News from 1872 Baltic I Rescues the Crew of Assyria

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New-York Times, 27 November 1872

Wreck of the Assyria, of Newcastle---Rescue of the Crew by the
Steam-Ship Baltic
The White Star United States mail steam-ship Baltic, which arrived here
yesterday, reports encountering a very severe gale during Monday and
Tuesday, the 18th and 19th inst. On Wednesday, the 20th, at about 12
o'clock, a ship was sighted off port bow, and was soon reported to have
lost her maintopmast, and a flag of distress was seen. The steamer's
course was turned so as to come up with her as soon as possible. It was a
little over an hour before the steamer reached her, and then the
distressed vessel was seen to be a helpless wreck and rapidly going to
pieces, and the crew clinging to the rigging. The sea was running very
high at the time, and the wind blowing a gale, but volunteers were
called for and two boats were immediately manned, and, commanded by the
second and third officers, were sent to the scene of the disaster.

Nineteen men who had been two days clinging to the rigging were rescued.
The first boat was prevented from returning to the wreck by reason of an
injury to her rudder, but the second boat, commanded by Officer
Williams, was compelled to make a return trip before all the crew could
be saved.

The name of the sinking ship was the Assyria, of Newcastle, England,
Capt. Blanche, bound from Quebec to Plymouth, England, with a cargo of
timber. She encountered the gale on Sunday evening, at about 6 o'clock,
and such was its severity that, although everything was done that could
be to save her, yet by 2 o'clock A. M. on Monday she was waterlogged,
with the loss of one man swept overboard.

Hon. Charles Sumner, who was on board, started a subscription for the
volunteers and for the benefit of the shipwrecked crew, and a committee
was appointed, consisting of Mr. Sumner, ex-Senator Gwin, of California;
Capt. Watmough, United States Navy; Mr. Edward Shaw, of Liverpool, and
Rev. R. N. Thomas, of Philadelphia, as Secretary.

On motion of Senator Gwin, a vote of thanks was passed to the Captain of
the Baltic and his officers for the ability and skill with which they
had conducted the steamer on the night of the storm and in the rescue of
the shipwrecked crew. The subscription having been opened, £85 10s. 6d.
was quickly handed in. Two pounds were ordered to be given to each of
the crews of the first and third boats; the steward and a sailor named
Sweeney got $4 each, but the crew of the second boat were not considered
worthy of any special mark of favor, as they failed in the moment of
trial, and by such failure endangered the lives of their brethren. A sum
of £10 was placed in the hands of Capt. Williams to procure some slight
mementoes of the occasion, and to present them to officers Bruce and
Williams. A sum of £31 was ordered lo be distributed among the officers
and crew of the wrecked ship, and the balance given to Capt. Blanche.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New-York Times, 28 November 1872

The Wrecked Assyria---Statement of Capt. Blanche
Yesterday, the Captain and crew of the ship Assyria, water-logged and
abandoned at sea, who had been rescued by the steam-ship Baltic, of the
White Star line, appeared before the British Consul, Mr. Archibald, and
registered their names. The ship's company consisted of Capt. Theodore
Blanche, John Irwin, first mate; Wm. White, second mate, and Adam
Davidson, Francis McDonald, David Hamilton, John Nelson, John Johnson,
A. Francis, Albert Rayer, John Anderson, John Hill, Oliver Tate, Thomas
Emerson, C. McLachlan, Carl Carson, Landler McInnis, seamen, and James
Duncan, ship's boy. William Atkins, who had his arm broken, was sent to
the hospital, and the rest of the crew, who were entirely destitute,
were provided with quarters at the Sailors' Home, in Cherry-street,
where they will be kept until they obtain ships. The passage of those
who desire to return home will be paid by the Consul, by whom each man
has been supplied with a complete outfit. They express themselves as
extremely grateful for the kind treatment extended to them by Capt.
Kennedy and officers of the Baltic.

The following is the protest of Capt. Blanche, presented, in accordance
with law, to the Consul for the purpose of securing the insurance on the

The Assyria left Quebec on the 6th inst., laden with timber, for
Queenstown, Ireland, and prosecuted her voyage with variable winds and
weather, but without anything having occurred worthy of particular
mention until the 17th inst. In the evening a fresh breeze sprung up,
which rapidly increased to a gale, with heavy snow squalls, and
notwithstanding that the sails were handed, and those that were still
set closely reefed, the cross-jack yard was carried away in the slings.
The debris of the rigging was cleared away and the ship allowed to run
before the wind. The storm continued to rage during the night, and
toward morning had increased to a hurricane, with a tremendous cross
sea. An immense wave struck the ship on the starboard, and rendered her
completely unmanageable. The spanker closely reefed was set to enable
the ship to be steered, but it did not last more than ten minutes before
it was blown to pieces. Then the real troubles of the crew commenced,
the waves dashing with unceasing fury over the doomed vessel, and
tearing away everything that was not firmly lashed from the decks. At
last, a monster wave, bearing destruction in its mighty breast, struck
the ship on the starboard bow, carried away the cut-water and cat head,
opened the ship at the wood ends, along the stem, and tore away seven or
eight planks and timbers, so that the cargo in the hold was visible. All
hands went to work at the pumps, but without being able to keep down the
water, which rose rapidly in the hold. The sails were blown out of the
gaskets, and the waves continuing to wash overboard, the boats and
everything movable were torn away.The boatswain, William White, and
carpenter, Frank Anderson, were carried over the bulwarks, and with
great difficulty the former was rescued. Nothing more was seen of the
carpenter. The same sea washed everything from the cabin. About noon, on
the 18th inst., the sea was tremendous, and the pumps still working,
when it was discovered that the ship was settling fast. An hour later a
heavy sea struck the ship and tore away all the stanchions and
covering-boards from the fore rigging to the mizzen rigging and caused
the ship to fill at once, the sea meanwhile making a complete breach
over the vessel. The crew were now compelled to climb into the rigging
in order to save their lives, as the sea was uninterruptedly breaking
and dashing with prodigious fury over the hull. They clung to the spars
to which they had lashed themselves for two days, when at length the
weather become more moderate. The main-mast was found to have settled
down about two feet, and the main-topmast was cut down. About 10 o'clock
on the morning of the 20th inst., a vessel hove in sight, which proved
to be the steamer Baltic, of Liverpool. She sent her own boats, and,
having with difficulty rescued the wrecked crew, carried them to

The vessel was owned by W. Harrison & Co, of New-Castle-upon-Tyne, and
was of 1,357 tons Custom-house measurement.

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