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Loss of the Steamer "Tweed," and Seventy-two Lives
From the Illustrated London News, April 10, 1847.
We regret to state that accounts have arrived of the total wreck of the (Royal Mail) steamer Tweed, with the melancholy loss of seventy two lives; out of the entire crew and passengers, seventy-nine persons only having been saved.
It appears that the Tweed left Havannah [sic] on the morning of the 9th of Feb., for Vera Cruz and Tampico, having on board 1115 bottles of quicksilver, valued at £18,000; sixty passengers; and a supply of coals for H.M. steamer Hermes, stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. On the 10th and 11th it blew heavily from the north, and the weather being thick no observation could be taken. At thirty minutes past three, A.M., on the 12th, when the commander considered he was well to the southward of the ship's actual position, the look-out on the forecastle called "breakers a-head," Captain Parsons, who was on deck, ordered the engines to be reversed, and the helm to put hard-a-starboard. The command was instantly obeyed; but the fore sail, fore-trysail, and the fore-top-sail being set, and a heavy sea running, the vessel forged a-head and struck with such force that the machinery was broken and the engines became unserviceable. The ship continued to strike and roll heavily for half an hour, during which period several of the crew and passengers were swept from her decks. The survivors crowded to the port side of the vessel, when two of the cutters were lowered, but so overloaded that they immediately swamped, and but few of those on board contrived to regain the wreck. In a few minutes the Tweed separated in two parts, and the survivors were compelled to betake themselves to spars and pieces of wreck, clinging to which they were floated into smooth water, inside a reef, where they managed to secure themselves. When daylight appeared, it was found that the Tweed had been drifted, by a strong current, thirty miles out of her course, to the north, and was lost on the Alacrane Reef, which is fifteen miles long by twelve miles broad.
The Admiralty agent, chief officer, and a boat's crew, patched up the mail boat, and sailed for the Campeachy coast, from whence a Spanish brig immediately went to the scene of the wreck, and saved the remainder of the crew, who were still on the reef. They were in a wretched condition; no clothes or anything saved. While on the reef the sufferings of the survivars[sic] were intense. They were for some time deprived of water, and but scantily supplied with wine and brandy, saved as the casks floated by from the wreck; they also saved a barrel of oatmeal and three casks of flour, which they lived upon; and six men used to crawl about the reef daily to catch small fish and a few lobsters. After a time they collected parts of the wreck and constructed a stage, on which they remained, some sleeping, whilst others went out in search of food, and at suitable times joining in prayer to Almighty God for his continued mercy.
On the third day the poor creatures found a box of lucifer matches floating, and, after drying them, were able to light fires; and the engineers having contrived to make an apparatus which provided fresh water, they speedily began to cook and make biscuits. This added much to their comfort, though uncertain whether the frail boat sent for rescue would ever reach ship or land. Most providentially, however, it fell in with the Spanish brig Emilio, fifty-one miles from Sisal Roads, where, after landing the boat's crew, the brig proceeded to the reef, and, amidst much difficulty, succeeded in taking off several of the survivors, with whom she sailed for Perez. On the following day, the remainder left the reef in two boats, brought by the Emilio, and got in safety to Perez. The brig then proceeded to Sisal, and, after remaining there seven days, she was chartered for Havannah, where the Avon was found, in which all the survivors have arrived, except the Admiralty agent, who was left in hospital at Havannah.
It is worthy of remark, that, had the Tweed struck at high water, not a soul would have been saved, that part of the reef being almost entirely covered. The accident may be attributed, first, to the captain not being able to get sights for some days accurately to define his position, a powerful current setting the ship bodily to the north, and the general bad weather. All saved speak in praise of the conduct of Captain Parsons. Throughout the whole of the trying scene, he did everything it was possible to do to save those who have so unfortunately perished,-never allowing his own share of the scanty provisions to exceed that of his companions in wretchedness-never flagging for one moment in his endeavour to render his valuable services available.
It appears there were only three female passengers, all of whom were drowned. The last five men on the wreck lashed themselves together on a spar, and ultimately three of them reached the reef in safety.
List of Passengers and Crew Lost in the Royal Mail Steamer "Tweed," Feb. 12, 1847.
Passengers.-Mr. Juchanste, Mr. Xanticha, Gen. Chanlier, Mrs. Escudino, child, and servant, Messrs. Berrseneria, Robinson, Memande, Scidenburg, Boom, Gartman, Savando, Remente, Mastpule, Serbran, Guxraga, Vurginga, Fox, Portillo, Sunto, Cavill, Gonzalez, Ladisa, Cofer, Mathews, Fuentes, Topete, Mrs. Jones, and son.
Crew.-Mr. W. Croke, 4th officer; Mr. P.A. Spence, midseipman[sic]; Mr. R. Varndell, ditto; S. Rogers, carpenter; W. Shotter, carpenter's mate; P. M'Cullum, second master; W. Turl, A.B.; J. Slade, do.; D. Martin, do.; J. Furze, do; J. Cove, do.; P. Moore, do; H. Horibrow, do.; E. Moon, apprentice; F. Warren, do.; J. Eager, do.; S. Le Gaileirs, engineer's apprentice; H. Burton, cook's mate; Mrs. Grundy, stewardess; T. Dixon, captain's servant; Wm. Hair, third engineer; Wm. Ambrose, fifth do.; Wm. Wilstead, block-maker; T. Stone, fireman; W. Bishop, do; W. Hitchings, do.; J. Haddon, do.; T. Kenny, do.; J. Giussop, do.; C. Trim, do.; J. Newman, do.; J. Alcock, do.; J. Moody, do.; W. Philpott, do.; H. Bluet, waiter; G. Adams, do.; T. Finley, barman; H. Hawkins, boots; W. Ellice, B.R.H.; J. Payne, saloon cook; T. Benson, baker; W. Lee, butcher; W. Dyne, A.A. servant.
List of Passengers and Crew Saved in the Royal Mail Steamer "Tweed."
Cabin Passengers.-W. Ellice, Esq. L.R. Price English; B.G. Farias, Mexican; C.O. Sedward, J. Jones, English; F. Probst, German; F.M. Dimond, American; F. Castro, A. Pierson, Spanish; T.F. Knox, English; T.M. Espino, Mexican; J. Hermondez, Juan Lobo, A. Miranda, Jose Bolet, A. Palacio, Mr. Banel, Spanish.
Deck Passengers-A. Gutierrez, J.T. Pirla, J Suenjas, J. Blanco, A.J. Rendueles, F.D. Peria, T.M. Ortez, T. Barcio, MM. Echavarri, M. Reraza, D. Oyalzabal, F. Mendia, Spanish.
Crew-Capt. Geo. Parsons; E. Elliston, 1st officer; C.H. Onslow, 2nd officer; E. Knott, 3rd officer; T.P. Rowlatt, midshipman; S.B. Rowland, surgeon; John Bollard, purser; J.B. Cameron, commanding officer; J. Broad, boatswain; J. Smith, quarter-master; G. Hemmings, W. York, A.B; W. Bundy, A.B.; T. Briscoe, A.B.; J. Macey, A.B.; W. Green, A.B.; G. Turl, A.B.; J. Laver, A.B.k; T. Harris, A.B.; J. Barwick, A.B.; T. Sully, A.B.; T. Phillips, A.B.; M. Mackrel, A.B.; G. Deal, A.B.; A. McKenzie, 1st engineer; J. Morrison, 2nd engineer; D. Blair, 4th engineer; S. Forster, fireman; B. Johnston, fireman; A. Burt, fireman; G. Lowe, fireman; T. Wallace, fireman; T. Cox, ditto; S. Harpis, trimmer; J. Hanney, ditto; G. Moyes; O. Hill; D. Wallace; G. Allum; J. Garnett; C. Parker; T. Murton; C. Stuart, storekeeper; Geo. Leney, apprentice; C.P. M'Cabe, steward; H. Hancock, waiter; Geo. Marlow, waiter; J. Dawson, ditto; T. Ivatt, cook; Mr. Gushman and W. Copper, officer, and surgeon's boy, were not on board the ship when wrecked, having been left behind at Jamaica. Lieut John Davies, R.N. Total, 29 passengers saved; 52 crew saved.
The Alacranes are a group of islets or rocks, the highest summits of a pretty extensive reef, about 70 miles from the coast of Yucatan, nearly due north of Merida. The spit is considered by navigators the most dangerous part of the Gulf of Mexico the current being so capricious and powerful in that region as frequently to carry vessels upwards of 40 miles out of their course in one day.
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