previous next

[84] on Thursday, at eleven o'clock and thirty minutes A. M.

She left Fortress Monroe at noon, on Saturday, with sealed orders, and when outside the Chesapeake her steam-valve broke, by which the vessel lost two hours while repairing it. She arrived off Cape Hatteras lighthouse at half-past 10 on Sunday morning, where she anchored, preferring to await the next morning in order to have a whole day to cross Hatteras shoals and make the inlet, and to avoid the fogs that prevailed all Sunday. Next morning she started to cross the shoals, and in doing so struck fifteen times in about twenty minutes. The frame-work about her screw was bent so as to infringe upon the fans of the screw, which jarred the packing from the shaft, and through the opening she leaked considerably. Her damage at this point was not of a serious character, but the captain came to anchor with a signal for a pilot flying.

No pilot arriving, and several of the vessels of the fleet having passed her toward the inlet, the captain thought it just as safe to try to make the inlet as to lie there. He accordingly steamed forward, and as he approached the bar was met by the pilot's tug from inside. The tug turned as if to lead the way, and told the pilot of the City of New York that he was in the right channel and might go ahead, when the steamer immediately struck. The pilot on the tug repeated his injunctions to keep ahead, notwithstanding he was informed the vessel had struck. All head-way soon ceased, when an effort was made to stretch a hawser from the steamer to the tug, which failed of any beneficial result. The tug then went through the inlet, as the people on the steamer supposed, to send a more powerful vessel to haul her off, but no assistance came. At this point the first officer lowered a boat from the davits, and putting two sets of oars in her, four of the crew followed, and they put off to a schooner anchored outside the breakers.

The steamer grounded on the bar just outside the inlet, where the sea broke completely over her stern. About her the sea was a sheet of foaming breakers. Every sea lifted her up, and when its force was expended, she came down with a shock which embedded her still deeper in the sand. In a short time the two boats housed on her deck were stove in by the sea, and when an attempt was made to launch her life-boat it filled with water, and the painter breaking, it drifted to sea. But one boat now remained, which those on the wreck were fearful of launching, believing that it also would be lost. The S. R. Spaulding at this time passed out to sea through the inlet on her way to Port Royal, and was hailed from the wreck, but no attention was paid to their call, and with terror in their hearts the sufferers turned to the prospect of spending the night in their perilous position. During the night the wind increased to a gale and the steamer was leaking rapidly.

The pumps were kept working by the steam which was kept up till ten o'clock on Tuesday morning, when the fires were extinguished by the rising water in the ship. At this time the ensign was hoisted with the union down — a signal of distress; but no assistance was sent. The foremast of the steamer was now cut away, and in falling it carried away the main-topmast. This eased the vessel somewhat, but still she thumped heavily on the sand, and her smoke-stack was afterwards cut away, but with little benefit, as the sea was now breaking through in several places. The crew now tied life-preservers about them, lashed themselves to the rigging to prevent being washed overboard, and prepared to spend the night on board, awaiting the momentary breaking up of the vessel. About three o'clock in the morning the sea began to lift the deck from the hull with every surge. At eight o'clock it was resolved to launch the remaining boat, and the five men above named got in, and pulling through the surf to the fleet, succeeded in communicating the condition of the wreck to the nearest vessels, which at once sent off their boats to take the sufferers from the wreck.

The pilot of the tug reported at headquarters that the vessel was in no danger, and would live through it, and that the crew had abandoned her and gone on board the schooner outside. This probably explains the reason why no aid was sent to the vessel.

The men who were taken off the wreck had eaten nothing during the twenty-four hours previous, and, exhausted with the cold sea which drenched them with spray from the breakers, and the almost superhuman efforts to retain their positions on the surging wreck for nearly twenty hours, required to be supported after reaching the vessels to which they were taken. Dozens of willing hands were extended to them, and their wet clothes were at once changed for dry and comfortable apparel.

As soon as the sealed orders, under which they sailed from Fortress Monroe, were opened, it became the subject of general comment why a vessel drawing sixteen feet should be sent through an inlet in which the present depth is not more than thirteen feet. This may become a subject of future investigation. The pilot of the tug sent out to conduct the vessels over the bar asked of each captain the draft of his vessel as she approached, with this single exception.

I subjoin a list of the officers of the City of New York, and the places of their residence.

Captain, Joseph W. Nye, of Falmouth, Mass.

First officer, J. G. Rogers, of New-York.

Second officer, Ward Eldridge, of Falmouth, Mass.

Chief engineer, Reuben Carpenter, of Milton on the Hudson, N. Y.

Second engineer, William Miller, of Nashville, Tenn.

Third engineer, A. Sherman.

Coast pilot, J. T. Horton.

Stevedore, Mr. Bassett.

Purser, Mr. Smith, in charge of stores.

Mechanics in the employment of the coast division: John Dye and brother, master masons; William H. Beach, wagon-maker, and Charles A.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
S. R. Spaulding (1)
C. F. Smith (1)
A. Sherman (1)
J. G. Rogers (1)
Joseph W. Nye (1)
Milton (1)
William Miller (1)
J. T. Horton (1)
Ward Eldridge (1)
Reuben Carpenter (1)
William H. Beach (1)
Bassett (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: