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.
to wear ship, and run her on the enemy’s shore; nor could even this be done without much difficulty and danger, as it was necessary to let go their last anchor.  Most of the guns were now thrown overboard, and everything done to lighten the ship; and about half-past six A.M., on the 19th, her head was brought round, and, steered by the sails and a cable veered astern, towards the islands.  The weather was becoming more gloomy and threatening, and before ten o’clock A.M. the vessel was so terribly shaken, that it became absolutely necessary to cut away the main and mizen masts, leaving the foremast standing, with sail set, to force the ship on as much as possible, and also to prevent her drifting off with the ebb, or with a change of wind.  Although the dangerous situation of the Flora was clearly perceived by the people on shore, no boat put out to her assistance, the authorities having forbidden them to render such aid on pain of death.

Captain Bland, during his cruize on these seas, had allowed the fishing-boats of the enemy to range unmolested, and had given strict orders that not a fish should be taken from them without payment; but even these boats now came near the labouring ship and passed on, leaving her and her crew to perish.  About four o’clock in the afternoon when she seemed to be sinking, she took the ground and there remained, surrounded by breakers, the crew in vain firing guns, and making other signals of distress, which were totally disregarded.  All hands that could be spared from the pumps had been employed in making rafts, and these were now launched into the surf, and about one hundred and thirty of the crew got upon them, and were fortunate enough to gain the high land.

Captain Bland, with a few officers and men, pushed off in the barge, the only boat that was left, and after rowing for eighteen hours without any sustenance, they reached the Island of Amoland, where they were made prisoners.

The rest of the crew, who had chosen to stay by the ship, remained on board for four days and nights, and, excepting nine, who perished from the severity of the weather, they all got safe on shore.  The above is a plain, unvarnished account, taken from the narrative of Captain Bland:  it is a true tale, and needs not the aid of romance to give it interest.  For more than twenty-four hours the crew suffered the horrors of uncertainty; their vessel thrown upon a hostile shore, whose inhabitants were forbidden on pain of death to assist them, whilst of all their boats one only remained.  Yet, even during this time of trial and danger, discipline was not for a moment abandoned; no man’s heart appeared to fail him; each one performed his duty with cheerfulness and alacrity; and nobly did they all earn the praise bestowed on them by their commander.

‘I cannot help paying here,’ said Captain Bland, ’the last tribute of praise to my crew; they behaved with order, respect, and perfect coolness to the last moment; nor would they quit the ship’s side in the barge, though at the risk of her being dashed to pieces, till I took the place they had reserved for me.’

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