SEA HISTORY No. 165
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THE ART, LITERATURE, ADVENTURE, LORE & LEARNING OF THE SEA At the Water’s Edge with Sergio Roffo Cast Adrift: Into the Lifeboats Ocean Voyaging Rats!
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2019 Calendar NEW! Tall Ships There are few things on the high seas more dramatic than the great clouds of sail raised by traditional full-rigged ships. This edition of Tall Ships features “America’s Tall Ship” Eagle, the Chilean barquentine Esmeralda, the clipperrigged Morgenster, the new Peruvian barque Union, and many more. Calendar is wall hanging, full color Size 13.75” x 20.6” open.
$15.95 or $14.36 for NMHS members. Add $5.50 media mail s/h within the US.
12 Into the Lifeboats: Abandoning the Packet Ship John Rutledge, by Brian Murphy 150 people were aboard the packet ship John Rutledge when it smashed into an iceberg in February 1856. Many made it into the lifeboats; only one would survive. In this excerpt from Brian Murphy’s new book, Adrift, we join the crew and passengers as they realize they are going to have to abandon ship in the wintery North Atlantic.
18 HM Prison Dartmoor—A Paradox in Devon, England, by William H. White French and American sailors find misery as prisoners of war in the prison ships and later in the granite prison built on Dartmoor. 22 Fleshing Out a Disconcerting History: The Hidden Years of the Ship Katherine Jackson, by Jenifer Dolde A routine inquiry into a 19th-century ship led Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum curator Jenifer Dolde to a painting in the museum’s collections, as well as a buried chapter in that ship’s past.
lewis clarke cc by sa-2.0
24 Off to Fiddler’s Green: Remembering Captain Bert Rogers and Gerry Lenfest, by Michael J. Rauworth and Burchenal Green The maritime world lost two great leaders—and NMHS lost two dear friends—in August. We remember them here, and reflect on their legacies. 26 M arine A rt: At the Water’s Edge, by Charles Raskob Robinson with Sergio Roffo A master of capturing the golden glow at twilight, especially along the littoral zone, awardwinning artist Sergio Roffo strives to convey the elusive essence of nature and the scenes you find along the water’s edge.
32 Historic Ships on a Lee Shore: The 1877 Cargo Schooner Governor Stone, by Shelley Reid, with Amanda Kilbourn Among the casualties wrought by Hurricane Michael along the Florida Panhandle this fall was the historic schooner Governor Stone, a veteran of the Gulf Coast oyster trade. Her stewards are determined to repair and restore her and get her sailing again along the Gulf Coast. 34 Sagas from Smalls Lighthouse, by Dr. Louis Arthur Norton Lighthouses have their admirers, and many fantasize about what a plum job it would be to man a lighthouse—waterfront living at its finest. For those who built and manned the light tower on a rocky ledge miles off the coast of Wales, the experience was anything but idyllic.
friends of the governor stone
Cover: Rounding the Turn, by Sergio Roffo, oil, 20 x 33.25 inches (See pages 26–30.)
DEPARTMENTS 4 Deck Log and Letters 8 NMHS: A Cause in Motion 38 Sea History for Kids 42 Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
47 Calendar 48 Maritime History on the Internet 49 Reviews 56 Patrons
Sea History and the National Maritime Historical Society Sea History e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; NMHS e-mail: email@example.com; Website: www.seahistory.org. Ph: 914 737-7878; 800 221-NMHS MEMBERSHIP is invited. Afterguard $10,000; Benefactor $5,000; Plankowner $2,500; Sponsor $1,000; Donor $500; Patron $250; Friend $100; Contributor
$75; Family $50; Regular $35. All members outside the USA please add $10 for postage. Sea History is sent to all members. Individual copies cost $4.95.
32 SEA HISTORY (issn 0146-9312) is published quarterly by the National Maritime Historical Society, 5 John Walsh Blvd., POB 68, Peekskill NY 10566 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Peekskill NY 10566 and add’l mailing offices. COPYRIGHT © 2018 by the National Maritime Historical Society. Tel: 914 737-7878. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sea History, PO Box 68, Peekskill NY 10566.
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Deck Log “Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal” – How About 200?! We are into the second year of the bicentennial celebrations of the Erie Canal, and you’re invited!
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igging for the ambitious project began in the summer of 1817, and the Erie Canal officially opened to vessel traffic eight years later, in 1825. Timber, minerals, and raw materials from the hinterland were floated along this route to the coast, while passengers and commercial goods were carried westward along the canal, opening up the Midwest and sprouting new towns and cities along its path. Within fifteen years of its opening, the canal transformed New York into the busiest port in America, moving tonnages greater than Boston, Baltimore, and New Orleans combined. With more than 500 continuous miles of navigable waters, 34 National Historic Landmarks, 24 state parks, and more than 800 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, this is a great time to plan your canal adventure. Maritime enthusiast that you are, when was the last time you took a canal boat ride, or stopped to watch how the locks worked on an American canal? You might have been sailing, reading history, visiting maritime museums, following historic ship restorations, or taking trips on boats and ships out in every kind of weather. But have you kayaked any of the canal’s thousand miles of navigable waters, chatted with lock tenders and harbor masters, explored century-old lift bridges and quaint canal communities, or biked along the Canalway Trail as it stretches from one end of the state to the other? library of congress “Clinton’s Ditch,” derisively nicknamed for the governor who undertook this wild project, originally ran 363 miles along a route dug forty feet wide and to a depth of four feet and included 83 locks. Considered a technological wonder in its time, the canal allowed boats to move from sea level at Troy, New York, to elevations as high as 565 feet above sea level at the Niagara River, making the Great Lakes and the frontier beyond accessible like never before. Since 1835, the Erie Canal has been expanded to handle larger barges and vessels. With branches along the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca waterways, the New York State Barge Canal System has grown to incorporate 524 miles of continuous navigable waters. I was fortunate to attend the New York State Canal Conference last month in Staten Island, New York, where the theme was “One Water” in recognition of the interconnectedness of New York’s canal communities and New York Harbor. We were reminded that one can still travel by boat from Buffalo to Albany, down the Hudson River, and out to sea and beyond. Here is your ticket to adventure! We have compiled maps, sample itineraries, historic resources, and more on our website at www.seahistory.org/eriecanal for you to use to start your journey. Low bridge, everybody down Low bridge for we’re coming to a town And you’ll always know your neighbor And you’ll always know your pal If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal —Burchenal Green, President 4
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY PUBLISHER’S CIRCLE: Peter Aron, Guy E. C. Maitland, Ronald L. Oswald OFFICERS & TRUSTEES: Chairman, Ronald L. Oswald; Vice Chairman, Richardo R. Lopes; President, Burchenal Green; Vice Presidents: Deirdre O’Regan, Wendy Paggiotta, Nancy Schnaars; Treasurer, Howard Slotnick; Secretary, Jean Wort; Trustees: Charles B. Anderson; Walter R. Brown; Christopher J. Culver; William S. Dudley; David S. Fowler; William Jackson Green; Karen Helmerson; Richard M. Larrabee; Guy E. C. Maitland; Capt. Brian McAllister; CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.); Michael W. Morrow; CAPT James A. Noone, USN (Ret.); Richard Patrick O’Leary; Erik K. Olstein; ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.); Timothy J. Runyan; Richard Scarano; Philip J. Shapiro; Capt. Cesare Sorio; William H. White; TrusteeElect, Denise Krepp; Chairmen Emeriti: Walter R. Brown, Alan G. Choate, Guy E. C. Maitland, Howard Slotnick FOUNDER: Karl Kortum (1917–1996) PRESIDENT EMERITUS: Peter Stanford (1927–2016) OVERSEERS: Chairman, RADM David C. Brown, USMS (Ret.); RADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.); George W. Carmany III; James J. Coleman Jr.; Clive Cussler; Richard du Moulin; Alan D. Hutchison; Gary Jobson; Sir Robin Knox-Johnston; John Lehman; Capt. James J. McNamara; H. C. Bowen Smith; John Stobart; Philip J. Webster; Roberta Weisbrod NMHS ADVISORS: George Bass, Francis Duffy, John Ewald, Timothy Foote, Steven A. Hyman, J. Russell Jinishian, Gunnar Lundeberg, Conrad Milster, William G. Muller, Stuart Parnes, Nancy Hughes Richardson, Joyce Huber SEA HISTORY EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Chairman, Timothy Runyan; Norman Brouwer, Robert Browning, William Dudley, Daniel Finamore, Kevin Foster, John Jensen, Joseph Meany, Carla Rahn Phillips, Walter Rybka, Quentin Snediker, William H. White NMHS STAFF: Executive Director, Burchenal Green; Membership Director, Nancy Schnaars; Membership Coordinator, Jean Marie Trick; Marketing Director, Steve Lovass-Nagy; Comptroller, Anjoeline Osuyah; Staff Writer, Shelley Reid; Director of Development, Jessica MacFarlane; Membership Assistant, Irene Eisenfeld SEA HISTORY: Editor, Deirdre O’Regan; Advertising, Wendy Paggiotta Sea History is printed by The Lane Press, South Burlington, Vermont, USA.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
courtesy tall ship providence
The 1976 replica Providence. American Navy’s first ship in Canada, and wanted to build her in the United States instead. At that time (no longer true now), building wooden vessels in Canada was one-eighth the price of building them in the States, so I told the board that they would have to be prepared to raise a lot more money. As part of that fundraising effort, I asked John Stobart’s manager if we could talk him into creating a painting of Providence. “You can’t afford him,” was the reply, “but we can recommend an unknown artist who can do a good job for you—John Mecray.” John came up to Newport to talk to me, made a beautiful painting showing the sloop boldly escaping from a British frigate, and found someone else to pay for the painting. He also had large prints and postcards made of the painting that could be offered for sale. It was at that point that John decided to move to Newport.
firstname.lastname@example.org or Editor, Sea History, 7 Timberknoll Rd., Pocasset, MA 02559
The sloop Providence was built in Newport and was launched in 1976. For years she was a popular sight sailing along the East Coast, but chiefly in Rhode Island waters. She has now been purchased by a group in Alexandria, Virginia, and she is expected to be open to the public there next year. Rose, after a sixteen-year sail training success under Captain Richard Bailey, was sold to Fox Pictures, which used her to star as HMS Surprise in the Hollywood movie Master and Commander, starring Russell Crowe. She is now part of the fleet of historic and replica ships owned by the Maritime Museum of San Diego in California. John Fitzhugh Millar Williamsburg, Virginia
about a Great White attack on Cape Cod that killed a young man on a boogie board. Another swimmer was attacked and seriously injured earlier in the summer at a beach not far from where the fatality occurred. Ms. McCauley’s article, “Sharkish Seas,” shows us that we have long grappled with how we view, interact and—in modern parlance—manage sharks in their natural environment. Humans, of course, are the invasive species, if you will. Sharks are indeed magnificent and impressive creatures. Whalemen knew it. We know it. We just do not know what to do about it when we want to share the same space. The most obvious solution to the human-shark interaction problem would be to stay out of the water, but we all know that is not a valid option. Killing them in great numbers so that we can enjoy frolicking at the beach is not a reasonable or mature response either. I will leave it to conservationists and others to figure out a solution. Until then, thank you for the reminder that when we think history is “all in the past,” we see these stories having relevance today and every day. Jonathan Watts Yarmouth, Massachusetts
Shark! Not long after I received my copy of Sea History in the mail, I read in my local paper (and subsequently in all the national news)
From NMHS Trustee Capt. Cesare Sorio: While reading Emma McCauley’s article about sharks, I found a remarkable coincidence told in a non-fiction book I recently
John Mecray & the Sloop Providence I loved seeing the pictures and reading about my late friend John Mecray in the last issue of Sea History. There was one part of his story that was omitted: Why did he move to Newport, Rhode Island? In 1969–70, as part of the USA’s bicentennial celebrations, I built in Nova Scotia a full-size copy of the British frigate Rose, whose anti-rum trade activities were the direct cause of Rhode Island getting Congress to found the Continental Navy on 13 October 1775. I also wanted to build a copy of the 12-gun sloop Providence, the first ship authorized by Congress for the Navy. My board of directors—mostly retired naval officers—balked at building the
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John Mecray’s painting of the Sloop Providence (image of a postcard)
Join Us for a Voyage into History Our seafaring heritage comes alive in the pages of Sea History, from the ancient mariners of Greece to Portuguese navigators opening up the ocean world to the heroic efforts of sailors in modern-day conflicts. Each issue brings new insights and discoveries. If you love the sea, rivers, lakes, and
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SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 5
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OWNER’S STATEMENT: Statement filed 9/20/18 required by the Act of Aug. 12, 1970, Sec. 3685, Title 39, US Code: Sea History is published quarterly at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566; minimum subscription price is $17.50. Publisher and editor-inchief: None; Editor is Deirdre E. O’Regan; owner is National Maritime Historical Society, a non-profit corporation; all are located at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566. During the 12 months preceding October 2018 the average number of (A) copies printed each issue was 25,287; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside county mail subscriptions 7,467; (2) in-county subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other non-USPS paid distribution 5,465; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 354; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 13,286; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 10,987; (E) free distribution outside the mails 438; (F) total free distribution was 11,425; (G) total distribution 24,711; (H) copies not distributed 576; (I) total [of 15G and H] 25,287; (J) Percentage paid and/ or requested circulation 54%. The actual numbers for the single issue preceding October 2017 are: (A) total number printed 25,747; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside-county mail subscriptions 7,330; (2) in-county subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other non-USPS paid distribution 5,155; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 402; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 12,887; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 11,865; (E) free distribution outside the mails 350; (F) total free distribution was 12,215; (G) total distribution 25,102; (H) copies not distributed 645; (I) total [of 15G and H] 25,747 (J) Percentage paid and/or requested circulation 51%. I certify that the above statements are correct and complete. (signed) Burchenal Green, Executive Director, National Maritime Historical Society.
read that Sea History readers might want to check out. Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo is about a series of shark attacks that occurred at the New Jersey shore in the summer of 1916 that garnered much attention (and panic) at the time. The book came out in 2001, so readers may be able to find it in their local libraries, and of course, online. (isbn 978-0-76790-414-8) Milkweed for the WWII Sailor Having spent many years aboard ships that were equipped with kapok life jackets, I rather enjoyed the “kids” article on PFDs (personal flotation devices) in the autumn issue of Sea History. During WWII, our mariners were in a bit of a crisis with regards to this subject. Our supply of kapok had been cut off, as Java was a main grower of the ceiba tree from which kapok floss was harvested. The US Navy and Merchant Marine began to look for home-grown substitutes. Milkweed floss was suggested, as it was both water resistant and buoyant, and conveniently grew wild in the United States. After some experimentation, the Navy determined that just over a pound of the hollow waxy fiber could keep a man afloat for 40 hours, depending on the size of the man. Cultivating a commercial crop would take too much time, so defense contractor War Hemp Industries enlisted the help of everyday citizens, including thousands of schoolchildren, to scour the roadsides, fields, and rails and collect the milkweed pods that grew like weeds in those areas. Pamphlets (with instructions) were distributed by the Soil Conservation Service (US Dept. of Agriculture) that urged, “School Children of America! Help Save your Father’s, Brothers’ and Neighbors’ Lives by Collecting Milkweed Pods!” Two bushels of about 600 pods each would make one life vest. During the war, more than a million life vests were made from milkweed pods collected as part of this effort. Frank Conti Normal, Illinois
courtesy westby times, p.d.
J. P. URANKER WOODCARVER
THE TRADITION OF HANDCARVED EAGLES CONTINUES TODAY
milne special collections and archives dept., university of new hampshire library
Kids showing off the fruits of their labor. The child at right is wearing a milkweed-stuffed life jacket. SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
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A CAUSE IN MOTION National Maritime Historical Society 2018 Annual Awards Dinner New York Yacht Club • New York City • 25 October 2018 Annual Awards Dinner at the fabled New York Yacht Club to celebrate the accomplishments of three most esteemed recipients. Dinner chairman George Carmany III was the perfect host and expressed his gratitude to the sold-out crowd and to the event’s many sponsors, particularly to this year’s Fleet Sponsor, our own chairman emeritus, Howard Slotnick. Dinner vice-chairman Christopher J. Culver, rear commodore of the New York Yacht Club, welcomed us to the fabulous Model Room with its 1,300 ship models, and the Club’s long and spectacular role in the history of yachting and racing. He noted that the New York Yacht Club and the National Maritime Historical Society are mutually aligned in our mission to preserve our maritime history and its heritage and all our collective traditions. Chris Culver handed the mic over to the always-charismatic Gary Jobson, who played us a short video that showed just what is involved in yacht racing in the 21st century and how the NYYC’s role perpetuates the traditions and excellence of the sport.
photos by allison lucas, courtesy nmhs
What a night! What an amazing gala of camaraderie and laughter as the maritime heritage community gathered together at our
At the dinner, we also recognized two exceptional colleagues in the maritime field who had recently retired. (above) The ever gracious NMHS chairman emeritus Howard Slotnick presented our gift to Maureen Hennessey for her decades of service with Mystic Seaport, and for her unofficial role as our liaison at the museum. (photo at left) Noble Maritime Collection chairman Steve Kalil presented a gift of our esteem to Erin Urban (2nd from left), the museum’s founding executive director. With them are Ciro Galeno Jr. (far left), who has taken the reins from Erin as executive director, and me, Burchenal Green, NMHS president. Dr. Raymond E. Ashley, president and CEO of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, presented Dr. Timothy J. Runyan with the NMHS David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award in recognition of his vision and unwavering dedication as a professor and mentor, for his successful advocacy efforts to obtain federal funding for maritime heritage projects and organizations across the country, and for his leadership as chairman of the National Maritime Alliance, which organizes with rotating host organizations the triennial Maritime Heritage Conferences. As an NMHS trustee, Tim Runyan serves as chairman of the NMHS Advocacy Committee, is chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for Sea History, and has served as co-chair of the annual National Maritime Awards Dinner in Washington, contributing to a more vital, creative, and influential Society. Ray Ashley pointed out that his museum has benefited from five National Maritime Heritage grants, which allowed it to undertake ambitious restoration projects on a number of the historic vessels in his museum fleet, as well as develop distance-learning projects Ray Ashley (right) and Joanne O’Neil present Tim surrounding the voyages of the Runyan with the NMHS David A. O’Neil Sheet th 16 -century Spanish galleon. Anchor Award. None of these projects, Ashley explained, would have been possible without these critical funds, made possible through the tireless efforts of Tim Runyan. Ashley spoke of Runyan’s work as an author, historian, mentor, and teacher. From his efforts as a founder of the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to his service as acting manager of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, Office of National Maritime Sanctuaries, Dr. Runyan’s work in the maritime heritage field is broad and varied. Of Dr. Runyan’s career in academia, Ashley praised his work as director of the Maritime Studies Program at Guests light up the room in support of the evening’s auction benefitting the NMHS Maritime Library and Archives Collection, a matching Maritime Heritage Grant project. 8
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
East Carolina University and his work in maritime archaeology. He welcomed the many students who had come to fête their old professor. Dr. Runyan replied that his drive to preserve our maritime heritage is a worthy cause, but that you have to be willing to work at it to be successful—“it doesn’t just happen.” Chris Culver made his way back to the podium to present the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Maritime Education to the Sea Education Association (SEA), based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. SEA president Captain Peg Brandon accepted the award given in recognition of SEA’s leadership as a field-based environmental education-at-sea program, having taught more than 8,000 students from more than 300 colleges maritime policy, history and literature, ship navigation, marine science, and oceanography. Culver stated that the key to the organization’s importance is that its work takes place on the water and aboard ships. He marveled at the fact that their ships have sailed over a million nautical miles with students and scientists onboard. He praised Captain Brandon for her passion as a marine educator and her personal success (l-r) Richardo Lopes, Richard T. du Moulin, George Carmany, at the helm of this effective and important educational organization. Christopher J. Culver, and Ronald L. Oswald. In her remarks, Brandon noted that SEA has been taking students to sea for 47 years and that a participant in the organization’s first voyage back in 1971 was in the room—none other than Dr. Ray Ashley, who sailed aboard schooner Westward for SEA’s inaugural program at sea. While we were enjoying the gala in New York, SEA’s students were engaged in educational pursuits across the globe, from the South Pacific to the Atlantic off Bermuda aboard the program’s two sailing research vessels, and back in Massachusetts at their shore-based campus in Woods Hole preparing for their next voyage. The oceans, she explained, are in critical need of our attention—now more than ever—and that our young people are showing that they are ready for the challenge. George W. Carmany III presented the NMHS Distinguished Service Award to VADM Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.), to recognize his inspirational leadership of the US Naval Institute, and for broadening the outreach of the Institute’s Proceedings magazine, advancing the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense. Carmany stated that the Institute’s website gets one million visits a month(!), and that under Admiral Daly’s leadership, it has Capt. Peg Brandon accepts the Walter Cronkite never been better and demonstrates Award for Excellence in Maritime Education on its value beyond naval matters. He behalf of the Sea Education Association from the extended the congratulations of Awards Dinner Vice Chairman Chris Culver. General Peter Pace, 16th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Admiral Daly as a recipient of the award that he richly deserves. Admiral Daly spoke of three things that bind the US Naval Institute and NMHS—a shared passion of the sea and what it takes to go to sea, shared goals to inform on maritime issues, and a shared mission to preserve our maritime history. The US Naval Institute stands for its open forum, he stated, and we must preserve history and learn from it at a time when appreciation for history, especially military history, is low. In his concluding remarks, Daly shared that Winston Churchill once said, “‘Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.’ We are a VADM Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.) receives maritime nation and we need organizations like NMHS and the US Naval Institute to the NMHS Distinguished Service Award from continue to keep the flame alive and never let it go out.” Dinner Chairman George Carmany III. Ronald L. Oswald, Chairman of the NMHS Board of Trustees, shared with guests all the many new projects that the Society has been working on. Richard T. du Moulin, award-winning yachtsman, was our everentertaining and unflappable master of ceremonies. NMHS Vice Chairman Richardo Lopes and his sons Alessandro and Christian Lopes awed the audience again this year with their video mini-documentaries introducing the honorees. At the end of the night, the talented US Coast Guard Academy Cadet Chorale, led by Dr. Robert G. Newton, serenaded revelers with nautical and patriotic tunes, capping off an evening that was both inspirational and fun for all. —Burchenal Green, President SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 9
NMHS Legacy Society If you believe we can learn from the past ... Create a legacy to shape the future. In September we received some welcome news: a long-time supporter of the Society notified us that she had designated the National Maritime Historical Society as a beneficiary in her will, allocating a substantial sum from a retirement account. We were immensely grateful for her generosity, and we asked what had prompted her thoughtful, far-sighted gift to support our mission. While she agreed to speak with us about what had influenced her decision and the outcomes she hoped her gift would achieve, she asked to remain anonymous, instead shifting the focus on inspiring others to follow her example by making their own special gift. Her love of the sea and its history had developed over time through her work with the Navy and her marriage to a man with a great interest in all things maritime. She and her husband are both active supporters of the Society and share a passion about its role in promoting our common maritime heritage. “All history is maritime history,” she said. “Water is omnipresent. It’s what connects us. And yet the emphasis on teaching history in today’s education system is dwindling—robbing the next generation of the precious commodity of hindsight. What NMHS is doing is keeping history alive.”
The NMHS Legacy Society—Making Your Mark Making a bequest or other legacy gift to the National Maritime Historical Society is a deeply personal and effective way to support our work. Legacy gifts make a substantial difference in our ability to promote our common maritime heritage and the role seafaring has played in shaping civilization. There are several different ways in which you can make a gift to NMHS; we encourage you to consult your legal or financial advisor to determine which of these ways of giving would work best for you. A gift in your will or living trust is one of the most effective ways to provide for the Society’s future, and allows you to retain your assets during your lifetime. The gift may be included in your will when it is written, or it may be added through a simple codicil or amendment. You may wish to leave NMHS a stated dollar amount, a percentage of your residual estate (what remains after debts,
taxes and specific bequests have been made), or a specific asset, such as securities or other marketable property. In addition, your estate may benefit from a charitable estate tax deduction. Naming the National Maritime Historical Society on a portion of a retirement or life insurance policy is a simple way to provide for NMHS’s future without writing or re-writing your will or living trust. These assets will pass directly to NMHS without going through the probate process. Please speak with your retirement plan administrator or institution for the appropriate documents. We are happy to assist you as you consider a gift to NMHS. For more information, please visit www. seahistory.org/plannedgiving or contact our Director of Development, Jessica MacFarlane, by phone at (914) 7377878 ext. 227 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you already made a planned gift? We hope you will notify us when you have included us in your future planning so that we may thank you and welcome you as a new member of our NMHS Legacy Society. The Legacy Society honors those special supporters who have provided for our future by including NMHS in their estate plans or by establishing a charitable gift annuity. Legacy Society members, if they so choose, are listed in Sea History magazine and serve as an inspiration to others. We thank you for your support! 10
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
News & Events
Diamond Jubilee by Robert Semler.
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Into the Lifeboats— Abandoning the Packet Ship John Rutledge
by Brian Murphy
ust after midnight on 20 February 1856, the first mate of the packet ship John Rutledge began scratching out quick log entries.
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It had been a punishing crossing from Liverpool. Storm after storm had pounded the Rutledge since it left the protection of the Irish coast for the open Atlantic. For days at a time, the hatches to the steerage compartments were shut. More than 120 emigrants—mostly Irish—were shut into a hellish twilight of swaying whale oil lamps, the sour stench of vomit, and the taut grip of fear. “4, morning, the same,” wrote the first mate, Samuel Atkinson, whose papers listed him as hailing from Philadelphia, but whose personal history was his own secret, as it was with many seamen sailing in the Atlantic packets. The John Rutledge, bound for New York, was now caught in the vise of the North Atlantic’s “Iceberg Alley,” the dangerous corridor off Newfoundland for bergs and US Mail Steamship Pacific, winner of the Blue Riband in 1850, engaged in a rescue at sea other ice floes carried south from Green- in 1852. The 281-foot steamship and her ship’s company in its entirety were lost at sea early land’s glaciers. Many veteran mariners were in 1856 somewhere between Liverpool and New York. saying that what they encountered in early 1856 was the worst ice they had seen in generations, with towerStories of sea tragedies and heroic rescues were a staple of ing icebergs and smaller, but still fearsome, fragments known mid-19th century New England culture. Rarely, however, did curiously as growlers. both intertwine with such drama as during that winter in the North Atlantic sea lanes. In the span of eight weeks in 1856, four well-known vessels were lost at sea—the Rutledge, the “8, steady breeze, and the ship making more headway. steamship Pacific, and two clipper ships, the Driver and the Passed some very large ice-bergs. At 9, the I ….” Ocean Queen. All told, more than 830 souls were lost before The ship’s log ends there. Atkinson never wrote another word. March was out. Among the dead that year were two Cape Cod captains. Asa Eldridge of Yarmouth Port went down with SS Pacific. The veteran sea captain had achieved celebrity status at the helm of the steampowered yacht North Star, belonging to tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, on a European cruise for Vanderbilt and his guests in 1853. The next year, Eldridge broke a transAtlantic speed record in command of the clipper ship Red Jacket. Alexander Kelley (sometimes mistakenly spelled Kelly) of the John Rutledge was on his first run in command of the ship on its return trip from Europe.
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“Midnight, light winds and the ship making very little headway through ice.”
“The Departure” — Immigrants wave farewell to crowds on dock. Published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Jan. 1856. SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
Of the passengers and crew who went into the Rutledge’s lifeboats, only a young deckhand, Thomas W. Nye, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, survived. I first came across the story of Thomas Nye and the John Rutledge at a shipwreck exhibit in Centerville on Cape Cod, the hometown of the ship’s captain, Kelley. I soon learned that there was a much larger story to tell about those tragic months in 1856, and the questions about the 22-year-old Nye only grew the more I learned. The Nye family was among the gentry in the seafaring pecking order of New Bedford and Fairhaven at the time. A fleet of whaling ships flew under the blue Nye flag. Nyes were merchant captains, diplomatic envoys in China, abolitionists, and industrial innovators, including a lubricant factory that still operates in Fairhaven. The family traces its roots back to seventeenthcentury Sandwich on Cape Cod with its own glorious lore, including the renowned Capt. Ezra Nye, who was presented with a gold chronometer by Queen Victoria for helping save the crew of a foundering British barque, the Jessie Stephens, in 1852. Generations of the Cape Cod Nyes would also remember the lucky whaleman Peleg Nye, who was snatched in the mouth of a harpooned sperm whale and lived to tell the tale, earning him the nickname “the Jonah of Cape Cod.” What was Nye doing as a common seaman on a packet ship in the first place? With his maritime pedigree, he could have had the pick of any cushy shipboard job. For reasons he kept to himself, Thomas Nye signed onboard the John Rutledge out of New York for one of its regular round-trip runs to Liverpool. The sail to England was fast—a 21-day run with favorable winds. By midJanuary, however, word began to reach Liverpool from arriving ships of intense ice in the shipping lanes about 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland. Captain Kelley kept to the schedule. On 16 January the Rutledge headed down the Mersey toward open sea with 150 souls aboard: twenty-six crew, 123 passengers in steerage, and one cabin passenger, a merchant from Philadelphia. The only apparent concession to the risks they faced was Kelley’s appeal to his wife, the former Irene Snow of Falmouth, Massachusetts, to remain behind in Liverpool. The Rutledge was scheduled to return in May, and she could then join her husband and sail back to New York in more pleasant, and presumably safer, weather. More than a month later, on 19 February, the John Rutledge entered heavy fog in the treacherous part of the North Atlantic where the relatively warmer Gulf Stream bumps up against the frigid Labrador Current. Kelley and his crew found the ice thick and menacing—just as had been described in the reports that reached Liverpool before the Rutledge put to sea. The next day, sometime around 9am, an iceberg gouged a huge hole in the packet ship’s bow, just under the waterline. Within hours, it was clear the ship was doomed. Kelley issued the order to abandon ship. All five of the ship’s lifeboats made it off. Nye and twelve others—two crew, the wife of the first mate, and nine steerage passengers, including three children—were the last to cast off, leaving about thirty others, including Atkinson, on the deck to perish. The captain had already departed with a handful of others in boat No. 4.
The lifeboats were soon separated in the fog. Nye’s boat had a gallon of water, about six pounds of hardtack, and a bottle of brandy that the captain had handed to Nye at the last moment. The provisions did not last long. Waves washed into the open boat. Sleet beat down. Then it grew even more ugly. Nye later described being on a lifeboat with “lunatics.” Thirst had driven several of them to drink seawater, and soon began taking its awful toll: delusions, anger, violent mood swings, plus gastrointestinal distress. One man turned on his wife, ripping out her hair in clumps. A crewmember bit into the arm of the wife of the first mate. Some already were dead. The rest would soon follow. Nye knew enough not to drink the water, even as unbearable thirst took hold. The decision likely saved his life. After nine days adrift, he was the only one still alive on Lifeboat No. 5. Four frozen bodies were strewn around him as he was too weak to toss them overboard. Then, Nye saw a smudge on the horizon. It grew larger and began to take shape. Could it be a ship? Nye signaled as best he could, praying the makeshift flags— shirts taken from the dead—would be seen. Someone aboard the Germania, an American packet sailing from France, cried out. Lifeboat spotted, possible survivor. At first, the Germania’s first mate, Charles Hervey Townsend of Connecticut, thought it must be a corpse jostled with the waves. Nye waved weakly. Townsend waved back. Perhaps even more astonishing was that the Germania was there at all. She may have been the last vessel at those latitudes at the time. Most shipping lines, aware of the ice reports, had shifted to a more southerly crossing. “Saw a boat with a man in to windward,” wrote Townsend in his log. Hove ship to. Myself and four men went to his relief. Found him to be one of the boys of the ship John Rutledge bound from Liverpool to New York, which was lost in an immense field of ice… He being the only survivor of 13 souls, having buried with his own hands 8, there being four others having died in the boat. 2 men + 2 women (consigned the dead to the deep). Lat. 44.11, Long. 47.34 Only careful medical attention by the captain’s wife, Sarah Wood of New Bedford, saved Nye’s feet from gangrene and possible amputation. In the end, Nye lost only two toes. “Appalling Catastrophe at Sea,” read the headline in the New York Herald after the Germania reached port on 24 March, and Nye’s story was told far and wide. In 1903, then just a few years shy of 70, Nye recalled to a reporter how he felt a sense of preternatural calm that Leap Day morning on 29 February 1856, just before he saw the Germania. The calm, he believed, was his acceptance of death. “I felt as though the voyage was done,” he said. “Just before noon I sighted a ship advancing from the leeward. I saw her mainsails hove up and the jibs lowered, and then I knew that I was seen and that my deliverance was at hand.” Once the Germania set him on terra firma, he never went back to sea.
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Chapter Eleven from
Adrift: A True Story of Tragedy on the Icy Atlantic and the One Who Lived to Tell About It by Brian Murphy with Toula Vlahou
February 20, 1856; Morning; The Sinking First mate Atkinson ordered two sailors to the pumps. They had anticipated the order and were already moving toward the pump station aft. They muscled through the passengers, who fanned across the deck despite the crew’s efforts to keep them in a group. A deck full of passengers was just what Captain Kelley did not need. Speed was now the only thing that mattered in checking the damage and determining whether anything could be done. Frightened passengers milling around only slowed down the works. Some men grabbed crewmen by the sleeve. Are we sinking, man? Why is the ship tilting? Families started to pray. They pushed their heads close together and murmured, sending up wisps of warm-breath steam that were instantly lost in the fog and winds that swirled in along the Gulf Stream. The sailors cranked the pump’s big flywheels and checked the soundings, which gauged the level of bilge water and—if the readings were off the charts—signaled that water was rising into the cargo holds. They checked the levels twice just to be sure. Then they pushed back through the passengers to reach Atkinson, who was up at the bow trying to get a better look at the fissure in the hull. Sir, it’s not good, one crew member told Atkinson. We’re filling fast. Fearfully fast. Atkinson didn’t say a word. He ran down the deck, pointing at whatever seamen he spotted. Follow me, he shouted. At the same time, more people emerged from the shadows of steerage, blinking at the paleness of it all. The ice, the fog, and the sea all seemed the color of watery porridge. Panic fed panic. Passengers crowded around the winches holding the ship’s five lifeboats. The simplest of craft, each lifeboat was about twenty-five feet long and without any kind of cabin or nook for shelter. If the order was given to abandon ship, these little tubs were passengers’ only hope. It made the most sense to be near them. It was sure to be madhouse if the ship was going down, and they strived to stake out a spot. There were about 120 people in steerage. At least two dozen crew. That was about thirty people per lifeboat. Could the boats handle that number? No matter, one passenger said wryly. They would have to. The bow had slipped another degree or two toward the sea. The tilt was noticeable now. A cry arose. For God’s sake, launch the boats before it’s too late! Save us! Why are you waiting? Captain Kelley expected this. He moved to center deck and signaled the passengers to assemble as best they could. The fog allowed him to see the faces of only the closest. The rest were gray outlines. He called for quiet. For those who don’t know, I’m Captain Alexander Kelley. Now listen well. The first thing here is to remain calm. Yes, we have hit ice, Kelley told them truthfully. We just don’t know any 14
more than that right now, he lied. Please, Kelley continued, let us do our work. We need to get the pumps going. We must inspect the damage. So you are saying there is damage? A passenger chimed in. Kelley took a breath and carefully weighed his words. What I mean to say is that we are looking at whether the ice did damage. Like I said before, there is no reason for alarm. Let us do our work and I will tell you what we learn very soon. He headed off, leaving the passengers to chew on his words. What they couldn’t know was that his speech was designed to buy time. Kelley and crew were well aware that they could do nothing if the passengers ran amok. Mob psychology could shift in a blink. Right now, deference to the captain’s authority still held. For how long he knew not. If they made a run for the lifeboats, there was not much to be done to stop them. An idea struck Kelley. The crew would certainly need extra hands to deal with the damage if he could keep the ship afloat. This was the time to bring the passengers into the effort, a timetested way to calm the mood even if it meant showing them the extent of the damage. Anyway, Kelley thought, they would know soon enough. He returned to the spot on deck where he had addressed the crowd just minutes before. The passengers—at least those who could see Kelley through the fog—immediately gathered again. I have a request, Kelley shouted. We need men. They will help the crew and allow us to more quickly determine what— if anything—we need to do. Kelley looked toward the men closest to him, trying to pick the ones who looked the strongest but also still had their heads. How about you? Or you? I need you to help the crew. It’s important—very important— that you follow their orders. Move lively now. Kelley quickly set up teams. A few seamen were put in charge of a larger cohort of passengers. One group was told to head down into the hold. Haul up anything you can carry. We need to cast off extra weight. But mostly we have to clear a path to get to the broken timbers. It’s our best chance, Kelley urged. Go smartly. Every minute is precious. Two other groups—twelve men each, passengers and crew—were assigned to man the twin pumps in shifts. Don’t stop, the first mate told them, until you hear from me or the captain. Understood? The passengers nodded. The angle of the deck shifted further. The bow was riding lower now. Some of the lucky passengers had heavy winter coats, long wool frock coats bought with a mind toward cutting a respectable figure in America. But many others who had saved every penny to book a ticket aboard the Rutledge had little more than a town coat and thin scarf. [Passenger] William Henderson buttoned his jacket high against his neck. He was on the pumps. It was an obvious choice. He had the muscles from working the rail lines. [His wife,] Margaret and [sister] Elizabeth took the SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
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children toward the stern, which was crowding with others. It was pure danger-driven instinct—move to the highest point on a sinking ship—even if it meant being farther from the lifeboats. Margaret held tight to her youngest, five-year-old James, pulling his face into her waist. Elizabeth held her one-year-old Eliza in her arms. The older Henderson children, led by sixteen-year-old Robert, huddled together off to the side. Robert tried to convince his two younger sisters that this would all be a great adventure story to tell someday. You’ll see, he said, trying to keep his voice from betraying his worry. We’ll be fine. Nearby, [steerage passenger] Jane Black gripped little Betty’s hand. She didn’t want the girl to wander off in search of [her brother] Samuel, who had joined a group of young men that pressed closer to one of the lifeboats. The first group on the pumps got to work. They threw themselves at the brass handles, which cranked a pulley system that drew up seawater from the lowest point in the hull. It was hard enough to stay ahead of normal leaks and the unavoidable seepage, known as the weep, that came through worn-out caulking and hairline gaps between planks. They could do nothing against the torrent pouring into the ship’s gaping wound. No one yet had a full picture of the damage. The first mate Atkinson was only sure it was bad. He still held out hope to somehow keep the ship afloat and make a run for any port in Newfoundland, at least four hundred miles away. He grabbed a lantern and went below, passing the steerage level and moving down into the cargo bowels. The in-rushing seawater lapped over his ankles. It was so cold it made his breath ragged. Keep moving, he told himself. There is not much time. Wriggling like a cave explorer, he finally worked his way through the rope-lashed crates and reached the crushed section of the hull. He carried a lamp in one hand and a whistle in the other to signal for help if the crates came loose and pinned him down. Peering between piles of boxes and sacks, he came face to face with the devastation the iceberg had carved. A long gash at the water line smashed through all seven inches of copper-sheathed Southern yellow pine of Rutledge’s hull. The icy water—a lifesapping 40 degrees or colder—swirled around stores of English iron and crates of crockery. He didn’t spend too much time looking over the damage. It was clear they had to work fast if there was any chance left to save the ship. Atkinson hurried back to the others waiting by the companionway and then back to the deck. I cannot lie. This is critical, men, said Atkinson to his team of crewmates. A knot of scared passengers could not take their eyes off Atkinson’s soaked trousers. Quickly, form a line. Like firemen. We need to clear the hold. We are carrying too much weight, and we need to raise the ship’s waterline above the damage and get at that broken hull. Within minutes, boxes of crock ware, sacks of salt, coils of rope—anything they could grab—were passed along and heaved overboard. Some cargo sank with a deep gulping sound. The current snatched away other boxes and they disappeared into the chilled fog. Those on deck couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be the same on a lifeboat—at the
Artist rendering of the John Rutledge underway in the ice fields of the North Atlantic, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 1856. mercy of the currents and enveloped in a white shroud. The water was near shin level in the cargo area by the time it was cleared enough to show the full extent of the buckled timbers. The men were dangerously close to hypothermia from standing in the North Atlantic churn mixed with the foul-smelling bilge water. Legs turned numb, words started to slur. Bring the carpenter below, came a cry. A journeyman sailor from Gloucester named Alexander Hobbs clomped down the ten steps from steerage into the cargo level. Hell, he growled as he took the last steps and plunked into the rising water. With his hammer and tool box, he splashed ahead toward the bow, knocking aside the flotsam of rope and wood—and the occasional rat swimming for its life. The only natural light came from the open hatches. As he moved deeper, that light faded. His lantern cast a milky wash. The burlap sacks atop the cargo smelled something like the old root cellar back home, he thought. Earthy and yeasty. He breathed it in deeply. Even this vague hint of dry land was comforting. Hobbs could tell already that this was way beyond anything he could fix at sea. The speed the water was gushing in, spinning in eddies around poles and barrels, told him all he needed to know.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 15
He’d left home as a teenager and grew up on the sea. Though he had the woodworking skills to make a good living ashore, the pull of sea life was too strong. It was that way for many Gloucestermen, just like in Nye’s Fairhaven, Kelley’s Centerville, and all along the New England coast. They knew the dangers of a life at sea, but the thought of staying put on land was not to be considered. Before signing aboard the John Rutledge, Hobbs had found a bed in a German-run flophouse in New York’s Bowery. Anyone handy with wood had his pick of ships. He tried to choose well. He could sense the condition of a vessel just by the way it sat in port or from the groan of the rigging in a big blow. He didn’t want some shabby bucket that would need constant repairs. When the Rutledge advertised for a carpenter, he jumped at the chance. He liked the John Rutledge. It had the solid lines of a ship from good stock. Anyone who knew ships had heard of the J. J. Abraham’s yard in Baltimore. If the Rutledge was one of theirs, that was good enough for Hobbs. He also liked the Atlantic packet trade in general. It was all business: get into port, swap out cargo, get passengers on board, and weigh anchor for the other side of the ocean. Now the ship that Hobbs admired was in deep trouble. He knew it would take nothing short of a miracle to keep the Rutledge afloat. The damage was well beyond the reach of repair by hammer and nails. Water surged in from dozens of holes. The timbers were wrenched inward farther than any makeshift brace or jack could straighten. The best we can do is try to plug it. Hobbs shouted to be heard over the sounds of rushing and splashing water. If nothing else, it could give us some extra time, he continued. Tell the captain that the ship is going down. It’s now just a matter of when. Pillows, blankets, oilcloths, rags, clothes, mattresses—all was passed to the men in the bow in a last-chance effort to win back some time. They jammed things into the fracture as best they could. It did little good. The force of the water’s surge was too great. The pressure spit out the plugs and spurted geysers through any crack. This is futile, said Hobbs. We aren’t doing a damn thing. Word reached Kelley on deck within minutes. He called over the first mate, trying hard to keep at least an outward semblance of business as usual. Mr. Atkinson, the captain said in a low voice, collect the ship’s log and gather what you can. Tell your wife, but no one else just yet. Make haste. You have five minutes before I order that we abandon ship. I understand, said Atkinson before hurrying off. Kelley was rattled to his core. He couldn’t show it. Not even a furrowed brow. He knew well an old seafaring adage passed from one generation to the next: There is no need to worry until the captain looks worried. If he gave off even a hint of fear, it would be bedlam in seconds, with the passengers and crew in a free-for-all for the lifeboats. His mind raced. This was really happening. And we are going out in the open Atlantic on boats no bigger than dinghies. It always lurked there in the back of the mind of anyone who put out to sea—this roulette wheel chance. Your number might just come up on the wrong ship at the wrong time. In that age, 16
every sailor paid attention to the great merchant wrecks in the Atlantic, just as airplane pilots later would keep mental notes on the planes that went down on the routes they flew. Even the most superstitious of the ship’s crew—the ones who refused to utter the names of lost ships for fear of jinxing a voyage—knew the names by heart. The British paddle-wheel steamer SS President in 1841, lost in a gale after passing Nantucket on a New York-toLiverpool run—all 136 aboard lost. The American ship Stephen Whitney in 1847, slammed into rocks in heavy fog off Ireland— nearly all of the 110 aboard lost. The American barque Ocean Monarch in 1848, caught on fire shortly after leaving Liverpool en route to Boston—178 lost. The fancy British White Star clipper RMS Tayleur in 1854, ran aground and sunk just outside Dublin Bay on her maiden voyage from Liverpool—more than half of the 652 aboard lost. The British steamship City of Glasgow in 1854, sunk somewhere between Liverpool and Philadelphia—480 passengers and crew lost. The list was still not complete for that wretched year of 1854: the American ships Powhattan in the spring and New Era in the fall ran aground and foundered off New Jersey, with more than 500 combined deaths. And, of course, there was the Collins Line’s Arctic tragedy. On the Rutledge, another hard-won lesson from the Arctic was unfolding before their eyes. The Collins Line steamer had flooded within hours because of its design: an open-hull plan undivided into water-blocking compartments. This was the scheme for nearly every American ship of the day, including for the John Rutledge. An open hull added space and lowered costs, but also increased risks. The French-built Vesta—the other vessel in the Arctic tragedy—had watertight compartments, as did many French vessels. Maritime scholars believe this design allowed the Vesta to reach port safely. The New Bedford Mercury would point out the dangers of the American open-hull design in a short but impassioned blurb in March 1856. “Water-tight compartments as a protection against casualties sustained to that of the ship John Rutledge should be applied, if not to all sailing ships, at least to the ocean steamers. They can do no harm certainly, and might as in the case of the collision of the Vesta, save the vessel.” On the John Rutledge, First Mate Atkinson tried not to look at the frightened faces of the passengers, who just yesterday had been swapping happily improbable dreams about life in America. He walked quickly past the pumps, choosing not to tell the men that they were fighting a losing battle. That is the captain’s duty, he thought. It was Kelley’s ship—a fine one at that, just five years old and once the pride of Baltimore shipwrights. And now he was about to lose it. Excerpted from Adrift: A True Story of Tragedy on the Icy Atlantic and the One Who Lived to Tell About It by Brian Murphy with Toula Vlahou. (Copyright ©2018, available from Da Capo Press, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc., isbn 978-0-306-90200-0) Brian Murphy is a journalist at the Washington Post and worked for more than two decades as a correspondent and bureau chief for the Associated Press in Europe and the Middle East. He has three other books to his credit, including 81 Days Below Zero (2015). SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
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1987, NYC Mayor Ed Koch authorized conversion of two Staten Island ferries into prison facilities to relieve overcrowding at Riker’s Island. The ferries were used in this capacity there until 1997.
he year was 1805: Great Britain was once again fully engaged in another ongoing war with its archenemy, France. There were deaths on both sides, of course. These did not pose a logistical problem for the military. Of greater concern—at least to our story—were the inevitable prisoners taken by both sides, prisoners who needed to be dealt with, somehow, somewhere, and in conditions that, at least superficially, would maintain in them the spark of life in some form. Disused warships and retired merchant vessels answered this need, as they could provide shelter (in cursory form) and a confinement easily guarded by a minimum of wardens. They had a proven record, having been used successfully during the War of American Revolution; they were even put to this purpose not too long ago in New York at Riker’s Island.1 They are called “hulks,” and for good reason. The vessels put into service during this era as prison hulks were retired navy warships that had outlived their seagoing usefulness. They were typically First Rate ships of the line, perfect for this purpose due to their immense size. Stripped of their rigs, guns, and anything of use to a warship, these vessels were towed into the shallows of the Thames or some other river in England. Portsmouth, Woolwich, and Plymouth all held several prison hulks at one time or another. They were guarded by the dregs of the British army, men whose nature—sadistic, cruel, and ruthless—made them unfit for duty on the front lines, but left them well-suited to guarding prisoners in these rotting, rat-infested hell-holes. Overcrowding, inadequate rations of generally inedible food, scant clothing, and dark and dank surroundings created a breeding ground for rampant disease, often fatal to the prisoners; in fact, the mortality rate in these ostensibly “temporary” prisons averaged over thirty percent. As the ships were generally afloat and the prisoners enjoyed minimal time topside, there was little opportunity for escape, though many tried, and were caught, flogged, and
by William H. White
“The Old Jersey Prison Ship, in the Revolutionary War,” printed in the 1870 collection of narratives, Life and Death on the Ocean, A Collection of Extraordinary Adventures, edited by Henry Howe. In it is this recollection of an experience aboard the infamous British prison ship Jersey by Thomas Andros. “I now found myself in a loathsome prison, among a collection of the most wretched and disgusting looking objects that I ever beheld in human form. Here was a motley crew, covered with rags and ﬁlt‘ h; visages pallid with disease, emaciated with hunger and anxiety, and retaining hardly a trace of their original appearance. Here were men, who had once enjoyed life while riding over the mountain wave or roaming through pleasant ﬁelds, full of health and vigor, now shriveled by a scanty and unwholesome diet, ghastly with inhaling an impure atmosphere, exposed to contagion, in contact with disease, and surrounded with the horrors of sickness and death. Here, thought I, must I linger out the morning of my life, in tedious days and sleepless nights, enduring a weary and degrading captivity, till death shall terminate my sufferings, and no friend will know of my departure. A prisoner on board of ‘the old Jersey!’”
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HM Prison DARTMOOR—A Paradox in Devon, England
returned to their confinement to resume residency with rats, bugs, and other vermin, not to mention the frequent corpse, yet to be removed for burial in some shallow grave ashore. Some of the more fortunate escapees, once caught, were hanged, partly as a deterrent to others who might have been contemplating their own attempt at freedom. It seemed to have little effect. With the continuing war with France producing a steady stream of prisoners of war, the appalling conditions in the overcrowded hulks became a political liability to the Crown. In 1806 the decision was made to build with local labor a shoreside facility to house prisoners. The remote and
isolated moor in Devon, called Dartmoor, was selected and construction began. An architect named Daniel Asher Alexander designed a suitable, “escape-proof” prison, which took three years to complete. In 1809, the first batch of French prisoners of war were moved to His Majesty’s Prison Dartmoor from the decrepit hulks. A few years later, the French prisoners were joined by American sailors captured during the War of 1812. One has only to stand on the hill outside HM Prison Dartmoor and look out over the desolation of the moor to understand why the site was perfect for a prison. Cold, windy, and intimidating, the thought SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
HMP Dartmoor today. Dartmoor prison was designed with an eighteen-foot tall, thick, granite wall that completely encircles the compound. Within this wall is another, albeit not quite as daunting, creating a no-man’s land between them. Guard positions are scattered about both walls, and the four barracks buildings were built well away from the inner walls. Mess facilities, a hospital, and guard quarters, as well as a central courtyard/exercise area complete the facility. The barracks were built three stories high, with each floor rigged for hammocks. The granite walls dripped moisture constantly, and in the winter, icy puddles formed that often froze solid. Small iron-barred windows let in what natural light there was when the shutters were open, but also let the cold wind in, further exacerbating the frigid temperatures within. As horrible as the surroundings in the barracks were, they were still better than those on the hulks, which were still in service. Prison deaths continued, necessitating the need for a graveyard, which was dug outside the prison walls. A smallpox epidemic in 1814 contributed to the body count. Even with the conditions as bad as they were, being incarcerated ashore in Dartmoor was far preferable to spending the war aboard one of the hulks. A further benefit to the men inhabiting the shoreside
prison was the opportunity, scant though it was, to escape. By the time the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812 was signed on Christmas Eve, 1814, some 5,000 American sailors, 900 of them African American, had been confined within the cold, stone walls of Dartmoor Prison. They were mostly privateersmen, but merchant sailors and a small number of US Navy sailors found a temporary home there as well. The American prisoners came from Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and other eastern states with a maritime presence. Crews captured at sea close to the North American coast were often sent to Melville Island in the Northwest Arm near Halifax, Nova Scotia. When that prison became overcrowded, they were sent on to Dartmoor. Melville Island was preferable to the captives, even though the conditions were equally horrible. Should they escape and successfully evade capture, they had a decent chance of finding a way home; from Dartmoor, no such opportunity existed.
Sketch of Dartmoor Prison complex, 1815. But still, one had to try. Sometimes, a man got lucky, surviving the harsh reality of the moor, and made his way to Plymouth, some sixteen miles distant. During these years, Dartmoor Prison was governed by two Royal Navy officers: Captain Isaac Cotgrave and Captain Thomas Shortland. Intentionally, these governors interfered little with the internal management of the prison, allowing the prisoners to deal with theft, insolence, and other crimes both serious and trivial on their own. The inmates had all been sailors and were quite used to the tyranny and justice system of ships at sea; they adapted readily and were quick to impose floggings, often as brutal as any imposed by the officers under whom they served while at sea. Frequent recipients of the lash were the cooks, who, when caught skimming the
national portrait gallery, uk, p.d.
of being “set adrift” on the moor would chill a man’s very soul. In the winter, it is foggy and wet with icy winds that whip across landscape and can freeze a man exposed to the elements overnight. Should an inmate escape the prison walls, there was nowhere for him to go. The hostile atmosphere and barren moor would prove almost impossible to traverse without assistance, even in the summer months. Nevertheless, some would try.
British architect and engineer Daniel Asher Alexander was responsible for the early development of the London Docks. He designed lighthouses for Trinity House and two famous prisons still in use today: HMP Dartmoor and HMP Maidstone in Kent. fat off the soup for their own use, were sentenced to a dozen well-laid-on strokes of the cat. Those prisoners who toed the line and stayed out of the way of the inevitable enforcers often received privileges that, while not allowing escape, did allow for some freedom within the walls, including better rations, clothes, and quarters. Some were allowed to use whatever talents they might possess to create handicrafts, which they sold in “shops” set up to trade for better food with outside vendors who regularly visited the prison to sell their wares. Some prisoners, perhaps planning for life outside the walls, sold their crafts for cash. This trade flourished, giving those inmates involved a comparatively decent lifestyle and, in some cases, more amenities than they had enjoyed at sea. This, then, was the socalled paradox of Dartmoor Prison: some prisoners enjoyed near-freedom and a relatively comfortable existence, while others suffered mightily the harshness of incarceration—all within the same granite walls. But the silent taunt of freedom was present in almost every breast and some answered it, though few with success. During the course of their incarceration in the War of 1812, some 270 American sailors died in the prison. Most succumbed to either pneumonia or smallpox, though there were a few who managed to
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 19
loathing and in March of 1815 was hanged in effigy by the American inmates of Dartmoor. A few weeks after this incident, the British warders discovered a small hole had been cut in the inner wall leading not to the outside and the moor, but to the noman’s land between the interior and exterior walls. Clearly not yet an escape attempt, nonetheless, the frustrated British troops fired into the unarmed prisoners, killing seven and wounding thirty-one. This tragedy convinced the British government that they could no longer wait for Mr. Beasley and the American government to arrange transportation, and it allowed any prisoner who could get by on his own to leave. Others would be sent back to America at joint British/American expense, and ships were provided quickly for that purpose. By the end of June, all but 900 prisoners had been repatriated. Roughly half of those remaining were black and would not accept transportation back to the United States if the ship were heading to a southern port; they were rightfully fearful of being sold into slavery, though all were free men. Guaranteed delivery to a northern port, often Boston, the prison population dwindled to nothing and the prison, a drain on the government coffers, was closed. Languishing in the hostile environment of Dartmoor, the prison fell into considerable disrepair in the years after the war, but necessity forced its reconstitution
and it opened again for “customers” in 1851. This time, the inhabitants were civilians convicted of serious and often violent crimes, who were deemed too dangerous for incarceration in the more conventional prisons in London and elsewhere. Society later modified its stance on these criminals, and, once again, in 1917, the prison on Dartmoor was closed. This time it was not abandoned but instead converted to a “Home Office Work Center” for conscientious objectors during the First World War who were granted release from other prisons. Cells remained unlocked, occupants wore their own clothes, and when given a day of rest, they were free to visit the town of Princetown nearby. Once World War I ended, so did the need for a “home” for the conscientious objectors, and, in 1920, Dartmoor once again became a prison for serious offenders. Civilian guards had long since replaced the Royal Navy warders and their number was increased to deal with the real criminals under their charge. But even the well-armed prison staff could not always maintain the peace. The so-called “Dartmoor Mutiny” occurred in January 1932 when, as a protest regarding horrible food, fifty prisoners at the daily parade (it was not a “parade” as such, merely a formation in the yard where instructions were given and a head count taken) refused orders, threatening the guards. The other prisoners were marched Dartmoor inmates on a work detail exiting the prison gates (early 1900s).
courtesy project gutenberg
get themselves either killed by another prisoner or shot by a warder. It was deemed inappropriate to bury them in the French cemetery, so a new cemetery was established adjacent to the original one. Drawing burial duty was considered a plum assignment, as the cemeteries were outside the outer walls and offered not only a glimpse of freedom, but to the more daring—or foolhardy—a chance to grab it. Working on the forced-labor farm, also outside the walls, provided yet another route to freedom for those willing to risk being run down by a guard on horseback and quite possibly shot. Others attempted escape in the more traditional manner, digging tunnels (always discovered by the British), sewing homemade guard uniforms and trying to slip away during a change of the watch (one fellow actually succeeded, only to be recaptured following a house-to-house search in Plymouth, some sixteen miles distant). Somehow, that prisoner did not survive his return trip to Dartmoor. Others caught in the attempt to escape were confined to the “cachot,” a special granite holding cell large enough for sixty prisoners. It had no amenities save some straw on the floor and two narrow openings under the eaves to let in a paucity of light. Rations for its inhabitants were two-thirds of normal, and terms ranged from weeks to, in one case, six months. Following the conclusion of the War of 1812 in early 1815, the use of the cachot was deemed unnecessary—the prisoners were awaiting repatriation—and conditions within the general population improved somewhat. That said, repatriation did not happen as quickly as either the prisoners or the warders expected; both governments had to ratify the treaty, and the physical transfer of the actual document from Ghent to New York and thence to Washington, took some three months. Added to that, there were geographically driven dates when cessation of hostilities would occur. The hopeful but suffering prisoners languished in Dartmoor and on the hulks in England and on Melville Island, Nova Scotia. The American Agent for Prisoners in England, a Mr. Beasley, long disliked by the prisoners for whom he was supposed to care, seemed in no hurry to effect exchanges or arrange for transportation home for his charges. He quickly became an object of
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
photo courtesy of the author
back to the cells while the prison governor and his staff fled to an unused part of the prison and locked themselves in. The mutinous inmates then released their fellows confined in solitary and went on a rampage, destroying everything they could. One prisoner was shot when reinforcements arrived, but no prison staff were injured. Order was eventually restored after several hours and the rioting inmates were returned to their cells and locked up. Today, Dartmoor is no longer a high security facility; in fact it houses mainly non-violent and white collar criminals along with sex offenders, and treatment programs are offered along with medication to remediate unacceptable behaviors. Vocational training is available and shops for woodworking, metal crafts, bookbinding, painting, and a myriad of other trades have replaced the cachot and other punishment facilities. Catering, farming, and outside trades are also available. Notorious in British history, despite the harsh environment previously described, HM Prison Dartmoor attracts 35,000 visitors a year. Just outside the prison walls is a museum and gift shop,
On the grounds outside Dartmoor Prison is a memorial, installed and maintained by the Daughters of the War of 1812, to honor and remember the American sailors of that conflict who died at the prison. William H. White is a maritime historian, where crafts made by inmates are available with nine books of historical fiction and nonfor purchase by visitors. While access with- fiction to his credit. His interests center on in the walls is not permitted, visitors can the late 18th and early 19th century and deal go to the French and American cemeteries, with both the US Navy and the Royal Navy. walk around the daunting perimeter walls, A regular contributor to Sea History, he also and spend time browsing through the mu- maintains a weekly blog, “Maritime Maunseum, where details of the prison’s history der,” which is visited by over 77,000 readers is offered, along with an interesting and at worldwide. Mr. White has served as a long2.25x4.5_HNSA_FleetCOL#1085.pdf times curious collection of artifacts from time member and former officer of the NMHS6/5/12 the prison’s 200-year history. Board of Trustees.
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SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 21 Real War Photos Ad.indd 1
Fleshing Out a Disconcerting History The Hidden Years of the Ship Katherine Jackson
never expected a routine inquiry to reveal a connection between one of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s artifacts and a tragic episode in African American history. Last year, a researcher called our museum in search of archival materials related to the ship Katherine Jackson, which he believed sailed out of Georgetown in Washington, DC, in the early 1800s. I was skeptical that we would be able to help, as our holdings from this era are not as strong as those from the latter part of the century. Nevertheless, I logged in to our collections database to do a quick search and, to my surprise, I found a record for a ship’s portrait inscribed: “Catherine [sic] Jackson. Baltimore, John Myers, Commander, 1843.” Intrigued, I fell down the curator’s rabbit hole and dug into the records... As a museum curator, I know well how objects, photographs, and documents are most effective when they help to tell a story, and so documenting their ownership history, how they were made and used, and their connection to the broader past is essential. Provenance—an object’s history— is what gives our exhibits authenticity and provides a human connection to an otherwise inanimate object. A finely executed early watercolor of a Chesapeake vessel might be extremely rare and beautiful to behold, but how does it connect to the historical narrative? The watercolor I found of Katherine Jackson is not the work of a famous artist, but that of an obscure painter named M. A. Thomas, whose full name and biographical details remain a mystery. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum purchased the painting in 2001 to help build its collection of objects representing this early time period. Volunteer Norman Plummer scoured records at the National Archives and Maryland Historical Society and learned that Fickett & Thomas of New York built the 456 ton three-masted, squaresterned ship, measuring 124 feet, in 1833. Certificates of registry were filed each year, and by 1836 Katherine Jackson had been sold to owners in the District of Columbia. There was a curious four-year gap in her records, however, and then Katherine 22
by Jenifer Dolde, Collections Manager, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Katherine Jackson Under Sail, Ship C[K]atherine Jackson of Baltimore, 1844. Watercolor, 31 x 26 inches. Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Collection. Jackson reappears in the Georgetown registry in 1840 with many of the same owners, with a John Duarry as Master. Recently, the ship’s activity during that interim period came to light; she was contracted to carry 272 slaves sold south by the leadership of what is now Georgetown University. The manifest listing enslaved persons, aged two months to seventy years, was matter-of-factly “Examined and found corrected” on 6 December 1838, in New Orleans. Georgetown University, a Jesuit-run institution, was financed in part by the donations of wealthy supporters, whose fortunes came from the successful operations of Maryland plantations dependent on the labor of slaves. Weighed down by debt during this time, two Georgetown University presidents, both Jesuit priests, made the decision to sell slaves to two Louisiana sugar planters for the equivalent of $3 million in today’s dollars, and in doing so tore apart families. The sale was hardly unique, and reinforces that slaveholding was a universally brutal and ugly business. Georgetown’s response to this piece of its history was at first perfunctory, but in
2015 the university expanded its approach to interpreting the history of Jesuit slaveholding and formed a “Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation.” This initiative created the Georgetown Slavery Archive, an ever-expanding digital collection of primary source materials related to the 1838 sale, as well as the history, experience, and legacy of the enslaved, that strives to recognize and remember the humans affected by the institution of slavery. The 1838 sale—and Katherine Jackson’s role in it—is just one window to a multifaceted and significant story. By 1842, Katherine Jackson had made at least three trips from Rotterdam to Baltimore under John Myers, sole owner and master, carrying a cargo of coffee, tea, nuts, seeds, clothes, soap, and medicines—a mundane departure from the human cargo she had carried four years earlier. The Baltimore records for the vessel end with the settling of John Myers’s estate in 1847. Research at the time of acquisition indicated she may have been sold to the Netherlands, which is borne out by the transcription of an 1848 manifest made available online in recent years. Ironically, ten years after Katherine Jackson carried the 272 SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
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slaves sold south by George17 It 1· l town University, she transported some 175 Dutch immigrants from Amsterdam ;J,11 ,.,/ ,, ...... '�( to New York on a very different voyage, the forty- Created in preparation for the 1838 sale, this document lists the slaves by one-day first leg of their name according to the Maryland plantation where they lived. (Maryland journey to their new home Province Archives, “Census of slaves to be sold in 1838”) in Michigan. What we know about history and the museum’s The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum collections is constantly evolving, as continued collects and preserves the most comprehenresearch adds new dimensions to our understand- sive assembly of material culture relating ing and interpretation. This is what makes history to the Chesapeake’s tidewater region. In dynamic and exciting! Every acquisition, every addition to its impressive watercraft collecresearch request, every exhibition is an opportu- tion, much of which is accessible on its nity for us to expand our understanding of the waterfront campus along the Eastern Shore maritime history and culture of the Chesapeake of Maryland, the museum holds more than region—and to connect people to the very human 70,000 objects in its collections that document the interaction of people and the stories behind it. Museums are dedicated to building diverse, tidewater Chesapeake Bay region over a comprehensive collections, a process that takes 200-year period. The collections are available to researchers (by appointment only). Katherine Jackson Slave Manifest: A list of the slaves transported from Alexandria to New Please e-mail Jenifer Dolde at jdolde@ Orleans in the Katherine Jackson in 1838. Many of the men, women, and children listed on cbmm.org with any questions regarding this manifest were sold by Thomas Mulledy to Jesse Beatty and Henry Johnson. They were CBMM’s collections. (213 North Talbot shipped by Robert A. Windsor of Alexandria and consigned to Lambeth & Thompson of New Street, St. Michaels, MD 21663; www. cbmm.org) Orleans. (National Archives, Fort Worth, TX, “Manifest of the Katherine Jackson, 1838”) •
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years and is perpetual—our collection can never be complete. CBMM’s curatorial staff developed and regularly revises its Collection Plan, a dynamic document that reflects the museum’s mission and is responsive to the interpretive goals established to meet the needs of the museum’s members, guests, and community. In the coming year, CBMM will realize a long-term goal in making this collection available online, joining other museums and institutions working to build a community of shared knowledge.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 23
Off to Fiddler’s Green In the last issue’s “NMHS: A Cause in Motion” section, we talked about the critical role played by mentors in our lives, specifically naming two giants in the maritime heritage community: Captain Bert Rogers, the larger-than-life executive director of Tall Ships America; and philanthropist Gerry Lenfest, who endeavored to put his wealth to use in improving our world. It was August and the magazine was at the printers being prepped for distribution. While the ink was still wet on the paper, we learned to our great shock of the deaths of these two leaders in the span of the same week. The loss to the maritime heritage community and their friends, and families is great, but here we celebrate their lives and legacies. Not only did these individuals dedicate their efforts to the preservation of maritime heritage, but they mentored many others along the way and can rest easy, knowing that their work is carrying on.
Captain Bert Rogers (1956–2018) In August, the sailing ship community lost a true leader—and Tall Ships America lost its executive director—when Bert Rogers was taken from us. He was remembered by a gathering of hundreds of tall ships sailors and others in September at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island. Bert’s seafaring career began in 1978 when he joined the brigantine Romance, under the legendary Captain Arthur Kimberly for a three-week experience—which turned into nearly three years and a full circumnavigation under square-rig. Reflecting on this part of Bert’s life, fellow Marinero (a title bestowed upon veteran Romance crew) Mike Jehle explained: “It was aboard Romance that Bert learned the value of hard work and a job well done—a job properly done. He learned respect for his shipmates and the fundamentals of seamanship, reverence for the traditions of the sea, and how to put up with the unexpected vagaries of weather and shipmaster. It was that discipline and passion that Bert brought to his own ships, and later to Tall Ships America.” That experience led him to become bosun, rigger, mate, and captain aboard many other sailing ships of note: Regina Maris, Sea Cloud, Elizabeth II, Mayflower II, Lindo/Alexandria, and finally Spirit of Massachusetts. Ken Ringle, who sailed with Bert in Alexandria, said: “he was a rare and joyous leader, a natural consensus builder. Bert was gifted with a special grace that brought us together by helping us discover what each of us is capable of. It’s always far more than we ever dream.” Between 1985 and 1993, Bert ran the schooner Spirit of Massachusetts, where he sailed with Sea History editor Dee O’Regan, who recalled that “Bert was a powerful teacher. He was not always easy to work for—his standards were high, his patience had limits, and he had a big mission to fulfill on a tiny budget. But he made it work. And he had a way of convincing everyone else to make it work, too. To say he will be missed is a serious understatement.” Bert went on to create a new sail training and educational program aboard the historic schooner Lettie G. Howard, and oversaw a major refit of the schooner Harvey Gamage. In 1996, Bert and Alix Thorne joined forces to acquire the Gamage, later to be joined by the Spirit of Massachusetts and Westward to make up the fleet of the Ocean Classroom Foundation, running groundbreaking programming. As Alix Thorne said to the congregation: “If any of you or members of your families are contemplating a sea voyage, think of Bert and just do it. Don’t make excuses—just 24
know that it will change your life. As Mark Twain put it: ‘Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’” In 2008, Bert left his beloved Ocean Classroom Foundation and took over the helm as executive director of Tall Ships America. Under his leadership, Tall Ships America gained congressional recognition as the nation’s official sail training organization. Through Bert’s dedication, vision, and sometimes sheer personality, he steadily increased the profile of the sailing ship industry in the public eye, in the press, and in its influence in Washington. He ramped up the quality of the organization’s annual conference, as well as the immensely popular Tall Ships Challenge® series of races and port events. This past spring, the race series took place in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time, expanding its reach to Americans on every coast. Bert acquired an ease and grace in dealing with—and being taken seriously courtesy donna giglio by—people of all stations, from green trainees to legislators and governors. He did all this while maintaining a burning commitment to the welfare of the trainees, the professional crews manning the ships, and the vessels themselves— in short, to the values of a life at sea Bert cared so deeply about. Jonathan Kabak said about his friend and colleague: “Working with Bert was like joining the resistance. We can fight the fight together, and maybe win the war.” In the end, Bert was a man in full, the living image of what parents would want to see their child grow to become, as a result of the experience at sea. Far from out in the South Pacific, Romance veteran and world-voyaging skipper Daniel D. Moreland sent these words about his old friend and shipmate: “Bert Rogers—a square-rigged Marinero, rattled down with hemp, saltwater in his veins, every hair a rope yarn, every finger a marlinspike, and when he spits, he spits tar, when he texts, he texts stars…he left the bar high, just where it belongs. Fair winds, shipmate—Vaya con Dios!” Dress me up in me oilskins and jumper No more on the docks I’ll be seen Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates To be with Bert Rogers in Fiddler’s Green —Michael J. Rauworth, Esq., Chair, Tall Ships America Board of Directors SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
Harold F. “Gerry” Lenfest (1930–2018) He understood that the survival of our maritime history and culture depends greatly on finding tangible links to our past achievements in maritime pursuits for future generations. What better way than to preserve and restore the ships and vessels whose histories tell the story of this country? Financing ships, which are immensely expensive to restore and maintain, is a great gamble and an act of faith, and takes a philanthropist with vision and courage. In 2015 I accompanied NMHS Vice Chairman Rick Lopes and his son Alessandro to see Gerry Lenfest in his office in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, to interview him for a minidocumentary the Lopeses were making on that year’s recipients of the NMHS Distinguished Service Awards. Mr. Lenfest was being recognized for his generosity in working to save America’s iconic ocean liner SS United States, his sizable donation towards the restoration of Ernestina-Morrissey, and his key role in the building of the new Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. I was impressed by his love of historic ships and his articulate description of how he developed his passion, not to mention his charm, kindness, and humor. His support for these projects continues. This year he provided the funding to complete the documentary Sails Over Ice and Seas, chronicling Ernestina’s story, produced by Rick Lopes. Ernestina-Morrissey’s long and varied history represents so much of America’s story. The ship’s survival through this latest reconstruction effort and the documentary examining the ship and the story of the people who sailed her are of critical importance. We asked three people who knew Gerry’s contribution well about the man and his legacy, and here are their thoughts. Fair Winds Gerry. And Thank You. —Burchenal Green, NMHS President photo by patrick murphy, ssus conservancy
Gerry Lenfest grew up in Scarsdale, New York, and on a farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He was a graduate of Washington and Lee University in 1953 and served two years in the US Navy and an additional 24 years in the Navy Reserve. He regularly attributed his success, in part, to values instilled during his time in the Navy. Mr. Lenfest earned a law degree from Columbia Law School and initially began a career in law before joining Triangle Publications, Inc., in 1965. When his company was selling off its cable television assets in 1974, he and a pair of investors bought them and proceeded to grow their new company—Lenfest Communications—substantially. By 2000, it was one of the top twelve cable television companies in the country; the multi-billion sale of Lenfest Communications to Comcast made Mr. Lenfest his fortune, which he then gave away to worthy causes over the rest of his life. Mr. Lenfest used his great wealth to support education, the arts, ocean stewardship and heritage programs. He and his wife, Marguerite, signed the Giving Pledge, “a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy” founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. He was an adamant supporter of the free press; he purchased the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News as a way to support local press and help move them into the digital age. Gerry Lenfest had a special place in his heart for the oceans and maritime heritage. The Lenfest Ocean Program funds scientific research on policy-relevant topics concerning the world’s oceans and provides the results to stakeholders and decision makers, focusing on the environmental, economic, and social impacts of fishing, fisheries management, and aquaculture.
Richardo Lopes, NMHS Vice Chairman: “Kahlil Gibran wrote in his famous book, The Prophet, ‘You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.’ Gerry Lenfest not only gave of his wealth, but of himself. And in so doing, he inspired and encouraged countless others who have accomplished remarkable things in education, the arts, science, history, culture, and life!” Susan Gibbs, Executive Director, SS United States Conservancy: Eight years ago, Gerry Lenfest’s visionary philanthropy saved the historic SS United States from being lost to history. Gerry believed that “America’s Flagship” was the “most majestic, most beautiful ship afloat... built at a time when ‘Made in America’ really meant something.” Thanks to Gerry, SS United States remains afloat today, and the Conservancy continues to advance plans for the ship’s preservation and revitalization. Gerry’s wisdom, determination, and patriotism will never stop guiding and inspiring our efforts. We remain deeply grateful for his commitment to SS United States and to the nation’s maritime history. John Bullard, former Mayor of New Bedford, MA: “Gerry Lenfest was only twelve years old when Capt. Bob Bartlett asked him to join a voyage to the Arctic aboard the schooner Effie M. Morrissey [now Ernestina-Morrissey]. It would have been the trip of a lifetime, but WWII intervened, and the Morrissey and a young Lenfest continued on their separate paths. Gerry never forgot the schooner that had captured his heart as a boy, and so when the opportunity arose, he and his wife Marguerite stepped up and brought together various parties to foster the vessel’s next chapter and ensure the schooner’s survival. When the restoration is completed, Ernestina-Morrissey will carry on, teaching young people about the wonders of the ocean and the richness of their maritime heritage. Gerry never got to go on that sail, but his spirit lives in every plank.” SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 25
At the Water’s Edge
all images courtesy of sergio roffo
by Charles Raskob Robinson, with Sergio Roffo
Sailing Along the Shore, oil, 24 x 36 inches Nantucket: painted from location studies.
magine the moment: The parents’ fondest hopes and dreams for their children turned into a nightmare—centered on their darling youngest, their sixth child, Sergio. Art school. Not exactly a sure-fire path to a stable and secure future. Sergio’s father, Pasquale Roffo, was a World War II POW and had returned from a prison camp in North Africa at the end of the war to his hometown in Italy, the war-torn agricultural town of San Donato, northeast of Rome in the mountains, not far from the Adriatic Sea. A number of years and six children
later, Pasquale and his oldest son, Mario, a trained mason, left Italy to seek a better life in Boston, where Sergio’s uncle lived and worked. Some months later, Pasquale’s wife, Donata, and the rest of the family followed. Just seven years old at the time, today Sergio can still remember the commotion from the deck of SS Augustus as hundreds of fellow immigrants on the deck cheered salutations to the Statue of Liberty as the ship made its way up New York Harbor. “It was awesome and everybody was crazy with excitement,” he recalls. The Roffos built a new life in Brighton, a town west of Boston, as young Sergio went through high school with a focus on “sports, girls and art—in that order.” Construction work of all kinds followed graduation. “I was a bulldozer operator, backhoe operator, truck driver, laborer. You name it—I did it. But I kept coming back to art and couldn’t see a life for me as a construction worker.” Art school?! “My parents were dismayed but insisted that if I was going in that direction, I needed to prepare for a “real job,” and so I went into commercial art, not the fine arts.” Following graduation, Sergio found employment with a design firm in Boston. It was a steady job, but soon the Roffos’ dream for their youngest child was realized in full: Sergio landed a job with Fidelity Investment, Inc., a leading investment firm headquartered in Boston! “I joined as an audio/visual designer. I had it all—good pay, a bright and promising future, job security, and an office with a view overlooking the harbor thirty-seven stories above Devonshire Street.” Another day at the office for Sergio Roffo.
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Calmness in Fog oil 30 x 40 inches
“Sergio Roffo is certainly one of the country’s leading landscape and marine artists. His ability to capture light and atmosphere, and evoke feelings in the viewer, is unmatched. He is a true master of modern —Russ Kramer, Fellow and Past President, American Society of Marine Artists American luminism.” It was not to last. “I used to go out during my lunch hour whenever the weather allowed and I saw this artist faithfully set up his easel to paint Boston Harbor. At first it was just interesting, but he was always there. It grew on me and grew on me, until one day I realized that I had to get out. I knew rationally that I had a great job, but I couldn’t take it any more—I had to get out and paint. So, I quit! My parents thought I was nuts. But I started painting plein air and selling my work. I was flat broke, but I was happy.”
That was more than thirty years ago, and in the intervening decades Sergio has gone from painting and selling watercolors off the sidewalks in Boston to switching to oils and, in time, emerging as perhaps the foremost American coastal landscape painter working today. He credits much of his approach to his long-time mentor, Robert Douglas Hunter (1928–2014), whom he studied under at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston in the 1980s. “Robert Douglas Hunter painted in a style that was totally different from mine,” Roffo explained, “but he was my mentor. I
“Paint what you see, not what you think you see.”
Madaket Dunes, Nantucket
oil, 24 x 36 inches “Erosion on Nantucket takes away much of the island’s shoreline every year. The cottages in this scene at Madaket will meet their demise in time, as you can see by the septic pipes that I included in the painting, just seaward of the dunes.”
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Alerions in Mooring at Sunrise oil, 24 x 36 inches
“Whether it is a dory pushed up on a beach, a catboat resting on her mooring, or a closehauled boat approaching a mark, Sergio beautifully captures that fleeting moment, placing the viewer into the scene.” —Chris Quidley Quidley & Co. Fine Art Galleries
used to talk to him a lot, and see him from time to time. I loved his philosophy and can hear his advice in my mind whenever I paint: ‘Soft edges. Paint what you see, not what you think you see. Keep the skies light.’ Best of all, I loved his advice about mistakes: ‘Forget about them! Press on!’” As Sergio established his credentials as a fine artist, he joined the New England Watercolor Society, became a Copley Master in the Copley Society of Boston, and was elected to the Guild of Boston Artists. He encountered the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA) through Mystic Seaport, where some stalwarts of the Society encouraged him to join. He did this in 2000, and soon rose to “Artist Member” and then to “Fellow.” With an appreciation for what mentors have done The Marsh at Low Tide, oil, 24 x 36 inches for him, Sergio has taken on an active role Inspired by American traditional painters such as George Inness, Fitz Henry Lane, and in mentoring others and regularly leads Albert Bierstadt, among others, Sergio Roffo is drawn to the water and coastal landscapes. workshops and demonstrations for His paintings of these scenes convey a luminous, masterful feeling and a relaxed sense of emerging artists. calmness; a characteristic that defines and informs all of his works. This painting was comSergio usually begins his work with pleted from a morning plein air session in Cohasset, Massachusetts. an oil sketch on location, and then supplements this record of the scene with some digital photography for subsequent reference in the studio. and around the borders of the viewfinder. This enables him to He uses a viewfinder while sketching. It’s a simple tool, much like capture the scene accurately and rapidly. “I am not the sort of a mat board used in framing a picture, except it is used to frame artist who plunges right in with paint on my brush. I like to have the scene the artist wishes to paint. In his plein air painting, Sergio an accurate rendition of the scene before I begin painting.” He uses different sizes for different subjects, but the opening of the paints both in the outdoors and in the studio. “The studio versions viewfinder is always the same proportion as the canvas used for tend to take on a life of their own, sometimes lacking the freshness the painting. and spontaneity of a field study. On the other hand, they can be He prefers stretched and toned canvas for his plein air work, rendered with more control and accuracy. Furthermore, because and he uses a grid of identical proportional size on both the canvas time is not an issue, glazing can be used as well. And a nice 28
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Martha’s Vineyard Surf, oil, 10 x 20 inches. Painted on location. “Being a professional illustrator taught me how to be prolific. Painting outdoors requires the mixing of color and finding the right value fast. It also imbues your painting with freshness and spontaneity.”
Through the Channel, Martha’s Vineyard 10 x 20 inches “The background of this scene was painted on location and the catboat was added later. Most of the time the paintings that I do on location do not require additional elements. This painting was strong enough by itself, but I chose to add the boat after the piece was dry.”
Three Cats, oil, 24 x 36 inches “Painted plein air on Martha’s Vineyard. In my early years right after art school, I worked as an illustrator doing freelance work for art directors. They were very demanding about meeting deadlines, but not nearly as demanding as the sun, which forces you to complete a study before the shadows change.”
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 29
espresso, enjoyed every now and then in the comfort of your own studio, enhances the creative process immeasurably.” As his parents had warned, making it as an artist would not be easy. For Sergio, however, there was no other path. He is not overly romantic about it and does not expect accolades at every turn. “Sure, you will suffer rejections from time to time— we all do. But, as my mentor Robert Douglas Hunter would say, ‘Forget it!’— Get on with what you love. You will be happy for the rest of your life.” To learn more about Sergio Roffo, visit his website at www.sergioroffo.com, which includes a listing of his current and upcoming exhibitions, workshops, and demonstrations. To learn more about the American Society of Marine Artists, please visit www.amer icansocietyofmarineartists.com.
Drills Before Opera House Cup on a Foggy Morning oil, 30 x 40 inches Picking up the Catch, Maine, oil, 11 x 14 inches “A foggy day painted from photos and background from memory. On the occasion when I paint from photos, I always change the mood.”
Charles Raskob Robinson is a Fellow and Charter Member in the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA). For more than twenty years, he has written about ASMA artists in his column, “Notes from Brush Hill,” that appears in the Society’s quarterly, the ASMA News & Journal. This article was updated and adapted from his biographical profile on Sergio Roffo that ran in the January 2005 issue. 30
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
Sea History readers can enjoy these spectacular selections of Sergio Roffo’s art and support the National Maritime Historical Society at the same time!
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Cats at Rest • 20 x 33.25 inches •$650
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Cats at Rest was painted at a cove on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. On this particular day, the serene calmness against a glowing sunset and outgoing tide created some wonderful reflections in the water. Rounding the Turn Every August since 1973, Nantucket has played host to the Opera House Cup, the first all-wooden, single-hulled classic boat regatta on the East Coast. Spectators are treated to the most beautiful classic boat parade as the yachts race through the channel past Brant Point at the entrance to Nantucket Harbor. It is a sight to behold.
To order call 1-800-221-NMHS (6647), ext. 0; or visit our website at www.seahistory.org. SEA HISTORY WINTER 2018–19 31 Add $20 s/h.165, Shipping within the USA only. NYS residents please add applicable sales tax.
Historic Ships on a Lee Shore The 1877 Cargo Schooner Governor Stone
by Shelley Reid, with Amanda Kilbourn
photos courtesy friends of the governor stone
he 1877 cargo freighter Governor Stone, the last known surviving example of a gaff-rigged, two-masted Gulf Coast schooner, was severely damaged by Hurricane Michael, which stormed through the Florida panhandle on 7 October. The Friends of the Governor Stone, which owns and maintains the schooner out of Historic St. Andrews in Panama City, Florida, with a mission of offering educational programming and cultural/historic tourism, are raising funds to rebuild the vessel. Built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, for Charles Greiner, and named for Greiner’s friend, Mississippi governor John Marshall Stone, Governor Stone carried lumber for Greiner’s mill and freight along the Gulf Coast, and ferried equipment and materials to ships lying offshore. In 1880 she was sold and put to work as an oyster buyboat for Patrick Burns and later for his son, Thomas. She earned extra cash during Prohibition as a rum runner, carrying Cuban whiskey to American shores, fetching $500 per run. The Stone fell victim to not one, but two previous hurricanes, sinking in 1906 and in 1939. When Burns chose not to recover her the second time, she was raised and repaired by Isaac T. Rhea and renamed Queen of the Fleet. Under her new name, she carried guests of Rhea’s Inn By The Sea on day excursions. In 1942 the schooner was leased to the US War Shipping Administration as a sail training vessel for the Merchant Governor Stone capsized during Hurricane Marine Academy in Biloxi. Over the Michael. This horrid sight was what her stewards next decade she would have four discovered at St. Andrews Marina afterwards. different owners, each of whom gave her a different name: The Pirate Queen, Sea Bob, Governor Stone in recent years. C’est La Vie, and Sovereign. Then John Curry purchased her and, through careful research, discovered her history as the Governor Stone and restored her to her original configuration. In 1991, the Governor Stone was designated a National Historic Landmark, and has called historic St. Andrews and the St. Andrews Marina home since 2009. During this time, the Friends of the Governor Stone have conducted monthly sails, teaching passengers the history of the vessel and the local area, as well as some basic ecological information, and sailing techniques. In 2013–2014 the Governor Stone was hauled out and underwent a major renovation. Since that time the schooner had been gracing St. Andrew’s Bay and the surrounding communities with her majestic beauty and knowledgeable volunteers. Hurricane Michael, however, caused extensive damage to the historic vessel. The Friends are hopeful that she can overcome this storm’s wrath as she did the previous two. Said maritime historian James Delgado, who performed the research on the schooner for her application for National Historic Landmark status: Governor Stone is a national treasure, a unique survivor of a oncecommon craft, the two-masted Gulf schooner. What makes Governor Stone important is that this schooner also has remained afloat and working, imparting a hands-on ability for successive generations to know and work and experience the schooner. As we rebuild shattered communities, and replace lost infrastructure, we must also rally to the cause of Governor Stone. Repaired and sailing again, Governor Stone can continue to inspire and connect this and future generations to the sea through our maritime past. To find out more about this historic vessel and how you can help, contact the Friends of the Governor Stone via Facebook (https://www. facebook.com/GovernorStone/) or online at www.governorstone.org. The Friends can also be reached at 850 621-0011. The group’s president, Amanda Kilbourn, can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850 933-5058. Governor Stone, sailing as Queen of the Fleet in 1950. 32
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Sagas from Smalls Lighthouse
by Dr. Louis Arthur Norton
“Anythin’ for a quiet life, as the man said wen he took the sitivation at the lighthouse.” 1 [sic] —Samuel Weller in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
he Dickensian “quiet life” of a lighthouse keeper may not have been what it appeared to outsiders, especially in eighteenth-century Britain at remote light stations along the coast and islands of the North Atlantic and the Irish and North Seas. While Britain’s early lighthouses date back several centuries, the rise in oceanic trade and value of the country’s shipping in the eighteenth century sparked a surge in lighthouse construction. In the early 1770s, shipping losses on the dangerous Pembrokeshire coastal rocks was of particular concern. Navigation was hazardous in the busy St. George’s Channel, where a large group of wavewashed basalt and dolerite rocks called the Smalls protrudes into the Irish Sea approximately twenty miles west of Marloes Peninsula in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and eight miles west of Grassholm—the westernmost Welsh point of land. Liverpool dockmaster John Phillips obtained permission and a lease to build a lighthouse in that channel, and a twenty-six-year-old musical instrument maker, Henry Whiteside, designed the structure. During the early winter months at the close of 1775, Whiteside
assembled a temporary structure at Solva, a small Welsh town roughly twenty-five miles from the Smalls, to be dismantled and reassembled out at the exposed site later. Once out at the Smalls, the iron supports (or legs) in the original design soon proved faulty and were replaced by sturdy wooden beams. When work resumed, iron rings were inserted into the rock, and workmen then tied themselves to them to prevent being washed into the sea. Later, the rings would act as anchor points to reinforce the timber ensemble. The tower structure stood on nine stout oak pillars that allowed the often-turbulent seas to pass through beneath.2 By the spring of 1776, the parts had been carefully fitted together out on the exposed rocky site, and in September the lighthouse’s lamp was lit. Before the workmen left the construction site out on the rocky ledge, they excavated a 10’ x 6’ x 6’ hole and installed a two-part wooden tank. A portion was to hold coal for lantern fuel and heat for the keepers; the other was used to store fresh water. An inspection that December indicated that the structure was showing signs that it was incapable of withstanding the violent sea forces it was regularly exposed to, so Whiteside rounded up a blacksmith and other workmen to join him, and the group proceeded to Smalls in mid-January 1777 to repair and strengthen the building. While they were there, they encountered a period of unrelenting winter gales and were unable to get off the island. They soon realized that the lighthouse’s supplies were becoming exhausted and the men were facing real danger if they Map of the British Isles drawn in 1876 by Adrien Hubert Brue (1786–1832) showing Smalls Light off the coast of Wales.
courtesy david rumsey map collection
area of detail at right 1 Charles Dickens, quotation of Samuel Weller in The Pickwick Papers,
(London: UK, 1836–37) Chapter 63, p.1486.
2 The building was frequently battered and suffered some startling shak-
ing over its 80-year lifetime, therefore a number of extra struts were added to the original nine.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
photo by paul davies, pembrokeshire coastal photography
Smalls Light as it looks today from seaward. This structure replaced the original lighthouse built by Henry Whiteside. Completed in 1861, this light tower was designed by civil engineer James Douglass, chief engineer for Trinity House at the time.3 In 1877, Douglass was tasked with designing and constructing the fourth Eddystone Light, which upon completion in 1882 was considered his crowning achievement and for which he was knighted. The Smalls Lighthouse was fitted with a helideck over the light in 1978. The light was fully automated in 1987. could not get help. Whiteside and his colleagues wrote messages describing their plight and placed them in three bottles that were, in turn, deposited inside three substantial wooden casks. The casks were tossed into the sea in the hopes that they would wash ashore at St. David’s beach on the Welsh coast and be found. Remarkably, just two days later one arrived not far from the door of the addressee, to whom it was duly delivered.4 This is believed to be the earliest documented successful transmission of a rescue message via a bottle by sea.5 The notes read:
Sketch of the original Smalls Lighthouse, built in 1776.
Smalls, February 1, 1777 Being now in a most dangerous and distressed condition upon the Smalls, do hereby trust Providence will bring to your hand this, which prayeth for your immediate assistance to fetch us off the Smalls before the next spring or we fear we shall all perish; our water near all gone, our fire quite gone, and our house in a most melancholy manner. I doubt not but you will fetch us from here as fast as possible; we can be got off at some part of the tide almost any weather. I need say no more, but remain your distressed Humble Servant, Hy. Whiteside.
courtesy trinity house, uk
3 Trinity House is a private British corporation established in 1514 by Royal Charter to safeguard shipping and seafarers. It also supports the
General Lighthouse Authority to install and maintain navigational aides.
4 In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I established an official position of “Uncorker of Ocean Bottles.” As bottles might be used to pass secrets
between British spies or fleets, a law decreed that anyone who opened the bottles other than the official uncorker could face the death penalty. 5 One of the three casks floated to the west and was found on a beach in Galway Bay, Ireland.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 35
Ed. Edwards, Geo. Adams, Jno. Price We doubt not but that whoever takes up this will be so merciful as to cause it to be sent to Thos. Williams, Esq., Trelethin, near St. David’s, Wales.6 Whiteside and the others were subsequently rescued with no ill effects. The men at Smalls Lighthouse lived in quarters that could accommodate two people, situated under the glassed-in light tower. The keepers were responsible for sustaining the light under all circumstances, which many times proved challenging. They were issued written instructions—implying that keepers had to be literate—but for many, oral directives sufficed. At this time British lighthouses posted two men for lighthouse shifts at sea. They were tasked with cleaning the exterior of the glass, which became clouded from the never-ending salt spray. Inside, they were to keep the lamp and reflectors clean and filled with whatever fuel the apparatus used. Many lighthouses were equipped with fog-warning devices that required maintenance and repairs of their leather. The men had to maintain their living quarters and conserve their supplies in order to survive what could be extended periods of isolation. Because of the close quarters, the largely unvaried routine, and long periods of isolation, it was essential that keepers got along with each other. Respect and tolerance for one another was of critical importance for men living in close proximity for twenty-four hours a day for weeks on end. Boredom, annoying human idiosyncrasies, and the stresses of the job could easily lead to conflict—occupational hazards that received little publicity as compared to the more romantic image of the lightkeeper occupying a first-rate waterfront property. Huge waves frequently washed through and around the legs of the lighthouse as the fearful keepers sat in their small hut, the entire wooden structure oscillating in storms. This was not splendid peaceful isolation, but rather unremitting torture. In 1801 the two-man team of Thomas Howell and Thomas Griffith, both local laborers, was stationed on Smalls Lighthouse. Accounts vary about what actually happened, but at one point Griffith either was taken seriously ill or suffered a life-threatening accident. Howell tried to help his keeper-mate, but there was a kit containing only rudimentary remedies onboard for providing medical care. At the time the Royal Navy routinely communi6 The notes were transcribed and posted on the Trinity House History
Blog on 31 December 2014: “Official history blog of the Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford, Strond and its lighthouse service, incorporated 1514.”
cated between ships via a flag code, but lighthouses were neither equipped with flag-sets nor codebooks to convey meaningful messages. The common distress signal for ships at sea was displaying a capsized British ensign. Being able to make out the upsidedown flag from a distance over stormy waters was difficult. The men became desperate and hoisted the distress signal on the lighthouse’s short mast in the hope of getting the attention of a passing ship. No help came. After a time, Griffith died of his disorder. For several days, Howell kept the body of his colleague within the living compartment. Having a corpse as one’s companion began to take its mental toll, particularly when the body began to decompose and putrefy. It was well known ashore that the two men frequently argued, and Howell was concerned that if he cast the body into the sea, he might be accused of having murdered his coworker.
We were distressed in a gale of wind upon the 13th of January, since which have not been able to keep any light; but we could not have kept any light above sixteen nights longer for want of oil and candles, which makes us murmur and think we are forgotten.
Illustration depicting the drama of building and manning the light tower at Smalls Rock, printed in Chatterbox, a weekly paper published by John Erskine Clarke in 1904. Howell had once been a cooper and was skilled at working with wood. He constructed a crude coffin for his dead companion using bulkhead boards from their modest dwelling. He placed the decomposing body in the coffin, dragged it outside, and lashed it to the walkway railings surrounding the light’s windows. The unrelenting winds eventually ripped at the coffin. Most of the boards tumbled into the ocean, but the withered cadaver remained tied to the railings. This attracted seabirds that pecked at Griffith’s remains. They consumed the rotting flesh and underlying organs, thus exposing large parts of his skeleton. The dead man’s empty eye sockets now blankly gazed at Howell. As the winds swirled around the rock ledge, one outstretched dead man’s arm formed a gruesome image. Griffith’s spirit appeared to beckon either to his remaining live colleague or his would-be rescuers. Indeed, the distress signal had been seen and a few boats tried to reach them, but heavy seas made it impossible to land a boat. These conditions continued for the next four months, and during this time all that could be seen from seaward was the capsized ensign up the mast and a decomposing corpse dangling on a SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
railing above the sea, ghoulishly waving to no one in particular. Would-be rescue parties that got within hailing distance tried to ascertain what had happened on the island. They could get close enough to see a man standing on the gallery of the lighthouse, but he never responded to their desperate shouts and they were forced to return to port without success or any new information. Remarkably, Howell remained dutiful to his post; the lighthouse lamp continued to be visible from sea throughout the ordeal. When the weather moderated, a Milford boat was able to land at Smalls. Two light-keepers then relieved Howell and the body of his deceased companion. Back on terra firma, Howell’s friends and family were shocked at his appearance. He was emaciated, and his hair had turned white, assumed to be a result of his physical and psychological trauma. Likely suffering from what we now call PTSD, Howell was haunted by mental demons for the rest of his days. Four months of “the quiet life” on Smalls had altered the man for the remainder of his life. Lessons were learned, however; the calamity led to passage of a new British maritime regulation that a minimum of three light-keepers should inhabit a manned isolated light station at the same time. In 1831, the wooden lighthouse tower at Smalls was badly damaged by immense waves in a fierce storm that injured two of the keepers and ultimately killed the third. The structure was subsequently repaired, and the lighthouse survived another twenty years. In 1859, Trinity House began building a new stone tower that was completed in 1861. In 1978 a helideck was constructed on the roof of the lighthouse, and nine years after that,
courtesy trinity house, uk
This diagram shows the 1776 and 1861 light towers side by side to show the difference in height between the two structures. the light mechanisms were automated, making Smalls the first wind- and solar-powered lighthouse off the British coast. Thus concluded more than 200 years of near-continual occupation by lightkeepers at Smalls Lighthouse. Aided by a modern lens system, today its beacon can be seen up to twenty-one miles away. Dr. Louis A. Norton is a maritime historian and frequent contributor to Sea History. He is the author of Joshua Barney: Hero of the Revolution and 1812 (2000) and Captains Contentious: The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine (2009). He is a professor emeritus of the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.
Anne T. Converse Photography
Neith, 1996, Cover photograph
Wood, Wind and Water
A Story of the Opera House Cup Race of Nantucket Photographs by Anne T. Converse Text by Carolyn M. Ford Live vicariously through the pictures and tales of classic wooden yacht owners who lovingly restore and race these gems of the sea. “An outstanding presentation deserves ongoing recommendation for both art and nautical collections.” 10”x12” Hardbound book; 132 pages, 85 full page color photographs; Price $45.00 For more information contact: Anne T. Converse Phone: 508-728-6210 firstname.lastname@example.org www.annetconverse.com
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 37
SEA HISTORY for kids Whale Biologist
Marine Science Teacher
Most people well into their careers will tell you that the path that got them there was not exactly a straight line. So it was that I was driving in my car last year, listening to the radio, when I heard the announcement that the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year was Cara Pekarcik. The name sounded familiar; Cara had been a student of mine years ago when I used to teach with a college program called SEAmester before I became editor of Sea History. But teacher of the year? I was certain I remembered that when Cara graduated, she got a job as a whale biologist. I got in touch with her and discovered that she is, in fact, both! “Sea History for Kids” has profiled many people in the marine or Cara as a visiting scientist/teacher, at sea in 2016, maritime field: maritime historians with the ice-covered mountains of Anvers Island, and archaeologists, oceanographers Antarctica, in the background. and marine geologists, marine photographers and videographers, a maritime attorney, a marine insurance agent, and even an ocean yacht racer. Nearly all of the people whose stories we have shared got to their chosen field after trying out other jobs, sometimes closely related, and sometimes not at all. In this issue, Cara Pekarcik, the 2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, shares with us her two professions and shows how, in her case, her former career still influences her current job. —Deirdre O’Regan
courtesy cara pekarcik
As a SEAmester student aboard the topsail schooner Californian for a semester at sea program, Cara got a firsthand look at what communal living aboard a ship for an extended voyage was like. She discovered that it suited her well, and that being on the ocean 24 / 7 for weeks at a time was all she dreamed it would be as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania—perhaps even better.
museum institute for teaching science
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a whale biologist. The ocean and its inhabitants have always fascinated me, from the bioluminescent capabilities of deep-sea creatures, to the tremendous diving capabilities of marine mammals, to the symbiotic relationships of so many diverse groups of organisms. I have never come across a marine science topic that I did not like.” Growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cara and her father watched of lot of nature shows on TV. She read everything she could about the ocean in magazines and books from the library. It didn’t matter to her that she did not live anywhere near an ocean, she set out to learn about local rivers and spent time along Lake Erie on family outings. Her family took a few vacations to Ocean City, Maryland, where she got her first look at the ocean. Cara went to a college that specialized in marine science studies, and, after graduation with a degree in Interdisciplinary Psychobiology, she got a job as a whale biologist for the Whale Center of New England in Gloucester, Massachusetts. There, she participated in long-term behavioral and photo-identification studies of endangered whales and served as an education specialist aboard whale watch excursion vessels. In 2006, Cara left Gloucester and took a job teaching high school science in North Quincy, Massachusetts, a job she still holds today.
Cara measures the invasive green crab during a summer professional development program studying the role of the salt marsh in coastal ecosystems.
SEA SEAHISTORY HISTORY165, 165,WINTER WINTER2018–19 2018–19
Marine Science Teacher “To be honest, it wasn’t until about three years into my job as an educator that I started to identify myself as a science teacher rather than as a whale biologist, although, for me, these two roles are not mutually exclusive. I teach classes in zoology, biology, life/ physical science, and marine science. My marine science class is one of my favorites, naturally, because I can use my own experience and personal connections to supplement class work with my students. I invite former colleagues into my classroom (in person or virtually) to introduce my students to scientists currently working in the field and learn about what they are researching. I also enjoy that it includes examining real-world examples that change from year to year. At the beginning of the school year in 2017, for example, Hurricane Harvey had just devastated areas along the Gulf of Mexico, and Hurricane Irma was barreling down on the Caribbean. What better time to talk about hurricane formation and the Coriolis effect? While I don’t expect most of my students to pursue marine science studies in college, many will grow up and be put in positions where their decisions will directly affect our planet. I hope that I have provided them with the tools to make informed, positive choices for all of us.” As a licensed teacher in Massachusetts, Cara is required to participate in professional development programs. A few years ago, this requirement landed her on an Antarctic research vessel to study photosynthetic algae (diatoms) in the Southern Ocean and near the Western Antarctic Peninsula. “I was there to learn about the science and then make it accessible to my students and to the public at large. Through daily online journals, a live-stream broadcast from Antarctica, and online Q & A sessions, my students could join me in real time and learn right along with me.”
photo by cara pekarcik, courtesy of arcus
courtesy cara pekarcik
photo by ari friedlaender, noaa
Whale Biologist During most of her time with the Whale Center, Cara served as the humpback whale catalog curator and database manager. In New England, most of the fieldwork, which involved going out on whale watch boats and research vessels, was seasonal, conducted in late spring, summer, and fall. Back in the office, Cara documented the team’s work in photoidentification of individual whales and performed other tasks for the organization. She also helped recruit interns. “When I was starting out, I paid Cara (in the yellow top) observes a breaching humpback whale off the coast of Massachusetts. my dues putting in a lot of time as an unpaid intern. It was an invaluable form of hands-on training that helped me understand more about the field I was pursuing and helped confirm that whale behavior and biology would hold my interest beyond college.” Internships can be hard work, and with no pay it is definitely a commitment and sacrifice. The networking—getting to meet and work with other people in the same field—and the job experience that came with the internship, Cara says, are essential building blocks for a marine science career. Now that she has made the move from boat to classroom, Cara still goes back to sea and works with marine scientists assisting on research projects in the summers and as part of her professional development as an educator. She is equally comfortable working in a lab, on the deck of a ship, or in a classroom. With more than a dozen years of teaching under her belt, her experience working with students has benefited the scientists she works with by effectively sharing their work with her students and others in the classroom, online, and in presentations.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 39
Animals in Sea History by Richard King
harles Darwin only spent nine days in New Zealand during his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle. He learned firsthand that these islands had no native mammals. Large, flightless birds, such as the enormous moa and the turkey-sized, multicolored takahe had, Darwin believed, “replaced” the roles of any native mammals. On the day before Christmas 1834, feeling a little homesick, Darwin made a now-fascinating observation about the rodents he encountered ashore. Writing a short description that has a great deal of meaning today, Darwin wrote: “It is said that the common Norway rat, in the short space of two years, annihilated in this northern end of the island, the New Zealand species [of rat]. In many places I noticed several sorts of weeds, which, like the rats, I was forced to own as countrymen.” Darwin understood that the Norway rat and the weeds he observed growing along the Bay of Islands in New Zealand had been introduced by British ships. Rats—the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the Ship rat (Rattus rattus)—along with a variety of plants, had been unintentionally carried across the oceans by ships delivering
missionaries and supplies to New Zealand, while harvesting flax and trees to bring home. American, British, and French whalers and sealers also surely accidentally introduced these species as well. What Darwin did not learn during his short stay is that the “New Zealand species” of rat he noted was not indigenous to this part of the world at all. This type of rat, which is much smaller than the other two and with a lighter brown fur, was known to the Maori as kiore; today it is also known as the Polynesian or Pacific rat (Rattus exulans). More than 800 years ago, the kiore came to this part of the world aboard the double-hulled sailing canoes of the Polynesians, during their epic migrations across the Pacific. The Polynesians, who settled in New Zealand in various tribes called iwi, brought the rats with them as pets, but also as a food source; their tiny pelts were also sometimes stitched together to make cloaks for men and women of high standing. Sometimes kiore were fed with berries, grilled, and then preserved in fat and served as a delicacy. Recently, ecologists and archaeologists have used kiore bones and their DNA, including that taken from the rats’ fossilized poop,
pacific rat photo at top courtesy the bishop museum
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
damaged specific bird populations to other islands where they will do less harm under the management of local iwi in the same way Māori had done hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, managing their kiore in specially-monitored reserves. Back in 1834, Darwin did not spend enough time there to learn how much these “New Zealand rats” had been revered—and he only had an inkling as to how much influence they had had on the ecology of New Zealand. Darwin visited during some of the most rapid and impactful decades of environmental change in New Zealand, an archipelago that is as unique in its isolation as those Galápagos Islands of his.
courtesy museum of new zealand
courtesy national library of new zealand
to help piece together the timing and locations of the historical migrations of Polynesian people to New Zealand and throughout the Pacific. Long before Darwin’s visit, this Polynesian rat had been doing serious damage to some of the native birdlife. The populations of New Zealand’s large flightless birds—such as the now-extinct moa, the now-endangered flightless parrot called the kakapo, and the iconic kiwi—were not only diminished by human hunting, but also by the kiore, which feasted on the eggs and even the chicks of these ground-nesting birds, which had never evolved any defenses against these kinds of mammals—or against any mammals. Kiore also ate a range of other unique species in New Zealand, including lizards, flightless beetles, and the giant weta, a kind of insect. Then, as Darwin accurately observed, when the Norway and ship rats arrived in the late 1700s, they so outcompeted kiore that not long after Darwin’s visit to the region in the 1830s, the Polynesian rat was isolated to only a few locations in the South Island and on some of the coastal islands.
An illustration of the Polynesian Rat, published as part of a scientific paper titled, “On the New Zealand Rat,” by Walter Buller in 1870.
Today, the New Zealand government has set a goal known as “Predator-Free 2050,” in which it is attempting to remove all three species of rats and other invasive mammals, such as possums and stoats, to try to protect their native endangered birds. But due to the sacred connection that some Māori in the North Island have maintained with the kiore, considering them a taonga, or treasure, and an ancestral friend of the first voyagers, small populations of the kiore have been moved from areas where they have
A 19th-century Tawhiti makamaka, or portable rat trap. The Māori prized the kiore and established reserves for them to control how and when the animals were harvested. Hunting and trapping kiore occurred in highly organized events. The specially prepared meat was often reserved for important guests and tribal leaders.
For more “Animals in Sea History” go to www.seahistory. org/kids or educators.mysticseaport.org.
“Sea History for K ids” is sponsored by the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 41
could scan and photograph the hull. The resulting documentation was converted to a 3-D model to aid in the vessel’s restoration. Work on the hull began in autumn 2016; a new bottom was built from the nine logs and attached to her existing frames and topsides; she was also fitted with new masts, rigging, and sails. The Edna E. Lockwood had her first sail since the restoration on 2 November and will embark on a heritage tour throughout the Chesapeake Bay in 2019. A registered National Historic Landmark, Edna E. Lockwood was the last bugeye to carry out oyster dredging in the Chesapeake Bay and is the last remaining log-bottomed bugeye ketch still in those waters. With the restoration completed, the museum was left with some extra loblolly pine logs. The museum is putting the wood to good use, constructing a new log canoe in the shipyard for a private commission. The Tilghman Island style five-log canoe will be approximately 32 feet long, with a beam of 6 feet. Milling of the logs began in September, and the hull shaping will take place into early 2019. “We’ve put a lot of effort into research and practice with the Chesapeake style of building,” said shipyard manager Michael Gorman. “I’m glad others find interest in the construction and stories of these boats.” In 42
crown copyright courtesy of the national archives, uk
Edna E. Lockwood relaunch at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in October.
major wars including the American and French Revolutionary wars, and the Napoleonic conflicts. The project is based at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, and the UK National Archives. Professor Dagmar Freist of the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany, leads the effort to catalogue and digitize the documents and add metadata, which will culminate in a freely accessible database. The Prize Papers Project is funded by the Academies’ Program of the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities through the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Göttingen. Partnering in the endeavor are the UK National Archives and the German Historical Institute London. (www.prizepapers.de; The National Archives: www.nationalarchives.gov. uk) ... The City of Buffalo, New York, has been given a piece of its naval namesake. The control panel of the inactivated nuclear-powered submarine, USS Buffalo (SSN-715), was delivered to the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park in October, having been driven across the country by a former crewmember, who volunteered to transport the 1,200-pound instrument panel to save it from being scrapped. US Navy veteran Daniel Markeson served in USS Buffalo in the 1980s and was eager to help save a piece of history. usn photo by p.o. 1st class amanda gray
October the shipyard also began work on a full stem-to-stern restoration of the 1912 river tug Delaware, a project expected to take two years. Built in Bethel, Delaware, by William H. Smith, the tug was donated to the museum by Bailey Marine Construction, Inc., in 1991. In August, CBMM announced it had been awarded an $80,000 grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Program to support the restoration project. (CBMM, (213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD; www.cbmm.org) ... The Prize Papers database, an ambitious 20year project, began in January this year to digitize a collection of papers that has been stored, essentially untouched, in the National Archives of the United Kingdom. The collection comprises the
The shipyard at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has been keeping busy. At the CBMM Oysterfest on 27 October, the 1889 bugeye Edna E. Lockwood was relaunched after a two-year restoration project. The hunt for logs of the correct length and width needed to replace the nine-log bottom of the 55-footlong oyster dredger began in 2014, and in 2015 the vessel was hauled so that the National Park Service HABS/HAER program
Many of the Prize Papers letters are still in their original bundles in mail sacks. documents and personal effects taken when a ship was seized and its capture declared before the Prize or Admiralty Court between 1664 and 1817. Approximately 160,000 undelivered letters, many of them still unopened, have been stored in the High Court of Admiralty (HCA) collection at the National Archives, Kew, London. Archivists have so far found journals, sheet music, drawings, poems, and small artifacts (seeds, glass beads and keys), all tucked in with communications between women, men, children, families, friends, religious communities, and business partners across the globe. The correspondence documents the experiences of ordinary people during
USS Buffalo arriving at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton on 26 May 2017. Plans are underway to turn the panel into an interactive exhibit. USS Buffalo, a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine, was launched in May 1982 at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. in Virginia. Commissioned on 5 November 1983, the submarine was the third US Navy ship to be named for Buffalo, New York. After 33 years of service with the US Pacific Fleet, the Buffalo was officially inactivated in July and will be decommissioned SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
early in 2019. Processing the vessel for recycling commenced after the submarine’s arrival at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, from its homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in May of 2017. To ready the ship for recycling, yard workers have to shut down its nuclear reactor and remove hazardous and classified materials. (Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park. One Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, NY; www.buffalonavalpark.org) ... Friends of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum announced that they have been awarded a $40,000 Maritime Heritage Grant to create an interpretive master plan for the historic harbor tug Angels Gate. Built in 1944, Angels Gate currently operates on a limited sailing schedule. The
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grant will be used to create opportunities for the public to enjoy dockside tours. “Although visitors take a great interest in Angels Gate, until now, very few have had the chance to board this historic tugboat” said Marifrances Trivelli, director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum (LAMM). The Maritime Heritage Grant Program is administered by the National Park Service and supports maritime preservation and education projects across the country. (LAMM, Berth 84, Foot of 6th St., San Pedro, CA; Ph. 310 548-7618; www.lamaritimemuseum.org. For more information about the Maritime Heritage Grant Program, visit www.nps.gov/maritime/ grants/intro.htm.) ... In September, Representative Robert Brady (D-PA) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Two US Navy ships that served in WWI still exist as museum ships, the protected cruiser USS Olympia and the battleship USS Texas (BB-35). Olympia’s final mission was conducted in 1921, when the ship transported the remains of the
WWI Unknown Soldier from Le Havre, France, to the United States. The ship arrived at the mouth of the Potomac River on 7 November 1921 and transited up the river, exchanging salutes with Fort Washington and Mount Vernon, before reaching its final destination at the Washington Navy Yard. Today’s visitors associate the area with the Washington Nationals, but baseball was not on the minds of Secretary of War John W. Weeks; Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby; General of the Armies John J. Pershing; Admiral Robert E. Coontz, CNO; and Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps, when they greeted the Olympia and the Unknown Soldier. Instead, their thoughts were on the millions of men and women who perished in the “war to end all wars.” Olympia’s crew fired a 21-gun salute before her most valuable passenger departed the ship and was placed in the protective custody of soldiers of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment. Soldiers from this regiment have stood guard at his burial site at the Arlington National Cemetery through rain, snow, sleet, or shine for almost a century; they will never leave him. This was USS Olympia’s final mission. The storied naval vessel was decommissioned in 1922 at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, just a few miles down the river from where she is berthed today. Olympia lives on as a museum ship at the Independence Seaport
Museum in Philadelphia. The ship is currently undergoing repairs to stabilize the hull so that she can be moved to a drydock for additional work. During much of this time, the ship is open to the public. The ship is a star, and I’m thrilled that Representative Brady’s resolution references her contribution to the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I’m also grateful for his recognition of the centennial of the Armistice. More than 100,000 Americans died in the conflict and I, along with everyone who works with USS Olympia, want to say thank you to the families who lost loved ones. —Adapted from an article by John Brady, president of the Board of Directors for the Flagship Olympia Foundation, originally published online in Maritime Executive, 9 October 2018. (ISM, 211 South Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA; Ph. 215 413-8655; www.phillyseaport.org) ...
library of congress
The casket bearing the Unknown Soldier is carried down USS Olympia’s gangway.
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 43
the acquisition of rare shipbuilding timber and other materials for the planned restoration of the schooner. The second grant will fund the restoration, digitization, and rehousing of selected cellulose diacetate negatives from the Rosenfeld Collection, which have been affected by a form of acetate film base deterioration. The collection is built on the inventory of the Morris Rosenfeld & Sons photographic business and is the largest archive of maritime photographs in the United States. Diacetate negatives are subject to a natural process
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L. A. Dunton
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In September, Mystic Seaport Museum announced it has been awarded Save America’s Treasures grants to support two important preservation projects: critical preservation work for the Rosenfeld Collection of Maritime Photography and the restoration of 1921 fishing schooner L. A. Dunton, a National Historic Landmark. Built in Essex, Massachusetts, the 123-foot Dunton is one of the last surviving examples of the once-common Grand Banks fishing schooners of the 19th and 20th centuries. The grant will support
of degradation as the plastic mounts give off acetic acid in the presence of humidity and/or other environmental factors. The mount shrinks and partially separates from the base, resulting in the formation of channels in the film. The resulting condition, known as “vinegar syndrome,” renders the negatives unusable. The grant will enable the museum to preserve 3,500 affected negatives. Save America’s Treasures was established in 1998 and is managed by the National Park Service in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the objective of preserving nationally significant historic properties and museum collections for future generations of Americans. (MSM, 47 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-0711; www.mysticseaport.org) ... Rediscovering Julius Kroehl by James Delgado On 9 September 1867, Julius Hermann Kroehl died of Yellow Fever in Panama City. A German-American immigrant to New York, Kroehl had come to Panama with an amazing craft, his Sub Marine Explorer, a 36-foot long, cast- and wrought iron submarine capable of extended deep dives. In many ways anticipating the design of later submarines, Kroehl’s Explorer used a system of compressed air and seawater ballast tanks to dive and surface. The compressed air also allowed him to pressurize the internal “working chamber” of the sub to match that of the depths it was diving to; this allowed him to open external hatches to exit the submarine and directly access the seabed to work. Kroehl, working with New York shipbuilder Ariel Patterson, constructed Explorer in Brooklyn in 1864– 1866, following his Civil War service in the Union Navy as an underwater explosives expert. Kroehl and his backers had SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
full honors, as a US Navy veteran at the American Cemetery at Corozal, in Panama, has begun. I was asked to co-direct the exhumation and worked with the cemetery’s superintendent, Oliver Villalobos, and his team on 11–12 October. In the graveyard, the crew worked to dig through seven feet of clay to find Kroehl’s pine coffin lying under two feet of water, thanks to the high water table. It was a powerful, emotional experience for all to recover Julius Kroehl from his flooded, muddy grave. This forgotten giant in the saga of the development of the submarine was actually a man of slight build, and his face, defined by his skull, matched the description in his passport
courtesy james delgado
hoped to sell the submarine to the US Navy, but the end of the war doomed that plan. Instead, they sent the partially disassembled Explorer and Kroehl to Panama to harvest pearls and oyster shells from the Pearl Islands on Panama’s Pacific Coast. Arriving in March 1867, Kroehl crossed the isthmus by rail with his submarine and reassembled it next to the railroad’s facilities on Panama Bay. As he was preparing to take Explorer out to the Pearl Islands, he was stricken with “the fever” and died not long afterwards in his hotel room. He was buried in Panama’s Cemeterio de Extranjeros, the “foreigner’s cemetery,” by the local Masonic Lodge, as he was a Mason. Explorer was rescued from the beach by its investors and sent to the islands to harvest pearls. After a single successful season in 1870, the vessel was abandoned, left on the beach of Isla San Telmo. Battered and partially stripped, the rusted hulk emerged from the sea each day for the next 131 years as the tide ebbed. I was told of the strange craft during a visit to the islands in 2001. After witnessing its rusted form emerge as the tide fell, I was compelled to learn its story, which gradually led to the saga of Julius Kroehl and an expedition to document the sub’s remains. As to preserving Explorer, we made the decision to let it slowly succumb to the elements. Measurements of its corrosion and remaining iron showed that what was left was more graphite and concretion than metal. The cost of recovery would be prohibitive, conservation difficult, and an institution would need to come forward ready to commit to the significant funds that would be required to conserve and maintain it. More to the point, the Explorer has become part of the maritime cultural landscape of the Pearl Islands, and residents of La Esmeralda, on the next island, earn money guiding passing tourists to the wreck. Why remove what is now their submarine? Though the decision was made to leave Explorer in situ, Julius Kroehl’s remains were rescued from what is now an unmarked grave in the Cemeterio. Thanks to the hard work of the American Battle Memorial Commission and the United States Embassy in Panama, their concerted efforts to exhume Kroehl and rebury him, with
Julius Kroehl’s remains exhumed from a gravesite in Panama in October 2018. (oval face, small jaw, and high forehead), a document written out in an age when they did not carry photographs. This was one of the most powerful and touching opportunities I have been privileged to experience in my 46-year career as an archaeologist. Early next year, I will return to Panama, and to Corozal, with his extended family of great nieces and nephews, and others, to rebury him with the respect and honor he deserves. The quest to rescue the story of Julius Kroehl and document his craft and achievements was aided by many, including a Sally Kress Tompkins grant from CAMM to complete HABS/HAER documentation of Explorer. Articles and a book, Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine (Texas A&M University Press), two documentaries, much media coverage, and a Chicago-based indie folk rock band’s debut album, with a song dedicated to Explorer, have returned Julius and Explorer to their rightful place in the story of the development of the modern submarine. —James Delgado is the Senior Vice President of SEARCH, Inc.
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SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 45
1st WORLD CONGRESS ON MARITIME HERITAGE 2019
“Connecting With the Past to Navigate the Future” Singapore • 13–15 March 2019 At the 2014 NMHS Annual Awards Dinner in New York City, Daniel J. Basta, recipient of the NMHS Distinguished Service Award, proposed the challenge that connecting the world’s shared maritime heritage could be used as a means to help navigate a sustainable future. After several years of coalition building and development, the 1st World Congress on Maritime Heritage is ready to take up the challenge. Maritime heritage is the history of human involvement with the oceans and coastal lands and waters—the history of seafaring, navies, ports and waterfront communities, immigration, fishing, the marine environment, the arts, and the law. The world we live in today is a legacy of our maritime heritage. Driven by the Consortium for International Maritime Heritage, the 1st World Congress will launch a coordinated effort, bringing together a diverse array of maritime constituent groups, institutions, and stakeholders from across the world, and providing a unique opportunity for all to form new partnerships towards achieving a common objective—securing a sustainable future through better understanding of our common maritime heritage. The 2019 Congress will gather in Singapore, which will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.
A Pressing Need Our world today is an interconnected global economy us in the same way. It will also serve to improve our underand, in many respects, an increasingly connected political, standing of how modern uses of the ocean, such as energy social, and cultural landscape. What is not well understood extraction and maritime transportation, play important roles is that our world is very much the result of the last few cen- in the lives of a global society. The 1st World Congress will turies of our collective mastering of the seas—a process that serve as a focal point for a wide array of groups, institutions, has resulted in the greatest mass migrations of human popu- and individuals to learn about their shared heritage. It provides lations in history, global commerce, exploitation of the oceans an opportunity to exchange experiences and cultural values to fuel the explosion of human populations, and an increased worldwide, to shed light on how we are all interconnected rate of climate change as a result of all this activity. These and how we accept the challenge to work towards a better developments have caused many around the world to ponder understanding and sustainability of our global economy. an uncertain future. The forces and drivers of change that Deliberations at the Congress will provide an additional bridged the seas and connected all cultures and economies venue for further working towards achieving Goal 14 of the still drive our world today, perhaps at an ever-increasing rate. Sustainable Development Goals, “the world’s best plan to Nevertheless, we are more cognizant than ever of the conse- build a better world for people and our planet by 2030,” quences of failing to adjust, as our actions continue to change adopted by the United Nations in 2015: Conserve and Susthe world around us. tainably Use the Oceans, Seas, and Marines Resources for The 1st World Congress on Maritime Heritage provides Sustainable Development. Ultimately, it will foster new inan unprecedented opportunity to re-discover our past through teractions and help new coalitions to be formed within the the lens of our shared maritime heritage and will help to shed wider maritime community to evolve better ways to cooperlight on how the factors that affected the past need not affect ate towards our shared purposes. Who Should Attend? The 1st Congress is designed to attract 300–500 international leaders and participants from diverse sectors including: • All elements of the maritime industries sector • Maritime museums and aquariums • Port cities and coastal regional planners
• Historians, archaeologists, geographers, economists, and other scholars who study the interaction between humans and the ocean
The Program A three-day program will combine plenary, thematic, regional and interactive sessions and consist of a wide range of speakers and panelists from diverse sectors. It also includes three evening functions, which will provide the ideal platform for networking. Details are posted on the World Congress website. For more information on the World Congress on Maritime Heritage and how to register, visit wcmh2019.com. 46
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
CALENDAR Conferences & Symposiums •American Historical Association, 133rd Annual Meeting, 3–6 January in Chicago, IL. (www.historians.org) •Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, 9–12 January in St. Louis, MO. Theme: “Making the Most of Opportunities: Education, Training, and Experiential Learning.” (www.sha.org) •Tall Ships America Annual Conference, 25–27 February in San Pedro, CA. Conference theme: “Raising Our Sails, Raising a Workforce.” (www.sailtraining.org) •1st World Congress on Maritime Heritage, 13–15 March in Singapore, organized by the Consortium of International Maritime Heritage. (www.wcmh2019.com) •2019 National Council on Public History Annual Meeting, 27–30 March in Hartford, CT. (www.ncph.org) •3rd Annual NC Whales & Whaling Symposium, 6 April at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort (315 Front St., Beaufort, NC; Ph. 252 504-7740; www.ncmaritimemuseumbeaufort.com) •“Water Logics” Conference 11–12 April at Tulane University in New Orleans. (Contact Edwige Tamalet Talbayev at etamalet@ tulane.edu for more information.) •PCA/ACA National Conference (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association), 17–20 April in Washington, DC. “Sea Literature, History, & Culture” will be one of the subject areas presented. (www.pcaaca.org) •Council of American Maritime Museums Annual Conference, 24–26 April in Manitowoc, WI, hosted by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. (www.councilofamer icanmaritimemuseums.org) •North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) 45th Annual Conference, 15–18 May in New Bedford, MA. Conference theme: “Connecting the Global and Local: The Sea and Maritime Cities.” Call-for-Papers deadline is 1 February. (www.nasoh.org) •International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM), 15–20 September 2019 in Sweden and Finland. The Congress begins in Stockholm, then moves by Baltic ferry—with Congress sessions held onboard—to Mariehamn. The Åland Maritime Museum will host the final days of the Congress. (www.icmmonline.org)
Festivals, Events, Lectures, Etc. •Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, 14–15 and 21–23 December. (47 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-0711; www.mysticseaport.org) •New Year’s Eve Deck Party Aboard USS Constellation, 31 December at 10pm, organized by Historic Ships in Baltimore. (301 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD; Ph. 410 539-1797; www.historicships.org) •New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the Independence Seaport Museum, 31 December in Philadelphia. (211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA; Ph. 215 413-8655; www. phillyseaport.org) •“Great Lakes Fish,” a lecture by Patrick Forsyth, 3 January at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, WI. (120 N. Madison Ave., Sturgeon Bay, WI; Ph. 920 743-5958; www.dcmm.org) •23rd Annual Moby-Dick Marathon, 4–6 January at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. (18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA; Ph. 508 997-0046; www.whalingmu seum.org) •Chantey Blast & Pub Sing, 5 January in Mystic, CT. Hosted by the Mystic Seaport chantey staff and the Pinewoods Folk Music Club. (Frohsinn Hall, 54 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 5720711 ext. 5037; www.mysticseaport.org) •Columbia River Maritime Museum Lecture Series: “Shipwreck Archaeology” by Christopher Dewey, 18 January; “Pilotage and the Elements on the Columbia River Bar” with Captain Dan Jordan, 22 January; and “Oregon’s Manila Galleon” by Cameron La Follette. (1792 Marine Dr., Astoria, OR; Ph. 503 325-2323; www.crmm.org) •8th Annual Clam Chowder Cook-off, 18 January at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. (315 Front St., Beaufort, NC; www.ncmaritimemuseum.org) •“Tapping History: The Untold Story of Longleaf Pine, Naval Stores, and a Vanished Forest,” a lecture by Harry Warren and Brian van Eerden, 24 January at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA. (100 Museum Dr., Newport News, VA; www.marinersmuseum.org) •Tall Ships America–2019 Tall Ships Challenge, 29 June–1 September in the Great Lakes. Participating ships will visit ports in both the US and Canada. (www. tallshipschallenge.com)
E xhibits •The Greek Communities of Tarpon Springs and the Bahamas, through 2 February at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez. (4415 119th Street West, Cortez, FL; Ph. 941 708-6120; www.floridamari timemuseum.org) •Sky-Horizon-Light: Perspectives on Crane Beach, through February at the Cape Ann Museum in MA. (27 Pleasant St., Gloucester, MA; Ph. 978 283-0455; www. capeannmuseum.org) •This is New York, through 28 February at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. (800 Riverview Drive, Winona, MN; Ph. 507 474-6626; www.mmam.org) •Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition, through 28 April at Mystic Seaport. (47 Greenmanville Avenue, Mystic, CT; Ph. 860 572-5388; www. mysticseaport.org) •Frederick Douglass Bicentennial: 1818– 2018, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum; also, Into Infinity: Art by Milton Brightman, through 2018. (18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA; Ph. 508 997-0046; www.whalingmuseum.org) •Mohawk Valley Through the Lens: Erie Canal Amsterdam to Rome, through January at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, NY. (318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse, NY; Ph. 315 471-0593; www. eriecanalmuseum.org) •Art of the Sea and Sea & Shore will open on 23 February at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Both art exhibitions will be on display through 30 September. (1492 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA; Ph. 619 234-9153; www.sdmaritime.org) •Claus Hoie: Watercolor Fantasia, now through 3 March at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Also at the museum, The Tropics Next Door: A Look at Maine and the Caribbean, through 5 May. (43 Washington St., Bath, ME; Ph. 207 443-1316; www.mainemaritimemuseum.org) •Exploring the Chesapeake–Mapping the Bay, through 17 March at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. (213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, MD; www.cbmm.org) •Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy, through 1 May 2021 at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. (265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA; Ph. 617 253-5927; www.mitmuseum.mit.edu)
SEA SEAHISTORY HISTORY165, 165,WINTER WINTER2018–19 47 2018–19 47
MARITIME HISTORY ON THE INTERNET
by Peter McCracken
Researching Recent and Current US Legislation
n the past two issues we have explored ways of finding information about past legislation and its supporting documents. In this issue we will look at current legislation and ways of tracking it through its process of becoming law. Keep in mind that most proposed bills do not become law, however, and many that do are primarily ceremonial. But when a significant piece of legislation becomes law—or doesn’t, but does go through extensive debate and consideration—the process can generate an impressive amount of verbiage. GovTrack (https://govtrack.us) provides a free tracking service for information about current bills. When a bill is of particular interest, such as Senate bill 3021 (America’s Water Infrastructure Bill of 2018) for example, track the bill through this website as you wish, but if you create an account, you’ll receive updates automatically from GovTrack whenever changes occur to that bill—in the House, the Senate, or in joint committees—to resolve differences. Note that GovTrack is not operated by the US government. The site has some typical social-media features to it and allows organizations to post position statements on its bill summary pages, so it is important to recognize the source of various parts of the webpage’s content. It also provides summaries written by its own staff, regarding several bills. These are often interesting reads and can be useful for providing context. LegiScan (https://legiscan.com) provides a similar service to GovTrack, but for state legislative bills rather than federal bills. LegiScan includes a tracking service and information on related bills, and has direct links to the authoritative state record on the bill in question. LegiScan allows posting from Facebook, so some bills will have a lot of comments from the public about the legislation. A number of LegiScan’s advanced features are only available after subscribing, though the fees are very reasonable. The official US Congress website, https://congress.gov, provides a useful overview of activities taking place in both houses of Congress, and includes extensive background information about active legislation, organized by subject or by sponsor. It also offers a useful series of videos that explain the legislative process (https://www.congress.gov/ legislative-process). I found that results from GovTrack tend to be more relevant than results for the same terms at Congress.gov, but each site has its own benefits and drawbacks. Congress creates a lot of information. The Congressional Record is “the official daily record of the debates and proceedings of the US Congress,” and as such it reprints the discussions that take place on the floor of Congress, along with comments and documentation that senators and representatives add after the session has concluded. The Congressional Record consists of sections for the Senate, the House, the additional comments, and the “Daily Digest.” These can be searched simultaneously at https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record, covering 1995 to today. The Congress. gov site is quite comprehensive and includes all current reports from congressional committees and their subcommittees. This site is vital for following these reports as they work their way through the legislative system. The Federal Register serves as the federal government’s official journal. It is published daily and contains various rules, amendments, executive orders, regulations, and more. The content of laws published in the Register are then consolidated into the annual publication of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Federal Register content is available online back to 1936 at https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/FR, and content since 1994 is searchable at https://www.federalregister.gov. GovInfo also has the annual CFR back to 1996 at https://www.govinfo.gov/help/ cfr, and perhaps even more useful is the list of parts of the CFR that have been updated through Federal Register changes since the last published version of the CFR, at https:// www.govinfo.gov/app/cfrparts/month. A nicely organized version of the current CFR can also be found at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, at https:// www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text. Suggestions for other sites worth mentioning are welcome at email@example.com. See https://www.shipindex.org for a free compilation of over 150,000 ship names from indexes to dozens of books and journals. 48
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
Mapping Naval Warfare: A Visual History of Conflict at Sea by Jeremy Black (Osprey Publishing, New York, 2017, 192pp, illus, maps, index, isbn 978-147282-786-9; $45hc) Professor Jeremy Black’s Mapping Naval Warfare is more than a book of maps. As its subtitle explains, it is a visual history of conflict at sea that includes manuscripts, maps, charts, prints, paintings, and drawings. Black’s richly illustrated volume provides a broad general history of naval warfare across the centuries. In the broadest strokes, his text summarizes the general history of naval warfare and gives a useful overview of the subject, while at the same time focusing on his theme: the use of maps in naval warfare. The author has chosen his words for the title carefully; he does mean “maps” and not “charts.” The work is not an illustrated history of naval hydrographic activity, but rather a survey of the manner in which maps and diagrams have been used to supplement written texts in explaining naval operations, while at the same time presenting a summary of naval history. Jeremy Black opens his volume with a discussion of naval mapping in the period before 1700. Up to the beginning of the eighteenth century, he notes naval actions were commonly celebrated pictorially in detailed oil paintings on canvas or in fresco murals. The main reason for the rise in naval mapping was to celebrate a memorable victory or other naval events. One of the earliest in English was the 1589 map of Drake’s 1585–86 voyage to the West Indies and North America. From this point, map images from the Anglo-Dutch war and the first two of the Anglo-French naval wars added to the body of work available at the same time that fleet naval tactics were developing the line of battle. Secondarily, naval mapping accompanied the general rise in printed charts made famous through the cartographic works of Willem Janszoon Blaeu and his son Johannes, Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, Peter Gedda, and Grenville Collins. The latter’s cartograph-
ic works contributed to national maritime submarine booms, and nets. Another shows security in a different sense and allowed for the minefield laid in 1918 by USS Baltimore naval planning to begin to take place, al- in the Irish Sea’s Straits of Moyle. beit in secrecy. The second section, covering the peThe eighteenth century saw a rise in riod 1919 to 1945, includes a wide range of the widespread use of specialty maps to maps that range from public information illustrate naval actions. The images that and propaganda maps to formerly classified Black has selected range maps for the German invasion of England, across the century from the several diagrams and maps on convoy opbombardment of Copenha- erations, and sample diagrams illustrating gen in 1700, the capture of British operations in U-boat warfare. The Gibraltar and of the Silver book provides a fascinating comparison on Fleet at Vigo during the war facing pages of Japanese and American of the Spanish Succession, to maps of Pearl Harbor. Also, there is a JapQuiberon Bay and amphibi- anese map of Leyte Gulf in 1944 and anous operations during the other postwar Japanese map showing Seven Years’ War, to Nelson’s losses during the naval war in the Pacific. victory at the Nile in 1798. The final chapter of the volume covers During this period, one begins to observe the period from 1946 to 2017. This chapter The Glencannon Press maps of naval activities in operations oth- includes diagrams of the Inchon Landings 4 col. inches (2.25 x 4.5 er than fleet battle. andinches) the Cuban Missile Crisis, operational Prefer rightusehand page,ranges bottom right. In the nineteenth-century of naval of Soviet submarines in the Atlantic, maps, Black has chosen images that show the Vietnam, and Falklands wars. The final the tactical movements of fleets in Nelson’s images of the chapter include photographs victories at Copenhagen and Trafalgar as of electronic maps and displays as well as well as later actions in the War of 1812, the naval officers from various countries using Crimean War, the US Civil War, and the maps during the Gulf War and recent Spanish American War. A cartoon repre- operations. senting the development of naval propaganda in the period shows Napoleon seekTHE GLENCANNON ing freedom of the seas as a universal value. PRESS In Black’s accompanying text to these images, he discusses the parallel development Maritime Books of charting and hydrographic surveying, but, appropriately, does not illustrate it. Over the span of this century, a variety of NEW! styles and approaches emerged in naval The hisTory of The AssociAmapping. Tion of MArylAnd PiloTs Black devotes three chapters—nearly half the book—to the twentieth century. by Capt. Brian Hope The first section deals with the period from 1900 to 1918. Much of this section deals A veteran pilot of more than 40 with the First World War, but the author years experience guiding ships has not overlooked other events such as the through Chesapeake Bay, battle of Cunfidah during the Italian-TurkCapt. Hope chronicles the fasish War of 1911–12. There are several maps from the 1914 battle of the Falkland Iscinating history of this organilands; one of particular interest is a conzation from before the Revolutemporary maneuvering board diagram tionary War to the present. signed by an officer in HMS Invincible. There are also several printed maps of the FREE Catalog 1-510-455-9027 battles of Jutland and Dogger Bank, and a Online at manuscript map of the ANZAC Landing www.glencannon.com Zone at Gallipoli. Among them, a 1915 map of Scapa Flow includes the defenses,
SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 49
Jeremy Black’s innovative use of the naval map in this volume creates attractive and informative illustrations for his broad overview of naval history that will appeal to the general reader. Experts in naval history will be intrigued by the use of this overlooked type of image and, while lamenting the lack of precise archival source information here, will see opportunities to make further use of, research, and analyze such maps. John B. Hattendorf Newport, Rhode Island The Shore is a Bridge: The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Lake Ontario by Ben Ford (Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 2018, 304pp, illus, maps, tables, biblio, index, notes, isbn 978-1-62349605-0; $75hc)
Ben Ford’s The Shore is a Bridge: The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Lake Ontario is an ambitious book that makes important new contributions to our understanding of the history and archaeology of Lake Ontario, while raising the methodological bar for the study of North American coastal and marine archaeology. Well known for his scholarship in archaeology of maritime cultural landscapes, a burgeoning but loosely defined area of research, Ford consciously organized his book as “an argument for, and an example of” a maritime landscape approach to the study of the areas of interface between human activities on land and on the water. The opening sentence of the preface outlines Ford’s central idea and intellectual agenda with a clarity rarely seen in scholarly volumes: “the history of the shore is seamless, with
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humans moving easily from water to land, utilizing resources throughout, and the archaeology of the shore should likewise be seamless.” The appropriateness and meaning of the book’s title, while initially sounding a bit quixotic, is soon made clear. While the existing canon of scholarship and practice have created a division between land and maritime sites and cultures, Ford explains that “the shore thus forms a short bridge between maritime archaeology and terrestrial archaeology through the communication and transportation routes that radiate from the shoreline.” By connecting land and water through the bridge of shore and maritime landscape, Ford states that his ultimate goal is to view lakemen and lake women as part of their Lake Ontario maritime cultures, and the maritime cultures as part of their larger societies.” As Ford states, the intellectual construct of landscape “is both multifaceted and difficult to define.” This is in part because a wide range of academic disciplines embrace different variants of cultural landscape theory and because people from different cultures or living in different times may perceive the same physical place “from drastically different frames of reference.” In short, one place may have multiple cultural landscapes that may interact with and influence one another. While broadly suited for the study of coastal areas worldwide, the maritime landscape approach, Ford demonstrates, is especially appropriate on the Great Lakes, where a wide array of indigenous, European, and Euro-American cultures interacted with the marine environment and one another. Ford’s discussions of cultural landscape theory and applications of method are nuanced and will prove valuable to emerging generations of historians and archaeologists attracted to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the past. The book also offers much for nonarchaeologists interested in Great Lakes pre-history and history. In his second chapter, Ford provides an excellent cultural landscape analysis of the evolution of place names along Lake Ontario. In tying shifting physical geographies to patterns of human activity, Ford provides a master class in transforming lists of names into the SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
building blocks of dynamic histories. Chapters that follow provide a dense but engaging and sophisticated summary of Lake Ontario regional history that addresses a wide range of important cultural, economic, and political developments that influenced the maritime cultural landscape. These chapters provide the historical foundations for deeply researched studies of “geographically grounded microhistories,” each describing the Lake Ontario maritime landscape from the vantage point of one location. From these historical and material foundations, Ford weaves together a regional-scale analysis of Lake Ontario maritime landscapes that raises the questions connected with ephemeral landscapes (important landscapes that once existed, but for which no material record survives, such as ice roads), differing cultural perceptions of danger, and the idea of a “pan-lake” identity that resulted from Lake Ontario’s isolated but internationally connected maritime location. The book ends with a concise but important chapter on the condition and associated cultural and ecological issues associated with Lake Ontario’s twenty-first-century maritime landscape. To summarize, The Shore is a Bridge is a unique and important contribution to the maritime historical and archaeological scholarship of the Great Lakes and North America. The cultural landscape methodologies showcased in the book are useful and a long step in right direction. Equally or more important than the specific methodologies described are the critical questions about the meaning of landscape and maritime identity that Ford raises throughout the volume. While it is first and foremost a book suited to professional scholars, the author’s exceptional writing clarity makes it accessible to the sophisticated general reader with a strong interest in local, Lake Ontario, or Great Lakes history. John Odin Jensen Pensacola, Florida Barons of the Sea—And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ships by Steven Ujifusa (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2018, 427pp, index, illus, appen, notes, isbn 978-1-4767-4597-8; $29.99hc) The clipper ship era has been romanticized as the pinnacle of design for long-
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SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 51 Sea History.indd 1
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distance fast-sailing wooden vessels. The golden age of this special type of ship had a fascinating, complex history, a backdrop that includes the individuals who envisioned these maritime marvels. Steven Ujifusa has chronicled these characters through a whole series of events, sometimes triumphant and sometimes disastrous. It is a slice of oceanic history that takes its readers from New England and New York, around Cape Horn into the Pacific, and deposits them in both China and California. The author weaves the details of shipbuilding, shipboard life, and the revolutionary technical changes that recount the race to build the fastest oceangoing sailing ships in the world. It is a tale of competitive seaborne commerce, and of many colorful men and their families who both prospered or were impoverished as a result of this unrelenting struggle. It is also the story of motivation, innovation, and the occasional moral dilemmas that took place during the middle part of the nineteenth century. The cast of characters includes maritime shipbuilders and financier legends. Among these are Aspinwall, Delano (Delannoy of Flemish origin), Forbes, Griffiths, McKay, Palmer, Russell, Waterman, and the Lows. Also highlighted were celebrated captains like Josiah Cressy, Charles Porter Low, Nathaniel Brown Palmer, and Josiah Richardson. The author generously provides his readers with many definitions of arcane nautical terms so that they can follow improvements that were made and why they were important to this history. He also gives detailed background information about the opening of China— and later Japan—for their products, especially tea. Ujifusa discusses the convoluted history of the opium war and the competition between Great Britain and the United States for East Asian hearts, minds, and especially their money through exploitative and counter-exploitative plots. This was a calamity that induced drug dependency on a population and evolved into gunboat intimidations. The repeated theme, however, is accounts of breaking sailing speed records using Matthew Fontaine Maury’s new ocean currents charts and sailing directions, leading to frequently harrowing and occasionally triumphant voyages. 52
For literary connoisseurs, Ujifusa employs many quotes from Joseph Conrad, Richard Henry Dana Jr., Hermann Melville, and Walt Whitman. From Melville’s White Jacket: “and now, through drizzling fogs and vapours, and under damp, double reefed topsails, our wet decked frigate drew nearer and nearer to the squally Cape [Horn]. Was the descent of Orpheus, Ulysses, or Dante into hell, one whit more hardy and sublime than the first navigator’s weathering of that terrible Cape?” In his own descriptive passages, the author puts himself in their league with examples like, “The winds howled and foaming waves smashed over the bow…then there was a great cracking sound, followed by the din of falling blocks, ripping canvas, and shrieking ropes.” His prose is at times sensitive, always entertaining, and, best of all, informative. Details related to the fortunes and misfortunes of many maritime titans fill in gaps to the romanticized histories we’ve read before. The famed and celebrated Donald McKay, who designed and built the record-setting Flying Cloud, ultimately died in near poverty. The forementioned Delanos were ancestors to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served as assistant secretary of the navy (1913–1920) and was an avid sailor, ship model builder, and collector of nautical artifacts before he ever stepped foot in the Oval Office. For any historian or maritime enthusiast who wishes to learn about the brief but glorious clipper ship era, I would recommend Barons of the Sea as an excellent choice that provides scholarship, sophisticated writing, and an enjoyable read. Louis Arthur Norton West Simsbury, Connecticut John Banister of Newport: The Life and Accounts of a Colonial Merchant by Marian Mathison Desrosiers (McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2017, 248pp, illus, appen, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-4766-69328; $49.95pb) At the wharf that still bears his name at the center of the busy Newport, Rhode Island, waterfront, John Banister’s ships arrived from and departed for ports around the world during the mid-eighteenth century. Raw materials and staple goods coming out the American colonies paid for
manufactured goods from Great Britain, luxury goods from Asia, and molasses from the West Indies. Banister’s business acumen made him one of the most successful merchants of Newport, and an icon for the commonly accepted story of American colonial trade. In John Banister of Newport, Marion Mathison Desrosiers dives deep into the detailed colonial merchant’s accounting records and business journals to paint an intricate portrait of the business of colonial maritime trade. While her work does not produce any new revelations that significantly change the American story, this book sheds light on details and nuances that have been otherwise left largely untouched by other historians. John Banister of Newport is not a traditional narrative biography or an argument for any particular historical interpretation; instead, it is an analysis of Banister’s business dealings and community activities informed by data that is often presented in its original form. From lists of Banister’s individual outbound and inbound cargoes to shipwright and crew payrolls, few details are considered too insignificant for inclusion. This level of detail will prove fascinating for students of colonial trade and merchant shipping, but it may overwhelm the more casual reader interested in a good yarn about a familiar New England figure. Instead of a refined narrative, this book is more of a view into the raw research work of historical study. Desrosiers mines a particular document that only recently came to light; the 552-page “Journal Belonging to John Banister Commencing Anno 1746” was the shipping merchant’s primary accounting book, in which he and his clerks recorded the daily transactions for three years. The book was acquired by the Rhode Island Historical Society in 2003, and Desrosiers is the first historian to make a detailed study of it. With a wealth of new data from the Banister’s accounting journal in hand, Desrosiers is able to provide some social and cultural context for Banister’s business pursuits. With chapters on his place in Newport society and the Banister family’s role as consumers, Desrosiers looks at how the luxury goods that he imported created SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19
an affluent sense of status in colonial society. That connection is not new among colonial trade histories, but Desrosiers’s incredible sourcing fleshes out this aspect of colonial trade with the intricate details of Banister’s daily life and his business conduct. She includes, for example, lists of Banister’s specific fabric imports with quantities and values, and demonstrates exactly what types of garments and goods would have been made with the cargoes, and who their market was. Although this book does not particularly seek to give meaning to Banister as an individual historical figure, Desrosiers uses the minutiae of his business as a lens to understanding the broader patterns of trade that he participated in and contributed to. By listing Banister’s exact cargoes, their origins and destinations, Desrosiers demonstrates just how varied the trade was, and in turn backs up assertions that the smuggling trade and the rest of the West Indian markets were a crucial element of the North American economy. Similarly, in the details of Banister’s shipbuilding and outfitting, Desrosiers is able to depict how the fledgling shipbuilding industry in the region worked, and why. Banister’s records show merchants in the American colonies were not only building for their own use, but for sale to their existing Caribbean customers, some of whom were in non-British colonies. Desrosiers connects Banister’s disparate lists of materials and equipment to the final product, highlighting the logistical, physical, and financial effort required to get a merchant ship afloat. In addition to merchant ships, Banister had a business interest in several privateers, whose costs and income are similarly laid out by the author. Desrosiers provides context for understanding how Banister viewed his investments in privateers as an obligation to country that would enhance his business reputation in the community, even if they ultimately proved unprofitable financially. Desrosiers’s dense text is likely to prove tedious for readers of popular maritime histories. There is little drama here and no effort is made to entertain the reader, but John Banister of Newport does serve as an excellent insight into the hard work
historians often undertake in assessing mundane records of history and giving them meaning. For students of colonial trade and shipping, the author’s efforts in this work have produced a treasure trove of data and interesting details that paint a much clearer picture of a prominent early American merchant and the business of trade. Carl Herzog Falmouth, Massachusetts White Pine: American History and the Tree That Made a Nation by Andrew Vietze (Globe Pequot, Guilford, CT, 2018, 186pp, notes, index, 978-1-4930-0907-7; $18.95pb) If you live in the Northeast, you have likely made pilgrimages to the region’s most northern relaxation spots, in the White Mountains and the wilds of Maine. Inevitably, you comment to the locals on the beauty of the pine trees. They cryptically respond with “Ah, yes, the King’s Pines,” and walk away. When the first European explorers scoped out the region for settlement and natural resources extraction, they saw the majestic white pines standing legion along the ocean’s edge and saw neither forests nor trees, but masts. So began a century and a half of controversy that ultimately erupted into violence between agents of the King of England and local settlers. Vietze, a talented New England historian and park ranger with a deep passion for the natural and human history of the pinus strobus, explains the origins of the simmering conflict that led to war. The same divisive undercurrents that are attached to sugar, tea, and other commodities symbolically tied to the American Revolution—mostly concerning private ownership against royal prerogative, taxation without representation, etc.—can be tied to the white pine. When the Revolution did break out, one of the earliest British raids was on Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, an attempt to wrest trees destined to be masts for the Royal Navy away from the locals. The pine tree became a rallying symbol for all of New England. The most famous portrait of the Battle of Bunker Hill, John Trumbull’s depiction of the death of General Joseph Warren, features the flag of New
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SEA HISTORY 165, WINTER 2018–19 53
England, with a white pine tree replacing the St. George’s Cross in the canton. Although they generally stand stoically and quietly in our woods today, white pines were once at the center of controversy and conflict, with a distant ruling body seeing the future of its naval might in North American forests, and local landowners forging their way in the New World standing up to defend what they saw as their property, and their way of life. John Galluzzo Hanover, Massachusetts Churchill and Fisher: Titans of the Admiralty by Barry Gough (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2017, 640pp, illus, notes, index, isbn 978-1-459411-36-4; $39.95hc) Professor Barry Gough’s latest of his many books on maritime and Commonwealth history may well turn out to be his finest hour. The author pits the two titans of the sea, Winston Churchill and Admiral John (Jackie) Fisher, against each other in a 600-page dreadnought of a book. It proves to be a masterpiece, filled with action and high drama.
At the start of the twentieth century Churchill, aged thirty-six in 1910, was a very young First Lord of the Admiralty and a most impetuous and rash night owl. Admiral Fisher, who had begun his Royal Navy service in the 1850s, was First Sea Lord from 1904 to 1910, when in his sixties. In the run up to the Great War, he was nearing the end of a fine career of naval reform. Handling this scrappy duo fell to Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. One recalls Queen Elizabeth’s yoking a phlegmatic Hawkyns to a choleric Drake as co-commanders on their final voyage for Spanish gold in 1595. It was chalk and cheese under Elizabeth, and the same under George V. This was the end of Edwardian England—1910 to 1919—that led up to and through the Great War. Kaiser Wilhelm II, cousin to George V, went to war in 1914 against England in an early call for Lebensraum. The Kriegsmarine had expanded under German admiral Alfred von Tirpitz until checked by British Admiral John Jellicoe in May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland. Ashore in England, there was social unrest: women’s agitation for suffrage and, with original art of the yankee whale hunt
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the war, conscription, the start of the Royal Air Force, and the creation of General Kitchener’s Army. Edwardian confidence was falling away fast to Realpolitik. Two scandals of note rocked England during the Great War. First was the insufficient production of artillery shells, and the second, Britain’s unsuccessful attempt to control the sea route from Russia to Europe, resulting in the Gallipoli campaign, fought from February 1915 to January 1916 against the Turks. The German fleet, which had been aiding the Turks, escaped to Constantinople, then Turkey soon joined the German coalition. Could Britannia still rule the waves? Apparently not, now two years into the Great War. Churchill was partly responsible for the Gallipoli debacle. That and the blimps over England—a bit of new German technology—brought down both titans. Fisher was relieved of his position as First Sea Lord and ordered to man a desk at a government inventions board. Churchill was relieved of his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and given command of a battalion of doughboys on the Western Front. Within two years, however, he was named
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Secretary of State for War and Air. The rift between Fisher and Churchill took years to mend. Asquith had to form a short-lived coalition government, one that in 1916, in the midst of the war, was given over to Liberal David Lloyd George. Both Churchill and Fisher saw that the Royal Navy needed modernizing to keep up with Germany’s military advances, with her U-boat attacks at sea and zeppelin raids over land. For years Fisher had watched the growing Teutonic threat, and so oversaw the launching of HMS Dreadnought and other heavy battleships. He revamped naval training, and successfully positioned the Royal Navy fleets around the world for best strategic and tactical advantage. The new release by British publisher Pen & Sword and Naval Institute Press in the US has a few typographical errors, as one sharp-eyed reviewer has noted. Others have taken the author to task for some of his conclusions, but Gough is persuasive as he builds his case. His research is meticulous, and his praise of and criticism for these two great men facing the Great War is even-handed. The index by itself reveals Gough’s understanding of his subject’s complexities. In this latest of Gough’s books, we see his characterizations of youth and age kicking against the cross-currents of war and politics. Gough writes well, and his book is both good literature and solid history. Centuries earlier, Raleigh had written from his cell in the Tower that those who command the seas command its trade and hence the world. One can add that he who commands the seas has won half the battle, half the war. Gough fleshes out the two naval commanders, and gives them a local habitation and a place. No reader of Sea History should be without this book. James S. Dean Kenosha, Wisconsin On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides (Doubleday, New York, NY, 2018, 394pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-0-385-54115-2; $30hc) Author Hampton Sides has produced the definitive history of the battle at Chosin Reservoir in North Korea and presents it in such detail that his reader should plan
to not read it all at once, but rather make time to take a deep breath and rest along the way. On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle, while not an obvious maritime title, is worthy of attention from readers of Sea History. The United States Marines, for one, are America’s “soldiers of the sea,” and secondly, the US Navy, as always, played a strategic role in the conflict. The Navy carried the Marines to the shores of Korea at Inchon where the battle at the Chosin Reservoir began. Both carrier- and land-based US Navy and Marine aircraft supported the men ashore throughout the conflict, and the fleet carried out the survivors who reached the port at Hungnam. Moreover, US Navy physicians and corpsmen fought and died beside the Marines and soldiers of the US Army. On Desperate Ground is as much a sea story as a narrative account of a clash of fleets. And you will find no better writing. Sides has not offered a gung-ho narrative of US Marine glory, but a step-by-step account of how and why US armed forces were placed in a life-and-death situation created by hyper-egos and human frailty and how the men on the ground dealt with the sorry hand they were dealt. Sides carefully credits everyone involved, even to the thousands of Chinese soldiers thrown into the American meat grinder. Within the overall diorama of the Chosin conflict, Sides interjects a score of individuals and their experiences to illuminate the desperation of the fighting. And that desperation is the heart and soul of the book. If a novelist recounted fighting men trekking ten miles at night in mountainous terrain under continuous fire from a determined enemy, while enduring temperatures that at times reached a whopping seventy degrees below zero, would-be publishers would probably reject the manuscript. But On Desperate Ground is not a work of fiction, but an account of what the “Chosin Few” endured as they fought their way out of an envelopment by an overwhelming number of Chinese regulars. On Desperate Ground is recommended to readers interested in naval warfare, military history, the US Marines, or simply a good read. David O. Whitten Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
New & Noted Adrift: A True Story of Tragedy on the Icy Atlantic and the One Who Lived to Tell About It by Brian Murphy, with Toula Vlahou (Da Capo Press, Hachette Book Group, New York, 2018, 263pp, isbn 9780-306-90200-0; $27hc) The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World by Maya Jasanoff (Penguin Books, New York, 2018, 400pp, isbn 9780-14-311104-7; $18pb) Engines of Rebellion: Confederate Ironclads and Steam Engineering in the American Civil War by Saxon T. Bisbee (University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2018, 264pp, isbn 978-0-8173-1986-1; $59.95hc) Incidents at Sea: American Confrontation and Cooperation with Russia and China, 1945–2016 by David F. Winkler, Foreword by John W. Warner (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2017, 336pp, isbn 978-1-68247-1-975; $31.95hc) The Listeners: U-Boat Hunters During the Great War by Roy R. Manstan (Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 2018, 352pp, isbn 978-0-8195-7835-8; $34.95hc) To Master The Boundless Sea: The US Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire by Jason W. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2018, 269pp, isbn 978-1-46964004-0; $35hc) Pacific Exploration: Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle by Nigel Rigby, Pieter van der Merwe, and Glyn Williams (National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Adlard Coles, Bloomsbury, Publishing Plc, New York, 2018, 256pp, isbn 978-1-4729-57733; $30pb) Picturing the Pacific: Joseph Banks and the Shipboard Artists of Cook and Flinders by James Taylor (National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Adlard Coles, Bloomsbury, New York, 2018, 256pp, isbn 978-1-4729-5543-2; $35hc)
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Contents: 12 Into the Lifeboats: Abandoning the Packet Ship John Rutledge, by Brian Murphy • 18 HM Prison Dartmoor—A Paradox in Devon, Engla...
Published on Dec 1, 2018
Contents: 12 Into the Lifeboats: Abandoning the Packet Ship John Rutledge, by Brian Murphy • 18 HM Prison Dartmoor—A Paradox in Devon, Engla...