Sea Stories

Loss Of The Aeneas Transport

The AEneas transport sailed with 347 souls on board, including a party of men belonging to the 100th regiment of foot, as also some officers, together with several women and children. About four in the morning of the 23d of Oct. 1805, the

vessel struck violently on a rock, and received such damage that her total wreck soon became evident to all on board. For the first few minutes after this alarming occurrence, the women and children clung to their husbands and fathers; but in a short time, a prodigious wave swept not less than 250 of those miserable people into the ocean. The rock whereon the vessel had struck, speedily forced its way through the decks, and then it appears, from her parting, thirty-five of the survivors were driven on a small island before eight in the morning, about a quarter of a mile distant, but when she had entirely gone to pieces. The narrative of these events was collected from one of the survivors, a soldier of the 100th regiment, who could give no correct account of how he and the others got ashore, but he supposed they were floated in by part of the wreck. He remembered to have observed one of the boys endeavoring to save Major Bertram, whose arm was broken by some timber, and he was on the point of sinking; he held him up as long as his strength permitted; but to save his own life, was forced to let go his hold, and the Major perished. The thirty-five men who gained the shore, consisted of part of the regiment, two of whom were officers, Lieutenant Dawson and Ensign Faulkner, and seven sailors. Immediately on landing, the wind unfortunately changed, so that not an article of any kind was saved from the wreck. Mr. Faulkner was aware of the real situation they had reached, judging the main-land, which they saw about a mile distant, to be Newfoundland, and that they were about 300 miles distant from the town of St. John's. After passing one night on the little island, they constructed a raft, by means of which, thirty of them arrived on the main-land. Previous to this, however, four survivors of the shipwreck had died, among whom was the poor fellow who had endeavored to save Major Bertram. Another, who had both his legs broken, was missing, as he had crawled away from his comrades, that he might die in quiet. But eight days afterwards, he was found alive, though in a shocking state, as his feet were frozen off. Yet he survived all this, and reached Quebec at a future period. Most of the party set out, leaving three behind them, who were unable to walk from bruises, and directed their course towards the rising sun, but when the first day had elapsed, Lieutenant Dawson became incapable of keeping up with the remainder; and two soldiers staid to attend him. These three toiled onwards without any food, except the berries which they found; and Lieutenant Dawson was then unable to stand, unless supported.--On reaching the banks of a river, one of the soldiers attempted to carry him across on his back; but having waded up to the neck, he was obliged to return, and lay him down on the bank. There Mr. Dawson entreated his faithful attendants to make the best of their way, and leave him to his fate; and at the same time, affectionately squeezing their hands, he entreated them to inform his father of his melancholy end.--Here the soldier, who was one of them, and who related these affecting incidents, burst into a flood of tears before he could proceed. "We staid with him," said he, "until we did not know whether he was alive or dead." The two survivors continued wandering in a weak and feeble state for twelve days longer, making twenty-six in all from the period of their shipwreck, and subsisting on what they could find on a barren and inhospitable land. But after the first four or five days, they suffered no hunger, for, as they themselves said, their misfortunes were so great as to banish its influence, and to deprive them of the sense of feeling.--The snow besides was so deep during the last two days, as to prevent them from getting the berries as usual. At last they were found by a man belonging to a hunting party, who, little suspecting to see human beings in that desolate region, took them at a distance for deer, and had concealed himself behind a fallen tree, with his gun pointed towards one of them, when his dog, leaping towards them, began to bark, and shewed his error. When they related their shipwreck, and the sufferings they had endured, tears stole down the cheeks of the huntsman, and, taking the moccasins from his feet, gave them to the poor miserable creatures. He invited them to his hunting cabin, saying it was only a mile off, though the real distance was at least twelve miles; but, by degrees he enticed them to proceed, and at length they gained it. On approaching the hut, four or five men came out with long bloody knives in their hands, when the narrator, turning to his comrade, exclaimed, "After all we have escaped, are we brought here to be butchered and ate up?"--But they soon discovered their mistake, for the men had been cutting up some deer, the fruit of their chase; and the appearance of the unfortunate soldiers quickly exciting sentiments of pity in their breast, they produced a bottle of rum, wherewith they were refreshed. Every possible comfort was ministered by the hunters to the unfortunate wanderers, and, from the accounts and description given to them, they set out in quest of the others. They luckily succeeded in finding the man who remained the first day on the island, and also the other two who were unable to leave the shore. The two men who had accompanied Lieutenant Dawson, appeared to have made but little progress during twenty-six days of travelling, for they were discovered in a place not very remote from whence they set out. Thus, involved among the woods, they must have returned over the same ground that they had passed. Those who the huntsman first met endeavored to make them understand where they might find the remains of Lieutenant Dawson, and Ensign Faulkner and his party, but they could speak too vaguely of where they had themselves been, to give any pointed directions on the subject. But two of the latter were found by a man on another hunting excursion, about 90 miles distant, apparently lifeless; though on being carried to an adjacent settlement they recovered. Of the whole 35 who survived the wreck of the transport, accounts could be heard only of these five. Ensign Faulkner was a strong, active, enterprising man, and fully capable of adopting whatever means could be devised for preservation. Both he and Lieutenant Dawson, who was scarce more than 17 years of age, were of the greatest promise. While the transport lay about three miles from Portsmouth, they are said to have swam to the ship, when the former climbed up her side, but the latter was nearly exhausted. A brig from Port, which touched at Newfoundland, carried five of the survivors from thence to Quebec; and when they arrived there in the barrack square, a most affecting scene ensued. Men and women eagerly flocked around them, with anxious inquiries for some friend or brother who was on board the ill-fated vessel. But all they could answer was, "If you do not see him here, be assured he has perished; for, of 347 souls, we five Irish lads and two sailors are all that remain alive." The tears and exclamations following these words can scarce be described.

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