Rappahannock Fact or Fiction


Status
Not open for further replies.

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
The Rappahannock story has always seemed suspect to me. It exists in two versions.

In one, Rappahannock meets Titanic on the night of Saturday, April 13th. She signals “Have just passed through heavy field ice and several icebergs.” Titanic acknowledges the signal.

This version makes no sense at all. At the time, both ships were more than 500 miles from the scene of the collision and nowhere near ice. “Just passed” simply does not fit.

In the other version the same events take place at 10-30 p.m. on the night of Sunday, April 14th.

This version implies that Murdoch was totally irresponsible and pressed on in spite of the warning.

Both versions imply that all surviving passengers and crew either never noticed the incident, or kept quiet about it ever after.

Rappahannock must have reached Britain somewhere around April 20th. If the story were immediately published, we would expect to find it in the press at about that date, perhaps on Monday, April 22nd. This means that the story would have been known to both Lord Mersey and Senator Smith in good time to be mentioned in their respective enquiries. Yet it appears in neither. Smith claimed not to be reading the press but somebody was providing him with the stories then circulating. He was keen enough to attempt to investigate the ridiculous Luis Klein story and would surely have been most ready to attack the Rappahannock tale.

Could it be that this is a later story, perhaps invented months or years later? Should it be filed with the Samson tale and Dr Quitzrau’s affidavit? In the absence of a primary source, instinct tells me that it may well be merely the invention of somebody who wanted to get publicity as being privy to special knowledge. You don’t have to look far to find such types.

Has anybody anything on the origins of the tale?
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,325
185
338
As a bit of information, she went missing at sea in 1916 and never re-appeared, if memory serves, but I will consult my source and post. <FONT COLOR="ff0000">My memory may be completely, well, you know!..

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,325
185
338
I forgot before, but in <FONT COLOR="ff6000">The New York Times of April 27th 1912 the story stated that the ship had passed Titanic on April 13th 1912, not the following day, when she collided with the iceberg. I don't have further information, other than Walter Lord who stated this in the acknowledgements at the end of his second book of 1986, <FONT COLOR="ff6000">'The Night Lives On.'
 

Erik Wood

Member
Aug 24, 2000
3,519
15
313
Mr. Gittins,

I have never heard of this until recently. I to am a little bit nervous. But I think that both inquiries sought to punish somebody and Lord was it. This fits that "Conspiracy Theory" type of thing. But I too am having a hard time accepting it since it seems to escape mention in all of the inquires and so far as I have found in all of the papers.

I wonder if you might give me some help in locating the resources of in which you found the information above. Or perhaps have a idea where I may find some of my own.

Erik
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
5,055
339
433
G'day, Erik!

The two versions are in Walter Lord (April 13th) and Eaton and Haas (April 14th).

What we need now is the NYT for April 27th. The whole thing still sounds queer to me. If it was published that early, why did Senator Smith miss it. He followed up far lesser matters. Also did the NYT get it via a British paper?
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,325
185
338
Dave,

Eaton & Haas in <FONT COLOR="ff6000">'Titanic: A Journey Through Time' have modified their version to occur on April 13th 1912. I think it's only wrong in <FONT COLOR="ff6000">'Falling Star,' but I don't remember it mentioned in <FONT COLOR="ff6000">'Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy.'

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jun 4, 2000
1,286
6
313
I have two different versions of the Rappahannock story too:

April 13, Saturday night - Lord (TNLO), Wels, Lynch
April 14, Sunday night - Marcus, Eaton & Haas (T:T&T, 1st Edition but not in the 2nd; FS), Gardiner (TRotT)

As Dave G points out, neither makes sense.

(Erik - in the 'other' thread, you wrote that you had a reference to the 'meeting' taking place on Friday. Could you provide the reference? I haven't found this one yet. Friday is even loopier than Saturday or Sunday, so I'm intrigued…)

In the 'other' thread I wrote that I went through works I have readily to hand looking for mentions of Rappahannock. I realise that some of the works listed may seem a bit strange in this search. I thought it worthwhile to cast the net widely across the general works and then cross-reference the possible meeting (impossible meeting?) with two relevant strands of Titanic writings (ice warnings and candidates for the 'mystery ship').

Those that I checked that have no mention: Beesley, Behe, Bisset, Booth & Coughlan, British BoT enquiry, Brown, Butler, Davie, Harrison, Marshall, O'Connor, Padfield, Reade, US Senate enquiry, Wade.

That Behe and Brown do not mention Rappahannock is significant, I think. And that Rappahannock, a 'damaged' ship with an 'excuse' for not racing to Titanic's rescue is not cast in the mold of mystery ship also seems significant to me. (Although Gardiner comes close in The Riddle of the Titanic if you want to count him.) Another interesting aside - Rappahannock's acting Captain Smith had a letter criticising Captain Lord published in the Daily Telegraph in 1962 (Bless Marcus, his footnotes and his little cotton socks).

Rappahannock also escapes mention in both enquiries. Marcus himself comments on lack of reference to the Furness Withy liner in the enquiries, puzzled that a letter from FW&Co to the BoT explained that none of their ships were in Titanic's vicinity on the Sunday night:

Quote:

We beg to advise you that we had no vessels in the vicinity when the disaster occurred to the Titanic



(Quote from BoT Titanic file, Marcus, G, The Maiden Voyage, 1969, The Viking Press, NY, p 276)

However, Marcus clearly believes that Titanic did encounter Rappahannock on the Sunday night. There are several references to this throughout The Maiden Voyage.

I'm interested in knowing what others think - Titanic fact or another Titanic myth? I'm fence sitting with 'not proven' but currently leaning towards it being another furphy. I wonder what Rappahannock's log for the relevant period would show?

It's also fair to mention that I was skimming through the above list of works while running a truly remarkable temperature, so there's certainly leeway for inaccuracy. As such, I would welcome any amendments or corrections. I don't own every Titanic book, nor do I have access to the relevant newspaper microfiche. As for what might be covered in various magazines of Titanic journals...

Interesting stuff, eh.

Cheers,

F
 

Erik Wood

Member
Aug 24, 2000
3,519
15
313
All good info. I think this may be part of a bigger piece of pie in it's relation to Lord. But could very possibly be nothing at all. The sight which I got the friday meeting was I believe the Cameron CD (or it could be that I have my days mixed up.)

Erik
 
Oct 28, 2000
3,242
548
388
For the record -- I did not mention Rappahannock simply for the honest reason of deadlines. I was aware of this potential controversy at the time of writing my book, but deadline pressure prevented doing any serious research. So, I included nothing about it rather than re-hash some other author's work.

Not with regard to just Rappahannock, but to all other vessels that night: Titanic was just a bit south of the regular shipping lanes, which in 1912 were quite busy. Imagining that Titanic was "all alone" that night is about as realistic as imangining an auto accident occurring on a busy highway that for some inexplicable reason has no other passing cars for six hours.

It is unlikely that Californian was the only ship to see Boxhall's rockets...and, it is possible that Titanic did see a third vessel between it and Californian. But, possibilities are not facts. Everything has to be considered as a rumor until you have two separate sources for a single, unequivocable fact. I did not have enough time to spend researching the Rappahannock aspect of the story, so it is not in my book.

--David G. Brown
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads