Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7.
Another dispatch received this morning from Liverpool, N. S., furnishes the following additional particulars concerning the San Francisco. The Captain of the Maria Freeman states that when he saw the San Francisco her engines were not working, her smoke-pipe was gone, and her decks were swept of everything. The Captain of the steamer requested him to stay by him, and he did so, but a gale sprung up during the night and drove her out of sight. Saw at least one hundred and fifty persons on board.Capt Freeman, of the brig Maria, at Liverpool, N. S., who fell in with the steamer San Francisco on the 26th of December, as previously reported, adds to his report that during the following night the wind increased to a hurricane from the northwest, during which the Maria laid to, but lost sight of the steamer and he thinks she must have foundered during the gale, as he could not find her afterwards.
Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7.
The brig Napoleon, Captain Strout, from Matanzas, 29th November, reports experiencing three tremendous gales, lost sails, sprung a leak, and had to stave twenty-one casks of molasses to ease the vessel.Captain Strout also reported Dec. 23, fell in with the steamship San Francisco, dismasted, everything swept above deck, and the spray making a complete breach over her. Captain Watkins stated that the steamer was leaking fast; but the next morning the steamer was not in sight -- having drifted fast to the eastward. First saw her at midday, and lost sight of her at dark. Her hull appeared sound. The wind blew a fresh gale from the northwest during the night, but moderated on the next day and was nearly calm. The first mate of the brig states that a part of the hurricane-deck forward was standing and the crew were busily engaged cutting it away and throwing it overboard. The steamer was on the southeast edge of the Gulf stream, and was drifting out. Capt. Strout judged that they were more safe on board the steamer than those on board the brig.
Boston, Saturday, Jan. 8.
It is reported today that the Revenue cutter on this station is ordered to sail to-morrow morning in search of the steamer San Francisco.
Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 9.
Owners of the steamship Keystone State tendered the use of that vessel to Government, to search for the crippled steamship San Francisco, but the offer was declined.
Halifax, Thursday, Jan. 5.
A telegraphic dispatch from Liverpool, N. S., dated yesterday, says the Maria Freeman arrived there reports -- that on the 26th of December, in Lat. 38° 20', long. 69°, fell in with the new American Steamship San Francisco, from New York, for San Francisco, with her decks swept, boats gone, and completely disabled. Could not render any assistance, as she drifted out of sight during the gale. Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7. P. M. The brig Napoleon, Captain Strout, from Matanzas, 29th November, reports experiencing three tremendous gales, lost sails, sprung a leak, and had to stave twenty-one casks of molasses to ease the vessel.
From that time until last evening the public mind was kept in a state of terrible suspense respecting her. Senator Gwin applied to the Secretary of the Navy for aid, and a merchant steamer was at once chartered to go in search of her, Mr. Vanderbilt having twice refused the use of his steamer North Star for that purpose. The steamer Alabama was also chartered by the War Department, and dispatched to aid in the search. The steamer Union, Captain Adams, with Commander Hudson, and several officers of the Navy, on board, left this port on the 11th inst. She took out six metallic life-boats.
On the 7th inst., intelligence was received at Boston that a herm. Brig, the Maria Freeman, as she was erroneously called, her name being the Maria of Liverpool, had seen the San Francisco in a disabled state, but was unable to render her any assistance. Still later, the following dispatch was received and published by us:
Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7. P. M.
The brig Napoleon, Captain Strout, from Matanzas, 29th November, reports experiencing three tremendous gales, lost sails, sprung a leak, and had to stave twenty-one casks of molasses to ease the vessel.Captain Strout also reported Dec. 23, fell in with the steamship San Francisco, dismasted, everything swept above deck, and the spray making a complete breach over her. Captain Watkins stated that the steamer was leaking fast; but the next morning the steamer was not in sight -- having drifted fast to the eastward. First saw her at midday, and lost sight of her at dark. Her hull appeared sound.
The SS San Francisco departed New York on December 21, 1853, "... with light breeze from the southwest and clear weather." On December 24 the weather changed to a "... moderate breeze from the west ... and heavy rain towards evening." By midnight the weather was very heavy and the San Francisco had lost many sails. "Blew away fore-staysail. Hauled up the foresail at 12 P. M. Blew away fore-spencer and foresail from the lee yardarm; lashed the head of the spanker to haul out the clew. About this time, ship laboring heavily, knocked up her planking over the after guards. Ordered all of the troops forward. Cleared away the after standees, and stowed them forward. At 1:15 P. M. the engine stopped; the end of the air-pump piston rod breaking off, and the air-pump bracket consequently adrift. At this time the spanker blew away, thus leaving the ship entirely at the mercy of the waves and wind."
"At 7 P. M. the foresail went over the side, with all attached, breaking about six feet above deck, and splintering to the berth deck. At 9 P. M., shipped a heavy sea amidships, which stripped the starboard paddle-box, carried away starboard after king post, both smoke stacks, all the upper saloon, staving the quarter deck through and washing overboard a large number of the passengers -- one hundred and fifty ..."
During the ensuing days, the Kilby, the Three Bells, and the Antarctic took on the passengers and crew of the SS San Francisco."Captain Watkins boarded the Kilby (and) on behalf of the United States Government, contracted to pay the owners $15,000 to take as many of the passengers off the steamer on board his vessel as was possible. He further agreed to give the Captain $200 a day, on behalf of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, to lay alongside in case he should be obliged to do so for any great length of time. The Captain was also to receive $1,000 for his noble conduct in launching his boats when his crew had refused the duty, and the sea threatened to swallow him up with his frail craft, as well as five percent primage on the amount contracted to be paid by the Government. At 3 o'clock P. M. the hawser was run to the bow of the Kilby, and soon after the disembarkation of the passengers commenced. Great fears were entertained by many that the boats would be swamped, owing to the rush to get into them. Several of the officers had provided themselves with weapons to keep back the crowd, and Colonel Gates addressed the troops, declaring that he would be the last to desert the ship, and that he hoped the officers and soldiers on board would follow his example, and wait with patience until their names were called. The first boat soon after came alongside. I was on deck at the time, and shall never forget the scene of confusion which ensued. The first boat which left carried Col. Gates and his family. After this the officers followed according to grade, and the boats continued plying to and fro until dark, at which time about one hundred passengers had been transferred to the Kilby. The last boat which crossed was swamped alongside of her, and the captain of the Kilby stated that he would prefer discontinuing the further disembarkation of passengers until the morning, as the sea beginning to rise, and a violent northwester was again springing up."
By "7 A. M. (on January 5, 1854), all out of the ship excepting Capt. Watkins, Mr. Marshall, (Chief Engineer) and myself; we then left, Capt. Watkins being the last."
New York Daily Times, Tuesday, February 7, 1854 ---
Court-Marshal at Gen. Scott's Head-quarters.
Investgation of Circumstances attending the Loss of the San Francisco.
Examination into the Conduct of Col. Gates and other Army Officers.
The Court of Inquiry, convened by order of the President of the United States, to investigate the circumstances attending the loss of the U. S. transport steamer San Francisco, and such other matters as may relate to the embarkation of the troops and the conduct of the officers and men of the command, commenced its sessions yesterday morning at the headquarters of General Scott, the Commander-in-Chief, at No. 114 West Eleventh street.
The Court consists of the following members: Major Gen. Winfield Scott, Commander-in-Chief; Gen. Stanton, Q. M. Dept.; Col. Sumner, 1st Dragoons; Major John F. Lee, Judge Advocate.
The Court having previously in secret session, now opened its doors, and upon entering the room with a brother reporter, we were informed by General Scott, with the concurrence of the Court that if there were any reporters in the room, he desired to say that they neither invited or declined their presence, but wished it to be understood that they would be admitted just as any other citizens who might desire to hear the public proceedings of the Court. The General very kindly added that he desired us to have all the facilities which the room afforded for writing. A table was furnished us accordingly, for which as well as for the general courtesy that has been extended to us by the Judge Advocate and other members of the Court of Inquiry, we take this opportunity for returning our most sincere thanks.
General Scott then observed to the Court that it would be improper to proceed with the taking of testimony until the arrival of the officers into whose conduct they were particularly directed to inquire, (referring to Col. Gates). This officer was accordingly notified that the Court was in session
General Winfield Scott, the President of the Court, whose glorious achievements have made his name a household-word throughout the land, was seated at the head of the table; beside him lay the splendid award presented to the old Hero by the State of Louisiana. It bears the following inscription:
"Presented by the People of the State of Louisiana to General Winfield Scott, for his gallantry, and Generalship exhibited in the siege of Vera Cruz, in the battles of Cerro, Gordo, Contreras, Charousco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, and in the final entry into the city of Mexico."
We are happy to say that the General is looking well, though still suffering from the effects of his fall. On the right of the President of the Court was seated Brigadier General Stanton, of the Quartermaster's Department, and on his left Colonel Sumner, of the First Dragoons; the foot of the table being occupied by major John F. Lee, the able and learned Judge Advocate of the Army, who conducted this investigation on the part of the Government. Colonel William Gates, of the Third Artillery, the officer who commanded the troops on board the San Francisco, and whose conduct has been so bitterly attacked without giving him and opportunity to defend himself, by some of the country Press, was then informed that the Court was in session and desired his presence. The Colonel was dressed in the undress uniform of his grade, and upon entering the room took a seat upon the right of the Judge Advocate. A reference to the order convening this Tribunal will show that an investigation of the conduct of this officer is one of the principal objects contemplated in the institution of the present inquiry.
The Court then rose and took the oath prescribed in such cases by the regulations -- the Judge Advocate administering it.
The Judge Advocate was then in turn, then sworn by the President of the Court.
Upon the conclusion of this ceremony the Court was read by Major Lee:
Copy of the order convening the Court:
Washington, Jan. 28, 1854
The Court will be composed of Major-General Winfield Scott, Commanding the Army; Brevet Brigadier-General Henry Stanton, Assistant Quartermaster General; Brevet-Colonel E. V. Sumner, Lieut. Colonel First Dragoons; and Brevet-Major John F. Lee, Judge Advocate of the Army, as recorder.
The Court will make a full report of the facts in this case, with their opinion.
JEFFERSON DAVIS, Secretary of War,
by order, S. Cooper, Adjutant General.
Daily Alta California, Maritime Section, February 10, 1854
The lengthy hearings were published daily in the New York Daily Times for the next 2 weeks. Capt. Watkins submitted the following letter which was subsequently published in the Times:
New York Daily Times, February 10, 1854
Liverpool, Jan., 1854.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Esq., U. S. Consul at Liverpool:
SIR: I have the painful duty to report to you the loss of the U. S. Mail Steamer San Francisco, under my command.
The following is a list of the other cabin passengers: Sr. Jacinto Derwanz, (Brazilian Consul,) lady and servant; Capt. Battie, (Brazilian Army,) and lady; Mr. Geo. W. Aspinwall, Mr. J. Lorimer, Jr., Rev. Mr. Cooper and family; Messrs. Tenney, Gates, Southwick, and one gentleman, name unknown; numbering in all, ship's company inclusive, about 750 souls.
On the night of the 23d December, judging myself on the southern edge of the Gulf stream, we experienced a most terrific gale from northwest, which continued to increase with great violence until it blew a perfect hurricane, with a very high, irregular sea. At 3:30 A. M., on the 24th, the chief engineer reported to me that the engines had broken down. Up to this time the ship behaved very handsomely, but she immediately fell off in the trough of the sea, and labored very heavily. At 5 A., M., lost our foremast, and all the canvas off the ship, carrying away, at the same time, four of our life-boats, with the wreck of the spars.
I had now great fears that the ship could not safely out live the gale. At 7 A. M., just as the chief engineer was making an effort to start the engines under high pressure, a terrific sea boarded us, carrying with it the whole of the upper saloon and everything abaft the paddle-boxes, and about 150 souls; both smoke stacks, the remainder of our boats, staving about 50 feet of the spar deck over the main saloon, and leaving the ship almost a perfect wreck -- leaking very much.
The following is a list of the officers and others, cabin passengers, who were washed overboard: Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Washington, Brevet Major George Taylor and lady; Captain H. B. Field, Lieutenant R. H. Smith, Mr. Gates, son of Col. Gates, Mr. Tenney and another gentleman, name unknown, together with 130 soldiers and four of the crew.
The remainder of the passengers were as soon as possible formed into gangs to assist in bailing and pumping, and in twelve hours succeeded in gaining on the water several inches. On the morning of the 25th, the weather became more moderate, and the engineers succeeded in starting the steam pump, which soon released the passengers from bailing. The crew, with a number of carpenters from the command, were employed in clearing away the wreck, stopping leaks as well as possible in the upper works and lightening the ship.
From the 25th to the 27th inclusive, experienced moderate gales with high, confused sea. On the 28th fell in with and boarded the American bark Kilby, for New Orleans. This vessel was chartered by Col. Gate to take on board all of the troops, and convey them to the nearest port in the United States; and at 7 o'clock P. M. succeeded in getting about 100 souls on board of her, when I received word from the captain that he could receive no more on board that evening.
At 10 P. M. it commenced blowing fresh from the southward and eastward, with rain, and at midnight it blew a heavy gale, with a very high sea. At 4 A. M. on the 29th the gale was most terrific. Passengers were again mustered into gangs, to pump and bail. During the night lost sight of the Kilby, and saw nothing more of her. At noon the gale moderated, with the wind from the N. W.
On the 30th, more moderate. All hands employed in lightening the ship and stopping the leaks. During the last gale the ship had labored and strained so much I deemed it impossible for her to outlive another, and as I had no motive power on board by which I could work her to the southward, out of the Gulf Stream into fine weather -- the engineer having decided that it was impossible to work the engines again, and the passengers and crew were fast dying off with fatigue and exposure -- I determined to abandon the ship the first opportunity. On the 31st, wind blowing fresh from the W. S. W., with a high sea, fell in with and spoke the British ship Three Bell, of Glasgow, bound for New-York. Requested the Captain to lay by us until it moderated and take us off, which he promptly consented to do, but the weather continued too boisterous for him to send his boat alongside up to the 2d inst. The ship was then well to windward of us, lying to. At 9 A. M. on the 2d she made signals of distress to a strange sail, which was answered, and both ships ran down to us. At 1 P. M. spoke the strange sail, which proved to be the Antarctic, Captain G. C. Stouffer, of New-York, bound for Liverpool. Begged him to take us off, which he readily consented to do, and both ships immediately lowered away their boats and sent them alongside, when we commenced transferring the troops to both ships.
On the morning of the 5th, succeeded in getting all hands out of the ship without accident. Up to this time we had lost fifty-nine, who died from fatigue and exposure.
The following is a list of officers on board the Three Bells: Brevet Major F. O. Wyse, Lieutenant W. A. Winder, and about 200 troops, including camp women and children. Of the ship's company -- Edward Welles, First officer; Dr. W. B. Buel, surgeon; John W. Marshall, chief engineer; George Gretton, second engineer; Wm. Wickman, storekeeper, and all the assistant engineers, firemen, and coal-passers, and all the bulk of the ship's crew, with a few exceptions, who are on board of this ship.
On board the Antarctic are Lieut. Charles C. Winder and servant; Lieut. J. G. Chandler, and 192 troops, women and children, and with me, my purser, Theo. L. Schell, Charles F. Barton, third officer; John Mason, fourth officer; Washington Duckett, carpenter, and one servant.
The constant kind attention which we have all received from Captain Stouffer, of the Antarctic, and his officers -- his deep solicitude and his judicious care of our men, women and children, since we came on board of his ship -- is above all praise, and merits our most sincere and lasting feelings of gratitude.
(signed) Jas. T. Watkins
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