A second raft was begun on board the Crescent, but it was never completed; the sea made a clear breach over her; the quarter-deck became filled with water, and it was therefore necessary to launch the jolly-boat in order to save as many lives as possible, though she could scarcely be expected to live in such a sea. Once more, Captain Temple and above two hundred men and officers said farewell to the companions of their toils and dangers—once more they bade God speed to the frail bark—their own last chance of escape—and watched it as it was now borne aloft on the crested wave, now buried in the briny furrow. For a time they forgot their own danger in anxiety for the others; but they were soon recalled to what was passing around them—the groaning of the timbers, as every sea struck the wreck with an increasing shock, forewarned them that she could not long resist that mighty force. There were two hundred and twenty human beings entirely helpless to save themselves. None may know the agonies of that hour, when even hope itself had fled—when nothing intervened between the soul and the unseen world. The Crescent went to pieces a short time after the departure of the jolly-boat, and every one left on board perished, to the number of two hundred and twenty, out of a crew of two hundred and eighty. Amongst the lost were the captain, three lieutenants, a lieutenant of marines, nine midshipmen, the surgeon, purser, carpenter, and gunner; two pilots, one passenger, six women, and a child.
The surviving officers and crew of the Crescent were tried by a court martial, at Sheerness, for the loss of the vessel, when the court was of opinion that ’the loss of the Crescent proceeded from the ignorance and neglect of the pilots, and that the master was blameable, inasmuch that he did not recommend to the captain or pilots either coming to an anchor, or standing on the other tact, for the better security of H.M. late ship Crescent.’
’The court was further of opinion that every exertion was made on the part of the remaining officers and crew for the safety of the Crescent.’
His Majesty’s Ship Minotaur, of 74 guns, Captain John Barrett, was ordered by Admiral Sir James Saumarez to protect the last Baltic fleet, in the year 1810.
After seeing the convoy through the Belt, the ship sailed from Gottenburg about the 15th December, and, with a strong breeze from the east, shaped her course alone for the Downs.
At eight o’clock, in the evening of the 22nd, Lieutenant Robert Snell took charge of the watch; the wind was then blowing hard from the south-east, the weather thick and hazy, and the ship, under close-reefed topsails, and courses, was going at the rate of four knots an hour.
At nine o’clock, the captain gave orders that soundings should be taken every hour, under the immediate direction of the pilot of the watch. At midnight, the pilot desired that the vessel might be put on the other tack, and all hands were instantly turned up to carry out his directions, and Lieutenant Snell was in the act of informing the captain of what was going on, when the ship struck.