Loss of the FLORIDIAN emigrant ship 1849

Loss of the FLORIDIAN emigrant ship 1849

Liverpool Journal, March 10th 1849

Dreadful wreck 171 lives lost

The bark FLORIDIAN, 500 tons burden, Capt E. D. WHITMORE from Antwerp was wrecked yesterday week on the Long Sands near Harwich, with a great number of emigrants for the United States, principally German agricultural labourers, with their wives and children, amounting to nearly 299 excluding the crew of about 20.

On Wednesday the storm increased in fury and at about 3 o’ clock the ship struck with terrific force, her planks and false keel immediately rushed alongside. A scene of horror presented itself and the emigrants hastened on deck in dismay, the sea broke into her hull blowing up the hatchways and sweeping many of the poor creatures overboard, others drowned in their berths being unable to rise from the effects of sea sickness.

Capt WHITMORE gave orders to his crew to launch the boats, the first boat broke adrift as soon as it was launched and capsized with two men in it. The second boat was launched and the captain jumped into it with Mrs WHITMORE his wife, this led to a desperate rush to the craft, 20 - 30 poor creatures leaped from the quarter deck into the boat, it instantly capsized, the whole party were precipitated and lost.

The crew took to the rigging lashing themselves to it. Upwards of 100 emigrants congregated on the quarter deck, within an hour the ship broke in two amidships, the mainmast fell over the side with a fearful crash and a tremendous sea carried away the whole quarter deck with the mass of human beings on it. A fearful shriek filled the air, the unfortunate creatures struggling in the deep. By great effort 8 or 10 were rescued by the men off the rigging. Her cargo of merchandise floated out, intermingling with the drowning sufferers, for a time men, women and children were seen floating on the packages, Ere night had set in, however, all had disappeared.

The then survivors about 12 in number continued in the rigging of the foremast, which with the forepart of the vessel was all that remained. The remained there the whole of the night enduring great suffering, the sea breaking over them, the cold intense, rendering their condition most painful. When Thursday morning broke 6 had died in the night, they had frozen to death, their bodies dangling in the rigging. All that day the fearful weather existed, no aid could be rendered to those still alive. They could see vessels in the distance, but they were too far away for crews to observe their situation. Friday night passed and no help came, only 4 now remained 3 sailors and one passenger, two more had frozen to death.

They were at length to their joy rescued by her Majesty’s revenue cutter PETREL. They were in a deplorable state of exhaustion and partly bereft of their senses. We hear a Colchester vessel lost five hands in an attempt at rescuing the sufferers, they immediately pushed off in their boat and had scarcely got a few strokes distance when a heavy sea upset their craft and the whole of them met with a watery grave.

Surviving seamen, Henry HILL, Ephriam STOCKBRIDGE, William HARY

Surviving passenger, Wilhelm NIERO

Lost seamen, William VILEY, Chief officer, New London, James WILSON, Steward, Richard FERDINAND, Cook, Charles BARRETT, John TILLMAN, Peter DAIRS, Edward WOODY, Charles THOMAS, BALWITT, John DUTCH.

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