Page images
PDF
EPUB

blank. It is not bound, but the large sheets are sewn into au enveloping piece of sailcloth, which is rudely hemmed at the upper and lower edges. This cloth cover bears the simple inscription, "Steam-ship Savannah's Log-book," printed in bold characters. The handwriting is that of Stephen Kogers, the sailing-master. Every word in the closely written pages is legible, the ink being still black; but a small portion of the entries, however, have any present interest, the larger part being remarks on the weather, on the disposition of the ship's sails, and the results of the observations of latitude and longitude. We propose, however, to give some extracts from this interesting relic.

headed respectively, "H, K, HK," Course, Winds, LW;" and then comes a longer space, headed, " Remarks on board," with the proper date.

The second entry is as follows:

"Remarks on board Monday March 29th 1819. These 24 hours begitiB with fresh breezes and clear. At 4 P.m. the Hilands of Neversink bore N. b. W. 6 Leagues distant from which I take my departure. At 10 P.m. took in Topgallant Sails. At 6 A.m. Set Topgallant Sails. At 8 A.m. Tacked Ship to the Westward. Saw a brig and Schooner Steering to the Westward. At 11 A.m. took in the Mi/on and Fore Top gallant Sails. At 11 A. * got the Steam up and it come on to blow fresh we took the Wheels in on deck in 30 minute. At meridlon fresh breezes and Cloudy. Lat by Obs. 39° 19'."

This is a fair sample of the daily records,

[graphic][ocr errors]

and to combine with them a history of the voyage, obtained from outside sources. The engraving at the head of this paper is a perfect fac-simile of the log-book.

The caption of the first page is as follows:

*' A Journal of a Voyage from New York towards Savannah on board steam-ship Savannah; Moses Kogers, Master."

This is continued on three pages; the caption of the fifth being,

"A Harbour Journal on board steam-ship Savannah; Moses Rogers, Master."

And after a few pages this in turn gives place to:

"A Journal of a Voyage from Savannah towards Liverpool on board steam-ship Savannah; Moses Rogers, Master."

The caption changes afterward several times, but preserves the same formula.

The first entry in the log-book is the following:

"Sunday March 28th 1819. Tbese 24 hours begins with fresh breezes at N. W. At 10 A.m. got under way for Sea with the crew on board. At 1 P.m. the Pilot left the Ship off Sandy hook light."

After this entry the page is ruled on the left side into six narrow columns, which are

extending, without much to relievo the monotony, over a period of nine months.

The statement, " we took the Wheels in on deck in 30 minute," refers to the fact that this steamer was so constructed that in case of boisterous weather her paddlewheels could be brought on deck.

During the next two days the vessel encountered heavy gales and strong breezes. On the Saturday following the departure we find this entry: "These 24 hours begins balm and pleasant. Used Wheels middle of the Day."

The steamer reached Savannah on Tuesday, April 6, having used steam four days. It remained there eight days, and then "got steam up and started for Charleston," which they reached next day. The vessel lay at Charleston, "all hands employed in Ships duty," until April 30, when they returned with steam to Savannah.

A few days later, while the vessel was lying at the wharf in Savannah, we find this interesting entry: "May 3d Joseph the Cook left the Ship"—a circumstance of no small

• H stands for hour, and K for knot*, the HK for half knots, and Is very rarely Ailed.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

importance to those dependent upon his culinary labors.

The Savannah remained twenty-three days at the city of the same name, during which time " all hands were engaged in Ships duty" aud in " taking in cole."

Ou the 11th of May we find this entry: "These 24 hours begins with light breezes at N. W. and pleasant. President of the U. States James Monroe and suit come on 1 man I of the Ship at 7 A.M. to go to Tybe light. At 8 A.m. got the Steam up," and after a pleasure excursion the distinguished party returned in the evening.

The next entry (May 12) is quite curious: "Daniel Claypit cut his left thum off, the Doctor done it up and then bled James Monroe."

The recurrence of this distinguished name in this connection is very singular; probably one of the crew was thus called.

Life ou board the steamer at anchor off Savannah was not wholly devoid of incident. The sad accident related in the following entry was, we believe, the only oue which resulted fatally during the entire voyage. "May 19th John Western comeing on board from the shore fell of the Plank aud was Dronuded. he was a native of Massachusetts, Town of Gray. At 10 A.m. caught John Western with a boat-hook and jury was held

over him branght in accerdental Doth took him on board the Ship and put him in a Coffin."

On the 22d of May Captain Rogers "got steam up and at 9 A.m. started" on the transatlantic voyage. Nothing of much interest is detailed in the daily records of the log-book, which are, on the whole, rather monotonous with their repetitions: "These 24 hours begins with" such andsuch weather. On the 2d of June they " stopped the Wheels to clean the clinkers out of the furnice, a hevy head sea, at 6 P.m. started Wheels again; at 2 A.m. took in the Wheels."

Land was sighted on June 16, being the coast of Ireland, and on the 17th the Savannah "was boarded by the King's Cutter Kile, Lieutenant John Bowie."

The log-book here as elsewhere is sternly brief, bnt fortunately we have in Stephen Rogers's own words a fuller account of the

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

amusing circumstances connected with this boarding by the king's cutter. He said, in a communication to the New London (Connecticut) Gazette: "She [the steamer] was seen from the telegraph station at Cape Clear, on the southern coast of Ireland, and reported as a ship on fire. The admiral, who lay in the Cove of Cork, dispatched one of the king's cutters to her relief. But great was their wonder at their inability, with all sail in a fast vessel, to come up with a ship under bare poles. After several shots were tired from the cutter, the engine was stopped, and the surprise of her crew at the mistake they had made, as well as their curiosity to see the singular Yankee craft, can be easily imagined. They asked permission to go on board, and were much gratified by the inspection of this naval novelty." Two days later (June 20) they "shipped the wheels and furled the sails and run into the River Murcer, and at 6 P.m. come to anchor oft' Liverpool with the small bower anchor."

These simple, words are all that were thought necessary to record the successful termination of the daring veuture; not a word of boasting, of congratulation, nor even of thankfulness, docs this man of deeds place on record. Fortunately we have details of the manner in which the steamer was received in the account given by Stephen Rogers already alluded to. He says: "On approaching Liverpool, hundreds of people came off in boats to see her. She was compelled to lay outside the bar till the tide should serve for her to go in. During this time she had her colors all flying, when a boat from a British sloop of war came alongside and hailed. The sailing-master was ou deck at the time, and answered. The officer of the boat asked him, ' Where is your master?' to which he gave the laconic reply, 'I have no master, Sir.' 'Where's your captain,thenV 'He's below. Do you wish to see hunt' 'I do, Sir.' The captain, who was then below, on being called, asked what he wanted, to which the officer answered,' Why do you wear that pennant, Sir?' 'Because my country allows me to, Sir.' 'My commander thinks it was done to insult him, and if you don't take it down he

[ocr errors]

will send a force that will do it.' Captain Rogers then exclaimed, to the engineer, 'Get the hot - water engine ready!' Although there was no such machine on board the vessel, the order had the desired effect, and John Bull was glad to paddle oil' as fast as possible.

"On approaching the city, the shipping, piers, and roofs of houses were thronged with persons cheering the adventurous craft. Several naval officers, noblemen, and merchants from London came down to visit her, and were very curious to ascertain her speed, destination, and other particulars."

During the sojourn of the Savannah at Liverpool the British public regarded her with suspicion, and the newspapers of tho day suggested the idea that "this steam operation may in some manner bo connected with the ambitious views of the United States." One journal, recalling the fact that Jerome Bonaparte had offered a large reward to any one who would succeed in rescuing his brother Napoleon from St. Helena, surmised that the Savannah had this undertaking in view.

The steamer remained twenty-five days at Liverpool. Meanwhile the following tragic event is recorded:

"July 18th 1819 TheBC 44 hours begins with fresh hreezca and rain. Captain Rogers told Mr Bluckman to go on shore after James Bruce and John Smith to get them on hoard. Tiiey would not Come; the watchman put them In the boat, John Smith tried to nock Mr Blackman over board Struck him several times he Swore lie would take Mr Blackman's life but Mr Blackman got him on board and he denied his duty and then he was put in Irons. Middle and latter part fresh gales at S.W. and rain."

The peculiar way in which this tragedy is ushered in by "breezes and rain," and concluded with "gales at S.W. and rain,"is very amusing. Next day we read: "John Smith Still in Irons." But the next day after this we read: "At 5 A.m. took the Trons off John Smith he went to duty." Our chronicler is very considerate not to leave us in doubt as to the termination of this effort to force an obstreperous man to perform bis prescribed duties.

The Savannak sailed for St. Petersburg on July 23, "getting under way with Steam," and "a large fleet of Vessels in company."

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

Captain Rogers

touched en route at Copenhagen, where his vessel excited great curiosity, and also at Stockholm, where she was visited by the royal family, or, in the homely language of the log-book, "His royal highness Oscar Prince of Sweden and Norway come on board." (August 28.) While at Stockholm we find this entry: "Mr. Huse [Christopher Hughes] the American Minister and Lady and all the Furran Minersters and their Laydes at Stockholm come on board"—and at Mr. Hughes's invitation made an excursion among the neighboring islands.

On tho 5th of September the steamer left Stockholm, with Lord Lyncdock,of England, who was then on a tour through the north of Europe, as a distinguished passenger. On the 9th she reached Cronstadt, having used steam the whole passage, and a few days later she arrived at St. Petersburg. Here she was visited, by the invitation of our embassador at that court, by the Russian Lord High Admiral, Marcus de Travys, and other distinguished military and naval officers, who also tested her superior qualities by a trip to Croustadt.

The Savannah liugered at St. Petersburg until October 10, and then set sail on her homeward voyage, " in company with about 80 sail of Shiping." She arrived at Savannah, Tuesday, November 30, the weather on that day being " calm and fogy." Shortly after, the steamer was taken to the navyyard at Washington. The object of this visit to the national capital was, in the words of another, " to fix her name and exploits in the minds of prominent men from all parts of the United States, in order to lay a foundation for the defense and maintenance of our claim to that distinction which this craft and her daring commander had unitedly wrought out for our nation upon the mighty deep."

The journal of the voyage continues while at Washington. We transcribe but two more entries:

"Dec 16ln 1819 Frank Smith damd and swore at the Captain and struck at the Captain and struck him two or three times and then Smith was put in irons."

The last entry in the log-book is as follows:

"Remarks on board Friday Dec lTth 1819. These 34 hours begins with light breezes and cloudy. Suudry jobs on hand."

This abrupt termination of the log-book we can not account for. The subsequent history of the Savannah can be told in a few words. On account of the great fire in Savannah her owners were compelled to sell her, and she was purchased to run as a packet between that place aud New York, whither she was bound, under charge of Captain Nathaniel Holdredge, when she was lost on the south side of Long Island.

During bis sojourn at European ports Captain Rogers received marked attentions from persons of distinction. While at Stockholm the King of Sweden presented him with a "stone and muller," and Lord Lynedock gave him a massive gold-lined tea-kettle. This relic of the voyage stands before me as I write; it bears the following inscription: Presented to Captain Moskb Rogers,

of the Steam-ship Savannah (being the first Steam Vessel that had crossed the Atlantic), by Sir Thomas Gbaham, Lord Lynkpook, a Passenger from Stockholm to St- Petersburg. September IB, 1819.

The sailing-master, Stephen Rogers (who, by-the-way, was no relation to the captain, notwithstanding the similarity of names), was also the recipient of valuable favors.

The Emperor of Russia presented him with a superb gold snuft-box, which is still in the possession of his descendants.

This sketch of the voyage of the Savannah, with the extracts from the log-book, establishes beyond a doubt that America deserves the credit of having been the first to apply steam machinery to the navigation of the Atlantic—an honor which is too often accorded to England. Many articles on the early history of steam navigation have been written which ignore the claims of the Savannah and her enterprising captain.—See the article in the American (Whig) Review, Vol. I., 1845.

In fact, when the steamers Sirius and Great Western arrived in New York Harbor, April 23, 1838, twenty years after the exploit of the Savannah, they were received with extravagant manifestations of delight; and in an editorial of the 24th April (New York Expresi) reference is made to the "unusual joy and excitement in the city, it being almost universally considered as the beginning of a new era in the history of Atlantic navigation." The achievement of the Savannah was forgotten; her skillful captain no longer lived to claim his rights; but patriotic citizens protested in the public press against losing sight of the just claims of America.

"AND WHO WAS BLENNERHASSET?"*

HARMAN BLENNERHASSET was born in Hampshire, England. The residence of his parents was Castle Conway, Ireland, but at the time of his birth they were visiting in England. He received his academic education at the Westminster School, in England, where he manifested great fondness for classical studies. He then entered Trinity College, Dublin, graduating at length with distinguished honors.

A brilliant career seemed before him. He had wealth, rank, and intellectual powers of high order, richly cultivated. In person he was very attractive, and in his manners prepossessing and winning. Having read law at the King's Inn Courts, in Dublin, he was admitted to the bar in 1790. He then left England for the tour of Europe, and on his return nominally assumed practice at the bar in Ireland. But he devoted his time principally to the study of the sciences, music, and general literature.

After the death of his father, in 1796, Mr. Blennerhasset received a large accession to his fortune, and soon after removed to England. His friends were among the highest of the nobility. He married Miss Margaret Agnew, daughter of the Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man. His family connec

• William Wirt.

tions were all royalists, who looked with contempt upon tho idea of popular rights. Mr. Blennerhasset had imbibed republican principles. This made his situation in England very uncomfortable. He therefore resolved to remove to the United States, where he could give free utterance to his views.

On leaving London he purchased a large and valuable library, and an extensive chemical and philosophical apparatus. In the year 1797 he landed in New York, with his wife and one child, and soon, through letters which he brought, became acquainted with some of the leading families. His wealth, rank, and culture caused his society to be much courted.

Hearing in New York of the Eden-like islands in La Belle Riviere, he determined to visit that part of the country. In tho autumn of 1797 he crossed the mountains to Pittsburg, and after passing a few weeks there, floated down the Ohio as far as Marietta in one of the flat-bottomed boats then in use.

Fourteen miles farther down the river there was a very beautiful islaud, nearly opposite Belpre". It was singularly wild, lovely, and romantic in its character, and within the jurisdiction of Virginia.

A few acres were free from trees, present

« EelmineJätka »