California Bound by

Daily Alta California, March 14, 1854


Unprecedented Courage of the Ladies! -- Several Sailors Injured during the Storm -- Full account of the Gale.

The U. S. Mail Steamship Georgia, left her berth foot of Warren street, bound for Aspinwall, New Granada.

Tuesday, 7th. -- For the first day nothing of special interest occurred to mar our happiness save the rocking and reeling of the ship, which, as a natural consequence, gave the scene a most interesting appearance.

Wednesday, 8th. -- The morning dawned upon our ship at sea. No land, "no sail sight;" the wind had cons yesterday, and every appearance gave full indication of a gale. We anticipated some disaster, for the working of the gangways and the cabins, the vomiting forth of the oakum and caulking from the seams that terra firma would have been much more preferable to the rotten hulk Georgia. In our anticipation and predictions we were not mistaken, and as the day advanced the wind increased until it settled into a steady gale, and, with deep forebodings of some evil omen, and our ship laboring heavily in the sea, we consigned ourselves to the hands of the Almighty and retired for the night.

Thursday, 9th , 12 1/2 A. M. -- The violent and sudden convulsive motions of the ship prevented me from slumbering long, and when I left my room for the deck there were a goodly number of passengers already there. It was an awful but magnificent sight to see the water tower on high like the pyramids of Egypt, and then lashing themselves into a foam of snowy whiteness, recede apparently satisfied. Our ship was now running high upon a mountain wave, then into the deep trough of the sea, and as they dashed against her, she would reel and crack and twist, like some hissing and conquered serpent. The howling of the wind -- the torrents of rain -- the "blackness of darkness" that surrounded us, and the roaring of the waves can never be described by pen, as the imagination is sufficient in the human mind to comprehend for a moment the grand but awful sight. Soon we heard above all this tumult a dreadful cracking and breaking of timber, and an awful roar of water. The forward watch came aft exclaiming: the bowsprit is gone, the main and lower decks and sailor's forcastle are all washed away. Such indeed was the fact, and at every plunge of the vessel we were shipping from one to two tons of water. The steerage passengers all came rushing aft. The cabins and hurricane deck were immediately filled to their utmost capacity, and the greatest fears were fully realized for the safety of the ship.

Captains McKinstry and Wagstaff were the first to examine the extent of the wreck. Their courage and coolness on this occasion calls for more than ordinary notice. The steam pumps were immediately brought into requisition, and gangs were at once organized to bail out the cabins. The passengers worked with a most praiseworthy energy, while many of the attachees of the ship were walking the decks with life preservers. The idea was not entertained for a moment that our ship could live through the gale. We were in a sinking condition, and had our engines given out, as did those of the ill-fated San Francisco, we must have shared the fate of the President. During this dreadful state of affairs, some of the passengers were cursing and swearing, others drinking, some groaning, crying, praying, rendering the scene almost indescribable.

The lady passengers manifested a coolness and angelic resignation to their impeding fate, truly wonderful. No screeching, crying or fainting, but each and every one no doubt were making their peace with their Maker. At last, thank God, we had once more freed the ship. The storm was evidently abating, and high hopes once more came with the dawn of morn to cheer our aching hearts. The remainder of the day was occupied by 20 or 30 men placing planks between the decks to keep out the spray, and the captain very correctly changed his coarse for Norfolk. One more anxious night we passed on the ocean before reaching the destined port. Had a storm overtaken us, we must have all gone to the bottom. In conclusion, a more unseaworthy ship was never allowed to be freighted with human beings, and I hear most cordially congratulate my fellow passengers on our narrow escape, and fully co-operate with the tone of the resolutions passed, cautioning our friends and the public against the Ohio and Georgia, as two of the most dangerous ships afloat. At the suggestion of some 200 passengers we will hold a mass meeting on our arrival in Panama, the purport of which will be echoed from State to State; through the great lever of intelligence, the American Press.

For the above slip, from the office of the Norfolk Beacon, we are indebted to Mr. Rosenfield, of Wells, Fargo & Co.

Return to California Bound main page
Return to SFgenealogy

© Copyright 2008 SFgenealogy. All rights reserved.