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Tales of an old sea port : a general sketch of the history of Bristol, Rhode Island, including, incidentally,… Munro, Wilfred Harold, 1849-1934 1917

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■M Copyright, 1917, by
Princeton University Press
Published November, 1917
Printed in the United States of America
7) 4
itVivMtUiItUt *
Introduction:    Old Bristol       i
Part I—Simeon Potter and the  Prince  Charles of
i—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
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 Vin-
land 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
writers2 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
1 The Landfall of Leif, The Problem of the Northmen, The Defences
of Norwmbega, The Discovery of the Ancient City, Leifs House in
Vinland, etc.
2 W. H. Babcock, Early Norse Visits to America, Smithsonian
Misc. Colls., Vol. 59, No. 19. 2 TALES OF AN OLD SEAPORT
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 Babcock, p. 139. OLD BRISTOL 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
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 TALES OF AN OLD SEA PORT
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
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. OLD BRISTOL 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 ■fcwiiiiiii
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
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 OLD BRISTOL
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
6 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. 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 ioio.
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. OLD BRISTOL
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 pro- IO
visions 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 OLD BRISTOL
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 Wam-
sutta (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 Wam-
panoag 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:
KING PHILIP, AUGUST 12, 1676.     O. S.
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 OLD BRISTOL
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 OLD BRISTOL
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 slooping 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 mig*ht 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 By-
field. 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 i6
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 caus-
tic tongue. One day a visitor from Brown University was
introduced to him. This young man, though a sophomore,
was vet somewhat fresh, and Sammy did not like him.   He OLD BRISTOL
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 i8
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. I 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 OLD BRISTOL
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 Dud-
dington, 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
6 The commander of the Prince Charles of Lorraine, of whom we
shall write later. 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. OLD BRISTOL
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:
t ?/?.
Wallace to Whipple:
"You, Abraham Whipple, on the ioth 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 congrega- OLD BRISTOL
tion 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
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 OLD BRISTOL
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
V 26
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 OLD BRISTOL
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
ittitttiittttti OLD BRISTOL
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
I — Ml ■
—	 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 '6os" 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 in- to
dulged 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
-- im it*   [.- 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 OLD BRISTOL
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 sierht. 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 "Terns" 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
m 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. PART I
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
1 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. ti
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! 4°
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 1 yyy 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 SIMEON POTTER
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"
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 manoeuvered with a skill that placed
the slower ships of the French and Spaniards entirely at
their mercy.   They carried long guns which enabled them SIMEON POTTER
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 Sea-
connet 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,
5 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. SIMEON POTTER
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
ST 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 hiked
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 SIMEON POTTER
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
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.1
At Cayenne, the 22d of December, 1744.
My Reverend Father,—The peace of our Lord be with
you! I will makt 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
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
^-The words used by Father Fauque are " corsair e anglois."—Tran.s.
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 Aroiias Indians, who came from Maya-
core 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.2
Their chief was Captain Simeon Potter, a native of New
England, fitted out to cruise with a commission from
Williems Gueene, Governor of Rodelan,3 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
2 Les corsaires.
3 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.* 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.
*The Prince iCharles was owned in Newport.   See ante, ,p. 44.
h So
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. LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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.
tttm 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.* 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
*Very true.—Ed.
ft 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* 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.f
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
♦Some of these are still preserved in Bristol.—Ed.
t See testimony of Jeffrey Potter, ante, p. 46.—Ed. LETTER OF FATHER FAUOUE
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 Novenof 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,
4 A series of devotions extending through nine days.—Trans.
ill 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 sentinenls 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.
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.*
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
♦From 1715 to 1786 Rhode Island suffered from the issue of Bills
of Credit, or paper money.—Ed.
1 6o
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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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.*
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
*Nota bene,—Ed. 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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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 \
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.5   To-morrow," he
5 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
1:11 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
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."*—Trans.
*Guy Fawkes' Day was observed with great fidelity, as far as noise
was concerned, by Bristol boys of the last generation.—Ed. LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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 cap-
tain 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.* 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 he 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
*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. 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 senitments in the mouth of an American Huguenot*; 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 Aroiias 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
*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. LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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, we 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
;WS 'O
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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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
1 V1
r—- 7<
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; LETTER OF FATHER FAUOUE
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 lib-
'?>■ 74
erty, 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
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
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.) 'f § v
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
II c
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 Arouas, 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 Con-
nestable, 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 f:
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,6 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
6 A toise is two yards.—Trans. ^wr
for the sugar plantations.* 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 manoeuvre 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 ori
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
♦"Narragansett Pacers" were greatly in demand in the West Indies,
and on the "Spanish Main."—Ed. LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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, 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?'
cThat 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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUOUE
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
6'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. LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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
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."
U- 84
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
manoeuvring, 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
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
At last, on Wednesday morning, having determined to
ask the captain what course he had determined to pursue,
P 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 prsioners 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 w.
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
-«C IHlllXlllllllfT
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
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 fo 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,
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 LETTER OF FATHER FAUQUE
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 pere, sa mire} ses frhres, pour Vamour 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,
'<« I
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
\he 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
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.  PART II
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 |
1 Perry's "History of the De Wolf Family," p. 50.
"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 spyglass at arm's length, and if sometimes we would ask 'What
do you see, Grandpa?' he would invariably reply, T 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
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 ResanofT, 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,* 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
*Three months before this vessel had brought into Bristol the first
cargo received from a Chinese port.—Ed. m
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,
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 240 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
M«M .
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. 400 S.
November 12th, lat. 480 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. 1— 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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, IX
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. 560 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
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 Val-
J ummiiiimiiiuiiiiuiiuuiiai
paraiso. 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
When we reached 40 S. lat., we had series of calms, with
pleasant weather, and a very smooth sea.   In this neighbor-
hood 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.
1080 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. u
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. no
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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.* 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 ioth of April,
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. 1280
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
* 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.
r '•'if
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. 540 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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.* 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
*Cooper seized upon this well known fact for some striking passages
in his novel "Afloat and Ashore."—Ed. BBBSBD
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,*
&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 bai-
darkasf 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
me name of the governor or superintendent of the settle-
* Duffel, a coarse woollen cloth named from the town near Antwerp
in which it was manufactured.—Ed.
t 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.] VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
ment. 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 ioth 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 n6
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 nth 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 Hi
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 ioth 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;
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
r 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 ist 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
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. Koriikin 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
mm 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 rdf
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. —i 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 Cron-
stadt, 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
RfH iHinmiHiiuiuiimiiiTT
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
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. VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
George von Langsdorff,* 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
* 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 Gottingen, 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. 128
Schwostoff, Davidoff, and Maschin were highly accomplished and meritorious officers, as were likewise the two
ship-builders, Messrs. Popoff and Koriikin. 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' sake, my man Parker made
stews of various descriptions.    Being merely a sojourner VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
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 TALES OF AN OLD SEA PORT
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, tlironged 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, VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 coun- TALES OF AN OLD SEA PORT
trywomen, 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  ^1 135
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 SchwostofT 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 sea
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
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. 138
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. VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 hav^-
ing 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 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
;,*ws 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
now 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 ioth, 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
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 with- VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
out 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 1500, 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
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 Bher-
ing'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.   Hav- VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
ing 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 1300 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 whale-
ship 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
rmt \M
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," *
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
* 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."--i±d.   VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
vegetables. He also kept several milch cows, arid 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 te*eth 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.
*,'£+ 146
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
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
miium """•
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 Kam- 'M?]
tchatka, 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 1700 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
Sledging.— A Russian Christening.
old  Friends. — Dogs  and
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 sev- 152
eral 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
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  (MSI
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 circum- 154
stance, 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.*
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,
* Dr. Langsdorff in his "Reise" devotes much space to the treatment
of the Arctic dogs.—Ed. VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 Kamtcha-
dale 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. 156
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 p
ii -. ..vara-M -iiiy-v"-,iijui^f-,{.m
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 snowstorm. 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
MM 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
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.*    At
* Even in the great Cathedral of Kazan, in Petrograd, the arrangements for a christening seem, to a foreigner, somewhat primitive. VOYAGE OF THE JUNO 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
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. i6o
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 226. 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 daugh-
ter, 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 by 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
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 fright- 162
ened. 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 580. 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 590 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
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.*   They fell upon their knees and
* 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 Bucha-
rin, 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.*
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
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.
* A verst is 212^ rods, or, roughly, five eighths of a mile.—[Author's
UMfe i66
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. VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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
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
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. M
July nth. 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 Yakut-
schian 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 iunnmerable cattle and VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 620 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. 174
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
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*
(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 roundhouse, 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.
* It will be noted that 'Captain De Wolf nowhere speaks of vodka.
—Ed. P0M
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, Kutsnet-
soff, 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 I
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
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 wdrd
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.
11 178
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 6oD
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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 i8o
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
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, sit- VOYAGE OF THE JUNO 181
uated 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 ResanofT, 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 hi9
appearance at my room, leading her in. She was a very
dignified-looking elderly lady, dressed in black.   As he intro-
>>i 182
duced 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 prdvinces 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
— - n 11 »1   <i—ir<~Wi 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 m
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,
s6 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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 12 th 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 i88
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
-=^ VOYAGE OF THE JUNO        1        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;* 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.
* 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. 190
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.* 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
* Flying ferry boats not unlike these may be seen on some California
rivers today.—Ed.
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,
* HtWir 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 Zem-
lanoigorod. 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
a sister he had never seen before.    She was a very hand-
some 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 dec-
wmA ^MMMMffi
fn niiiii mil   11 tiiiiii H ii  GflHH
orated. 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.* 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 Zemlanoigorod, 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
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
*At least 448,000 pounds.—Ed.
f This was five years before the burning of Moscow in the Napoleonic War.—Ed.
.,^,^-tm^m-MM ——
nmn     ;rnflE
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 21 st 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
JiHltftl 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. —
Things went on so smoothly and pleasantly at St. Peters-
burs: 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 ob- VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
tain 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 harbormaster 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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, par-
jmrftotp 1 rw
ticularly 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 ist 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 VOYAGE OF THE JUNO
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.
jimmt    -JAMES DE WOLF
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
stt 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
205 206
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 *H
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
HMMH 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: JAMES DE WOLF
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
^^. 2IO
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 remarks1 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
1Ann. Cong. 2 Sess. 1820-21, Senate, pp. 71-77. JAMES DE WOLF
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
ii    I *l
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.2 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
2 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. JAMES DE WOLF
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 brig3 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
3 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
ifour, 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.
■m 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 Matan-
zas, 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 lat- JAMES DE WOLF 215
ter owning but one-quarter of the vessel. The Articles
of Agreement under which the privateer sailed were as
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.
, 2l6
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.
nth. 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
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
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 dl
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
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,4
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
4'Captain Wilson was only twenty-six years old.
MM 2l8
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 JAMES DE WOLF
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 four teen-
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 re*
captured. 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
CufTee 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.
Indeed, some of the sailors swam ashore before the privateer left the harbor of Bristol.5 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 Indi-
ano,6 and, with her cargo, sold for more than half a million
5 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.
6 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
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. Hethering-
ton, 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
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.
ȣ& 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 pri- JAMES DE WOLF
vateer 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
225 226
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 foietopsail 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 J4 past 7
gibed ship to the S. S. E.—set all drawing sails—considerable swell. At J4 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. 4o°56/.
ist 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 Com- JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
mander 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 studdingsails 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.
(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 pn
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 mus-
u 228
quets, 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°i5'.
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.
5 th Day—Thursday October 22 d
. . . . 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 ist 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 pear 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
mSsM tl
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 lar^e
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 nth 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. 560 W. . . . §
7th Day Saturday 24th Oct.
.... Lat. 36°o/ . . .
m 230
8th Day Sunday 25th Oct.
.... Briggs,  Simmons, Lewis and Angell on the Surgeon's list with light complaints.   Lat. Obs. 35°i5/.   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 fore-
top) 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°4o'.
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. it f
nth 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'. I
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. ^°°27f- Lunar Obs. at 23 M. past
Meridian 4i°55/4i//. 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°n/.
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
ill ^2
2ist 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 Maderia several American vessels
bound home with full cargoes; also two English ships loading with wine for the West Indies. Shortly before Capt.
Jenkins left Maderia 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°4o'. (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
15th Day Sunday ist Nov.
. . . . Nothing remarkable. Lat. Obs. 27014' 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 scur-
vey 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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. 26°i6'.
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
illl 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°49r. Long. D. R. 26°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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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 ceiemony. 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. 2i°58/.
2ist Day Saturday 7th Nov.
.... Nothing remarkable. . . . Same persons on Surgeon's list.   Lat. Obs. 2i°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. 2i°i6'. Lunar
Obs. at 5-20 was 3i°i7'. Same persons on the Surgeon's
23d Day Monday 9th Nov.
.... James Angell, Cyrus Simmons, John Briggs, Samuel
Boynton, Joseph Lewis, John Koster and James Crawford
OHM 236
on the Surgeon's list with various complaints—none dangerous. Lat. 20°4r. 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°i9'.
25th Day Wednesday nth 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. i9°n'. 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. i8°i9/. Long,
per Lunar Obs. at 2 p. m. 28°53'3o". 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
3/2 past n 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 Vends, situated in Lat. N. iy°20f and 24°59/W. JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
Long. Lat. Obs. i7°i5/. 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 2j 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.
i6°2o'.       I I" I
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. i6°2i'.
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
1 -*«*>■
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. I5°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 1% 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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 V
from London, bound to the Cape of Good Hope, touched
here for water on the 29th ult. and also the Sloop of War
Morfiana, 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 At wood 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 ^2 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
at a small expense.    Port Praya Lat.  I4°52' N.
23°3o' W.   Same persons on the Surgeon's list.
34th Day Friday 20th Nov.
.... Nothing remarkable.   Lat. Obs. I4°37'.
35 th Day Saturday 21st Nov.
.... No sail or land in sight.   Lat. Obs. i4°22'.
36th Day Sunday 22d Nov.
(Cape Verds again in sight). Lat. Obs. I4°26' Surgeon's list—James Thomas, Lemuel Baker, George Gunner-
son, 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.
J4 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.1 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
1 The name Goree was until very recently applied to the part of the
town of Bristol in which the negroes lived.
HHfli 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 n 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 lan-
grage. We thus returned shot for shot until i 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. I4°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, re- JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
ceived 12 lashes, in the main rigging, in presence of the
whole crew, as a punishment for stealing a shirt from one
of the Marines.2 John Koster struck of! 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
2 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.
mm o.
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°33r.
43d Day Sunday 29th Nov.
.... Nothing remarkable. . . . Invalids recovering fast.
. . . . Lat. Obs. 7013'.
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—ist 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°S5'. I. J
47th Day Thursday 3d Dec.
At meridian continued in chase of the sail ahead.   J^ past JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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. J^ past 2 p. m.
gave her a gun, upon which the chase showed English colours. 3 p. m. being distant about i1/* 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
iftsri i
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,
yy tons burthen, mounting 4 carriage guns, and navigated
by 10 men, besides 11 African crew, men. She left Sierra
Leone 9 days ago bound to the Leeward on a trading voyage, with an assorted cargo of Bafts,3 gunpowder, muskets,
3 Baft, or bafta, was a coarse stuff of India cotton.
bar-lead & iron, beads, flints and sundries. The Adler appears to be about 4 years old, is copper-bottomed, measures
6J 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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
I 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.* Our invalids recovering fast. They all appeared at quarters except Groff 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
4 The Yankee in firing aimed to disable—not to destroy her possible
ag m
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. 70.
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 J^ 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.5
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 Mon-
serrada 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
5 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. 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.   I       • |f §-
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 brisr standing in shore. . . .
53d Day Wednesday 9th Dec.
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 y* 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 J4 past 2,
being within half cannon shot, we commenced firing our
Long Twelve. %. 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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
I 252
examining our vessel after the action found we had received
one 12 lb 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. 50 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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. j
55th Day Friday nth 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
HMMH 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 13 th 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. 40 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 1120 Lat. Obs.
40 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
61 st 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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 Apol-
lonia. . . . 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 ^4 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 o
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 dry-
goods. 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, In- JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
structions, 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°, 4i' N.
65th Day Monday 21st Dec.
At 7 p. m. passed our prize, gave them three cheers, and
finally took leave of them.6 . . . 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. 4023r.
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°3i' N.
67th Day Wednesday 23d Dec.
.... Nothing remarkable. . . . Lat. Obs. 2°55' N.
68th Day Thursday 24th Dec.
.... Nothing remarkable. . . . Lat. Obs. 2°i8' 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. i°45/ N.   Long. Lunar at 9 a. m. 30 E.
70th Day Saturday 26th Dec.
.... Nothing remarkable.   Lat. Obs. i°25/ N.
6 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. Lieut. Vin-
71st Day Sunday 27th Dec.
. . . . Nothing remarkable.    Lat. Obs. i°2i/ N.    Lunar
Obs. at 10 a. m. 5°2o' E.
72 d 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 2j slaves on board. The
captain and crew, 9 in number, were all black.7 He said
there were no vessels of any kind at St. Thomas' and he
has seen none since he sailed. . . . Lat. Obs. i°7' N.
73d Day Tuesday 29th Dec.
.... Nothing remarkable.   Lat. Obs. 34' N.
son indisposed.
74th Day Wednesday 30th Dec.
.... Surgeon's list.   Lieut. Vinson, Mr. Andrew Holden,
N. A. Slocum, Jas. Holden, John Carter, etc.    None dangerous.9   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 hum-
7 The small size of the vessel suggests the Pinta and the Nina of the
fleet of Columbus.
Mr. Vinson's indisposition was probably due to drunkenness, as
will appear from subsequent entries. His case was an unusual one
for a Privateersman.
9 Query, Were there others suffering from the Vinsonian malady? JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
mocks, which on approaching you find to be the Island of
Anna de Chaves. At ^2 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 oh
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 ist 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 II
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. *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
* 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. JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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 26. Jan.
.... Nothing remarkable. Invalids all recovered. Lat.
Obs. 16' N. fjjl
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 900 at midnight, being on the Line. Lat. Obs.
4' North.
80th Day Tuesday 5 th 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
n 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. Salis-
berry 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.
8ist 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. % I
82d Day Thursday 7th Jan.
.... Nothing remarkable. . . . No observation.
83-d 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. i°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. %. 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
MmH dr
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. Slocun
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—2y years ago.
86th Day Monday nth 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 JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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
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. i°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.
i°53'S. 268
Nothing remarkable.
89th Day Thursday 14th Jan.
. . Lat. Obs. 20 39' S.    No
90th Day Friday 14th Jan.
. . . . Lat. Obs. 3016' 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. 7013' S.
95th Day Wednesday 20th Jan.
.... Nothing remarkable.   Lat. Obs. 7053' S.
96th Day Thursday 21st Jan.
At % 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.
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." j4 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—7056'   South Lat.
13054' West Long.10
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. 7053'. Variation by a correct Amplitude taken while at anchor in
Ascension Roads I5°i2/ 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.
I02d Day Wednesday 27th Jan.
.... Nothing   worthy   of   remark.    Lat. Obs. 7053' S.
Long. Lunar 29°35' W.
10 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. JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE     271
103 d Day Thursday 28th Jan.
.... Lat. Obs. 7°52r 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. ^ 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 Mayport,
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
(Cherubf) 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 7J/2 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 ist 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. hav- JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE     273
ing 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 2^/2 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. I I
109th Day Wednesday 3d Feb.
. . . . Yz after 5 p. m. saw several sails, made all sail in
chace, but soon discovered them to be Jangars, or fishing
boats.   Lat. 7°53r.
11 oth 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°i7' S.
1 nth Day Friday 5th Feb.
, . . . Lat. Obs. 7°29r S. 274
112th Day Saturday 6th Feb.   •
. . . . Lat. Obs. 5°56/.—Long. Lunar 33 ° 50'.
113th Day Sunday 7th Feb.
At j/2 past 5 a. m. the Island of Fernando Noronha—
Yz past 7 saw a sail 2 points under the lee bow. Made all
sail in chace. At J4 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 nth 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, J4 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.
. . . . Yz 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 ^4 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 A casta, 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. . . . JOURNAL OF THE YANKEE
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.11 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.
i°33' S. I
117th Day Thursday nth Feb.
.... Nothing worth noting.   Lat. Obs. 30' S.
11 The island is used by the government of Brazil as a penal settlement.
f 276
.... 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°i6/ N.
120th Day Sunday 14th Feb.
. . . .  [Nothing worth noting.]    Lat. Obs. 6°22'.
121 st Day Monday 15th Feb.
. . . .  [Nothing worth noting.]    Lat. Obs. 8°35'.
i22d Day Tuesday 16th Feb.
. . . .  [Nothing worth noting.]    Lat. Obs. ii°2/.
123 Day Wednesday 17th Feb.
.... Thomas is out of danger.   Lat. Obs. i3°3o' N.
124th Day Thursday 18th Feb.
. . . . Thomas is much better.   Lat. Obs. i5°37' N.
125th Day Friday 19th Feb.
. . . . Distance 203 miles—Lat. Obs. i8°i3/ 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°I4/N.   Long.
Lunar Obs. at 9 a. m. 52°i2' W.
128th Day Monday 22d Feb.
At 6 a. m. discovered a sail one point on the lee bow.—
At 8 discovered the sail to be a brig. . . . At 10 made sail
in chace of the ship . . . distant about 3 leagues. Lat.
Obs. 25°i4'. .     I
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 bur