Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 387 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

Throughout the history of their dangers and sufferings from cold and hunger, and the other evils attending a shipwreck on such an inhospitable shore and in such a climate, there is no mention of one single instance of murmuring, discontent, or disobedience of orders.

When the Elbe was again navigable and free from ice, the crew embarked in different packets and sailed for England, where they all arrived without further disasters.


[4] Newark Island is the highest point of one of those long ridges of sand which abound on the south and southeastern coasts of the North Sea, formed by the deposits of ages from the rivers that empty themselves into the German Ocean, acted upon by the alternate ebb and flow of the tide, till they assume a form and establish a position and a name.  Upon Newark Island is a village and light-house, situated a few miles from Cuxhaven, and accessible at low water by the sand.  The sand ridge takes a north-westerly direction from Newark Island, and extends about six miles further.  It was on the extremity of the northwestern bank that the Proserpine was wrecked.


Early in the spring of 1799, a large convoy of transports and merchantmen sailed from the Cape of Good Hope, with troops and stores for the siege of Seringapatam.  The Sceptre, 64 guns, commanded by Captain Valentine Edwards, was appointed to the sole charge of the convoy, and to take Sir David Baird and the whole of the 84th regiment on board.  The Sceptre may, perhaps, have been the only king’s ship then at the Cape; it is certain that she had been an unusual length of time on that station, and had become so weak and leaky as to be hardly sea-worthy, when she was dispatched on this important service.

Happily, the insecure state of the vessel induced extreme watchfulness on the part of both officers and men, and all went on well till she had made about two-thirds of her way, when one night a brisk gale sprung up, which increased in violence so rapidly, that the officers of the watch felt some anxiety on account of the unusual strain upon the ship.  Captain Edwards ordered the well to be sounded, and the result confirming his apprehensions, the pumps were manned in an incredibly short time, every one on board being aroused to a sense of danger.

Lieutenant the Honourable Alexander Jones had been relieved from the first watch, and had retired to his berth about an hour before without any misgivings.  He was suddenly awakened by the alarming cry that the ship was sinking, and the call of ‘all hands,’ He sprang up, and in a few moments joined the group of officers, naval and military, assembled on the quarter-deck.  Anxiety was depicted on every countenance; for although the pumps were worked incessantly, the soldiers taking their turn with the sailors, the water was still gaining on them fast; and even whilst the men relieved each other, it rose several inches.  But when human efforts were unavailing, the hand of Providence was stretched out to save.  The wind fell as suddenly as it had risen, and after many hours of hard labour, the water was got under, and the vessel was considered comparatively safe.

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Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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