Wreck of the Schooner “Samuel Crawford”

’TWAS in the year of 1886, and on the 29th of November,
Which the surviving crew of the “Samuel Crawford” will long remember,
She was bound to Baltimore with a cargo of pine lumber;
But, alas! the crew suffered greatly from cold and hunger.

’Twas on December 3rd when about ten miles south-west
Of Currituck light, and scudding at her best;
That a heavy gale struck her a merciless blow,
Which filled the hearts of the crew with fear and woe.

Then the merciless snow came down, hiding everything from view,
And as the night closed in the wind tempestuous blew;
Still the brave crew reefed the spanker and all the sails,
While not one amongst them with fear bewails.

Still the gallant little schooner ploughed on the seas,
Through the blinding snow and the stormy breeze;
Until it increased to a fearful hurricane,
Yet the crew wrought manfully and didn’t complain.

But during the night the wind it harder blew,
And the brave little schooner was hove to;
And on the morning of December the 4th the wind died out,
But it rent the schooner from stem to stern without any doubt.

And the seas were running mountains high,
While the poor sailors, no doubt, heaved many a sigh;
Because they must have felt cold, and the schooner sprung a leak,
Still they wrought while their hearts were like to break.

Then the wind it sprang up in terrific fury again,
But the crew baled out the water with might and main;
But still the water fast on them did gain,
Yet the brave heroes disdained to complain.

On the morning of December the 4th she was scudding before a hurricane,
And the crew were exhausted, but managed the poop to gain;
And the vessel was tossed like a cork on the wave,
While the brave crew expected to meet with a watery grave.

And huge beams and pine planks were washed overboard,
While Captain Tilton looked on and said never a word;
And the crew likewise felt quite content,
Until the fore-and-aft rigging overboard went.

Then loudly for help to God they did cry,
And to their earnest prayer He did draw nigh;
And saved them from a watery grave,
When help from Him they did crave.

Poor souls they expected to be engulfed every hour,
And to appease their hunger they made dough with salt water and flour;
And made a sort of hard cake placed over a griddle hole,
To satisfy their hunger, which, alas! is hard to thole.

And two of these cakes each man got per day,
Which the poor creatures devoured in a ravenous way;
Along with a little fresh water to wash it down,
Which they most thankfully praised God for and didn’t frown.

And on the 10th of December when they had burned their last light,
The ship “Orinoco” bound for New York hove in sight;
And they were rescued safely and taken on board,
And they thanked the Captain, and likewise the Lord.

Then the Captain of the “Orinoco” ordered her to be set on fire,
Which was quickly done as he did desire;
Which caused the rescued crew to stare in amaze,
And to take the last look of their schooner in a blaze.

December’s Wild Gales

Many Stories of Disaster and Suffering from the Sea

According to the reports which continue to come in from the ocean the recent gales were remarkably severe. Another shipwrecked crew was brought into this port yesterday. The vessel, which they were forced to leave behind them, was the schooner Samuel H. Crawford, of Camden, N. J. They were rescued by the steamship Orinoco, from Martinique.

Capt. Tilton, of the lost vessel, states that he left Savannah for Baltimore with a cargo of lumber on Nov. 29. On Dec. 3, when the schooner was off Curnituck Light, it begun to blow violently. The vessel weathered the storm safely until the night of Dec. 5, when a leak was discovered, and all hands went; to the pumps, but they were unable to keep the schooner free.

The vessel tossed about heavily all next day and early in the evening, when she gave a terrific roll, the deck load of lumber went overboard, carrying with it the fore and main rigging on the port side and smashing in the port railing. At 9 o’clock the schooner rolled over on her starboard beam ends, and masts, rigging, boats, and railings all were swept away by the enormous waves which now swept over the hulk. For four days the Captain and his seven men clung to the wreck, suffering terribly from exposure. During this time they had only 10 gallons of water and a little bread, all the rest: of the stores having been washed overboard or spoiled. Nothing but the timber in her hold prevented the schooner from going to the bottom. No sail came near enough to hail until 7 o’clock on the morning of Dec. 10, when the Orinoco came in sight. and observing the wreck approached her aud hove to. She sent a lifeboat, which took the almost exhausted crew from the wreck. The schooner was taken in tow, but her hawser soon parted and after the hull had been set on fire it was abandoned in latitude 36°41′ and longitude 71°19′. The lost vessel measured 331 tons and was 11 years old. She was owned in Philadelphia and was not insured.

New York Times, 12th December 1886

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Comments (1) »

  1. In the year 2017, on the 22nd day of April at 4:43 pm

    This is an amazing poem. I can only hope that I can write a poem like this some day.

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