The Wreck of the Whaler “Oscar”

’TWAS on the 1st of April, and in the year of Eighteen thirteen,
That the whaler “Oscar” was wrecked not far from Aberdeen;
’Twas all on a sudden the wind arose, and a terrific blast it blew,
And the “Oscar” was lost, and forty-two of a gallant crew.

The storm burst forth with great violence, but of short duration,
And spread o’er a wide district, and filled the people’s hearts with consternation,
And its effects were such that the people will long mind,
Because at Peterhead the roof was torn off a church by the heavy wind.

The “Oscar” joined other four ships that were lying in Aberdeen Bay,
All ready to start for Geeenland without delay,
While the hearts of each ship’s crew felt light and gay,
But, when the storm burst upon them, it filled their hearts with dismay.

The wind had been blowing westerly during the night,
But suddenly it shifted to the North-east, and blew with all its might,
And thick and fast fell the blinding snow,
Which filled the poor sailors’ hearts with woe.

And the “Oscar” was exposed to the full force of the gale,
But the crew resolved to do their best, allowing they should fail,
So they weighed anchor, and stood boldly out for sea,
While the great crowds that had gathered cheered them encouragingly.

The ill-fated “Oscar,” however, sent a boat ashore
For some of her crew that were absent, while the angry sea did roar,
And ’twas with great difficulty the men got aboard,
And to make the ship allright they wrought with one accord.

Then suddenly the wind shifted, and a treacherous calm ensued,
And the vessel’s deck with snow was thickly strewed;
And a heavy sea was running with a strong flood tide,
And it soon became apparent the men wouldn’t be able the ship to guide.

And as the “Oscar” drifted further and further to leeward,
The brave crew tried hard her backward drifting to retard,
But all their efforts proved in vain, for the storm broke out anew,
While the drifting snow hid her from the spectators’ view.

And the position of the “Oscar” was critical in the extreme,
And as the spray washed o’er the vessel, O what a soul-harrowing scene!
And notwithstanding the fury of the gale and the blinding snow,
Great crowds watched the “Oscar” as she was tossed to and fro.

O heaven! it was a most heart-rending sight
To see the crew struggling against the wind and blinding snow with all their might,
While the mighty waves lashed her sides and angry did roar,
Which to their relatives were painful to see that were standing on shore.

All eagerly watching her attempt to ride out the storm,
Especially their friends and relatives, who seemed very forlorn,
Because the scene was awe-inspiring and made them stand aghast,
For every moment seemed to be the “Oscar’s” last.

Oh! it was horrible to see the good ship in distress,
Battling hard against wind and tide to clear the Girdleness.
A conspicuous promontory on the south side of Aberdeen Bay,
Where many a stout ship and crew have gone down passing that way.

At last the vessel was driven ashore in the bay of Greyhope,
And the “Oscar” with the elements no longer could cope.
While the big waves lashed her furiously, and she received fearful shocks,
Until a mighty wave hurled her among large boulders of rocks.

And when the vessel struck, the crew stood aghast,
But they resolved to hew down the mainmast,
Which the spectators watched with eager interest,
And to make it fall on the rocks the brave sailors tried their best.

But, instead of falling on the rocks, it dropped into the angry tide,
Then a groan arose from those that were standing on the shore side;
And the mainmast in its fall brought down the foremast,
Then all hope of saving the crew seemed gone at last.

And a number of the crew were thrown into the boiling surge below,
While loud and angry the stormy wind did blow,
And the good ship was dashed to pieces from stern to stem,
Within a yard or two from their friends, who were powerless to save them.

Oh! it was an appalling sight to see the “Oscar” in distress,
While to the forecastle was seen clinging brave Captain Innes
And five of a crew, crying for help, which none could afford,
Alas! poor fellows, crying aloud to God with one accord!

But their cry to God for help proved all in vain,
For the ship and men sank beneath the briny main,
And out of a crew of forty-four men, only two were saved,
But, landsmen, think how manfully that unfortunate crew behaved.

And also think of the mariners while you lie down to sleep,
And pray to God to protect them while on the briny deep,
For their hardships are many, and hard to endure,
There’s only a plank between them and a watery grave, which makes their lives unsure.

Melancholy Loss of the Whalefishing Ship Oscar

On Thursday last, after a tract of the mildest weather known for many years, we experienced one of the most sudden and violent storms, for its short duration, which we remember, almost without exception, since the memorable storm of January 1800; and, although not equally fatal in its effects, attended with one of the most melancholy and distressing events that ever happened at this place, or that we have had the painful task of recording. In the morning, the wind, which had been westerly during the night, veered round to the south-eastward, with snow, blowing strong, but shifting soon after to the north-eastward, became moderate. At this time, the whalefishing ships Hercules, Alison; Latona, Ayre; Middleton, Tod; St Andrew, Reid; and Oscar, Innes; which had sailed early in the morning, were riding at anchor in the Bay; and the weather being still unsettled, and having the appearance of an impending storm, the two latter weighed, and, getting under sail, attempted to clear the Girdleness, and run to the southward. A heavy sea, with little wind, having rendered this impracticable, both ships, after falling to the leeward, were under the necessity of bringing up again in the face of the rocky shore, within the Ness; soon after which, the great violence of the gale, which commenced from N. E. with thick snow, rendered their situation perilous in the extreme, and filled the minds of the numerous people collected on shore, with the most painful apprehensions. About half an hour afterwards, that is, about eleven o’clock A. M. the Oscar, after dragging her anchor, was seen to go ashore in the Grey Hope, near the Short Ness, and immediately after, she lost her mainmast and mizzen topmast. A considerable number of people succeeded in getting across by the Ferry, and hastened to the spot, in order to render such assistance as might be found in their power. The heart-rending scene which, however, now presented itself, made it too apparent, that all human efforts for preservation of the unfortunate crew must be altogether unavailing. The vessel lay among large rocks, and from the tremendous sea which broke over her, was already breaking up, and soon after separated, the fore-mast going by the board. At this awful crisis, two of her boats, nearly full of men, were observed pushing off from the wreck; but before they could get any distance, so as rightly to have the use of their oars, both were overwhelmed by a tremendous sea, when, melancholy to relate, the whole disappeared in the merciless ocean! The distance between the spectators on shore and the unfortunate seamen being such, as to admit of a communication of sentiment even by the countenance. The fate of 2 or 3 others seemed no less hard; for, after having nearly gained the shore, they were swept off by the heavy surge, or borne down by the casks and other wreck with which they were surrounded. The forecastle of the Oscar still remaining above water, five men were observed, and among them Captain Innes was distinctly seen making signals for that assistance which could not possibly be afforded; and, after clinging long to the knight-heads and bowsprit, and struggling hard for life, they shared the fate of their unfortunate companions, the vessel being now a total wreck. About this time Mr John Jameson, first mate, and James Venus, a seaman belonging to Shields, were with difficulty saved; being the only survivors of this sad catastrophe, out of a crew of 45 persons.

Thus perished the Oscar, which, but a few hours before, had sailed with the fairest prospect, and being very complete in all her equipments, might be valued at £10,000; and thus was lost, one of the finest crews which could go to sea, men who so lately set out full of hope and expectation, and were in one fatal hour cut off, many of them now leaving, by their untimely fate, their widows and numerous families in that anguish and distress, towards the alleviation of which, we trust, a generous and benevolent public will, with their wonted liberality, contribute, in this trying period of their affliction.

Upwards of 30, or as is said 36 to 38, of the bodies of the Oscar’s late unfortunate crew, and among them that of Captain Innes, have been cast ashore; and it was truly a mournful spectacle, the sight of so many weeping relatives endeavouring to recognize the features of their departed and lamented friends. A considerable number have been claimed; and such as have not, we understand, have been attended to, and will be decently interred.

Aberdeen Journal, 7th April 1813

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Comments (1) »

  1. ConnorOag
    In the year 2014, on the 7th day of January at 4:39 pm

    This truly is the worst poem ever it is so bad it made my mum say stop reading

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