,’ and flung the crownless brim—or was it a brimless crown?—into the wayside bushes. Bareheaded he presented himself with his brothers to his no doubt astonished yet sympathetic, bluff old Uncle Sim Potter. They secured the coveted places on the ship and thus began that life of devotion to the sea which the sea was soon so richly to repay.”

Twice in his early seafaring life James De Wolf was captured; for many weeks he was held a prisoner on the Bermuda Islands. His zeal and ability speedily won for him promotion. Having entered the employ of John Brown, the leading ship owner of Providence, he was made master of a vessel before he had completed his twentieth year. His earliest voyages as captain were made to the coast of Africa as master of a small slaver. No stigma whatever was attached to the slave trade at that time. It was regarded as a perfectly legitimate business and was known to be more than ordinarily hazardous because of climatic conditions and the dangerous nature of the coast. The captains engaged in it had to be men of unusual force of character in order to be successful. Before he was twenty-five years old De Wolf had accumulated a fortune large[207] enough to keep him in ease and even luxury for the remainder of his life. But he could not be idle. He was continually branching out into new ventures in which he was almost invariably successful. Everything seemed to turn to gold in his hands. His aim was always to be first in a new field. After he had skimmed the cream from a market he was content to leave for those who followed him the moderate, though perhaps surer gains.

As long as the slave trade remained legal he continued in it, not infrequently going to the southern ports to supervise the sale of his cargoes. This was the case in 1804 when the Legislature of South Carolina opened the ports of that State for the importation of African slaves. One day one of his townsmen, a sailor on a new arrival from the African coast, was walking along the principal street of Charleston, in charge of a party of slave girls that had just been sold, each dusky maiden being picturesquely though not sumptuously attired in a short cotton chemise. As he was passing the leading hotel, he heard a well known voice call out: “Benjamin! Benjamin! Where are you going with those girls?” and down from the veranda came “Captain Jim” to greet his fellow Bristolian and to talk over his voyage with him. During the four years that followed two hundred and two vessels, carrying nearly forty thousand slaves, entered the port of Charleston.

Sixteen years afterward Mr. De Wolf was elected a member of the United States Senate, where his large business experience and his special knowledge of industrial and commercial conditions gave him great influence. Like most of the Senators from the Northern States he opposed the admission of Missouri as a slave State. Public opinion in the North concerning slavery had greatly changed since[208] 1808. In that year the African slave trade was prohibited by law, and very soon after all the leading nations of the world united in efforts to suppress it. But because it immediately became more profitable than ever before, men still continued to engage in it. Then came the “horrors of the Middle Passage” (i.e., the voyage from Africa to the West Indies) at which all the world shuddered. Those who had engaged in the earlier trade were covered with an obloquy which they did not deserve.

Public opinion concerning slavery as practiced in the South also changed, but not so quickly in South Carolina, the leading slave State, as elsewhere. There the planters who formed the governing class had only come to draw a distinction between the men who brought the slaves from Africa and the men who used them after they were landed in America. Even today, in the North as well as the South, the same subtle distinction is drawn. The fact that the men who brought slaves faced innumerable dangers in their voyages counted for nothing in the judgment of those who, in ease and safety, enjoyed the fruits of slave labor. Senator Smith of South Carolina was the exponent of the Southern idea. In an impassioned speech he reflected severely upon the bitterness the people of Rhode Island had lately shown against slaveholders, and especially against the admission of Missouri as a slave State. “This, however, he believed could not be the temper or opinion of the majority, from the late election of James De Wolf as a member of the Senate, as he had accumulated an immense fortune by the slave trade.” He went on to say that, of the two hundred and two vessels whose names he gave, “ten and their African cargoes belonged to Mr. De Wolf,” and he closed his speech with a recapitulation tabulating the facts given in the following paragraph:


From January 1, 1804, to December 31, 1807, inclusive, two hundred and two slave ships entered the port of Charleston. Seventy of these vessels were owned in Great Britain, three in France, one in Sweden, sixty-one in Charleston, fifty-nine in Rhode Island and eight in other American ports. Of the two hundred and two consignees ninety-one were natives of Great Britain, eighty-eight of Rhode Island, thirteen of Charleston and ten of France. Altogether, 39,075 slaves were brought in. More than half of them, 19,949, came under the British flag. French ships brought 1,078. The fifty-nine vessels hailing from Rhode Island brought in 8,238, as follows: Bristol ships, 3,914, Newport 3,488, Providence 556, Warren 280. As is evident from the cargoes the American vessels engaged in the trade were much smaller than the foreign craft. The seventy British slavers averaged almost two hundred and eighty-five slaves each. The French average was three hundred and fifty-nine plus, while the fifty-nine Rhode Islanders averaged not quite one hundred thirty-nine and a half. The foreign vessels were probably full rigged ships, while the Narragansett Bay craft were for the most part brigs and schooners of two hundred tons or less. Even so they were larger than the Newport slavers captured by the enemy in the early years of the “Old French and Indian War,” a part of the Seven Years War in Europe, 1756-1763. Those vessels had “live cargoes” varying from forty-three to one hundred and thirty head. The Caesar of Newport, a full rigged ship, carried only one hundred and sixteen. Of the vessels mentioned in these Tales the Yankee’s tonnage was one hundred and sixty tons. The Juno was a full rigged ship of two hundred and fifty tons, one of the finest vessels sailing from Bristol in her time. The cargo of twenty[210] Junos could easily be stowed in the holds of one of the five masted schooners that bring coal into the port of Providence today. The tonnage of the Prince Charles of Lorraine is not known.

Study of the statistical tables on which Senator Smith based his remarks[40] shows that Mr. De Wolf was interested in four other Rhode Island ships besides the ten credited to him by the Senator from South Carolina. These hailed from Rhode Island and were consigned to Christian & De Wolf. He may also have been the owner of three other Rhode Islanders which on their first voyage were not consigned to him. The statistics show that the voyage to Africa and return must ordinarily have taken more than a year. During the year 1804 but three Rhode Island slave ships entered the port of Charleston, and the total number of slavers was twenty, of which seven hailed from Charleston itself. The next year the number of arrivals had increased to thirty, six of which were owned in Rhode Island and five in South Carolina. In 1806 the number of arrivals was fifty-six, thirteen being Rhode Island vessels, and the same number hailing from Charleston. In the last open year, 1807, the arrivals leaped to ninety-six, thirty-seven of them belonging in Rhode Island and thirty-three in South Carolina. Of the Rhode Island vessels, two, the Neptune and the Hiram, made three round trips each, while ten others brought in two cargoes. Two of the sixty-one Charleston ships made three voyages, and five accomplished two. Nine of the vessels of Great Britain made two voyages each; no British vessel made three. The four big Frenchmen entered the harbor but once. Apparently small, swift ships were more profitable than large ones. Necessarily a large[211] part of the trip was consumed in securing a cargo, and the dangers of the “coast fever” were greatest in the case of a large ship.

The African trade was but one of the commercial avenues in which Mr. De Wolf’s ships sailed. His larger vessels had already visited Chinese ports when the smaller craft turned their prows toward Africa. While the little Hiram was gathering cargoes of naked negroes, the full rigged ship Juno was filling its hold with the furs of the frozen “Northwest Coast.” How exceedingly profitable that venture was we have already learned from the account of “Norwest John.” Until the year 1812 the chief obstacle to the development of American commerce was the constant interference of British warships and their illegal impressment of American sailors on the pretence that the men impressed were not Americans but Englishmen, and therefore subject to the British Crown. As a large ship owner Mr. De Wolf had suffered great losses. Of these he had kept a careful account and he longed for the day of retaliation to come. To most of the New Englanders of that day the act passed on June 18, 1812, declaring war between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland seemed the death blow to their commercial prosperity. Not so did it seem to James De Wolf. He saw in it the opportunity to regain from captured merchantmen all that he had lost at the hands of British men-of-war. Not for personal reasons alone did he rejoice at the commencement of hostilities. He believed that the interests of the whole country demanded it; all his sympathies were enlisted in it; all his resources he confidently staked upon the final issue of the struggle. He caused the banks in which he owned a controlling interest to invest all their[212] available capital in United States bonds, and when the national credit was lowest he advanced from his own purse money to build a sloop of war.[41] Mr. De Wolf early grasped the fact that the only vulnerable part of Great Britain, as far as the United States was concerned, was its merchant marine. He foresaw that the American privateers would drive the English commerce from the ocean and he at once proceeded to perform his part in accomplishing that result. Not the United States war vessels, marvellous though their achievements were, but the privateers that sailed out from Bristol and Baltimore and many ports of New England, brought the War of 1812 to an end.

Besides the Yankee Mr. De Wolf was the principal owner of three other privateers, the Water Witch, the Blockade and the Macdonough. The Water Witch was the only one of these to send a prize into Bristol harbor. She was a little coasting schooner of more than ordinary speed. Her owners procured for her a privateer’s license that she might seize the slower craft that furnished the British fleet with supplies. Her one prize was a flour laden schooner which netted a profit to its owners of about $5,000, a sum[213] which paid for the Water Witch several times over. The Blockade sailed from Bristol on a four months cruise November 19, 1812. It had been planned that she should sail in company with the Yankee but that little hermaphrodite brig[42] was too fast for her. She took a dozen or more vessels, but all her prizes were recaptured and she proved to be only a bill of expense to her owners. From the Macdonough great things were hoped. She was much the largest and fastest of the Bristol ships but she entered the contest too late. She found an ocean swarming with the sails of warships when she sailed out from Narragansett Bay. Her wonderful speed prevented her capture and she was able to take many prizes but all her prizes were retaken. Oliver Wilson, successful captain of the Yankee[214] on two of her cruises, was her commander on her one cruise, so it goes without saying that she was well handled, but she proved to be a losing investment. She was built by Captain Carr at Warren in the last year of the war, and after the struggle was ended was placed in the Cuban trade. Once she made the voyage from Havana to Bristol in six days notwithstanding the fact that she was lying becalmed for a whole day. After the slave trade had been declared illegal and hence required the very swiftest vessels for its service, she was sold to Cuban parties who fitted her for a slaver. Her career as such was not long. Having a cargo of slaves on board she was chased one day by a warship, and, running for shelter into the harbor of Matanzas, struck upon a reef on which she was soon pounded to pieces. Her crew were saved to a man. Not so the slaves; they all perished.

Eleven days after the Declaration of War was proclaimed Mr. De Wolf sent to the Secretary of War this letter:

Bristol, R.I., June 30, 1812.

The Honorable William Eustis,

Secretary of War:—

Sir; I have purchased and now ready for sea, an armed brig, (one of the most suitable in this country for a privateer) of one hundred and sixty tons burden, mounting eighteen guns, and carries one hundred and twenty men, called the Yankee, commanded by Oliver Wilson. Being desirous that she should be on her cruise as soon as possible, I beg that you will cause a commission to be forwarded as soon as practicable to the Collector of the District, that this vessel may not be detained.

I am very respectfully, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
James De Wolf.

The commission of the Yankee was issued July 13, 1812. Her owners were James De Wolf and John Smith, the latter[215] owning but one-quarter of the vessel. The Articles of Agreement under which the privateer sailed were as follows:

Articles of Agreement between the Owners, Officers and Company of the Private armed Vessel of War, Yankee.

1st. It is agreed by the parties that the Owners fit the Vessel for sea and provide her with great guns, small arms, powder, shot and all other warlike stores, also with suitable medicines and every other thing necessary for such a vessel and her cruise for all of which no deduction is to be made from the shares, for which the Owners or their substitutes shall receive or draw One Half the nett proceeds of all such Prizes or prize as may be taken, and the other half shall be the property of the Vessel’s Company to be divided in proportions as mentioned in the 15th article, except the cabin-stores and furniture which belong to the Captain.

2d. That for preserving due decorum on board said vessel, no man is to quit or go out of her on board any other vessel, or on shore without having first obtained leave of the Commanding officer on board, under the penalty of such punishment or fine as shall be decreed by the Captain and Officers.

3d. That the Cruise shall be where the Owners or the major part of them shall direct.

4th. If any person shall be found a RINGLEADER of any Mutiny, or causing disturbance, or refuse to obey the Captain, or any Officer, behave with Cowardice, or get drunk in time of action, he or they shall forfeit his or their shares of any dividend, or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the Captain and Officers.

5th. If any person shall steal or convert to his own use any part of a prize or prizes, or be found pilfering any money or other things belonging to this Vessel, her Officers, or Company, and be thereof convicted by her Officers, he shall be punished and forfeit as aforesaid.

6th. That whoever first spies a prize or sail, that proves worth 100 dollars a share, shall receive Fifty Dollars from the gross sum; and if orders are given for boarding, the first man on the deck of the Enemy shall receive Half a share to be deducted from the gross sum of prize-money.


7th. That if any one of the said Company shall in time of action lose an eye or a joint, he shall receive Fifty Dollars, and if he lose a leg or an arm, he shall receive Three Hundred Dollars to be deducted out of the Gross sum of Prize-money.

8th. That if any of said Company shall strike or assault any male prisoner, or rudely treat any female prisoner, he shall be punished or fined as the Officers shall decree.

9th. That if any of the said Company shall die or be killed in the voyage, and any prizes be taken before or during the action in which he is so killed, his share or shares shall be paid to his legal representatives.

10th. That whoever deserts the said Vessel, within the time hereinafter mentioned, shall forfeit his Prize-money to the Owners and Company of the said Vessel, his debts to any person on board being first paid out of it, provided it does not amount to more than one half the same.

11th. That on the death of the Captain, the command to devolve on the next in command and so in rotation.

12th. That no one of said company shall sell any more than one half his share or right of claim thereto of any prize previous to her being taken.

13th. That the Captain and Officers shall appoint an agent of said Vessel’s company for and during the term of the said cruise.

14th. That all and everyone of said Company do agree to serve on board of said Vessel for the term of four months, conformable to the terms herein mentioned, beginning the said term at the time of her departure from the harbour of Bristol.

15th. That One Half of the Nett proceeds of all prizes taken by the said Vessel which is appropriated to the Vessel’s Company shall be divided among them in the following manner (viz) To the Captain sixteen Shares and all such privileges and freedoms as are allowed to the Captains of Private armed Vessels of War from this Port.

To the First Lieutenant nine Shares. To the 2d and 3d Lieutenants and Surgeon eight Shares each. Prize masters and Master’s Mate and Captain of Marines six Shares each; Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner four Shares each. Boatswain’s Mates two and one half Shares each. The residue to be divided among the Company in equal Shares excepting[217] Landsmen or raw hands who draw one and one half Shares each, and boys who draw one Share each. Ten Shares to be reserved to the order of the Captain to be distributed by him to such as he may deem deserving among the Vessel’s Company.

The Yankee was immediately and immensely successful. In this respect she was unlike the other privateers of the “War of 1812.” It is a mistake to suppose that the business of privateering was, as a rule, a successful one. Most of the vessels engaged in it barely paid their expenses. To very many the cruise resulted only in a loss. Much depended on the sailing qualities of the ship, and the way in which she was handled; but much more depended upon sheer luck. The privateers, as a rule, did an enormous amount of damage to the shipping of the enemy without reaping any corresponding advantage themselves. The Yankee, however, not only inflicted enormous damage upon the enemy but was also enormously profitable to her owners.

Her officers on her first cruise were Oliver Wilson,[43] captain, and Manly Sweet, James Usher, 2d, and Thomas H. Russell, lieutenants. She carried a crew of 115 men (they must have been packed like sardines), and made for the coast of Nova Scotia. One of her first prizes was the Royal Bounty, a full rigged ship of 659 tons (about four times the size of the Yankee, but manned by a crew of only 25 men). The Bounty was taken after a running fight in which three Americans were wounded, while two of the English were killed and seven wounded. The boldness of Captain Wilson in attacking a vessel so much larger than his own was remarkable, but the end justified his conduct. As a rule the privateers avoided engagements with ships[218] of superior size, remembering that, primarily, their object was not to fight battles for the glory of the flag, but to capture ships for their own pecuniary advantage. They could and did fight bravely and successfully upon occasion, but, ordinarily, deemed it wiser to show their heels to a superior foe. Nine other prizes were taken on the first cruise of less than three months, the most valuable of which was the ship Francis whose cargo netted more than $200,000 to her captors. That first cruise paid for the brigantine several times over, and resulted in a dividend of more than $700 a share.

Small wonder then that the Bristol sailors almost fought for a place on her decks for her second cruise, when she sailed again from the harbor on the fifteenth of October. The journal of that second cruise is hereinafter published in full. Captain Wilson’s instructions this time were to scour the west coast of Africa and to come home in the track of vessels sailing to Europe from Brazil and the West Indies. One hundred and fifteen days after the Yankee had sailed out from the harbor two boys were “shinning up” the masts of two vessels tied up at a wharf, in the good old Bristol way already described (p. 30). As the victor in the contest placed his cap upon the cap of the topmast he saw something which caused him, leaving his cap where it was, to slide down mast and shroud regardless of damage to trousers and hands, and to go running up the street crying out at the top of his voice, “The Yankee is coming up the Bay with a prize on each side of her.” It was even so. The prizes were the Shannon, a fine brig of 200 tons, and the letter of marque schooner Alder. The dividend for each share in the second cruise was $338.40.

On May 10, 1813, the brigantine was commissioned for[219] her third cruise. Elisha Snow was her Captain. The Lieutenants were Thomas Jones, Samuel Barton and George A. Bruce. British war vessels were swarming along the coast. Captain Snow learned that a frigate and a fourteen-gun brig were waiting for him near Block Island. Choosing his time with care he sailed from Newport on May 20 and steered joyfully for British waters. His instructions were to “take enough prizes to make up a handsome cruise, calculating one-half the prizes to be retaken.” Three months later he was again lying at anchor in Bristol harbor. Seven prizes were taken on this cruise but most of them were recaptured. The most important of them was the “snow” Thames, of 312 tons burden, with 287 bales of cotton on board. Vessel and cargo were valued at $110,000. The prize money for each share was $173.54.

The fourth cruise was almost a failure. A new set of officers was on board. They were Thomas Jones, captain, and Thomas Milton, George Eddy and Sampson Gullifer, lieutenants. All told there were 109 persons on the ship. Among the crew we still see the names of Jack Jibsheet and Cuffee Cockroach enumerated as cabin boys. They seem to have been steadily attached to the vessel. Almost all the names of the ship’s crew were British. It is very likely, however, that the two cabin boys, notwithstanding their pure Anglo-Saxon names, may have been of African lineage. The instructions this time were to cruise “on the track of homeward bound vessels near the Grand Banks.” Prizes were to make for Nantucket Shoals and to get into the first port on the Vineyard Sound, avoiding Boston. But two prizes reached port, and the dividend for each share was only $17.29.

There was no competition for berths on the fifth cruise.[220] Indeed, some of the sailors swam ashore before the privateer left the harbor of Bristol.[44] All the probabilities seemed to point rather to a prison in England than a profit in America. Elisha Snow was again in command. His Lieutenants were Samuel Barton, John Smith and Francis Elliott. Thomas Jones, the captain of the voyage before, was second captain. The cruise was not finished as planned because the Yankee was driven into New Bedford by an English man-of-war and the crew deserted almost to a man. Four prizes only were taken, three of which were of no value whatever. But the fourth reached Portland, Maine, in safety. She was a full rigged ship, the San Jose Indiano,[45] and, with her cargo, sold for more than half a million[221] dollars. The voyage that had been undertaken with the greatest hesitation was the most profitable of all. The two gentlemen of color, Jibsheet and Cockroach, received respectively $738.19 and $1,121.88 as their dividends. Captain Snow’s “lay” was $15,789.69, and the owners realized $223,313.10. It was the luckiest cruise made by any privateer during the war. Naturally resulted a season of great hilarity in the home port. Imagine the effect upon a little town of less than 3,000 inhabitants today if a million dollars were suddenly and unexpectedly poured into the pockets of its people! Notwithstanding the immense risks there were volunteers enough for the sixth cruise—which was to be the last one. The sailing orders for this cruise were issued October 1, 1814.

Captain Snow had apparently decided to let well enough alone, for William C. Jenckes was the new captain. The second captain was Benjamin K. Churchill, “a fellow of infinite humor” as we shall presently see. A. B. Hetherington, Henry Wardwell and Samuel Grafton were the lieutenants. The times had become most strenuous as may be judged from this section of the sailing directions: “You must depend principally upon the goods you take on board[222] to make your cruise, as the prizes you man will be very uncertain.” In the private instructions issued to Captain Jenckes special attention was paid to the definition of “neutral” property. The American privateers had inflicted so much damage upon English shipping that the merchants of England had been forced to conceal their property under neutral flags. The captain of the Yankee was instructed to send in a neutral if he had destroyed any papers, or if he had fired upon him. “If any one of a House shipping property resides in England, or in an English colony, that share of the shipment is a good prize of war. Notwithstanding he may have been born a neutral, and lived in a neutral country all his life; if he is now domiciled in the enemy’s country, it is sufficient to condemn his property.” The cruise lasted 105 days. Five prizes were taken and reported to the owners in a letter written by Second Captain Churchill. Only one of these brought money to their captors. This was the brig Courtney, which with its cargo sold for $70,000. One was the General Wellesley, an East Indian teak built ship of 600 tons, in which its captors at first thought they saw a second San Jose Indiano. Her value was estimated at upward of $200,000. She was ordered to make for the port of Charleston, S. C., but, with two of her prize crew and 52 of her original crew of Lascars, was lost on Charleston Bar. Captain Churchill ended his letter as follows:—“P. S. I have lost one of my legs on this cruise.”

Less than three years was the Yankee upon the seas as a private armed vessel of war. In those years she captured British property of the value of more than five million dollars. She sent into the town of Bristol a million dollars as the profit from her six cruises. No other privateer[223] sailing from an American port ever established such a record.

In the year 1812 when to most men the shipping business seemed likely to continue to be the most prominent in the country Mr. De Wolf foresaw the immense development of manufacturing industries. In that year he built in the town of Coventry, R. I., a site chosen because of its water power, a cotton factory, the Arkwright Mills. These he continued to own and direct until his death. As has been already stated he placed some of his vessels in the whale fishery, continuing in that business only as long as his ships made profitable voyages. He seemed to judge unerringly concerning business possibilities. All this time he was cultivating the arable portion of the nearly one thousand acres of land which he owned in and near Bristol. He built for himself a stately mansion, on a little hill always spoken of by Bristol people as “The Mount,” in which his descendants continued to reside until its destruction by fire a few years ago.

Inevitably he came to take a leading part in political matters. For almost thirty years he represented his native town in the Rhode Island Legislature, laying aside the gavel of the Speaker of that body in 1821 to become a member of the United States Senate. As a Senator his immense business experience made him the recognized authority in commercial matters. He was a strong “protectionist” and was the first in the Senate to propose the “drawback” system which has since been so largely adopted in the United States and elsewhere. He was one of the few Senators, perhaps the only one from New England, who were accustomed to ride to Washington in their own coaches. Happily this relic of the luxury of a hundred years ago still[224] remains in the possession of a descendant of Mark Anthony De Wolf, Colonel Samuel Pomeroy Colt of Bristol. Mr. De Wolf’s life at Washington was not pleasing to him. The progress of Congressional legislation was too slow for his active mind, and his constantly increasing business demanded all of his attention. He therefore resigned from the United States Senate long before his term expired and joyfully resumed his old position as a representative of Bristol in the Legislature of Rhode Island.

James De Wolf died at the residence of one of his daughters in New York City, December 21, 1837. The tidings of his death crushed the town in which he was born. No man had ever done so much for Bristol as he. He had always made its welfare his own, had loyally advocated every scheme for its advancement, had gladly contributed to every worthy project put forward by its people. When he died there was no one to take his place. Never was any Bristolian more sincerely or more deeply mourned.




(Kept by Noah Jones, Captain’s Clerk).

Thursday, 15th October, 1812.

At 4 p. m. Capt. Wilson, accompanied by his Lieutenants, Master, Surgeon and Clerk, came on board. All hands were piped to muster, and on inspection the Commander found his crew consisted of ninety-five as prime fellows as ever went to sea.

N. B. The Yankee is completely equipped with arms, ammunition, provisions and other necessary articles for a six months cruise. She mounts 14 guns at present—8 twelve pound carronades, 4 long sixes, and two long fours—has one long double-fortified twelve pounder (a beautiful piece) in her hold, to be hereafter mounted,—with 60 stand of arms and a large quantity of pistols, cutlashes and boarding pikes.

Friday, 16th October 1812

The Commander quartered the officers and seamen at their several stations in time of action, regulated the Messes, fixed the allowance of provisions, water, etc., ordered a regular Bill of Fare, and pointed out to every officer and man his duty on board the Yankee. At 9 a. m. Lieutenant Hardiman of the Army came on board to enquire for a[226] deserter. Capt. Wilson immediately ordered the Boatswain’s Mate to pipe all hands on deck and requested Lieutenant Hardiman to examine them man by man, to discover his deserter. He did so without success.

At 2 p. m. the wind coming suddenly round to the N. W. Captain Wilson gave orders to loose the foretopsail, send up the foretop-gallant yard, fire a gun, and set the signals for sailing. At 4 the wind shifted to the N. E.—dark and cloudy with appearance of bad weather. At 5 clewed up the foretopsail and got the barge in upon deck.

Saturday, 17th October 1812

At daylight sailing orders were issued by the Commander. Loosed square foresail, foretopsail and mainsail, fired gun, and set our colours. At 6 a. m. unmoored and got underway; when abeam of the Private Armed Schooner Tom of Baltimore, Thomas Wilson Commander, the officers and company of the Yankee gave them three cheers which was immediately returned. Fired a salute of three guns as we passed Fort Walcott. Wind N. N. W. fair weather and extremely pleasant. At 7 passed R. I. Light. At ½ past 7 gibed ship to the S. S. E.—set all drawing sails—considerable swell. At ½ past 9 a. m. Block Island bore west, distant 5 leagues;—from which we take our departure on our cruise. At meridian discovered a sail at a great distance—could not distinguish what she was. Lat. 40°56′.

1st Day—Sunday 18th October 1812

First part light winds and hazy weather. 2 p. m. discovered a schooner ahead standing to the westward. At 3 saw a large ship, also standing to the westward. At 4 p. m. piped all hands to quarters and exercised the seamen and marines at the great guns and small arms. The Commander[227] found them well disciplined and fit for immediate service. 5 a. m. discovered a sail 2 points on the lee bow. Took in the studding sails on the stabbord side and hauled up to the eastward. 6.30 a. m. saw another sail right ahead; took in larboard studding sails and royal, and brought her close upon the wind—heading N. E. At 9 a. m. having lost sight of the sail kept away to the S. E. and set studding sails. Latter part gentle breezes and hazy weather. At meridian no sail in sight. Course S. E. b S. Lat. Obs. 39°51′.

(For several days the Journal chronicles mainly the condition of the weather and the necessary changes in the sails. The fact was quickly established that the vessel was “perfectly staunch and strong and a most excellent sea boat.” The brigantine was always a most remarkable sailor. She answered the helm readily and scudded over the waves while other vessels were still courting the capricious winds. After the war, when she was simply a merchant vessel plying between Bristol and the Island of Cuba, she made some runs between the Moro and Block Island light in shorter time than that scheduled for the regular trips of the steamship lines. With a man o’ war’s crew to handle her, her speed must have been marvellous. Only the more important portions of the Journal will henceforth be printed. The total number of persons on board when the “Muster Roll” was called on the second day was one hundred.—Ed.)

2d Day—Monday October 19th

The log ends with the following paragraph. “The Surgeon has been much indisposed with seasickness since he left Newport. He finds the best remedy to be sleep. There is only one person (John Briggs) with a sore thumb on the Surgeon’s list.”

(Apparently an epidemic of sore thumbs had been feared.—Ed.)

3d Day—Tuesday October 20th

.... 7 p. m. Shipped a heavy sea abaft the beam which stove in all three of the Arm Chests, and capsized the musquets,[228] bayonets, cutlashes, pistols, armourer’s tools etc. into the lee scuppers. The Carpenter repaired the damage as soon as possible and replaced the arms.... No sail in sight.... The Surgeon still indisposed. John Briggs and the Cook on the Doctor’s list. Lat. Obs. 36°15′.

4th Day—Wednesday October 21st

.... The officers of Marines, Armourer and his mates busy in cleaning arms from the rust contracted during the bad weather, oiling them, and stowing them in the arm-chests in good order. John Briggs, Cyrus Simmons and Ned Ingraham on the Doctor’s list.

5th Day—Thursday October 22d

.... At 4 p. m. all hands piped to quarters. The Commander again pointed out to every man his station; appointed Lieutenants Barton and Jones to lead the 1st and 2d Divisions of Boarders, and distributed the swords, cutlashes and pistols among the seamen. The officers then exercised the seamen and marines at the great guns and small arms, going through the usual manouvres during an engagement. After which all hands were summoned aft and the Commander read over certain Instructions regulating, under severe penalties, the conduct of the officers and crew, upon all occasions, particularly in time of action, or when on board an enemy’s vessel.... The Surgeon still indisposed and ate no dinner. Briggs, Simmons, Ingraham and Angell on the Doctor’s list with trifling complaints. Lat. Obs. 35°24′.

(From this time forward Lieut. Barton is very much in the foreground. He was a near relative of Col. Barton of “The Rhode Island Line,” who in the Revolutionary War had distinguished himself by his daring capture of the British General Prescott within the Enemy’s lines. It goes without saying, therefore, that he was quite devoid of[229] fear. In after life he still followed the sea even though he had become extremely corpulent and had acquired an abdominal development which compelled universal attention if not admiration. Once he was chased by a French Privateer. A shot which happened to strike the ship’s cat scattered her entrails all over the deck. The cabin boy cast a startled glance at the dead cat, then looked at his Captain and was immediately doubled up with laughter. “Well,” said the Captain, “what are you laughing about now?” “Nothing,” said the boy, “only I was thinking what an awful mess there would be if one of those balls should strike you in the belly.”—Ed.)

6th Day Friday October 23d

.... At 6 a. m. the man at the mast head called out a sail bearing N. b E. distant about two leagues. 6.30 a. m. piped all hands to quarters, loosed the guns, and cleared for action. 7.20 a. m. fired a gun without shot, upon which the sail hove to.... At 8 a. m. ran under the lee of a large copper-bottomed American ship and sent the barge on board. Found her to be the Ariadne of Boston, Captain Bartlett Holmes, from Alexandria bound to Cadiz with a full cargo of flour, 17 days out. Capt. Holmes informed us that on the 11th inst. he was boarded by an officer from the United States, Commodore Decatur. (The President, Congress and Argus were in company standing to the eastward.) The Ariadne’s crew having mutinied Capt. Holmes requested Com. Decatur to take four of the ringleaders on board the frigate, which he did accordingly. Capt. H. mentioned that his ship had sprung a leak, and being short handed, with a disorderly mutinous crew, he was bound home again in distress. The Commander put a letter on board, directed to the owners, informing them of the good health and spirits of the crew, and our situation in Lat. 25° N. and Long. 56° W....

7th Day Saturday 24th Oct.

.... Lat. 36°9′ ...


8th Day Sunday 25th Oct.

.... Briggs, Simmons, Lewis and Angell on the Surgeon’s list with light complaints. Lat. Obs. 35°15′. Long. pr, lunar Obs. at 12 Meridian 53°3′.

9th Day Monday 26th Oct.

Fair weather with strong gales from the westward. Scudding before the wind under square-foresail, fore topsail and foretopmast staysail. At 5 p. m. discovered from the deck (owing to the negligence of the man at the foretop) two large sail in our wake, distant about three leagues, standing after us with their topgallant sails up. Immediately hauled up to the S. E. and set square-foresail, single-reefed mainsail and fore and aft foresail. The sails astern frequently luffed up and yawned off and when we saw them last stood to the N. E.... Frequent squalls with rain and a tremendous sea. Course S. E. b E. under three-reefed mainsail close-reefed square-foresail, and double-reefed foretopsail, with the foretopmast-staysail. Same persons on the Surgeon’s list. Shipped a great deal of water upon deck, the comins of the sea frequently coming on board and penetrating every part of the vessel. Lat. 34°40′.

10th Day Tuesday 27th Oct.

.... No sail in sight and nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 33°26′. N. B. It is something singular that since we left port we have had only one pleasant day. There has been a continual succession of gales of wind from all parts of the compass, attended with torrents of rain, squalls, whirlwinds, thunder and lightning, and a tremendous sea frequently breaking on board and occasioning considerable damage; carrying away several spars and staving the arm-chests. Indeed it may be said that our vessel has sailed thus far under but not over the Atlantic Ocean.


11th Day Wednesday 28th Oct.

.... Middle and latter part of the day stiff gales with a high sea. Shipped a great deal of water upon deck. Lat. Obs. 32°5′.

12th Day Thursday 29th Oct.

During these 24 hours strong gales with frequent squalls of wind and rain, and a very high sea frequently breaking on board. Lat. Obs. 30°27′. Lunar Obs. at 23 M. past Meridian 41°55′41″. Cyrus Simmons, John Briggs, Amos A. Allen, James Angell, Ebenezer Byrum and William Redding on the Surgeon’s list.

13th Day Friday 30th Oct.

(A delightful change.) At meridian the weather began to moderate. 1 p. m. fair weather with a clear horizon and the sea going down. Let all the reefs out of the mainsail and square-foresail, sent up maintopmast, rigged out the jib-boom and set the jib. At 9 p. m. took a single reef in the fore-topsail and mainsail. During the night fresh breezes and clear weather. Lat. Obs. 28°43′. Long. per Lunar Obs. at 18 m. past 10—40°11′.

14th Day Saturday 31st Oct.

Lat. 29° N. & Long. 40°20′ W. At 6 a. m. discovered a sail from the masthead at a great distance bearing W. S. W. Light breezes from the north inclining to a calm. Piped all hands upon deck, set all drawing sails, in chase and got out the sweeps. 9 a. m. found we came up rapidly with the chase which appeared to be a brig standing to the S. W. At meridian spoke the Portuguese Brig Henriette, Capt. Jenkins, from Madeira, 18 days out, in ballast, bound to Philadelphia. Capt. Jenkins informed us that on the[232] 21st he spoke an American ship and brig bound home; on the 22d he was boarded by an officer from a British Frigate. Captain Jenkins left at Madeira several American vessels bound home with full cargoes; also two English ships loading with wine for the West Indies. Shortly before Capt. Jenkins left Madeira an English brig loaded with wine sailed for the West Indies, likewise three English East Indiamen with full cargoes, under the convoy of a British Frigate as far as Palmas. There were no King’s vessels at Madeira. An American Privateer, owned at New Orleans, was cruising off Madeira and had taken several prizes!! Capt. Jenkins being short of bread our Commander supplied him with this necessary article, and received in return some vinegar, fish and fruit. Permitted the Henriette to proceed.... Lat. Obs. 27°40′. (Wrote a letter to the Owners by the Henriette, Capt. Jenkins, informing them of our situation and of the good health of our Officers and Company.)

15th Day Sunday 1st Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 27°14′ N. Long. 38°28′ W.

16th Day Monday 2d Nov.

At 4 p. m. piped all hands to quarters and the Officers examined them man by man, to discover whether they were neat and clean in their persons and dress—according to the Commander’s instructions—to prevent fevers and the scurvy during a long cruise. The crew were then summoned aft, and the Captain’s Clerk read the General Instructions to the Officers and Company, regulating their conduct upon all occasions during the cruise. From 8 a. m. till 4 p. m. the Watches employed about ship’s duty; the Carpenter and[233] his Mates busy about making new arm-chests; sail-makers in repairing ring-tale; Officers of Marines and Armorer in cleaning arms, and numbering muskets and cartridge boxes, and seamen and marines in mending rigging, drying sails, and other necessary duty.... The Surgeon is quite indisposed with the headache, loss of appetite and low spirits. Lat. Obs. 20°16′.

17th Day Tuesday 3d Nov.

.... The watch only employed on ship’s duty. Samuel Boynton and Ned Ingraham on the Surgeon’s list. Lat. Obs. 25°3′.

18th Day Wednesday 4th Nov.

.... Several tropic birds in sight.... The Prize-Master, Quartermaster’s Mates, inferior officers and nearly all hands busy in repairing the nettings, bulwarks and side-cloths.... Lat. Obs. 23°44′ (The Commander issued particular written instructions to his Officers, prescribing their respective duties upon all occasions during the cruise. These instructions were drawn according to the customs and usages of the British and American navies.)

19th Day Thursday 5th Nov.

At sunrise discovered a sail bearing 2 points on the larboard bow. Jibed ship to the E. N. E. and set all drawing sails in chase. At 8 a. m. found the strange vessel to be a brig with her starboard tacks on board, standing to the westward. 9 a. m. fired a gun to windward, upon which the sail luffed up and showed Spanish colours, and then bore down to us. Took in all the light sails and then hove to. At 10 a. m. the sail came under our lee and we sent our barge on board. Found her to be the Spanish San Jose, alias El Pajaro, Captain Miguel Burgas, from Cadiz, 20[234] days out, with a full cargo of red wines, aguadiente, fruit, sweet oil, soaps, olives, stationary, (sic) musical instruments and ladies’ veils. When two days out Capt. Burgas saw a Spanish schooner standing for the Canaries. The San Jose left at Cadiz several American vessels bound to sea under Spanish colours; also several English men of war, and transports. Capt. Burgas informed us that on the 25th of August the French army raised the siege of Cadiz, and retreated with great expedition, having previously destroyed their artillery. It was reported at Cadiz that there had been several skirmishes between the French and Russian armies but no decisive battle. Having examined the papers of the San Jose, and found the vessel and cargo to be bona fide Spanish property, permitted her to proceed on her voyage.... Lat. Obs. 22°49′. Long. D. R. 20°57′ San Jose Long. 25 d. Cadiz. Surgeon’s list. James Angell, Cyrus Simmons, John Briggs, Samuel Boynton, Joseph Lewis and John Koster.

20th Day Friday 6th Nov.

At 1 p. m. being in Lat. 22°49′, the Crew of the Yankee preparing to celebrate Old Neptune’s ceremonies on passing the Tropics. Accordingly the old Sea God, attended by his Lady, barbers and constables, dressed in the most fantastic manner, with painted faces, and swabs upon their heads, hailed our brig, came on board, were received with a salute and three cheers, demanded of Captain Wilson whether he had any of his sons on board, and welcomed the Yankee into his dominions. On being answered in the affirmative he asked permission to initiate the marines and raw hands into the usual mysteries on such occasions. He then examined the Surgeon and being convinced that he[235] came to sea to take care of his children when they were sick, he excused him from being shaved with an iron hoop, and from passing through the other disagreeable parts of the ceremony. After which Neptune and his companions went forward and regularly initiated about one fourth of our crew into all the curious forms requisite to make them true sons of the ocean. The several candidates for a seaman’s character were properly painted, slushed, shaved, ducked, questioned and sworn. Their singular questions and answers excited infinite laughter and merriment. After the ceremony concluded, the Commander, Officers and whole crew joined in a Ducking match, which aided in great good humour and pleasantry. The remainder of the day and evening were devoted to fencing, boxing, wrestling, singing, drinking, laughing, and every species of mirth and fun. Lat. Obs. 21°58′.

21st Day Saturday 7th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Same persons on Surgeon’s list. Lat. Obs. 21°34′.

22d Day Sunday 8th Nov.

.... Cleaned out the cabin and got all the baggage and trunks on deck. Examined the Officers and crew, man by man, and found them neat and clean. At 10 a. m. the Commander and Officers attended prayers in the cabin. The Marines employed in singing psalms and the sailors in washing and mending their clothes. Lat. Obs. 21°16′. Lunar Obs. at 5-20 was 31°17′. Same persons on the Surgeon’s list.

23d Day Monday 9th Nov.

.... James Angell, Cyrus Simmons, John Briggs, Samuel Boynton, Joseph Lewis, John Koster and James Crawford[236] on the Surgeon’s list with various complaints—none dangerous. Lat. 20°4′. A singular circumstance occurred to day. On opening a dolphin which one of the Prize-Masters caught we found a pistol ball in him which had been discharged about an hour before.

24th Day Tuesday 10th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 20°19′.

25th Day Wednesday 11th Nov.

.... At 10 a. m. all hands were exercised in firing with the musket at a target. Found most of the crew to be excellent marksmen.... Observed the water to be considerably colored. Sounded with 100 fathoms. No bottom. Lat. Obs. 19°11′. Same persons on Surgeon’s list; none incapable of duty.

26th Day Thursday 12th Nov.

.... At 4 p. m. the Marines trained to the Manual Exercise; also to several new manouvres a la mode de Francais. The Boarders amuse themselves with fencing and the rest of the crew act as spectators.... Lat. Obs. 18°19′. Long. per Lunar Obs. at 2 p. m. 28°53′30″. Crawford and Koster struck off the Surgeon’s list. The rest recovering fast.

27th Day Friday 13th Nov.

.... At 4 p. m. the Commander exercised the Officers,—and the Captain of Marines his men and the Boarders,—to the use of the musket according to the French system of loading and firing without using the ramrod.... At ½ past 11 a. m. Captain Wilson called out “Land ho! right ahead!!” ... At meridian found the land to be, by an observation of the sun, the Island of St. Anthony, one of the Cape de Verds, situated in Lat. N. 17°20′ and 24°59′ W.[237] Long. Lat. Obs. 17°15′. The island bore when first we made it S. E. b E.—distant about 5 miles. Cyrus Simmons, James Angell, James Thomas, Watson Morris, Aaron Mason, Samuel Boynton and Ned Ingraham on the Surgeon’s list; none incapable of duty. On examination the Commander finds Master Snow’s lunar observations to be very correct, and that the dead reckoning could not be depended on. THUS in 27 days we have run a distance of 3,500 miles, notwithstanding occasional head winds and a great deal of light calm weather. Nothing very remarkable occurred during our passage.

28th Day Saturday 14th Nov.

(Variable winds and frequent changing of sails. Strong gales and heavy squalls). No land in sight. Lat. Obs. 16°20′.

29th Day Sunday 15th Nov.

(Sighted several of the Cape Verde Islands) Hazy weather and frequent squalls. Made and took in sail occasionally. Lat Obs. 16°21′.

30th Day Monday 15th [sic] Nov.

Fresh breezes and cloudy weather. At 4 p. m. came to in a wide bay at the south end of the Island of St. Nicholas; out with the barge and the Commander, Surgeon and Captain of Marines went on shore unarmed. Found the Island to be mountainous, barren and uncultivated. Saw only a few small huts near the shore inhabited by blacks who led us to a well of water, brackish and sulphurous. They told us we could fill only three barrels a day, and that there was no anchorage except within cable length of this iron bound coast. We saw the wreck of a large armed ship which was cast away there a short time before. They informed[238] us there was a town or village two leagues distant, situated in a fine valley producing corn, grapes, fruits, etc., where the Governor resided, but that wood and provisions were very dear. Capt. Wilson therefore concluded it would not be advisable to anchor there, purchased a few pigs, returned on board, and set sail with a fair wind for the Island of St. Jago.... At meridian having run down the west side of the Isle of May, and looked into the port where there were only two small Portuguese boats, we wore ship and stood over for St. Jago. The Isle of May appears more fertile than any of the Cape de Verdes we have seen yet. Habitations are scattered over every part of the Island and salt works appear along the beach. There is a small town composed of 15 or 20 houses at the south end of the Island but no fortifications that we could discover. Isle of May Lat. S. W. pt. 15°4′ N. Long. 22°46′ W. Joseph Antony, Henry Mitchell, and George Schoonerson added to the Surgeon’s list.

31st Day Tuesday 17th Nov.

The Officers and Company feasted most sumptuously on the pigs they bought at St. Nicholas. At 1 p. m. came to anchor in the harbour of Port Praya, Island of St. Jago. We ran from the Isle of May to that place in 1¾ hours, a distance of 30 miles, having a fine breeze from the N. N. E. and all sails set. At 2 p. m. the Commander, attended by his Surgeon and Clerk, went on shore. He reported himself to the Governor-General and Intendant as the Armed American Brig Yankee, and requested permission to obtain a supply of water, wood and fresh provisions. This permission was immediately granted, and the Governor expressed much satisfaction, and some degree of surprise, at[239] seeing an American armed vessel in this distant part of the world. He inquired very particularly concerning the events of the war between America and England, and regretted that this circumstance had deprived these islands of the American commerce. He said they were in great want of flour, bread, rice, etc., and offered a supply of every article our vessel wanted in return for those articles. He informed us no English vessel had touched at this island for some weeks past, but that there was an old British brig on the south side of St. Anthony loading with salt for the Brazils. The Governor further mentioned that the Private Armed American Ship called the Alfred, Captain Williams, touched at this island a short time since and obtained a supply of water and provisions. The Alfred had taken and manned two valuable prizes, and was then bound on a long cruise. On taking leave the General told Capt. Wilson that he should expect the customary salute which would be returned. 6 p. m. the barge returned on board. At 8 a. m. we fired a regular United States salute of 17 guns which was immediately returned by an equal number from the town. Part of the Officers and men employed in filling water and the remainder about ship’s duty.

32d Day Wednesday 18th Nov.

4 p. m. got all our water on board. 8 a. m. the Intendant-General, Dr. Madina, came on board with the Governor-General’s compliments on our arrival. He remained and took breakfast with us, and appeared pleased with the appearance of the Yankee. 9 a. m. Capt. Wilson went on shore with part of the crew and such articles as he had agreed to exchange for fresh provisions. On examining the Intendant’s book of entries find that two English brigs[240] from London, bound to the Cape of Good Hope, touched here for water on the 29th ult. and also the Sloop of War Morjiana, Capt. Georges, with despatches for the same place. The Officers and Company have caught a great quantity of fish of different kinds since we came to anchor.... William Redding and Preserved Atwood added to the Surgeon’s list.

33d Day Thursday 19th Nov.

First part of these 24 hours got all our wood and fresh stock on board. The Commander and several of his Officers dined with the Intendant. At ½ past 9 p. m. they returned on board. Immediately got under way with a fresh breeze.... N. B. The harbour of Port Praya is spacious, secure and of easy entrance, with good anchorage in 10 fathoms water. The town, also called Praya, is situated on the top of a mountain, or rock, and encloses an extensive plain, the houses forming nearly a circle. There is a small stone church and four other decent buildings. Both the port and town are well fortified, mounting at least 70 pieces of cannon. The garrison however is most miserable, being composed entirely of blacks without discipline, arms, or even decent clothing. It is a singular fact that most of their musquets are without locks. We have not the least hesitation in saying that with thirty men we might have surprised and taken the town. The officers of the Yankee feel much gratified with the politeness and attentions they received from the Governor General Don Antonine Cortine Del Ancastra, and from the Intendant De Madina. They have obtained a sufficient supply of wood and water for at least two months, and as much live stock and fruits as they wished to take on board. These articles were purchased[241] at a small expense. Port Praya Lat. 14°52′ N. Long. 23°30′ W. Same persons on the Surgeon’s list.

34th Day Friday 20th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 14°37′.

35th Day Saturday 21st Nov.

.... No sail or land in sight. Lat. Obs. 14°22′.

36th Day Sunday 22d Nov.

(Cape Verds again in sight). Lat. Obs. 14°26′. Surgeon’s list—James Thomas, Lemuel Baker, George Gunnerson, John Briggs, Lyman Peck, Asa Switchell, William Redding, Ned Ingraham, Joseph Lewis, James Angell and Gibsheet. None disabled from duty but Redding.

37th Day Monday 23d Nov.

½ past meridian the Island of Goree hove in sight distant about 2 leagues to windward. 1 p. m. saw a schooner under full sail standing out of Goree harbour towards us. Piped all hands to quarters. 2 p. m. the schooner tacked to windward; immediately tacked ship and set all sail in chase. At 3 passed within 5 miles of Goree.[46] Discovered a large English Brig and several small craft at anchor under the fort.... Finding we came up rapidly with the chase, and believing her to be an armed vessel, again piped all hands to quarters and cleared for action. 9 p. m. hoisted a light on our fore rigging, and discharged several muskets as a signal for the chase to heave to; not obeying these signals fired a shot under her stern; still continuing her course fired one of the bow guns, well loaded, directly into her; upon which she immediately bore away, and ran down close[242] under our lee. As she passed us Capt. Wilson hailed her with the usual questions, and by the answers found her to be “His Britannic Majesty’s Schooner St. Jago, from Goree bound to Senegal.” After which the British Commander hailed us and was told we were “The Armed American Brig Yankee”; after which he demanded “How we dared to fire into His Majesty’s schooner and ordered us to send our boat on board.” Captain Wilson replied “I will not, strike your colours or I will sink you.” Instantly His Britannic Majesty’s Schooner wore upon her keel, and luffed up close on the wind, to prepare (as we supposed) for action. Not thinking it advisable to engage a King’s vessel, without knowing her force, at close quarters during a dark night, we resolved to wait until daylight, and therefore stood after her under easy sail. At 11 p. m. the St. Jago fired a shot which passed over us; we returned the compliment by giving him Long Tom—doubly charged with round and langrage. We thus returned shot for shot until 1 p. m., when the Commander and Officers thinking it inadvisable to engage a government vessel, where we should only get hard blows, and probably lose some spars and men, ordered the Master to make sail and stand to the W. S. W. to deceive the Enemy as to our cruising station. At 2 p. m. lost sight of him astern. The Officers and men remained at quarters upwards of 5 hours and displayed great resolution and courage.... Lat. Obs. 14°2′.

38th Day Tuesday 24th Nov.

.... Land in sight.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 11°40′.

39th Day Wednesday 25th Nov.

.... At 4 p. m. Edward James, one of the seamen, received[243] 12 lashes, in the main rigging, in presence of the whole crew, as a punishment for stealing a shirt from one of the Marines.[47] John Koster struck off the Surgeon’s list—the other invalids recovering fast—none incapable of duty. Lat. Obs. 8°53′.

40th Day Thursday 26th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable.... No Obs.

41st Day Friday 27th Nov.

.... At 6 a. m. Jonathan Whitmarsh saw a sail bearing N. b E. distant about 3 leagues. Set all sail in chase.... 7 a. m. discovered the sail to be a sloop.... 9 a. m. piped all hands to Quarters. 10 a. m. cleared for action and fired a gun without shot, upon which the sail bore down for us. 10.30 she came under our lee with English colours flying at her main peak. Captain Wilson hailed her and ordered her to strike her colours instantly, which she did accordingly. Sent the barge on board. Found her to be the Sloop Mary Ann of London, Stewart Sutherland, Master, 70 & 21/95 tons burden, copper-bottomed, armed with 4 carriage guns and navigated by 9 persons, trading upon the coast, with a cargo of sundries. She was last from Dick’s Cove, bound to Sierra Leone. Upon examining the Mary Ann and cargo it was not advisable to send her as a prize to America, but to take out of her the most valuable part of her cargo and then set her on fire. Accordingly we received on board the Yankee a quantity of gold dust (value unknown), some ivory, trade muskets, a few Calcutta goods, and sundry small articles of no great value. We then set[244] fire to the Mary Ann and made sail on our course. The probable value of the Mary Ann and her cargo might be $12,000. Lat. Obs. 7°29′ N. Surgeon’s list James Angell, George Gunnerson, Asa Switchell, Joseph Butman, Anson A. Allen, John Briggs, & Samuel Boynton. Slight complaints, none disabled from duty. The weather becomes remarkably hot, with almost continual calms, light winds, thunder, lightning and rain.

42d Day Saturday 28th Nov.

.... All hands employed in stowing away the ivory.... Lat. Obs. 7°33′.

43d Day Sunday 29th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Invalids recovering fast.... Lat. Obs. 7°13′.

44th Day Monday 30th Nov.

.... Nothing remarkable.... (Sail sighted but lost) Lat. Obs. 6°47′. The weather becomes insufferably hot. Almost continual calms, with a vertical sun.

45th Day out—1st Dec. 1812

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 6°45′.

46th Day Wednesday 2d Dec.

.... At 7 a. m. Abner Midget saw a sail right ahead distant about 5 leagues. Got out all the sweeps. 8 a. m. observed several water spouts under the lee—squally with flying clouds and rain. At 11 made out the chase to be a schooner standing to the eastward. At meridian still in chase of the schooner distant about 2 leagues. Lat. Obs. 6°55′.

47th Day Thursday 3d Dec.

At meridian continued in chase of the sail ahead. ½ past[245] 12 got out the boats to assist the sweeps by towing. Found we came up rapidly with the chase. 2 p. m. fired a gun; hoisted English colours; not answered. ½ past 2 p. m. gave her a gun, upon which the chase showed English colours. 3 p. m. being distant about 1½ miles hoisted American colours and commenced firing Long Tom, towing the Brig all the time with the boats. 4 p. m. got the boats astern, piped all hands to Quarters and cleared for action. Light airs and a smooth sea. Being now within good gun shot commenced a brisk cannonade on the starboard side. The chase returned the fire with 4 guns, the shot frequently falling near and one shot wounding the jib. At 20 minutes past 4 p. m. the Enemy fired a stern-chaser, double-charged, and instantly blew up, occasioning a tremendous explosion. Observed the Enemy to be on fire and several men swimming alongside. Immediately ceased firing (although her colours were still flying) and sent out boats with Lieut. Barton and Master Snow on board to save the lives of the Enemy, and extinguish the fire. They took up the swimmers and then rowed alongside. The scene that now presented itself to their view was shocking beyond description. The vessel was still in flames, the quarter-deck was blown off, the Captain was found near the mainmast—naked, mangled and burnt in the most shocking manner, one of the seamen lay near bruised and burnt almost as bad, a black man was found dead on the cabin floor, and five others around him apparently dying. All these wounded men were sent on board the Yankee and there received every possible attention from the Captain, Surgeon and Officers. Dr. Miller dressed their wounds and gave them the proper medicines but found the Captain and several of the blacks in a most dangerous condition. The Captain had received[246] two deep wounds in the head which penetrated to the skull (probably from our langrage shot), his arms and legs were much bruised, his skin nearly all burnt off and his whole system greatly injured by the concussion. A small black boy had a most singular yet distressing appearance. This boy was literally blown out of his skin and for some time after he came on board we thought he was white. The sufferings of these poor fellows seemed very painful and excruciating. Lieut. Barton extinguished the fire, sent all the prisoners on board together with a boatload of sundry articles taken out of the cabin which had not been consumed. Finding the prize no ways injured except in her quarter deck the Commander ordered Lieut. Barton with a chosen crew to remain on board and to keep company with us during the night. On examination of the Schooner’s papers and log-book we found her to be the Letter of Marque Schooner called The Alder of Liverpool, (owned by Charles B. Whitehead) formerly called La Clarisse and taken from the French, commanded by Edward Crowley, 77 tons burthen, mounting 4 carriage guns, and navigated by 10 men, besides 11 African crewmen. She left Sierra Leone 9 days ago bound to the Leeward on a trading voyage, with an assorted cargo of Bafts,[48] gunpowder, muskets, bar-lead & iron, beads, flints and sundries. The Adler appears to be about 4 years old, is copper-bottomed, measures 67 feet in length, but her sails are very poor and she does not sail well. The probable value of this prize in America might be $5000; but her nett value could not exceed $3000. At 8 p. m. one of the black seamen died and was thrown overboard. 25 minutes past 2 a. m. Captain Crowley notwithstanding every medical assistance departed this life in [247]the greatest agony. For some hours previous to his dissolution he appeared to suffer excruciating torments and when informed of his approaching end did not seem sensible of his situation. His body was committed to the waves with as much decency as was practicable. At 9 a. m. the boy before mentioned also died and had a watery grave. The white seamen and three other blacks are just wavering between life and death and we fear can not recover.

The Boatswain related to us the accident which led to the horrid catastrophy. He said the Captain stood at the helm steering the vessel and giving his orders; that himself and several of the seamen were stationed at the gun aft; that the instant it was discharged the gun capsized with great violence, broke one of the quarter deck planks, threw the wadd—all on fire—directly into the magazine which was situated abaft the cabin, and the vessel instantly blew up. (Himself and another seaman leaped into the sea when they saw the gun dismounted and thus saved themselves.) It is supposed the Captain was thrown from the helm into the air and then fell into the main rigging. The blacks who were so dreadfully mangled were in the magazine filling cartridges. Sent the carpenter with materials to repair the prize. At 4 a. m. came on one of the most tremendous tornadoes ever witnessed. It blew, rained, thundered and lightened in a truly terrific manner. Took in all sail and kept the vessel before it. The lightning was unusually vivid and struck several times close on board. Having no conductor every mind was filled with apprehension and alarm. Latter part very light airs inclining to calm. The prisoners inform us there are several vessels of war at Sierra Leone, to wit, a new frigate, 2 sloops of war, a gun-brig, and several smaller vessels, all bound out on a cruise. They also[248] tell us of two fine brigs which lately sailed from that place and are trading to the leeward—one of them owned by the late Captain of the Alder. The Alder has several shot in her sails, rigging, boat, etc. but none in her hull.[49] Our invalids recovering fast. They all appeared at quarters except Goff who had a large swelling on his right arm. Lat. Obs. 5°53′.

48th Day Friday 4th Dec.

During the greater part of these 24 hours calm with occasional light airs. At 4 and 6 p. m. the two other black seamen who were blown up on board the schooner died and were thrown overboard, making altogether six persons who have perished by this most unfortunate accident. The white seaman is still in a most dangerous state, but the Surgeon gives us hopes of his recovery.

We were much surprised on examination of the Alder’s colours to discover a Pirate’s flag and pendant. This circumstance lessens our compassion for the deceased Captain Crowley as it indicates a hostile disposition toward all mankind.... On a consultation of officers it was deemed advisable to man our prize, put on board of her the muskets, bafts, iron, etc. we took out of the Sloop Mary Ann, send her to Loango to dispose of her cargo for gold dust, ivory, dyewoods, or other valuable articles, and then proceed to America. Accordingly the Commander commissioned Daniel Salisbury as Prize-master, together with Edward Jones as Mate and four seamen to navigate said prize on her intended voyage. Made out a prize commission, letter of instructions, invoices, etc. and gave the Prize-master all the schooner’s papers. We sent on board of her every[249] article we had taken out of the sloop or schooner, together with provisions and various other necessary articles. All hands employed in despatching the prize. Lat. Obs. 7°.

49th Day Saturday 5th Dec.

.... The wounded foreigner recovers fast and is considered out of danger. All invalids recovered. Lat. Obs. 6°53′.

50th Day Sunday 6th Dec.

At ½ past 4 p. m. saw the land.... Being Saturday night the crew drank a health to all sweethearts and wives and amused themselves with various diversions. The marines chanted psalms and hymns, the sailors sang “Old Tom Tough,” and “Old Tom Bowling,” and the officers listened with pleasure to the merriment of the crew.[50] Sounded frequently during the night in 40, 30, 21 & 15 fathoms of water. At daylight saw Cape Mount.... Two canoes came from the shore with blacks. They informed us there were no vessels of any description at the Cape, upon which we up helm, squared the yards and bore away to the leeward.... Lat. Obs. 6°38′ N.

51st Day Monday 7th Dec.

At 4 p. m. two canoes came along side from Cape Little Mount and informed us of a schooner loading with rice at Trade-town, and also of a large brig that sailed from Monserrada this morning bound to leeward. During the night, not wishing to pass by Monserrada, stood off and on under easy sail until daylight when we saw Cape Monserra distant about 7 leagues. 10 a. m. another canoe came off who confirmed the news relative to the brig and also mentioned[250] (Which we regret to hear) that a sloop of war passed down to leeward 6 days ago. Bought a few plantains and cassadas of these natives but did not suffer them to come on board. These Africans came off the distance of 3 or 4 leagues in small bark canoes and were entirely naked; they most of them spoke some English. The foreign invalid seems worse to-day, owing no doubt to the excessive heat. Lat. Obs. 6°15′ N.

52d Day Tuesday 8th Dec.

.... At 6 a. m. saw a sail right ahead distant about 4 leagues. Set all sail in chase. 9 a. m. made out the chase to be a brig standing in shore....

53d Day Wednesday 9th Dec.


Lat. 5°35′ N. Trade Town bearing N. E. distant about 4 leagues. Commences with light airs inclining to calm. Continued in chase of the sail ahead. We now discovered her to be a large armed brig, showing 8 ports on a side, with English colours flying at her main peak, apparently preparing for action. At ½ past 1 p. m. the enemy commenced firing, heaving every shot over us. 2 p. m. he made sail and began discharging his stern-chasers. At ½ past 2, being within half cannon shot, we commenced firing our Long Twelve. ¼ past 3 p. m., having approached within half-musket shot, we opened our whole battery upon the enemy and continued the action (the enemy keeping up a well directed fire from his cannon and musketry) till 20 minutes past 4 p. m.,—when observing that the Enemy’s colours had been shot away in the early part of the engagement, and that his fire became very faint, the Commander gave orders to cease firing, and hailed her, enquiring if she[251] had struck. The enemy answered “I have.” Sent Lieut. Barton on board and found her to be the English Letter of Marque Brig called the Andalusia, Anthony Yates Kendall, Master, 210 tons burthen, mounting 10 carriage guns, 6 twelve pound cannonades, & 4 long French nines, with small arms, ammunition etc., navigated by a Captain, Supercargo, and 17 white seamen, besides 81 free Africans who served as marines. The Andalusia is owned at Gibraltar, and was last from Sierra Leone bound to the Leeward with a cargo of sundries on a trading voyage. It appears from her Log that she captured an American brig called the Two Friends off Port Praya, and carried her into Sierra Leone. The action lasted nearly three hours from the time the first shot was fired until the Enemy struck. We engaged him 45 minutes within pistol shot. Captain Kendall and his Boatswain were both slightly wounded; the remainder owed their safety to their excellent bulwark. On boarding the prize we found her mainmast and foreyard badly wounded; one shot under her fore-chains, which passed through and lodged in the opposite timbers; another which entered the cabin and lodged in the Captain’s bed; nearly all her sails, braces, standing and running rigging shot away, and every part of the vessel more or less injured. All the white prisoners were sent on board the Yankee and Lieut. Barton with a strong watch remained on board the prize to guard the blacks. At 6 p. m. we made sail standing in shore, our prize in company, and came to anchor in 20 fathoms water. At daylight piped all hands to duty, sent part of the crew on board the Andalusia to repair damages and employed the remainder of the officers and crew in mending our sails, splicing our rigging, cleaning the arms, landing the black prisoners on their own shore, and other necessary duty. On[252] examining our vessel after the action found we had received one 12lb shot through our bulwarks which passed out the lee side without any material injury, 4 balls through the main-sail, 6 shot in the foretopsail, one grape-shot lodged in the mainmast, and the weather forebrace, and one of the shrouds shot away. No person wounded.

At 7 a. m. we discovered a schooner in shore, standing to the northward. Weighed anchor and set sail in chase. 9 a. m. being nearly calm sent Master Snow with an armed boats’ crew with orders to take possession of her and then to set sail for the Yankee. At meridian Master Snow not returned. Lat. Obs. 5°35′ N.

54th Day Thursday 10th Dec.

At 4 p. m. Master Snow came to anchor under our lee with his little prize and gave the following account of his adventure. He said that on approaching the vessel he observed her boat attempting to land on the beach. That she struck on a rock, was capsized, throwing every article into the sea, and the Captain and crew swam on shore. That on going on board he found her entirely deserted, as he expected, and stripped of every valuable article, except a quantity of rice stowed in bulk. He immediately made sail and stood for the privateer. The prisoners inform us that the schooner is called the George, and owned by Mr. Carr of Sierra Leone; that she is an American pilot boat and was taken in the Gambia about six months ago. She appears to be 60 or 70 tons burthen, has very poor sails and foul bottom. No doubt if coppered, with new canvass, she would sail remarkably well, at present she is very dull. As soon as she came to anchor we sent all our boats to take out the rice. We supplied our vessel and the other prize with as[253] much of this article as was wanted, and then Captain Wilson made a present of the vessel to Captain Sutherland, late of the Mary Ann, as he had been the greatest sufferer by the capture of his vessel, and moreover had been 15 days a prisoner on board of the Yankee.

At 11 a. m., having taken the parole of all the white prisoners on board (giving them duplicates) we supplied them with every necessary article for their voyage to Sierra Leone and gave them all their clothes, baggage, private property etc., bade them farewell, sent them on board the schooner, and then made sail in company with our prize, standing down the coast. Captains Sutherland and Kendall, Mr. O’Connor, and all the prisoners, expressed their gratitude and thanks for the kind treatment they had received on board the Yankee. Indeed they could do no less. For the captains lived in the cabin with the officers, the mates in the wardroom, and the sailors were well treated by our crew. In fact our instructions require that we shall treat our prisoners with kindness and humanity. N.B. The supercargo of the Andalusia estimated the vessel and cargo at $19,000, but I am confident they will not sell for $9000 in America. The George with her rice might be worth $800. Lat. Obs. 5°30′ N.

55th Day Friday 11th Dec.

Having landed the Africans and dismissed the white prisoners (amounting altogether to 145 persons) we made preparations for sending home the Andalusia. Made out commission, prize instructions and other documents for Captain Robert Tompenny, who was appointed Prize-master, together with William Child as Mate and 7 seamen to navigate said prize to America. Also wrote a letter to the[254] owners giving them an abstract account of our cruise up to the present period. At 4 p. m. gave our prize three cheers, bade them adieu, and made all sail, standing down the coast. During the night light winds and hazy weather. This morning a great number of canoes along side with fish and other articles. Exchanged some tobacco, bafts, iron etc. for ivory and fresh provisions.... John Carter, the Captain of Long Tom, broke his arm on board the prize in jumping into the hold. The Surgeon set it. We have at present no invalids on board. Two or three of the marines are troubled with bad boils but none disabled from duty. The Surgeon thought it best to send the poor fellow who was blown up on board the Alder to Sierra Leone under the care of Captain Sutherland. Lat. Obs. 4°59′ N.

56th Day Saturday 12th Dec.

At 6 p. m. came to anchor in 15 fathoms of water in a sandy bottom, opposite the town of Settakroo (about 60 miles to the windward of Cape Palmas) at the distance of about three miles from the shore.... At daylight piped all hands to duty and sent both our boats, with a number of canoes, to fill our water. We are told this is the safest place to water from Goree to Cape Palmas, as the anchorage is good, the landing easy, and the water most excellent. His Majesty the King of Settakroo came on board. He is an old man and wears a mantle. His subjects are entirely naked. His son called Grand Loo, whom we took out of the Andalusia, has been of great assistance to us in our traffic with the natives for ivory and fresh stock. There are upwards of a hundred canoes alongside, dressed in the robe of Paradise, who talk and chatter and scream like a set of monkeys or parrots. Lat. Obs. 4°42′.


57th Day Sunday 13th Dec.

These 24 hours filled our water, bought two fine bullocks, five goats, and a quantity of fowls, yams, plantains etc. At 7 p. m. unmoored and made sail, standing down the coast.... At sunrise calm and no land in sight. Killed one of the bullocks. A number of fishing canoes alongside.... Lat. Obs. 4°42′.

58th Day Monday 14th Dec.

.... At 5 p. m. hove to off the town of Grand Sisters, distant about 3 miles. Sent our barge on shore to land Tom Wilson, whom we had taken prisoner on the Mary Ann. This fellow, son to the King of Grand Sisters, has been of great assistance to us in filling our water, and trading with the natives for live stock, ivory etc. He speaks good English and is an honest, intelligent negro. When our barge landed we observed a vast collection of the natives on the beach. Grand Sisters appears to be a large town, composed of a great number of huts, situated in the midst of palm groves and rice fields. The adjacent scenery has really a very pleasing and picturesque appearance. This town is at war with little Sisters, their neighbors and the natives showed great apprehension in coming off to our vessel.... The canoes alongside say no vessels have passed here this month. At meridian Cape Palmas in sight.... This Cape has no distinguishing appearance except a small rise in the land & trees. Watch employed in painting the ship. Thermometer 106 in the sun. Lat. Obs. 4°17′.

59th Day Tuesday 15th Dec.

.... Killed the other bullock. At meridian sailing the Bay of St. Andrews. The land here rises considerably and is covered with trees to the very top. No appearance of[256] cultivation. Lat. 4°38′. Carter recovers fast; the other invalids recovered.

60th Day Wednesday 16th Dec.

As you approach the Bay of St. Andrews the land gradually rises to a considerable height, and is covered with lofty trees to the summit. There are no towns visible.... Running down the Gold Coast with great velocity in hopes of capturing several vessels which we understand are trading at Cape Lahore. At 8 a. m. a canoe came off from Picininni, Cape Lahore, who informed us a brig, mounting 6 guns, and a sloop unarmed left Grand Cape Lahore 7 days ago, bound down to Cape Corse Castle. This is bad news. These natives brought off gold dust and ivory but would receive nothing but powder and iron. Therefore we did not trade with them.... Thermometer 112° Lat. Obs. 4°58′ N.... We have now been at sea two months being one third of our cruise. During this time we have taken four prizes, 18 carriage guns, 250 stand small arms, 145 prisoners, and property to the value of $60,000. Our Officers and crew are all healthy and in good spirits. And we have water and provisions for at least three months on board.

61st Day Thursday 17th Dec.

At 2 p. m. Antonio, King of Cape Lahore, attended by 13 of his nobility came off in a war canoe. His Majesty confirmed the news we received this morning relative to the brig and sloop. These natives are as black as ebony, remarkably stout, well made, of a ferocious aspect, and their hair and beards platted in the most fantastic style. They wished to exchange gold and ivory for powder, rum and muskets, but we did not trade with them. After King[257] Antonio had got as drunk as David’s sow we were obliged to force him and his cannibals to go on shore. Cape Lahore has no distinguishing mark from the neighboring coast which is flat and sandy. Lat. 5°5′ N.

62d Day Friday 18th Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 5°5′.

63d Day Saturday 19th Dec.

.... At 20 minutes past 9 a. m. Samuel Pickens discovered a brig at anchor ... supposed to be under Fort Apollonia.... All sails set.... At meridian the Fort bore right ahead, distant about six leagues.

64th Day Sunday 20th Dec.

Lieut. Barton piped for volunteers to man the barge and cut out the brig mentioned in yesterday’s journal. Nearly the whole crew volunteered. From whom Mr. Barton selected 21 of the most able and experienced seamen, who were properly armed for the purpose. At 4 p. m. piped to quarters and cleared for action. It was understood that the Yankee should run in under English colours until she came within half-cannon shot of the brig, then send our barge on board the brig with the Lieutenant, another officer, and 6 bargemen only visible, the remainder being concealed under the sail. Accordingly at ¾ past 4 p. m. we rounded to within musket shot of the enemy and sent off the barge. In 6 minutes she had possession of the prize and immediately made sail, standing out to sea close on a wind. The Yankee did the same, previously firing the two shot directly into the Fort; which (strange to tell) was not returned. Lieut. Barton mentions that when he came alongside, and jumped on board with the whole boat’s crew completely[258] armed, the Captain instantly surrendered himself and his vessel. We find our prize to be the English copper-bottomed brig called the Fly of London, late Captain Jonathan Tydeman, 91 52/92 tons burthen, mounting 6 carriage-guns, long sixes, with ammunition, small arms etc. and navigated by a Captain and ten seamen beside negroes. The Fly was formerly a French privateer, built in the Isle of France, and condemned at the Cape of Good Hope. She is a handsome new vessel, sails remarkably well, and has a valuable cargo of gold-dust, ivory, gunpowder and drygoods. She captured on the 29th October last a Portuguese sloop called the New Constitution, (supposed to be American property) with 8 slaves on board, and sent her to Sierra Leone for trial. The invoice of the Fly’s cargo at the time she left London amounted to £6810, 2s, 5d, but her cargo is not calculated to sell in America. The prize and cargo, including the gold-dust, may be reasonably estimated at $15,000. Captain Tydeman states that altho the Castle at Apollonia mounts 50 heavy cannon, yet it has no garrison, but is the residence of several factors. Capt. T. says he supposed us to be an English man of war and therefore made no preparations for defending his vessel. During the night stood out to sea, our prize in company. At daylight piped up all hands & made preparations for sending home the prize. Took the paroles of all prisoners, giving them duplicates. At 8 a. m. being in sight of land, we sent the prisoners on shore (according to their own request) in their own long boat—giving them all their clothes, baggage and private property besides several presents. Took out of our prize some gunpowder, rum, porter, livestock and various small articles, supplying her with water and sundries for her voyage. Made out Prize Commission, Instructions,[259] wrote a letter to the owners and sent Capt. Thomas Milton Prize Master of said brig, and at 11 p. m. bade him adieu and made sail on our course. Lat. Obs. 4°41′ N.

65th Day Monday 21st Dec.

At 7 p. m. passed our prize, gave them three cheers, and finally took leave of them.[51] ... The Commander thinks it advisable to leave the coast as no doubt there are men of war in pursuit of us both from the windward and leeward. Lat. Obs. 4°23′.

66th Day Tuesday 22d Dec.

.... We are now running for Annabona for the purpose of watering and then proceeding on our cruise. Andrew Holden and several seamen indisposed and on the Surgeon’s list. Carter gets better fast. Lat. Obs. 3°31′ N.

67th Day Wednesday 23d Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Lat. Obs. 2°55′ N.

68th Day Thursday 24th Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Lat. Obs. 2°18′ N.

69th Day Friday 25th Dec.

.... Killed the fatted calf, or more properly the fatted goat, gave the crew a pudding with extra allowance of grog, to keep a Merry Christmas. All hands in good health and fine spirits. Thermometer 88° in the cabin. No doubt our friends in Bristol are now shivering with the cold under the icicles and snow banks of their frozen climate. Lat. Obs. 1°45′ N. Long. Lunar at 9 a. m. 3° E.

70th Day Saturday 26th Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 1°25′ N.


71st Day Sunday 27th Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 1°21′ N. Lunar Obs. at 10 a. m. 5°20′ E.

72d Day Monday 28th Dec.

.... At 2 p. m. discovered a sail bearing two points on the lee bow. 4 p. m. spoke the Portuguese schooner (or boat) 14 or 16 tons burthen, called the Antonia de Santa Rosa de Lima, Capt. Felix, 5 days out from St. Thomas’ bound to Princes’ Island, with 27 slaves on board. The captain and crew, 9 in number, were all black.[52] He said there were no vessels of any kind at St. Thomas’ and he has seen none since he sailed.... Lat. Obs. 1°7′ N.

73d Day Tuesday 29th Dec.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 34′ N. Lieut. Vinson indisposed.[53]

74th Day Wednesday 30th Dec.

.... Surgeon’s list. Lieut. Vinson, Mr. Andrew Holden, N. A. Slocum, Jas. Holden, John Carter, etc. None dangerous.[54] Lat. Obs. 30′ N.

75th Day Thursday 31st Dec.

As you approach the Island of St. Thomas from the westward, the land gradually rises from the northern and southern extremities till it forms a high mountain in the centre covered with clouds. This island appears to be covered with trees except on a few level spots where there are green fields. At the northeast point there are two hummocks,[261] which on approaching you find to be the Island of Anna de Chaves. At ½ after 6 p. m. came to anchor in 20 fathoms of water. [Here follow some of the “ranges” taken.] At 8 a. m. the Commander and clerk went on shore, waited upon the Governor and Fiscal; were received with attention and politeness; obtained permission to fill their water, and were promised a supply of live-stock, vegetables and fruit. The Governor invited them to dine on shore but Capt. W. declined, wishing to return on board to expedite the watering. The Governor had no information of the war between England and America. A British vessel touched at St. Thomas’ lately, who said all differences were settled between the governments. He informed us of a large English Letter of Marque Ship, mounting 18 guns, with 45 men, loading with camwood in Gaboon River. He says the Amelia Frigate is expected at the island, and that most of the men of war on the coast touch at the island for supplies. Both the officers spoke in high terms of America, were pleased to find that our governments were still on amicable terms, and expressed the greatest indignation against British Power, Pride, Injustice and Insolence. They were rejoiced that we had met with success on our cruise, and appeared entirely friendly in every respect. Surgeon’s List. Mr. Holden Lieut. V. and Slocum recovered and struck off the list.

76th Day Friday 1st January 1813

The first part of this day filled our water from a fine clear rapid river, situated about 100 yards from the white house on the beach, cut as much wood as was necessary. At 4 p. m. (Thursday afternoon) an officer came on board with the Governor’s compliments, and mentioned that he[262] would supply us with every article we wanted as soon as possible, and send them on board in canoes without obliging us to beat up to the city. Sent a note expressive of our thanks on the occasion. At 9 a. m. the Commander and clerk again visited his Excellency Don Raymond da Cunha Matos and were received as yesterday with great politeness and civility. It being a great holiday they attended church, (N. B. The priests, monks and whole congregation were mulattoes or blacks) saw a procession civil and military composed of the principal inhabitants, with two bands of music, and the Virgin Mary, parading the streets. Dined with the Governor, had a most excellent dinner, with all kinds of vegetables, fruits, sweetmeats, liquors and wines; remained on shore the rest of the day as it came on to rain very heavy. The Governor having sent on board every article we wanted, paid him the amount in cloth and gold, bade him and the Fiscal adieu, returned on board, and at 11 p. m. weighed anchor and stood out to sea with a fair wind.[55]St. Thomas’ is a beautiful, fertile island, producing coffee in great abundance and of a superior quality; also corn, spices, vegetables and fruits of every description, cattle and other livestock, turtle, fish, etc. The town is in the form of a half moon, is situated at the head of a fine bay, and may contain three hundred houses, interspersed among gardens, plantain groves and coffee trees. Most of the buildings are small, many of them in ruins, and the remainder by no means elegant. The fort, or castle, as you enter the bay on the left hand mounts 40 pieces of cannon, with a garrison of 100 men. The Governor informed us he had[263] information of two small English brigs loading in the Gaboon, besides the ship mentioned yesterday which he understood was now at the Cameroons. Upon the whole the Commander of the Yankee was much gratified with his reception at St. Thomas’, and pleased to find these officers so favorably disposed toward the American government.

77th Day Saturday 2d Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Invalids all recovered. Lat. Obs. 16′ N.

78th Day Sunday 3d Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lieut. Vinson and Asa Switcher incapable of duty. John Carter, James Holden, J. C. Lindegard, and several indisposed with slight complaints. Lat. Obs. 6′ South.

79th Day Monday 4th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Excessively hot, Thermometer 90° at midnight, being on the Line. Lat. Obs. 4′ North.

80th Day Tuesday 5th Jan.

.... At 7 p. m. came to anchor at the mouth of the Gaboon River in ten fathoms of water.... Immediately piped for volunteers to man the barge and explore the river to discover any strange sails. Master Snow appointed to command the expedition, and 21 brave fellows selected to accompany him. They were all completely armed and supplied with every article necessary for their night campaign. At 20 m. past 7 P. M. the barge left the Yankee with the best wishes of their remaining companions for their success and safe return. During the night calm and intolerably hot. At 9 a. m. discovered two large boats in shore rowing[264] toward us full of men. Piped all hands to Quarters, cleared for action and got a spring on the cable. Shortly after two African princes came on board, who informed us there was a small Portuguese schooner loading with slaves high up the river, and that an English Cutter arrived three days ago at King Glas’ Town, near the mouth of the river. From their description of the vessel, Captain and cargo we were clearly convinced that this Cutter was no other than our prize the Alder, Capt. Salsberry. Capt. S. passed as an English vessel and told the natives he had been fired at by a Portuguese ship at Rio Pungus, and that one shot stove his boat; that he had been struck by lightning during a tornado, which blew up his quarter deck and killed the former captain and five seamen. This ingenious deception does much credit to our Prize-Master. These Africans further told us that the two brigs we heard of at St. Thomas’ sailed with valuable cargoes two weeks ago, and that the ship had not arrived. At meridian the barge returned on board and Master Snow informed us that they had proceeded up the river at least twelve leagues, that they saw no English vessels, but heard of the Portuguese schooner; that on their return they boarded the cutter mentioned above and found her to be really our prize the Alder. Capt. Salisberry stated he had met a great deal of bad weather and lost some spars, but saw no enemy. He arrived in the river five days since, was making a rapid and profitable trade for ivory, wax, skins and wood, and expected to sail in about a week for America. Himself and crew were in good health. Surgeon’s list. Lieut. Vinson, James Holden, J. C. Lindegard recovered, Carter nearly recovered and Switcher better. Lat. Obs. 37′ N.


81st day ... Wednesday 6th Jan.

At meridian weighed anchor and stood out of the Gaboon River bound down the coast.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 18′ S.

82d Day Thursday 7th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable.... No observation.

83d Day Friday 8th Jan.

During these 24 hours (as usual) variable winds, calms, squalls, thunder, lightning and heavy rain. All hands employed about ship’s duty presenting a very busy and amusing scene. Lat. Obs. 31′ S.

84th Day Saturday 9th Jan.

.... All sail set, bound to Annabona for supply, and from thence to the Island of St. Helena, one of our cruising stations. Long. from Lunar Obs. at 3 o’clock p. m. 8°40′—Lat. Obs. 1°22′ S.

85th Day Sunday 10th Jan.

Annabona bearing W. N. W. 3 leagues. At 5 p. m. saw the land 2 points on the lee bow. ¼ past 5 discovered a sail 4 points on the weather bow, took in studding-sails and luffed up close on a wind in chace.... At 10 p. m. discovered by the help of our night glasses that the chace was a brig standing to the westward. Shortened sail and kept in company during the night. At daylight made all sail to come up with the chace. Observed she had hove to; hoisted English colours & showed 7 ports on a side. Piped all hands to quarters and cleared for action. At 7 a. m. came alongside and ordered her to strike her colours, which she did accordingly. Sent the barge on board and found our prize to be the English Brig Thames, late Francis Toole[266] Master, 171 tons burthen, mounting 8 carriage guns (4-12 lbs & 4 long nines) with small arms, ammunition, etc. from Mayjumba, coast of Africa, bound to London, navigated by 14 persons, with a cargo of camwood, some goods and ivory. Took the prisoners on board the Yankee, and sent Capt. George Eddy as Prize-Master, with N. M. Slocum and 8 seamen to navigate said vessel to America. Gave said Prize-Master the vessel’s papers, his Commission, Instructions, Letter to the Owners etc. and then bade him farewell. The Thames is copper-bottomed, thoroughly repaired, and carries a large cargo. This vessel and cargo may be reasonably estimated at $25,000.

N. B. On the very day and hour of our capturing the Thames our Commander was born—27 years ago.

86th Day Monday 11th Jan.

At 5 p. m. came to anchor on the north side of the Island of Annabona in 7 fathoms water, sandy bottom, opposite a small village distant about a mile from the shore.... Soon after we came to, the black Governor and his mate came on board. We easily obtained permission to water, wood etc.... Having finished our trade and filled our water at 20 m before 12 a. m. we got under weigh.... This island is 7 or 8 leagues in circumference and is remarkable for a lofty mountain covered with orange, lime and cocoanut trees. It has a fertile and beautiful appearance.

It is with deep regret that the Commander of the Yankee feels it his duty in justice to himself, his Officers and his crew, to make the following entry in his Journal, relative to the conduct of one of his officers.—My Second Lieutenant John H. Vinson, has never, in my opinion, displayed either[267] seamanship, judgment or courage during our cruise. He appeared to be much intoxicated on the night of the partial engagement with His Majesty’s Schooner St. Jago, and behaved with great impropriety. During the skirmish with the Alder he was particularly negligent in not extinguishing the flames when our bulwarks were on fire. And during the long engagement with the Andalusia he certainly did not manifest either activity or courage. This officer is guilty of one offence which would subject him even to capital punishment—viz—sleeping on his watch. The night after we captured the Fly, when we had a number of prisoners on board, and many of our crew had got drunk on board the prize, and were extremely riotous, Lieut. Vinson was himself much intoxicated, or to speak plainly dead drunk, and slept in his watch in presence of myself, my officers, and the whole crew. He was guilty of the same offence on the 5th January when we lay at the Gaboon, and also last night when we had 14 prisoners on board, and were anchored on a savage coast. This offence of getting drunk and sleeping on a watch is of a very serious and alarming nature, endangering both the safety of the vessel and the lives of all on board. His conduct subjects him to a court martial which will certainly convince him of his errors.

87th Day Tuesday 12th Jan.

.... At 4 p. m. exercised all hands at quarters; after which piped all hands to muster and found our crew now consisted of 71 men.... Lat. Obs. 1°25′ S.

88th Day Wednesday 13th Jan.

.... John Carter recovered and struck off the Surgeon’s list. No invalids. Nothing worthy of remark. Lat. Obs. 1°53′ S.


89th Day Thursday 14th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable.... Lat. Obs. 2°39′ S. No invalids.

90th Day Friday 14th Jan.

.... Lat. Obs. 3°16′ S.... We have now been at sea 3 months, one half of our cruise, and 97 days from Bristol where our cruise commenced. During this time we have taken 6 prizes, measuring 685 tons, mounting 34 carriage guns, 525 stand of arms, and 150 prisoners.

91st Day Saturday 16th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable.—Lat. Obs. 4°23′.

92d Day Sunday 17th Jan.

.... All hands in excellent health. Being Saturday (Sunday) night all hands enjoyed the jubilee and drank to their sweethearts and wives. Our prisoners are mostly Irishmen and seem to be quiet and well disposed. Lat. Obs. 5°55′.

93d Day Monday 18th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 6°33′ S.

94th Day Tuesday 19th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 7°13′ S.

95th Day Wednesday 20th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 7°53′ S.

96th Day Thursday 21st Jan.

At ¼ Past 5 p. m. came to anchor off the N. W. end of Ascension Island.... Sent the barge on shore for the purpose of taking turtle during the night.... At 8 a. m. the barge returned on board with a fine large turtle, weighing at least 400 lbs., and containing several thousand eggs—the only one seen on the beach during the night. At 9 a. m.[269] again dispatched the barge and Capt. Wilson went on shore in the jolly-boat, to endeavor to procure more turtle. Wrote a letter, or memorandum, mentioning the arrival of the Privateer Yankee at this island; her successful cruise, number of captures, guns, prisoners, value, etc.; also the declaration of war against England, and its principal events;—which letter we directed to any American captains who might hereafter touch at this island. This letter was deposited among the rocks, being anchored in a bottle, where we observed a number of names engraved, particularly the following “Young Dickenson, J. W. Costa, 1813,” and “The Crescent Leach, 1812.” ½ past 11 a. m. the boats returned on board without any success. The officers and seamen caught a great number of fish, and killed a quantity of birds—neither fit to eat. The Island of Ascension is 3 leagues in length and 2 in breadth. It is composed of several hills or hummocks covered with a reddish earth, and has a very rugged and craggy appearance. It was evidently thrown up by some convulsion of nature. It is not inhabited and produces neither tree, fruit or vegetable—nay not even fresh water. There are some miserable lean wild goats and innumerable ship rats. The island is principally remarkable for the vast quantity of turtle which resort here to deposit their eggs during certain months of the year. These turtle are easily taken during the night by concealing yourself on the beach, rushing suddenly upon them when they come on shore, and capsizing them. They are said to be of the finest and most delicious kind. Joseph Anthony, coxswain of the barge, was very badly bruised when she capsized in the surf, and Zep. Andrews cut his hand very severely in butchering the turtle. It is singular that our crew receive more wounds from their own negligence than[270] the shot of the enemy. Ascension—7°56′ South Lat. 13°54′ West Long.[56]

97th Day Friday 22d Jan.

The officers and company feasted most luxuriously on the fine turtle they caught the preceding night.... Caught another large turtle during the night. At 7 a. m. got in the barge, weighed anchor, and stood out to sea.... Anthony and Andrews much better. Lat. Obs. 7°53′. Variation by a correct Amplitude taken while at anchor in Ascension Roads 15°12′ W.

98th Day Saturday 23d Jan.

.... The Surgeon performed a surgical operation on James Anthony, by cutting out a wen or protuberance on his right cheek. Dr. Miller seems to be quite proficient in the use of the knife and lancet. Lat. Obs. 8° S.

99th Day Sunday 24th Jan.

.... Killed our large turtle and all hands had a Sunday feast. It was superexcellent. No invalids. Lat. Obs. 8° S.

100th Day Monday 25th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 8°15′ S.

101st Day Tuesday 26th Jan.

At 9 a. m. piped all hands to Vendue and sold a quantity of prize goods, viz, shirts, cloth, linen, razors, knives, cloaks, flannel, etc. etc. to the officers and crew to furnish them with clothes for their cruise and when they arrive on a winter’s coast. Lat. 8°6′ S.

102d Day Wednesday 27th Jan.

.... Nothing worthy of remark. Lat. Obs. 7°53′ S. Long. Lunar 29°35′ W.


103d Day Thursday 28th Jan.

.... Lat. Obs. 7°52′ S. Lunar Obs. 32°7′ W.

104th Day Friday 29th Jan.

.... Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 8°8′.

105th Day Saturday 30th Jan.

.... 7 a. m. saw several small Portuguese fishing boats, called Jangars. ½ past 7 a. m. made the land bearing right ahead, distant 7 or 8 leagues. The land appeared low, with a number of towers or churches on the coast, and the town of Olinde situated on the side of a hill, making a beautiful appearance. 9 a. m. discovered several large vessels at anchor in the harbour of Pernambuco. 11 a. m. spoke a Portuguese schooner just out of Pernambuco, bound to windward; informed us there were no English men of war on the coast—that there were three large British ships in harbour, loading, and two American schooners laid up without cargoes. They had heard of no American privateers on this station. 11 a. m. jibed ship in chace of a sail distant 4 or 5 miles.... Lat. Obs. 8°12′.

106th Day Sunday 31st Jan.

Pernambuco bearing N. W. distant 8 or 10 leagues. At 1 p. m. piped all hands to quarters, ran down under the lee of a large armed English brig, pierced for 16 guns, and mounting 8. When within pistol shot ordered her to strike her colours—the reply was “We are all ready”—and hesitated. Capt. Wilson again ordered him to lower his flag and quit the deck or he would fire into him. The reply was “Surely you are joking.” Our Commander still ordered his men not to fire, and a third time ordered him to strike instantly, which he did with great reluctance. Sent our boat on board and found our prize to be the large armed[272] English Brig called the Harriott and Matilda of Maryport, Captain John Inman, burthen 262 tons, copper-bottomed, mounting 8 carriage guns—6 twelve and 2 eighteen pound cannonades, from Cork bound to Pernambuco, with a cargo of salt, porter, iron, drygoods, earthenware, butter, cheese, potatoes etc. etc. The Harriott and Matilda was captured from the Danes in 1808, sails well, and is a fine vessel. The vessel and cargo may be reasonably valued at $27,000. Took the prisoners on board and beat off the land during the night. At 7 p. m. sent 18 prisoners ashore in our barge, which we gave them, with all their clothes, baggage, a compass, water, provisions etc. being at this time within 7 leagues of Pernambuco. During the latter part of these 24 hours all hands employed in taking out the following articles from the prize, viz—16 hampers cheese, 56 do Irish potatoes, 20 kegs of butter, 6 casks bottled porter, 20 gallons Rum, and 31 bales of fine merchandise. The Harriott and Matilda sailed from Cork under convoy of the Frolic (Cherub?) sloop of war, and parted from him three days before. The convoy consisted of 6 East Indiamen, and several others bound to Rio Janeiro. It is worthy of remark that the Yankee ran from Ascension to Cape St. Augustine, a distance of 1200 miles, in 7½ days—fresh trades, pleasant weather, a smooth sea, and all sails set, scarcely ever moving tack or sheet. Lat. Obs. 8°29′.

107th Day Monday 1st Feb.

All hands employed in sending away the prize. Made out Commission, Letter of Instructions, wrote a letter to the owners, and gave the ship’s papers to the Prize-Master, Richard M. Coit, with a crew of 12 men. At 4 p. m. gave our prize three cheers and bade her adieu. At 9 a. m. having[273] taken the paroles of all the prisoners, we gave Capts. Toole and Inman the long boat of the prize, supplied them with every necessary article, and being within 6 leagues of Pernambuco, they went on shore. Capt. Toole had been 21 days a prisoner and behaved very well during the whole time. 10 a. m. saw a sail bearing S. E. at a great distance. Lat. Obs. 8°4′ S.

108th Day Tuesday 2d Feb.

At 1 p. m. discovered a sail on the lee bow at a great distance. At 3 p. m. having approached within 2½ miles of the sail mentioned in yesterday’s journal made her out to be an English sloop of war in disguise. Immediately up helm, set staysails, and bore away N. b E. The enemy did the same and set all sail, showing a cloud of canvas. We were glad to observe that we soon altered his bearings, & at sundown left him astern, distant about 3 or 4 leagues.... On mustering the crew find we have 62 persons on board, including boys and negroes, also 3 prisoners. Lat. Obs. 8°14′ S.

109th Day Wednesday 3d Feb.

.... ½ after 5 p. m. saw several sails, made all sail in chace, but soon discovered them to be Jangars, or fishing boats. Lat. 7°53′.

110th Day Thursday 4th Feb.

At 3 p. m. having run down opposite Pernambuco ... hoisted the American pendant and colours, and hauled up close on the wind, bound to Fernando Noronha for a supply of water. Lat. Obs. 9°17′ S.

111th Day Friday 5th Feb.

.... Lat. Obs. 7°29′ S.


112th Day Saturday 6th Feb.

.... Lat. Obs. 5°56′.—Long. Lunar 33°50′.

113th Day Sunday 7th Feb.

At ½ past 5 a. m. the Island of Fernando Noronha—½ past 7 saw a sail 2 points under the lee bow. Made all sail in chace. At ½ past 10 a. m. came up with the chace and found her to be our prize the Alder, Salisberry Master, being the second time we have spoken him. Sent for Capt. Salisberry on board, who informed us that he left the Gaboon on the 11th ult.—that he has seen no sail, that his schooner sailed well and was in good order, that his crew were all healthy except James Thomas—whom we took on board, and sent one of our prisoners in his stead,—and that he had a full cargo of the following articles; viz. 50 oz gold dust, 45 tons red-wood, 1 do ivory, ½ do bees wax, 700 lbs gum copal. Took the gold on board, supplied Capt. S. with some bread, rice, butter, porter, etc. and at meridian gave him three cheers and bade him adieu. Lat. Obs. 3°43′.

114th Day Monday 8th Feb.

.... ½ Past 7 a. m. came to anchor in 13 fathoms water, hard bottom, in a convenient harbour at the N. W. end of Fernando Noronha, distant about ¾ of a mile from the shore. The Commander sent Lieut. Barton to ask permission of the Governor to obtain wood and water. He was received in the most friendly manner and the petition was at once granted. The Governor informed Lieut. B. that the Morjiana and Acosta, British Frigates, touched at this island last December, bound to India; and that the American ship John of Salem, also touched here on the 14th Jan. 1813. 11 a. m. sent the boat to fill water, which is very difficult to obtain....


115th Day Tuesday 9th Feb.

At 5 p. m. got up the anchor and dropped down nearer the watering place.... Both boats employed in getting off wood and water. Owing to the heavy surf which breaks over the rocks find it very difficult to take off the water. However got 9 casks on board and two boat loads of wood. Master Snow and Lieut. Barton on shore finishing our affairs, i.e. filling the rest of the water, buying fresh stock, etc. etc. All hands busy, some in the boats, others in the hold, many overhauling the rigging, slushing the masts, etc. no idlers, everyone anxious to leave the famous (or perhaps infamous) island of Fernando Noronha.[57] James Thomas, the seaman we took out of the Alder, is dangerously sick of a fever he caught in the Gaboon.

116th Day Wednesday 10 Feb.

Messrs. Snow, Barton and Miller dined on shore with the Governor. They were treated with great civility and politeness. The Governor expressed his satisfaction at our having captured 14 English vessels, and mentioned that an American Consul touched at this island on the 13th Dec. last, on his way to Pernambuco. Having got all wood and water on board, and also a fine bullock, at 4 p. m. weighed anchor and stood out to sea, with fresh trades and fine weather—course N. N. W. bound towards HOME.... Thomas is something better but still dangerous. Lat. Obs. 1°33′ S.

117th Day Thursday 11th Feb.

.... Nothing worth noting. Lat. Obs. 30′ S.


118th Day Friday 12th Feb.

.... At 3 p. m. being Lieut. Vinson’s watch, a squall struck us with all sail standing, and nearly capsized the ship. Instantly the other officers ran upon deck and let fly halyards and sheets and kept her before it. As soon as the squall was over Captain Wilson put Lieut. Vinson under arrest for this and various other offences during the cruise (See ante). Afterwards on his acknowledging his errors and promising to reform Captain Wilson reinstated him in his command.... No Obs.

119th Day Saturday 13th Feb.

.... Thomas is better. Lat. Obs. 4°16′ N.

120th Day Sunday 14th Feb.

.... [Nothing worth noting.] Lat. Obs. 6°22′.

121st Day Monday 15th Feb.

.... [Nothing worth noting.] Lat. Obs. 8°35′.

122d Day Tuesday 16th Feb.

.... [Nothing worth noting.] Lat. Obs. 11°2′.

123 Day Wednesday 17th Feb.

.... Thomas is out of danger. Lat. Obs. 13°30′ N.

124th Day Thursday 18th Feb.

.... Thomas is much better. Lat. Obs. 15°37′ N.

125th Day Friday 19th Feb.

.... Distance 203 miles—Lat. Obs. 18°13′ N.

126th Day Saturday 20th Feb.

.... Thomas is not so well. Lat. Obs. 20°52′ N.

127th Day Sunday 31st Feb.

.... [Nothing remarkable.] Lat. Obs. 23°14′ N. Long. Lunar Obs. at 9 a. m. 52°12′ W.

128th Day Monday 22d Feb.

At 6 a. m. discovered a sail one point on the lee bow.—At[277] 8 discovered the sail to be a brig.... At 10 made sail in chace of the ship ... distant about 3 leagues. Lat. Obs. 25°14′.

129th Day Tuesday 23d Feb.

Continued in chace of the sail ahead. At 2 p. m. fired a gun and hoisted the American flag, upon which the chace showed Portuguese colours and hove to. At 4 p. m. sent the boat on board and found her to be the Portuguese ship Amazon, Captain Francis Antonia, 24 days out from Lisbon, bound to Boston with a cargo of salt. Capt. A. informed us that on the 15th inst. he saw a sail ahead but did not speak her—that there were a great number of Americans at Lisbon and Cadiz, who were bound home under neutral colours. Lord Wellington had visited Lisbon and Cadiz for a few days and returned to his army. The English told Capt. A. that their fleets had burnt and destroyed Charleston and Philadelphia (This is very improbable)[58] At 5 p. m. made sail on our course. Lat. Obs. 26°16′ N.—Long. Lunar Obs. 10 a. m. 55°27′ W. Var. Ev. Amp. 5°20′ W. Thomas is much better.

130 Day Wednesday 24th Feb.

.... At 11 a. m. discovered a sail on the lee bow, apparently a brig standing close hauled to the eastward under royals with his course hauled up. Observed the sail immediately to bear away in chace of us. Tacked ship and made all sail to avoid the chace, or at least to discover how she sailed. Gentle breezes, a smooth and pleasant weather. 11-40 a. m. finding we dropped the chace very fast again tacked ship.... At meridian the sail bears 2 points on the lee bow, distant 12 or 14 miles. Lat. Obs. 270°3′ N.—Long. Lunar 56°42′ W.


131st Day Thursday 25th Feb.

Made all sail in chace. At 3 p. m. fired a gun, upon which the chace showed English colours. ½ past 3 she hove to with her maintopsail aback. Piped all hands to quarters and cleared for action. ¼ before 4 the enemy got under weigh to engage us. At 4 p. m. being within good gun shot commenced a brisk cannonade on the starboard side which the enemy returned. 10 minutes past 4 p. m. she wore ship and struck her colours. Gave three cheers. Sent the barge on board and found our prize to be the English Brig called the Shannon, Captain Robert Kendall, of Workington, 25 days out from Maranham, bound to Liverpool, 210 tons burthen, with a full cargo of cotton (100 bales) navigated by 15 men, mounting 10 carriage guns, sixes and nines, a fine vessel and sails well. The Mate was severely wounded in the foot. Took out the prisoners, made out Prize Commission for Samuel Barton, Letter of Instructions, gave him ship’s papers, and at ½ past 5 p. m. gave our prize three cheers and bade her adieu. Thus in one hour and a half we took a valuable prize, manned her and ordered her home. This prize may be estimated at $45,000.[59]

Long. Lunar at 9 a. m. 58°6′ W.—Lat. Obs. 27°37′ N.


132 Day Friday 26th Feb.

At 5 p. m. saw a sail 1½ points on the lee bow, apparently a brig standing to the southward.... At daylight no appearance of the sail we discovered last night.... Long. Lun. at 11 a. m. 59°44′ W.—Lat. Obs. 28°20′ N.

133d Day Saturday 27th Feb.

At 3 p. m. discovered a sail two points on the lee beam; believed her to be an armed vessel in chace of us. Continued our course with all our canvass spread. ½ past 4 lost sight of the sail astern. During the night frequent squalls of wind and rain. At 4 p. m. being very dark and squally found ourselves suddenly in the midst of a fleet of ships. Instantly called all hands and tacked ship to the S. E. At daybreak discovered two large ships and a brig standing to the E. Tacked ship again to the N. N. W. The nearest sail bore two points on the lee beam distant about 2½ leagues. At 7 a. m. lost sight of all the sails and continued on our course. Strong breezes, flying clouds and a heavy sea. Rook two reefs in topsail and mainsail, got six of our cannon below, with all the shot boxes, secured Long Tom with strong lashings, housed the lee guns, and got everything ready for the stormy weather which we may expect to encounter as we approach our coast.... Thomas is nearly recovered. The wounded prisoner is comfortable and the Surgeon thinks he will do well. Lat. Obs. 30°27′ N.

134th Day Sunday 28th Feb.

(Begins with heavy weather) 9 a. m. saw a sail 3 points on the weather bow. ½ past 10 spoke the Swedish (American) Hermaphrodite Brig Augustus from Boston, bound to St. Bartholomew’s—with liberty to touch at Bermuda—with[280] cargo of American produce, 15 days out. The Captain and passengers informed us that Commodore Decatur had captured the British Frigate Macedonian after an engagement of 17 minutes; that none of our vessels of war have been taken; that Admiral Warren’s squadron were blockading the Chesapeake with two Seventy fours and five Frigates, and that there were not many cruisers on the coast. We obtained from him several newspapers up to the 13th Feb., from which it appears that no important battles had taken place on the Frontier, but several skirmishes with the Indians; that the foreign news was no later than our English papers—Bonaparte having retired into winter quarters at Smolenski, and Lord Wellington on the borders of Portugal; that the coasting trade is still continued; that a great trade was carried on under neutral flags and many vessels dispatched to Lisbon, Cadiz and France; that there were numerous arrivals from foreign ports but not many prizes, and that five frigates had sailed from France bound to America. Congress had passed a loan bill for 22 millions and raised another army of 20000 men, besides building several sloops of war. Permitted the Augustus to proceed.—Lat. Obs. 31°33′.

135th Day Monday 1st March

.... Distance 212 miles. Invalids recover fast. Lat. Obs. 34°23′ Thermometer 71°.

136th Day Tuesday 2d March

(Commences with strong breezes and pleasant weather—then comes a tremendous gale with very high seas.) 11 a. m. the stern boat being stove in the bows cut it adrift. ½ past 11 a. m. came on a very heavy squall of rain and hail and hove the ship down nearly to her beam ends; instantly[281] cut away the fore and trysail halyards, got the helm up and kept her before it, threw four of our cannon overboard, got two below, sent down maintopmast; vessel labored excessively, the sea making a fair breach over her. Continual squalls of wind, rain, hail and snow, with thunder and lightning and a very dangerous sea. Finding it unsafe to lay the ship to while the squalls continued sent her before it under a foretopmast staysail; ship perfectly tight and making no water. Lat. Obs. 37°11′ N.

137 Day Wednesday 3d March

The storm continues with frequent and heavy squalls.... At 12 midnight the squalls become less frequent—the wind more moderate and steady and the sea less dangerous. Hove to under trysail with her head to the westward, rode easy and shipped no seas. 8 a. m. the wind died away—nearly a calm—latterly an entire calm. Vessel labors considerably owing to the heavy sea. Thomas is almost well; the wounded Mate is in a fair way to recover; the Armourer received a bad contusion in the side by a fall. Ther. 63° Lat. 36°23′ N.

138 Day Thursday 4th March

(More very nasty weather). Conclude with strong gales and flying clouds with a bad sea. Invalids not so well. Lat. Obs. 37°30′ N.

139th Day Friday 5th March

(Variable weather. Two sails sighted at a distance.) Mr. Jackson, the wounded mate, is dangerously ill. Lat. Obs. None.

140th Day Saturday 6th March

(More squally weather with dangerous seas.) Thermometer 45°. Lat. 37°28′.


141st Day Sunday 7th March

(The gale gradually dies away). Dark cloudy weather and excessively cold. Mr. Jackson is dangerously sick—having symptoms of the lock-jaw. The Armourer recovered. Lat. Obs. 37°5′ N.

142d Day Monday 8th March

(Again heavy weather and high seas.) Mr. Jackson is (we fear) past recovery, having frequent spasms and confirmed lockjaw. James Thomas no better, the Armourer better. No Obs. Lat. D. R. 39°37′ N. Long. D. R. 69°55′.

143d Day Tuesday 9th March

.... 8 a. m. discovered a sail on the weather bow, ½ past 8 made out the sail to be a pilot-boat-built schooner under reefs standing towards us. 9 a. m. the sail showed a red and white signal and bore away S. E. Believed her to be an American Privateer. ½ past 9 more ships heading W. N. W.... Tis exactly 5 months today since we left Bristol. Mr. Jackson no better. Lat. Polar Star at 4 a. m. 39°30′ No Obs.

144th Day Wednesday 10th March

(Preparations for port). This morning the sun was fair and serene, the air was clear and bracing, the sea smooth, and a fair wind from the S. W. Sent up topmasts and yards and set all sail below and aloft. Cou. N. N. E. 8 knots. Got up all the wet sails, colours and clothes and aired them. Bent the cables. Lat. Polar star at 7 p. m. 39°20′ N. Lat. Obs. 40°14′. Long. Lunar at 4 p. m. 72°54′ W. Soundings at meridian 55 fathoms. Block Island bears N. N. E. distant about 65 miles. Jackson is better.


145th Day Thursday 11th March

.... At ½ past 4 p. m. the man at mast head called out LAND HO! Joyful sound to persons five months at sea on a long and dangerous cruise. Suppose the land to be Long Island. At sundown running down the land on the larboard hand. 7 p. m. cloudy with rain. Shortened sail. 8 p. m. being very dark and hazy and not being able to see the light hove to under reefed topsail and stood off and on 3 a. m. died away a calm and we suddenly lessened our soundings to 6 fathoms. Immediately took in sail and let go our small anchor. Found she rode with her head to the S. W. current setting to the N. E. At daylight being dark and foggy with rain, and no land in sight, fired several guns for a pilot. 8 a. m. it became more clear and we discovered the land and breakers close aboard bearing E. b N. We instantly knew this land to be Nantucket and that we were mistaken in supposing it to be Long Island. This mistake might have proved fatal and had it commenced blowing heavy from the S. W. we must inevitably have been shipwrecked on these dangerous shoals. Weighed anchor and made all sail to the S. Soon deepened our soundings to 17 fathoms.... No Obs.

146th Day Friday 12th March

At ½ past 1 p. m. the fog cleared away and we plainly discerned No Man’s Land, Gay Head and Block Island all in view.... Observe the land to be covered with snow and a brig and schooner in shore. Cloudy and very cold with a smooth sea, a fair wind and all sail set. At 3-13 p. m. saw Rhode Island Light right ahead.—6 p. m. came on a very thick fog with a heavy swell. Spoke a schooner from New York bound in to Newport who informed us[284] he left Rhode Island Light about 30 minutes ago and that it bore N. N. W. distant about 3 miles. He further mentioned that there were no British cruisers in the Bay, but had heard of several off Sandy Hook. Made sail for the Light. ½ past 6 p. m. it being very dark and foggy, not being able to see the Light, came to anchor in 17 fathoms, soft bottom. During the night foggy with heavy rain and extremely cold. 12 midnight discovered the Light bearing N. N. W. ¼ N. distant about 1½ miles. At daylight made sail and weighed anchor, standing in for Newport harbour. It is with deep regret we mention the death of Mr. Jackson, late first Mate of the English Brig Shannon, who died at ½ past 12 midnight in great agony. Mr. Jackson, as before stated, was severely wounded by a cannon ball in the foot during the skirmish between the Yankee and the Shannon on the 24th ult. Notwithstanding every medical assistance, and all possible attention his wound terminated in the lockjaw, spasms and death. Mr. Jackson belonged to Workington, was 23 years old, very much beloved by his captain and crew, and appeared to be a most excellent young man.

At ½ past 7 a. m. passed Rhode Island Light; ½ past 8 a. m. fired a salute of three guns as we passed Fort Wolcott. 9 a. m. came to anchor in Newport harbour. Thus after an absence of 146 days the Yankee has arrived safe, having captured during the cruise 8 valuable prizes, 52 cannons, 196 prisoners, 401 stand of small arms, and property to the amount of 296,000 dollars. She is ballasted with gold-dust, ivory and fine goods. She has not lost a man during the cruise either by sickness or the enemy, and has returned with 52 persons on board including boys. It is worthy of remark that the Yankee neither saw nor was[285] chased by any of his Majesty’s war dogs during the cruise except the little schooner St. Jago. She has encountered as before mentioned a great deal of tempestuous weather on the coast but has received no material injury, except the loss of 4 cannon thrown overboard on the 2d of March.


“Honor and shame from no condition rise,
Act well your part, there all the Honor lies.”

District and Port of Newport, March 12th, 1813.

I, Oliver Wilson, Commander of the private armed brig called the Yankee, do swear that what is contained in the foregoing Journal, consisting of one hundred and fifty pages, is just and true in all its parts. So help me God.

Oliver Wilson.

Collector’s Office, Port of Newport
Sworn to the day and year above mentioned,
William Ellery, Collector.


No. 1. Sloop Mary Ann of London, Captain Stewart Sutherland, copper-bottomed, mounting 4 carriage guns and navigated by 11 men, with a cargo of gold-dust, ivory, drygoods, and camwood. Took out the cargo, stripped the vessel and set her on fire. 27th Nov. 1812—Lat. Obs. 7°29′ N.—off Sierra Leone.
Vessel and cargo valued at $16,000
No. 2 Letter of Marque Schooner Alder, of Liverpool, late Captain Edward Crowley, mounting 6 carriage guns (9 pounders), coppered, formerly a French Privateer, with[286] 21 men and a cargo of gun powder (400 casks) muskets, iron, lead, flints, drygoods, etc. Ordered home. The Alder was captured on the 3d of Dec. 1812 in Lat. 6°53′ N, off Cape Saint Anna, after a skirmish of 20 minutes. The Alder blew up.
Vessel and cargo valued at $10,000
No. 3 Letter of Marque Brig Andalusia, Anthony Yates Kendall, Master of and from Gibraltar, bound to the coast on a trading voyage, 210 tons burthen, mounting 10 carriage guns (4 long French nines and 6 twelve pound cannonades) with small arms, ammunition etc. and a crew of 100 men including 81 Free Africans who served as marines. The Andalusia was captured on the 10th of Dec. 1812, in Lat. 5°35′ N, after a running fight of three hours and a close engagement of 45 minutes.
Vessel and cargo valued at $17,000
No. 4 Pilot boat Schooner George. Cut out by the Yankee’s boat. Deserted by the captain and crew. Cargo Rice. Given to prisoners.
Vessel and cargo valued at $ 1,000
No. 5 Brig Thames of Liverpool, Francis Toole, Master; 8 carriage guns (nines and twelves), 14 men, cargo ivory, drygoods and camwood (240 tons)—captured 10th Jan. 1813 off Annabona.
Vessel and cargo valued at $25,000
No. 6 Brig Fly of London, Captain Tydeman, 6 carriage guns (nines) 14 men, formerly a French privateer, a new and handsome vessel and sails, cargo gold-dust, ivory, gun powder, drygoods and sundries. The Fly was cut out from under the guns of Fort Apollonia, mounting 50 pieces of artillery, at 1 p. m. on the 20th Dec. 1812.
Vessel and cargo valued at (Besides the gold) $26,000
[287] No. 7 Armed Brig Harriott and Matilda, of Maryport, Captain John Inman, from Cork bound to Pernambuco, mounting 8 carriage guns, eighteens and twelves, 14 men, coppered, 262 tons, sails well, with a valuable cargo of drygoods, iron, porter, salt etc.
Vessel and cargo valued at $27,000
No. 8 Brig Shannon, Captain Robert Kendall, of Workington, from Maranham, bound to Liverpool, mounting 10 carriage guns (nines and sixes), 15 men, 210 tons burthen, with a full cargo of cotton (100 tons). The Shannon was captured on the 24th Feb. in Lat. 27°3′ N. and Long. Lunar 56°42′ W, Bermudas bearing N. W., after an action of 10 minutes in which the Mate of the Shannon was severely wounded.
Vessel and cargo valued at $45,000
Property on board the Yankee in gold, ivory, fine goods etc. $45,000
Names Guns Men Small
Mary Ann 4 11 186 $16,000
Alder 6 21 90 10,000
Andalusia 10 100 90 17,000
George 7 1,000
Fly 6 14 20 26,000
Thames 8 14 30 25,000
Harriott & Matilda 8 14 20 27,000
Shannon 10 15 25 45,000
—– —– ———–
52 196 461 $167,000
Value on board the Yankee 45,000



Oliver Wilson, Commander
Seth Barton, First Lieutenant
John H. Vinson, Second Lieutenant
Thomas Jones, Third Lieutenant
Elisha Snow, Master

Caleb Miller, Surgeon
Noah Jones, Capt. of Marines & Captain’s Clerk
Andrew Holden, First Mate
Joseph Meades, Second Mate
Thomas Pitts, Third Mate
Seven Prize-Masters
Six Quarter-Masters
One hundred men


Touched at St. Jago, Cape de Verds, on the 27th day of her cruise for wood and water. Engaged one of his Britannic Majesty’s Schooners on the night of the 23d of November. Cruised between Cape Verde and Cape Lopez from the 22d of November 1812 to the 6th of January 1813, looking in at every port, harbour, river, factory, town etc on that coast, and capturing five valuable prizes, loaded with gold dust, ivory, dyewoods etc. Touched at the island’s of St. Thomas, Annabona, Ascension, and Fernando Noronha, at various times during her cruise, for wood, water and fresh stock. Then cruised off the coast of Brazil, and captured two large brigs with cargoes of fine goods and sundries. Fought four battles, crossed the Equinoctial Line six times, and returned safe into port, having been frequently chased by the enemy, after an absence of 146 days without the loss of a man.[60]

(Noah Jones, Captain’s Clerk)


[40] Ann. Cong. 2 Sess. 1820-21, Senate, pp. 71-77.

[41] This vessel was the Chippewa. One of the Bristol privateers, the Macdonough, had developed such remarkable speed as to call public attention to her builder, Captain Caleb Carr of Warren, R. I. Accordingly Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, as agent of the United States Government, was ordered to contract with Captain Carr for the building of a warship within ninety days. Perry, be it remembered, had already developed, upon the shores of Lake Erie, a marvellous capacity for building ships in record time. On March 15, 1814, only fifty-seven days from the time her keel was laid, notwithstanding many days of storm and snow, this ship of 411 tons burden, carrying sixteen guns, was delivered to Commodore Perry for her rigging and armament. A few days afterward she went to sea completely armed and rigged. The money for both its construction and equipment was advanced by Mr. De Wolf.

[42] A word about nautical terms for the benefit of those not in an old sea port born. All vessels, except the one masted sloops, are much larger than those of a hundred years ago, and the number of masts upon vessels has been increased. A “full rigged ship” of a century ago was a three masted vessel with square sails hanging from yards on each of the masts. Schooners and brigs were two masted vessels, the former with sails on both masts similar to those upon a sloop yacht today, but very much smaller. The schooner rig was not applied to three masted craft until about the middle of the last century. The giant schooners of the present time, with their four, five, six and even seven masts, had not been dreamed of fifty years ago. The schooner rig was devised in Gloucester, Massachusetts, about the year 1713. It is gradually making its way around the world. The writer noted that in 1904 it had almost entirely supplanted the “junk” upon the Inland Sea of Japan.

Brigs were of two kinds, full rigged and hermaphrodite. A full rigged brig had square sails on both masts, while the hermaphrodite (in sailor dialect “morfydite”) had square sails on the foremast and schooner sails on the other, and was sometimes called a brigantine. The Yankee, ordinarily spoken of as a brig, was really a brigantine. Brigs are rarely seen in United States ports today. They almost invariably sail under a foreign flag.

[43] Captain Wilson was only twenty-six years old.

[44] It is reported that these unfortunates were frequently asked “how they liked the swimming” by those of the crew who had remained for the capture of the San Jose Indiano, and that rude boys, for almost a generation, continued to ask the same question, always of course at a respectful distance.

[45] The San Jose Indiano was a teak built East Indiaman. How old she was at the time of her capture we do not know, but she was destined to a long life under the American flag. As far as seaworthiness was concerned she might have continued to plow the seas until the time of our Civil War—then to end her days with the other whaleships from New Bedford and elsewhere that were sunk to block the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, S. C. Mr. De Wolf renamed her the General Jackson and used her for a time in the general carrying trade. Later when the whale fishery became popular with the people of the towns on Narragansett Bay she received a whaler’s outfit and sailed for years with the Bristol whaling fleet. The Mexican War having broken out, she was sold, in 1846 or thereabout, to the United States Government, being by her construction specially adapted for work in tropical waters. When a Government survey was made, preliminary to her sale, the carpenters who attempted to cut holes in her sides expended many tools, and much profanity, before they could make any impression upon her planks. Her teak timbers, combined with the cement between their joints, for a time defied all their efforts, both wood and cement having become almost as hard as stone. After she had lain for some months at anchor off Vera Cruz, the Government had no further need for her and therefore sold her to a third American owner. To him she did not prove profitable, and it is said that an attempt to set her on fire in order to secure her insurance was made. The staunch old ship simply refused to burn. Again she was sold for a very small sum. Then, so the story goes, a more scientific and successful attempt to transfer her to the underwriters was made. She was loaded with a cargo of lime, and then holes having been skilfully made in her hull, doubtless with more profanity, she was cleared for a southern port. Somewhere in the waters about the Florida peninsula she was run upon a reef, and the ocean combined with the lime to do the rest.

[46] The name Goree was until very recently applied to the part of the town of Bristol in which the negroes lived.

[47] This is the only record of a punishment inflicted upon one of the crew during the whole cruise. As will later appear one of the Officers became subject for censure on several occasions.

[48] Baft, or bafta, was a coarse stuff of India cotton.

[49] The Yankee in firing aimed to disable—not to destroy her possible prizes.

[50] In comparing the edifying music of the marines with the ungodly songs of the sailors the gentle reader will do well to bear in mind the fact that the writer was the Captain of Marines.

[51] This was true in more ways than one as the Fly was recaptured by the British. The gold dust she had accumulated reached Bristol in the Yankee.

[52] The small size of the vessel suggests the Pinta and the Niña of the fleet of Columbus.

[53] Mr. Vinson’s indisposition was probably due to drunkenness, as will appear from subsequent entries. His case was an unusual one for a Privateersman.

[54] Query, Were there others suffering from the Vinsonian malady?

[55] Descriptions like this, which occur frequently in the Journals of American merchantmen, were carefully read by ship owners, and mastered by the Captains sent to trade with foreign ports.

[56] The two islands, Ascension and Saint Helena, which was later to become famous as the prison of Napoleon Bonaparte, were both made “Ports of Call” for the Yankee.

[57] The island is used by the government of Brazil as a penal settlement.

[58] The burning of Washington was yet to come.

[59] Before the Shannon was captured, Mr. Jones had made out his “List of Prizes,” and had also written the “Route of the Yankee” which is printed at the end of this Journal. It is possible that he may not have protested very strongly at the additional entries he was compelled to make. The Shannon, with her cargo, actually netted $67,521. The erroneous estimate may be excused in view of the exceedingly short time allowed for its making. When the cargo of the Shannon was sold, Mr. De Wolf found that he had been remunerated for all his losses suffered at the hands of the British cruisers. He therefore renamed her the Balance. Bearing that name she sailed from Bristol for years thereafter. The next prize was renamed the Prize, and the next the Remittance. The San Jose Indiano of the 5th cruise became the General Jackson.

[60] The Shannon had not been taken when this “Route” was written.



Adam of Bremen, 8
Alaska houses and customs, 146

Allen, Amos A., 231
Allen, Anson A., 244
Ancastra, Governor General, 240
Andrews, Zep, 269
Angell, James, 228, 230, 231, 234, 235, 237, 241, 244
Annals of Iceland, 9
Anthony, James, 270
Anthony, Joseph, 238, 269
Antonio, Capt. Francis, 277
Antonio, King of Lahore, 256
Archangel settlement, 126
Ariadne of Boston, 229
Athawalpa, 116
Atwood, Preserved, 240

Babcock, W. H., 2
Bafts, 246
Baidarkas, 114
Baker, Lemuel, 241
Balance, brig, 278
Bander, Supt., 144
Baranoff, Baron, 114 et seq., 120
Barracks moved, 25
Barton, Samuel, 219, 220, 278
Barton, Seth, 228, 245, 251, 257, 274, 275, 288
Belfour, Ellah & Co., 198
Biarni, Heriulfson, 3
Blockade, privateer, 212
Booldakoff, Mr., 195
“Boston Men,” 111
Bosworth, Nathaniel, 15
Boyish sports, 30
Boynton, Samuel, 233, 234, 235, 237, 244
Bradford, Gov. William, 23, 25
Bradford house, 25
Briggs, John, 227, 230, 231, 234, 235, 241, 244
Bristol, name 14,
bombarded 22,
burned 23
Brown, Captain, 113
Brown, Daniel, 44
Brown, John, 19, 206
Brown, Peleg, 44
Bruce, George A., 219
Bucharin, Capt., 163
Bucklin, D., 102
Bucklin, E., 102
Burgas, Capt. Miguel, 233
Burt, Rev. John, 22
Burt, “Marm,” 25
Burton, Stephen, 13, 14
Butman, Joseph, 244
Byfield, Nathaniel, 13, 18
Byfield house, 15
Byrum, Ebenezer, 231

Cammett, Richard, 102
Caroline of Boston, 111
Carr, Capt. Caleb, 212, 214
Carr, Mr., 252
Carter, John, 253, 260, 263, 264, 266
Charanville, Madam, 89
Child, William, 253
Chippewa, sloop of war, 212
Church, Benjamin, 12, 14
Churchill, Capt. Benj. K., 221, 222
Cockroach, Cuffee, 219, 221
Coddington Jr., Nathaniel, 44
Coit, Richard M., 272
Colt, Samuel Pomeroy, 224
Columbia of Boston, 111
Commerce, 31
Cook, J. D., 102
Courtney, brig, 220
Cramer, Benedict, 195
Cramer, Smith & Co., 195
Crawford, James, 235
Crowne, John, 12
Crowley, Capt. Edward, 246, 285
Cuffee Cockroach, 219, 221
Cunha Matos, Governor, 262

Davidoff, John, 121, 128, 153, 201[290]
D’Antillac, Father, 92
D’Huberlant, Father, 92
D’Orvilliers, Commandant, 85
DeVilleconte, Father, 92
DeWolf, Charles, 101
DeWolf, George, 101
DeWolf, James, 32, 101, 200 et seq.
DeWolf, John, 97 et seq.
DeWolf, Mark Antony, 44, 205
DeWolf family, 97
Dichaetin, Chief, 131
Distilleries, 26
Dogs, 152, 154, 157
Downing, Mrs., 97
Duddington, Thomas, 19
Duffel, 114
Duro, 187

Ebbetts, Capt., 111
Eddy, George, 219, 266
Ellery, William, 285
Elliott, Francis, 220
Eustis, William, 214

Fauque, Father, 45, 48 et seq.
Fernald, Professor, 5
Ferry boats, 190
Foy, William, 102
Francis, prize ship, 218
Freydis, 8

Gaspee, schooner, burned, 19
General Jackson, prize ship, 32, 220
General Wellesley, prize ship, 222
Gibsheet, Jack, 241
Goff, seaman, 248
Gorea, 18, 241
Grafton, Samuel, 221
Grand Sisters Islands, 255
Grant, Sueton, 44
Grapes, 5
Gray, Capt. David, 199
Gray, Capt. Robert, 111
Greene, Governor William, 49
Griswold, Bishop, 26
Gullifer, Sampson, 219
Gunnerson, George. 241, 244
Gunpowder Plot, 66
Guy Fawkes Day, 66

Hampden, John, 11
Hanson, J., 102
Hardiman, Lieutenant, 225
Harris, L., 196
Hayman, Nathan, 14
Hetherington, A. B., 221
Hitchcock, 102
Holden, Andrew, 259, 260, 288
Holden, James, 260, 263, 264
Holmes, Capt. Bartlett, 229
Hooper, Joseph, 102
“Hop,” 7
Hopkins, Stephen, 10
Horsford, E. N., 2
Hunt, Thomas, 102

Iceland Annals, 9
Image worship, 61
Ingraham, Ned, 228, 233, 237, 241
Inman, Capt. John, 272
Irkutsk, 181
Ivanah, Major Antony, 151

Jack Jibsheet, 219, 221, 241
Jackson, Mate, 281, 284
James, Edward, 242
Japanese on Kurile Islands, 153
Jenckes, Capt. Wm. C., 221
Jenkins, Capt., 231
Jones, Abraham, 115
Jones, Edward, 248
Jones, John, 102
Jones, Noah, 225, 288
Jones, Thomas, 219, 220, 288
Juno, ship 101,
crew 102

Kaluschians, 132
Kendall, Capt. Anthony Y., 251
Kendall, Capt. Robert, 278
Kip, Bishop W. I., 44
Kipp, William, 44
Koscheleff, Gov. General, 155
Korükin, 121
Koster, John, 234 235, 243
Krusenstern, Capt., 124
Kurile Islands, 153
Kutsnetsoff, 164, 192

Lafayette, 24
Lage de la Landerie, 54
Langsdorff, Dr. George, 121, 127 et seq., 182, 201
Lariwanoff, Madame, 147
Leif Ericson, 3[291]
Lewis, Joseph, 230, 234, 241
Lindegard, J. C., 263, 264
Lisiansky, Capt., 124, 125

Macdonough, privateer, 212, 213, 214
Madina, Dr., 239
Mahoney, J., 102
Mary of Boston, 104, 105, 116, 120
Marshall, J., 102
Maschin, Andrew W., 121, 128
Mason, Aaron, 237
Massasoit, 9, 10, 11
Meades, Joseph, 288
Midget, Abner, 244
Miller, Dr. Caleb, 270, 288
Milton, Thomas, 219, 259
Mitchell, Henry, 238
Monthaup or Montop, 2
Moorfield, James, 102, 115, 123, 195
Morris, Watson, 237
Moscow, 192 et seq.
Mount Hope Lands, 2, 13
Munro, Benjamin, 44
Murphy, T., 102

Nantucket, 3
Narragansett pacers, 78
Nautical terms, 213
Newell, Samuel G., 102
Newettee, 109
Norseman’s Rock, 9
Norsemen, 2

O’Connor, Mr., 253
Officers of the Yankee, 288
Oliver, Nathaniel, 13, 14
Oyapoc, 45 et seq.,
Fort 92

Parker, E. D., 102, 103, 165
Patterson, S., 102
Pearl of Boston, 111, 116
Peck, Lyman, 241
Perry, Rev. C. B., 97, 206
Perry, Com. M. C., 99
Perry, Com. O. H., 212
Pervoshka, 182
Petroff, Supt., 163
Philip, King 11,
monument 12
Phillips, Michael, 44
Phipps, W., 102
Pickens, Samuel, 257
Pitts, Thomas, 288
Plunder from Oyapoc, 46
Popes in Russia, 144
Popoff, 121
Porter, Capt., 116
Port Praya, 240
Potter, Jeffrey, 44, 46
Potter, Simeon, 19, 38, 206
Powers, J., 102
Prince Charles of Lorraine, wrecked, 43
Prizes of the Yankee, 286-7
Profits from privateering, 217

Ramansoff, 196
Redding, William, 231, 240, 241
Religious revivals, 26, 27
Resanoff, Baron, 100, 121, 125, 153, 163
Rhode Island privateers, 42
“Rodelan” described, 59
Robinson, Capt. Andrew, 98
Royal Bounty, ship, 217
Russell, Thomas P., 217
Russian baptismal service, 158
Russian leave-takings, 189
Russian trading voyage to San Francisco, 138

Sables at Irkutsk, 175
St. Michael’s Church, burned, 24
St. Michael’s Church, revivals in, 26
St. Thomas Island, 262
San Jose Indiano, prize, 220
Salsbury (or Salisberry), Daniel, 248, 264, 274
Schelikoff, pioneer, 125
Schitchachon, 132
Schooners, 98
Schoonerson, George, 238
Schwostoff, Nicholas, 121, 128, 153, 201
Settakroo, King, 254
Ship-building, 31
Simmons, Cyrus, 228, 230, 231, 234, 235, 237
Simonitch, Dementy, 186
Sitcha, habits, houses and fashions, 134,
climatic conditions, 137
Skraelings, 7
Slave trade, 16, 18, 206 et seq.
Slocum, N. A., 260[292]
Slocum, N. M., 266
Small-pox, 179
Smith, Bishop B. B., 21
Smith, John, 215, 220
Snorri Thorfinnson, 6
Snow, Elisha, 219-21, 244, 252, 263, 274
Starruk (Starruke), 153
Stetson, George W., 106, 123
Sturgis, Capt., 113
Stokes, J., 102
Sutherland, Capt. Stewart, 243, 253
Swan, Capt. Thomas, 21
Sweet, Capt. Manly, 217
Switchell or Switcher, Asa, 241, 244, 263, 264

Tacking, 3
Tatton, D., 102
Tea drinking, 175
Thames, prize ship, 219
Thomas, James, 237, 241, 274, 275
Thomas, John A., 102
Thorfinn Karlsefni, 6
Thorvald Ericson, 5, 7
Tilley, Admiral B. F., 30
Tobacco benefits, 29
Tobolsk, 188
Tompenny, Capt. Robert, 253
Toole, Capt. Francis, 265
Trescott, Capt., 104
Tripp, W. H., 102
Turtles, 269
Tydeman, Capt. Jonathan, 258
Tyng, Rev. S. H., 28
Tyrker, 5
Usher, James 2d, 217
Usher, Sammy, 16

Vancouver of Boston, 113, 116
Viking ships, 2
Vinland, 2, 5, 8
Vinson, John H., 260, 263, 264, 266, 276, 288

Wallace, Capt. James, 21, 22
Walley, John, 13, 14
Wamsutta, 11
Wardwell, Henry, 221
Washington, George, 25
Water Witch, privateer, 212
Whales and whaling, 32, 143, 161
Wheeler, J., 102
Wheesner, J., 102
Whipple, Capt. Abraham, 20, 21
Whitehead, Charles B., 246
Whitmarsh, Jonathan, 243
Williams, Capt. Alfred, 239
Wilson, Capt. Oliver, 213, 217, 225 et seq.
Wilson, Tom, 255
Wilson, Capt. Thomas, 226
Winship, Capt. Jonathan, 140
Winslow, Edward, 10, 11
Winter climate of Vinland, 4, 7
Wiopock, 45

Yakutsk, 173
Yemshik, 184
Yermerk, 122

Zelinzoff, 187






Footnote [10] is referenced from Footnote [9], and Footnote [18] is referenced from Footnote [17].

Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.

Pg 15: ‘the roof slooping’ replaced by ‘the roof sloping’.
Pg 58: ‘their sentinenls on’ replaced by ‘their sentinels on’.
Pg 68: ‘such senitments in’ replaced by ‘such sentiments in’.
Pg 69: ‘we would take me.’ replaced by ‘he would take me.’.
Pg 86: ‘who were prsioners’ replaced by ‘who were prisoners’.
Pg 88: ‘and fo this reason’ replaced by ‘and for this reason’.
Pg 128: ‘for science’ sake’ replaced by ‘for science’s sake’.
Pg 161: ‘then bade good by’ replaced by ‘then bade good-bye’.
Pg 172: ‘iunnmerable cattle’ replaced by ‘innumerable cattle’.
Pg 232: ‘left at Maderia’ replaced by ‘left at Madeira’.
Pg 232: ‘left Maderia an’ replaced by ‘left Madeira an’.
Pg 232: ‘and the scurvey’ replaced by ‘and the scurvy’.
Pg 246: ‘African crew, men’ replaced by ‘African crewmen’.
Pg 255: ‘Obs. 4, 17.’ replaced by ‘Obs. 4°17′.’.
Pg 256: ‘Lat. 4, 38.’ replaced by ‘Lat. 4°38′.’.
Pg 266: ‘N. M. Slocun’ replaced by ‘N. M. Slocum’.
Pg 272: ‘of Mayport,’ replaced by ‘of Maryport,’.
Pg 276: inserted missing header ‘118th Day Friday 12th Feb.’.
Index: ‘Kutsnettsoff’ replaced by ‘Kutsnetsoff’.
Index: ‘Lawarinoff’ replaced by ‘Lariwanoff’.
Index: ‘Schilchachon’ replaced by ‘Schitchachon’.
Index: ‘Sitka’ replaced by ‘Sitcha’.



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