Wreck Of A Slave Ship



The following extract of a letter from Philadelphia, dated November

11th, 1762, gives an account of the melancholy disaster that befel the

Phoenix, Capt. M'Gacher, in lat. 37 deg. N. and lon. 72 deg. W. from

London, bound to Potomac, in Maryland, from the coast of Africa, with

332 slaves on board.



"On Wednesday the 20th of October 1762, at six o'clock in the evening,

came on a most violent gale of wind at south, with thunder and

lightning, the sea running very high, when the ship sprung a leak, and

we were obliged to lie-to under bare poles, the water gained on us

with both pumps constantly working. 10 P. M. endeavored to put the

ship before the wind to no purpose. At twelve the sand ballast having

choked our pumps, and there being seven feet water in the hold, all

the casks afloat, and the ballast shifted to leeward, cut away the

rigging of the main and mizen masts, both of which went instantly

close by the deck, and immediately after the foremast was carried away

about twenty feet above. Hove overboard all our guns, upon which the

ship righted a little. We were then under a necessity of letting all

our slaves out of irons, to assist in pumping and baling.



"Thursday morning being moderate, having gained about three feet on

the ship, we found every cask in the hold stove to pieces, so that we

only saved a barrel of flour, 10 lbs. of bread, twenty-five gallons of

wine, beer, and shrub, and twenty-five gallons of spirits. The seamen

and slaves were employed all this day in pumping and baling; the pumps

were frequently choked, and brought up great quantities of sand. We

were obliged to hoist one of the pumps up, and put it down the quarter

deck hatchway. A ship this day bore down upon us, and, though very

near, and we making every signal of distress, she would not speak to

us.



"On Friday, the men slaves being very sullen and unruly, having had no

sustenance of any kind for forty-eight hours, except a dram, we put

one half of the strongest of them in irons.



"On Saturday and Sunday, all hands night and day could scarce keep

the ship clear, and were constantly under arms.



"On Monday morning, many of the slaves had got out of irons, and were

attempting to break up the gratings; and the seamen not daring to go

down in the hold to clear the pumps, we were obliged, for the

preservation of our own lives, to kill fifty of the ringleaders and

stoutest of them.



"It is impossible to describe the misery the poor slaves underwent,

having had no fresh water for five days. Their dismal cries and

shrieks, and most frightful looks, added a great deal to our

misfortunes; four of them were found dead, and one drowned herself in

the hold. This evening the water gained on us, and three seamen

dropped down with fatigue and thirst, which could not be quenched,

though wine, rum, and shrub were given them alternately. On Thursday

morning the ship had gained, during the night, above a foot of water,

and the seamen quite worn out, and many of them in despair. About ten

in the forenoon we saw a sail; about two she discovered us, and bore

down; at five spoke to us, being the King George, of Londonderry,

James Mackay, master; he immediately promised to take us on board, and

hoisted out his yawl, it then blowing very fresh. The gale increasing,

prevented him from saving any thing but the white people's lives, not

even any of our clothes, or one slave, the boat being scarcely able to

live in the sea the last trip she made. Capt. Mackay and some

gentlemen, passengers he had on board, treated us with kindness and

humanity."





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