THE WRECK ON THE ANDAMANS:
A NARRATIVE OF THE VERY REMARKABLE PRESERVATION, AND ULTIMATE DELIVERANCE, OF THE SOLDIERS AND SEAMEN, WHO FORMED THE SHIPS' COMPANIES OF THE RUNNYMEDE AND BRITON TROOP-SHIPS, BOTH WRECKED ON THE MORNING OF THE 12TH OF NOVEMBER, 1844, UPON ONE OF THE ANDAMAN ISLANDS, IN THE BAY OF BENGAL.
TAKEN FROM AUTHENTIC DOCUMENTS
JOSEPH DARVALL, Esq.
At the request of CAPT. CHARLES INGRAM, AND CAPT. HENRY JOHN HALL, Owners of the Runnymede.
"The dangers of the sea, All the cares and all the fears, When the stormy winds do blow."
LONDON: PELHAM RICHARDSON, 23, CORNHILL. 1845.
PELHAM RICHARDSON, PRINTER, 23, CORNHILL.
The Author, owing to circumstances, has had access to authentic documents and facts, relating to one of the most remarkable shipwrecks which have ever happened, that of the troop-ships Runnymede and Briton, on the morning of the 12th of November, 1844, upon one of the Andaman Islands.
In reading these, it struck him forcibly, that the circumstances, if thrown into the shape of a narrative, would form not only an interesting publication, but would serve as a monument of the cool intrepidity and judicious presence of mind of British officers, soldiers, and seamen, in a time of remarkable trial.
They also tend to illustrate in a very striking manner the correctness of the classic and poetical description of the "dangers of the sea," contained in that passage of Scripture, which the Author has often observed to be listened to with great interest, when read in its course, in the churches of our seaports, and which, on that account, he makes no apology for quoting in a work, not professedly religious.
"They that go down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters; these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep: their soul melteth away because of the trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man: and are at their wits' end. So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, he delivereth them out of their distress. For he maketh the storm to cease: so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they are at rest; and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be."[A]
[A] Psalm cvii., v. 23-30, Com. Pr. Book.
If this little work should answer the author's intention by proving entertaining as well as instructive, he will feel that he has been rewarded for the pains he has taken in compiling it.
Reading, July, 1845.
WRECK ON THE ANDAMANS.
"O'er the smooth bosom of the faithless tides, Propelled by gentle gales, the vessel glides."
The gallant Barque the Runnymede, of 507 tons burthen, commanded by Captain William Clement Doutty, an experienced seaman, and the property of Messrs. Hall & Co. and Ingram of Riches-court, Lime-street, London, being a remarkably staunch river-built vessel of the A 1 or first class, left Gravesend on the 20th of June, 1844, bound for Calcutta. She had on board a general cargo and a crew of twenty-eight persons, including officers. She also carried out, on account of the Honourable East India Company, thirty-eight soldiers, with two women and one child, belonging to Her Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot, and also Captain Stapleton, Ensigns Venables, Du Vernett, and Purcell, and one hundred and five soldiers, ten women, and thirteen children, belonging to Her Majesty's 50th Regiment of Foot. The whole of the military were under the command of Captain Stapleton; the medical officer was Mr. Bell, the surgeon of the vessel.
Every thing proceeded in the same manner as is usual on voyages in the same course, till they arrived south of the Tropics. The only casualty they met with was the death of William Bryant, a private of the 10th, on the 12th of July. He had suffered from sea-sickness ever since his embarkation. His body was committed to the deep the same evening, with the customary ceremonies. The principal amusements of the officers and crew were fishing, shark-catching, booby and pigeon shooting, and playing at backgammon. There were also on board the ship, books provided for the use of those who were disposed to read. The hour of dinner was four o'clock.
On arriving south of the Tropics, the wind, instead of backing to the westward, blew almost constantly from the north-east and east-north-east; and when it occasionally got to the westward of north, it always fell light, contrary to the usual course; and so it continued until it got to the westward, and then it freshened. In consequence of the delay occasioned by this state of things, and the near approach of the north-east monsoon, the captain, on the 21st of October, resolved to call at Penang, for the purpose of taking in an additional supply of water and other necessaries. They accordingly steered their course thither. On the 24th they saw the Island of Sumatra, bearing east-north-east about eight leagues. On the 26th, in the forenoon, they saw Pulo Rondo, bearing east-south-east, and on the 29th, at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon, the ship anchored in safety off Fort Cornwallis, in the roads of Penang, or Pulo Penang, the word Pulo signifying an island. Penang is sometimes called Prince of Wales's Island. It is on the coast of Queda. Its capital is George Town. The East-India Company first formed a settlement here in 1786.
At Penang they remained till Sunday, the 3d of November, busily engaged in taking in sixty-one casks or about thirty tons of water, and other necessaries, and various articles of merchandize on account of cargo. They found lying here Her Majesty's ship Dido, commanded by the Honourable Captain Keppel.
Immediately on the arrival of the Runnymede, Captain Doutty and Mr. Bell, together with Captain Stapleton and Ensign Du Vernett, went on shore, it being the duty of the latter to report themselves to the proper authorities.
It was agreed, that after the parties had accomplished their business, they should meet at the best hotel in the place and dine together. This understanding led to the following entertaining incidents. On landing, the parties stepped into palanquin-carriages. The Captain and the Doctor went one way, and their military friends, another. After finishing their business, the Captain and his companion went in quest of their friends, desiring the Malay boy, who had charge of their carriage, to take them to the hotel. The lad replied, "I stand," and off they set. After a number of turns and windings, amongst most beautiful scenery, they arrived in front of a very well planned house, and were told by their conductor "this was house." They thought it remarkable that a hotel should be in such a retired situation. However, upstairs they ran, and sure enough they found their military friends there.
They were congratulating them upon their good quarters, when a lady appeared, to whom they were introduced as the lady of the commandant, whose house it was, and were speedily convinced of their mistake, which produced a hearty laugh. They then, by signs, tried to make their palanquin-boys comprehend that it was a hotel they wanted, and not a private house. These said they understood "Master," and away they all four went towards the town. At a short distance from this the boys stopped at another large building, which appeared more like a hotel than the former. They questioned the lads as to this house, who replied, "All right," so they entered. They met an old gentleman, who requested them to pass into an inner room, where he introduced them to Captain Keppel, who received them most kindly. Their introducer proved to be Captain Quin, of Her Majesty's ship Minden, who was on his way home on sick leave in the Dido, and the mansion proved to be the Admiralty-house. Captain Keppel, with great kindness, invited the party to a ball and supper, to be given by him on the following evening, to the inhabitants of Penang, previously to his sailing for England.
On leaving the Admiralty-house, the party were directed to a place little better than a booth, and denominated by the natives a punch-house, a name given to all low taverns in India, but which was dignified with the name of "The Albion Hotel." In the only sitting-room of this place they found the officers of the Dido at dinner. Of this meal they would have been disappointed, had not those gentlemen kindly invited them to partake of their fare, which consisted principally of curries of various kinds. So poorly was the place furnished that no two articles were alike; chairs, plates, dishes, glasses, knives and forks, were all odd ones, of different colours and sizes. The badness of this accommodation arises from the circumstance that those who call at the island are hospitably entertained, during their stay, at the houses of those residents to whom they happen to be introduced. For this reason a good hotel cannot be supported. After the dinner, which went off with a good deal of fun and mirth, some of the party "chartered ponies for a cruise" in the interior of the island. Penang is remarkable for piebald ponies.
The next evening the party from the Runnymede repaired to the admiralty-house, pursuant to invitation, and were hospitably received by Captain Keppel and his officers. There they met the whole of the respectable inhabitants of the island, both civil and military, with their families. The rooms were handsomely decorated, and dancing was kept up with great spirit, enlivened by the harmonious strains of Captain Keppel's private band. This was succeeded, at midnight, by a champagne supper, which, for excellence, might have borne a comparison with any civic entertainment in London. Between three and four in the morning the ladies began to move off, and some of the youngsters, by way of further amusement, sat down to a second supper. At daylight the Dido was apeak, under all sails, and by eight o'clock, was leading down the north channel with skysails set for Old England. Her captain and officers carried with them the good wishes of all they left behind at Penang.
"The wind blew hard, the sea ran high, The dingy scud drove 'cross the sky, Down topsails, boys, the gale comes on, To strike top-gallant-yards they run."
At 9 o'clock, A. M., of Sunday, the 3d of November, 1844, the Runnymede weighed from Penang-roads with a light southerly wind, and made sail through the north channel. At noon the wind came in from seaward. At midnight, on Monday the 4th, she was abreast of the Ladda Islands, with a barque in company. On Friday, the 8th, the weather was unsettled, with heavy rain. All the small sails were stored, and the royal yards sent down. At noon the sun was obscured. Saturday, the 9th, the breeze increased, with every appearance of bad weather. Took in the top-gallant sails, and reefed the topsails, and took in the jib and spanker. At noon the sun was obscured. Sunday, 10th, the barometer falling fast, with the gale increasing, close reefed the topsails. At noon heavy gusts. The courses were taken in and furled. At 6 the fore-topsail was taken in, and the ship hove-to under the main topsail and the main trysail. All the sails were re-secured, the top-gallant yards sent down, and everything prepared for the storm, which it was evident was now approaching. At noon the sun was again obscured, the latitude being, by log, 11 deg. 6" north, and the longitude 96 deg. 0" east. The wind now blew a hurricane. The barometer was 29 deg., and falling. The main-topsail was taken in, and the ship left under the main topsail only. At half-past three the fore and main top-gallant masts were blown away. The wind was south, and so very severe that the main trysail was blown to atoms, and the ship was lying-to under bare poles, and laying beautifully to the wind, with her helm amidship and perfectly tight. The hurricane was accompanied with a deluge of rain. At 4 P. M. the wind shifted to the south-east, and was blowing so terrifically that all the hatches were obliged to be battened down, the sea making a fair breach over the vessel. The starboard-quarter boat was washed away. About half-past 6 P. M. there was a lull, and it was nearly calm, the wind backing to the south-west, and the sea became comparatively quiet. The barometer having fallen as low as 28 deg. 45", the ship was kept away north by east, and the topsails re-secured, portions of them having blown adrift. At 8 P. M. the wind began to blow again, and within half an hour the hurricane was as severe as before. The larboard-quarter boat was torn from the davits and blown across the poop, carrying away the binnacle and crushing the hencoops in its passage. At 9 P. M., the hurricane still increasing, the foremast broke into three pieces, and carried away with it the jib-boom, the main and mizen topmasts, the starboard cathead, and mainyard, the main and mizen masts alone standing. At 10 P. M. the wind and rain were so severe that the men could not hold on upon the poop. The soldiers were engaged in baling the water out of their quarters between decks, whither it had been forced down the hatches. In other respects the ship was quite tight and free from leak, proving herself to be a capital sea boat. The pumps being attended to drew out the water which was forced down the hatches, mast-coats, and topside forwards.
During the hurricane, numbers of land-birds were driven on board—a case not uncommon during storms—and an owl and a hawk were observed perched on the swinging table on the poop, without shewing any alarm at the presence of the ship's company. It was not noticed what became of them. This circumstance tended to shew the intensity of the tempest on shore, which must have forced these birds out to sea, a distance not much less than two hundred miles from any land.
Monday, 11th.—The hurricane was equally severe, the wind south-east, and the barometer as low as 28 deg. 0". The gusts were so terrific, mixed with drift and rain, that none of the people could stand on the deck. Advantage was therefore taken of the lulls to draw the ship out, and clear away the wreck of the masts. As the starboard bower-anchor was hanging only by the shank-painter, and its stock, which was of iron, was working into the ship's side, the chain-cable was unshackled, and the anchor was cut away from the bows. At noon, latitude, per log, 11 deg. 6" north longitude 95 deg. 20" east, the barometer apparently rose a little. No observations had been able to be made since the 7th. The hurricane was equally severe in gusts, and the ship perfectly unmanageable from her crippled state, but rode all the time like a sea-bird on the waves, notwithstanding the sea was apparently running from every point of the compass. The crew observed a large barque ahead of them which had lost its topmast and mainyard. They feared at first that she would not go clear of them. Happily, however, she drifted past ahead of them. This vessel afterwards proved to have been the Briton, of which we shall presently have occasion to speak. They also saw a brig to leeward, totally dismasted. From her appearance it was judged that she must soon have foundered, and every soul on board perished. At 4 in the afternoon the barometer fell to 27 deg. 70", and Cummin's mineral sympiesometer left the index.
The hurricane was now most terrific; the part of the poop to leeward and the cabin-doors and the skylights were literally torn away, and every moment they expected the poop itself to be carried off. None but those who have witnessed so awful a tempest at sea could form an idea of the weight and destructive power of the wind, crushing and beating every thing to pieces, as if it had been done with a heavy metallic body. At 8 P. M. the soldiers and sailors could not stand at the pumps, but were obliged to bale out the water from between decks.
Tuesday, the 12th.—At the turn of the day the hurricane still continued, and the rudder was gone. At 1 A. M. they felt the ship strike, and gave themselves up for lost, expecting every moment to be engulphed in the depths of the ocean.
But it pleased Him, whom the winds and the sea obey,
"Who plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm,"
to decree otherwise, and, at the moment of impending destruction, the ship and all her inmates were saved.
After a short time, it was discovered that the ship was thrown on a reef of rocks, and had bilged; and although the water entered her through the holes which the rocks had made, and filled her up to the lower beams, yet that it soon smothered, and, the bilge pieces keeping her upright, she lay comparatively quiet. But being fearful that she might beat over the reef into deep water, they let go the larboard bower-anchor, and shortly afterwards found the water leaving her. After this all hands fell asleep, being exhausted with fatigue and hardship. Captain Doutty and the military gentlemen were in Captain Stapleton's cabin, which was the only one habitable. Captain Doutty felt too anxious to rest long, but lay watching whilst all was still, except the beating of the waves and the rain on the poop. He then went out in front of the poop. He could discern nothing but the surf breaking heavily on and around his unfortunate vessel. He then lay down again, wishing earnestly for the break of day.
"The night is gone, and o'er the sea, The morning sun shines peacefully; Again 'tis calm, again 'tis still, Noiseless as gentle summer's rill."
At length the morning broke, which was to introduce the ship's company, just rescued from a watery grave, to a new era in their existence. With the daybreak the hurricane also began to break, and, though it rained heavily, the barometer rose rapidly until it stood at 29 deg. 45". The captain then beheld, to his great joy, the loom, or land-mark of the shore, to leeward, rising like a black belt, above the breakers. The land was an island, off the east coast of the Great Andaman, in latitude 12 deg. 1" north, and longitude about 93 deg. 14" east. The Andaman Islands, which are about eight in number, and covered with trees, form a group at the entrance of the Bay of Bengal, and are near 750 miles from the Sand Heads at Calcutta, and twelve degrees from the Equator. That on which the vessel was driven was in point of latitude about the centre, and may be easily known by a remarkable hill somewhat resembling a puritan's hat, and being placed in a hollow of the land, with much higher hills, both on the north and south of it. The anchorage is good, and a ship may be sheltered from all points.
About 60 years ago an attempt was made on the part of the East-India Company to form a settlement on the Andaman Islands for the convenience of shipping. Their first settlement was called Port Chatham, on the South Andaman. But, after about a year or two, it was removed thence, on account of its unhealthiness, to the North Andaman, where it was named Port Cornwallis, after Admiral Cornwallis, who recommended the removal, and not long after that was finally broken up, and the islands abandoned.
The ship being nearly dry aft, on the weather clearing, her crew, to their great astonishment, beheld, about a quarter of a mile inside of them, high amongst the trees, in a swamp of mangroves, whither she had forced herself a passage, a large barque, with troops on board.[B] In consequence of this discovery, Ensign Du Vernett was, as soon as possible, lowered with ropes from the Runnymede's stern, with twelve soldiers, to communicate with the barque. At 7 A. M., the tide rising, orders were given to the men to prepare to land at next low water, and, if possible, get something cooked, as, during the hurricane, no fires could be kept in the ship, and, consequently, the crew and troops had not had anything but biscuit and a glass of spirits during the storm. At half-past 3 o'clock P. M. the tide having fallen sufficiently to enable the people to wade on shore, Ensign Du Vernett returned on board and reported the vessel he had visited to be "The Briton" from Sydney, bound to Calcutta, and which had sailed from the former place, in company with the ships Royal Saxon, Loyds, and Enmore, on the 12th of August, 1844, having on board Her Majesty's 80th regiment, 1000 strong, under the command of Lieut.-col. Baker. The companies two, three, and six were on board the Briton, under the orders of Major, afterwards Lieut.-col. Bunbury, and consisted of 311 soldiers, including 12 serjeants and 4 drummers, 34 women, 51 children, and the following officers, namely, Captains Best, Sayers, and Montgomery; Lieutenants Leslie and Freeman; Ensigns Hunter and Coleman; and Assistant-surgeon Gammie, medical officer in charge. The Briton was commanded by Captain Alexander Hall. She had a crew of 34, was a vessel of 776 tons, A 1, and was ascertained to be the same barque which had drifted a-head of the Runnymede in the storm, having parted with all her companions, which afterwards arrived safely at their destination. The Briton was so short of provisions, that twelve men were obliged to be satisfied with the ordinary allowance of four.
[B] The roots of these trees support their stems some feet above the ground, and diverge in every direction, so as to produce an almost impenetrable thicket. The trees do not rise more than twelve feet high. They grow in marshy places, generally within the influx of the Indian Ocean, and where the tide can readily wash their stems.
By dusk, all hands, including soldiers, women, and children, had left the wreck of the Runnymede, and were accommodated on board the Briton. They were received by Captain Hall, Colonel Bunbury, and the officers of the 80th, with the greatest kindness, although they were enduring very great privations themselves. The crew of the Briton were delighted to hear of there being a fair stock of stores on board the Runnymede, particularly as regarded biscuit and flour, which, if moderate weather continued, would be landed for the benefit of both ships' companies.
In the morning after the wreck, a seaman of the Runnymede lost his life by the following piece of disobedience and fool-hardy temerity. Captain Doutty was sitting in Captain Stapleton's cabin, consulting with the military officers as to the best mode of getting the women and children on shore, when it was perceived that one of the seamen had placed himself by the cabin windows, apparently dressed for a swim. Captain Doutty enquired what brought him there: he instantly replied, "We are all alike now." Captain Doutty told him he was mistaken if he thought so, for that whilst two planks of the ship held together, he was determined to keep the command, and ordered him to leave the cabin. As he appeared unwilling to go, the chief officer was desired to send him forward. Being called accordingly, he refused, with an oath, to go, and immediately threw himself from the cabin window, and swam towards the shore, which he never reached, as the receding waves kept him out until he was exhausted, and the ship's company saw him sink without being able to assist him. This man's fate had the effect of keeping the others quiet until the water had fallen sufficiently to enable them to wade through it to the shore. After the landing Colonel Bunbury took the chief command of all parties.
We shall now find it most convenient to ourselves, as well as entertaining to our readers, to continue our narrative in the shape of a journal, only noticing those days on which any circumstances worth recording occurred.
Wednesday, 13th.—At daybreak, nearly low water, all hands returned on board and commenced getting up provisions for landing. All more or less damaged.
The Briton had lost all her boats, and the Runnymede's long boat was the only one they had, and that was badly stove, so that the water had run through her, and thereby prevented her being washed off the deck by the waves: and she eventually became the means, by God's blessing, of obtaining that assistance which saved the sufferers from perishing on a desert island.
The carpenters, therefore, of both ships were ordered to report how long a time it would take to put this boat into a state fit to proceed to sea to seek assistance. They reported eight days. After a personal communication, Captains Doutty and Hall received from Captain Sayers, of the 80th regt. the following order, putting their ships' crews under martial law, which was twice read to each crew.
Troop Ship "Briton," 12th Nov. 1844.
In consequence of the wreck of the troop ships "Briton" and "Runnymede," Major Bunbury calls on Captains Hall and Doutty to explain to the crews of their respective ships that they are from this moment under military law, and feeling it to be most essential for the well-being of the service that the strictest order and discipline be preserved by every one under his command, declares it to be his determination to punish, with the utmost severity, any act of insubordination and drunkenness.
By Order, H. T. Sayers, Capt. 80th Regt. To Capt. Doutty.
This day were landed from the Runnymede at low water, 37 bags and 6 half-bags of biscuit, 3 and a half bags of flour, and 9 baskets of plums. In consequence of information that the crew of the Runnymede meant to help themselves to the beer which formed part of the cargo, and had laid a plan to plunder the ship, they were in the evening all ordered on board the Briton. The only persons who remained on board the Runnymede were Captain Doutty and his officers, and a few steady soldiers of the 50th, and watches were regularly kept throughout the night.
There appears to be a very prevalent opinion amongst common sailors and private soldiers, that when a vessel is wrecked, all controul over private property is from that moment lost too, and that it is not stealing to lay hands on all they can take. Numerous instances of this kind took place on the present occasion. And this crime, as well as that of drunkenness, were scarcely checked by severe corporeal punishment. Some of the men attempted thefts at the risk of their lives; and, in one instance, a cask of bottled beer having been landed too late to be got into store, was placed, by a serjeant's tent, in care of a sentry, whose musket was known to be loaded with ball. During the night two fellows attempted to get at it, and being discovered were fired at, which so alarmed them, that one of them, in his hurry to escape, fell into a mangrove swamp, which caused him so much pain that he was easily captured. He proved to be a man of bad character.
Thursday, 14th.—Weather moderate, wind east, barometer 29 deg. 55". The crew employed this day landing stores, cleansing the decks from the accumulated filth and rubbish. The carpenters employed on the long boat. The stores landed were 3 baskets of sugar, 2 barrels of flour, 7 tierces and 1 barrel of salt provisions, 1 cask of vinegar, 1 puncheon of arrack, 2 cases of bottled fruits, 2 boxes of pickles, 6 barrels of pale ale, and 1 cask of sherry. The soldiers were employed on shore clearing the ground of trees, many having been thrown down by the hurricane, some of them very large, and apparently of the growth of a century. They were also employed in erecting tents and making roads and bridges. The tents were made of the sails of both ships, and the flags or camp-colours used to distinguish the companies, were Marryat's signals, also from the ships.
Friday, 15th.—Wind east and moderate. Weather fine. Continued landing provisions consisting of soap, preserved potatoes, biscuit, flour, sugar, dholl or split peas, rice, pale ale, port wine, and sherry. Finished the long boat's bottom, turned her up, and commenced raising her two streaks. Employed drying damaged provisions. Water discovered in the island; and a number of crabs, prawns, and other shell fish picked up at low water. Several indications of other wrecks were seen, but exploring parties had not yet straggled far from the encampment.
Saturday, 16th.—More provisions were landed this day. In the evening, large fires were seen on the island to the north, and as several muskets were discharged on shore away from the camp, and the people fancied they saw natives, they were hailed and a volley of musketry discharged, so no more of them were seen. But double watches were set at night with loaded arms.
Sunday, 17th.—This day no business was done, except by the carpenters, whose work was of the utmost importance to the saving the lives of upwards of 630 persons, with a scanty stock of provisions. Divine service was performed on board the Briton by Captain Sayers of the 80th in presence of the seamen and the troops, who were regularly paraded for church, and the forms of prayer and thanksgiving to the Almighty for the preservation of the people's lives were read. Seven natives made their appearance on the shore to the southward. Some of them tried to surround two sailors who were gathering shell fish, but the sailors were too nimble for them. An officer with a small armed party went in pursuit, but as soon as the savages saw them they put off from the shore in a canoe, leaving their fire, and close to it a piece of drift wood and some fish bones. And at night again some of the natives attempted to approach the Runnymede, but on being fired at they took themselves off. The natives appeared to be quite naked and black, and of a robust frame, with perfectly straight hair. This day also a spring of fresh water was discovered. The commander sent out detachment orders regulating the issue of rations and spirits to the troops, and complimenting Captains Doutty and Hall and their crews, and also the military officers and soldiers, on their conduct during the hurricane, and also regretting that the natives should have been fired at, as much benefit might arise from a conciliatory course, and much mischief from an opposite one; and ordering that for the purpose of preventing any rencontre in future between them and the military who might be straggling too far from camp, a roll call should take place every two hours, as well in the camp as on board the Briton.
Monday, 18th.—Fine weather. Fatigue parties employed on shore clearing the ground and erecting tents. The carpenters at work on the long-boat; her bottom and topsides finished, and a portion of her beams and ceiling placed. The crew engaged repairing her sails and in cutting air-holes between decks in the Runnymede for ventilation. On shore a court-martial sat for the purpose of trying men for stealing and drunkenness. By an order issued this day Ensign Hunter of the 80th was appointed to act as Adjutant. The Runnymede was made into a hospital ship under the care of Dr. Gammie, whilst Mr. Bell gave his medical attendance on shore to those whom it was not deemed necessary to send to the hospital; and the Briton was to be considered as a store-ship whence the provisions were to be issued daily, under the superintendence of Ensign Venables. The remainder of the troops were also ordered to disembark and encamp, the position of the Briton in a stagnant swamp of half salt, half fresh water, with mangrove trees crushed under it, being considered prejudicial to the health of the men.
Tuesday, 19th.—The carpenters employed laying the deck of the long-boat. Crew landing beer casks, but many of them burst whilst being carried ashore from being so long under water, and the straw they were packed in consequently heating. The sick were transferred from the Briton to the Runnymede. This afternoon the soldiers were paraded for the first time since the wreck. Their appearance, owing to their distressed situation, was somewhat similar to that of Falstaff's ragged regiment.
Wednesday, 20th.—Five soldiers were corporeally punished, by sentence of court-martial, for stealing and insubordination. The troops left the Briton according to order. Most of the officers commenced erecting tents for themselves.
Thursday, 21st.—The carpenters completed the deck of the long-boat. Four of the soldiers straggled a short distance to the south of the encampment in search of shell fish. They were attacked by a party of natives, who speared the whole of them, two of them dangerously, one of whom had three spears sticking in him. They were carried on board the Runnymede. A strong party was sent in pursuit of the evil doers but could not meet with them. Shortly after the return of the party, Captain Doutty saw fourteen of the natives issue from the jungle armed with their fishing-spears and apparently quite unconcerned, but the tide being up and having no boat, our people could not get at them. It was, however, deemed necessary to place advanced picquets round the camp, and a four-pounder was placed on the top-gallant forecastle and another on the poop of the Runnymede, in order to keep the natives off if they should prove aggressive. There appeared to be no chance of receiving any assistance from them. The island appeared to be wholly unproductive, neither fruit nor vegetables having been discovered, but several wild hogs were seen.
Friday, 22d.—The carpenters employed putting a false keel to long boat and caulking her. Landed 46 casks of beer, also some preserved salmon and cheese. A board of survey assembled on board the Briton to examine the stores saved, and to report as to the rations to be issued, calculated for forty days. The court recommended the following scale for alternate days, namely,
First day, 1/2 lb. bread, 1/2 lb. beef, 1/2 gill of spirits, 1/12 oz. of tea, 1/2 oz. of sugar.
Second day, 1/3 lb. flour, 1/3 lb. pork, 1/4 pint peas, 1/4 oz. coffee, 1/2 oz. sugar, 1/2 gill spirits, and this even would only last 36 days, that is, till 27th December. By this time, too, the coast for two miles round the island was cleared of shell fish. This day a private of the 80th regiment died in hospital of dysentery, most likely caused by the water, which had a disagreeable vegetable taste.
Saturday, 23d.—More beer landed from the Runnymede, also a case of claret. These were now issued in lieu of spirits. This day the natives came close to the camp. A few soldiers were sent to parley with them, and took two red shell jackets, which were left on a bush as presents for them. They only trampled on them, and at a given signal sent a volley of spears at the soldiers in return, two only taking effect. Two armed soldiers who had been concealed, then appearing, the natives set up a yell and ran to the bush, leaving part of a bow and a bundle of arrows behind them. They appeared very treacherous. They seemed also to understand the effect of fire-arms, running away the moment they saw any.
Sunday, 24th.—Divine service was performed on board the Briton. The coast was strewed in every direction with pieces of wreck. In the evening part of a chest of drawers and the top of a washhand-stand were found. These probably had floated from some vessel that had foundered.
Monday, 25th.—Moderate breeze. The long boat, being finished, was launched from the deck of the Runnymede at 11 o'clock, amidst the hearty cheers of all hands. She was named "The Hope." Her mast was then stepped and fitted, and an ample supply of provisions, water, and other necessaries put on board her. At half-past five, P. M., she set sail in charge of Captain Hall, of the Briton, with Mr. Skelton, chief officer of the Runnymede, and the boatswain and five seamen. Lieutenant Leslie, of the 80th, went in her as bearer of despatches. The course proposed, at the suggestion of Captain Doutty, was, to get into the track of ships proceeding to and from the Straits of Malacca; and then, being guided by the winds and other circumstances, either to cross to Moulmein, or go on to Calcutta.
Tuesday, 26th.—Weather moderate. The Hope not in sight at daybreak. The carpenters landed to make preparations for building another boat. Parties out getting shell-fish. Some trepang, beech-le-mer, or sea slug, was brought to Captain Doutty, which he attempted to cure by cleansing, parboiling, and drying in the sun. This is reckoned a great luxury by the Chinese, and is sold in their markets. It abounds in the vicinity of coral reefs.
Captains Stapleton, Montgomery, and Best, in the evening, saw a wild hog, between which and the bush they got unperceived. They each had a shot at him, as he ran past them, and being wounded in the head, he ran staggering amongst the fallen timber. A little spaniel dog, called Billy, of the King Charles's breed, which happened to be with the party, seized the hog by the ear. At the same time a soldier ran up to despatch the animal with a large stick, and not observing the dog in the dusk, he accidentally struck him an unlucky blow on the head, and killed him. Poor Billy's fate was universally regretted in the camp, where he was a general favourite. The hog weighed 80 lbs., had large tusks, and his hide was half-an-inch thick. The meat was hard and tough, but still was acceptable as a change. Some natives who were near the spot where the hog was killed, on hearing the shots, left their fire with a yell, and fled into the bush.
Thursday, 28th.—Working parties clearing and deepening the wells, which were beginning to fail. Several of the officers left the Briton, their tents being completed. There were many beautiful shells of various kinds found upon the beach. It was amusing to see such as are generally made use of as mantel-piece ornaments, teeming with life, and running about in every direction. A few fish were caught in nets outside the Runnymede, quantities of small ones being driven into shoal water by the large ones, which prey upon them.
Friday, 29th.—The soldiers were employed burning a road to the wells, the fallen trees being so interwoven that it was not possible to cut one. The carpenters were cutting a keel for the boat. The crew fishing and making nets. This evening there was a cry that a ship's light was seen in the offing, which produced a considerable sensation for the moment; but it turned out to be only Sirius rising.
Saturday, 30th.—General parade for muster. The keel for the intended boat brought in from the bush where it had been cut. A carpenter, four sawyers, and a blacksmith from the 80th were ordered to assist in building the new boat.
Sunday, 1st December.—Divine service was performed. The guard on board the Runnymede was now formed by convalescent soldiers, being one serjeant and six privates of the 80th. The natives made very large fires both to the northward and southward.
Monday, 2d.—Bellows were finished for the forge, with the pioneers' aprons for sides, and part of a gun-barrel for the pipe. The tiller of the Briton's rudder was used for an anvil, and nails were made out of the copper bolts from her stern posts. A sailor's canoe, which was nearly finished, took fire, and both her gunwales were burnt down.
Tuesday, 3d.—Regular morning parades on the beach at 7 A. M. commenced this day, the guards mounting immediately afterwards. The bugle was sounded regularly, as in garrison, at daybreak, for parade, for meals, and for bed at 8 P. M. The road still in progress of burning. This, together with the tent-fires and those of the picquets, had a very brilliant effect. Two officers went in search of water, and found a running stream under the hills, about a mile from the camp, which was very difficult to reach, from the denseness of the jungle.
Wednesday, 4th.—A couple of punts have been made out of rattans, covered with tarred canvas, and the canoe had plank sides put to it, in lieu of the gunwales, which were burnt. There were some thunder and lightning in the evening, and heavy rain, which caused the tents to leak, they having been made of old canvas.
Thursday, 5th.—A bag of damaged pepper sent on shore from the Runnymede for the soldiers to eat with the shell fish. An oyster bed discovered. A tree on fire, mistaken for a steamer's light.
Friday, 6th.—The carpenters commenced planking the boat. Several men were sent to the hospital with fever and head complaints. An order was issued, prohibiting the soldiers bathing or otherwise exposing themselves in the heat of the sun.
Saturday, 7th.—The canoe was launched, and answered better than was expected. Nearly the whole of the fallen trees on the island lay towards the south-west, so that the hurricane must have come from the E.N.E. or N.E.
Sunday, 8th.—Divine service as usual. The canoe brought in a cargo of fine oysters from the northward. The tracks of a number of hogs were seen. A soldier of the 80th died in hospital of brain fever.
Monday, 9th.—The Runnymede got a spar over her quarter, lashed to the mizen-mast, to shore her up, the heavy surf causing her to bump more than was agreeable. There was quite a fleet of canvas in the bay fishing and paddling about.
Tuesday, 10th.—One of the fishing crews caught a large fish of the snapper kind, of about 20 lbs. weight. It was found to be coarse and hard when cooked.
Wednesday, 11th.—The encampment looked quite gay, each tent having its distinguishing flag, or number of the company, hoisted; those of the officers had also their signals flying. Captain Stapleton's had the number of his regiment, 50th. The bay from the Runnymede had a very pretty effect.
Thursday, 12th.—Two turtles were seen upon the water. There were only sufficient provisions on hand to serve this month through. The Hope has been gone now sixteen days.
Saturday, 14th.—A party of officers of the 80th went to the northward on discovery, attended by the canoe. They crossed over to the other island. Saw a wild beast in the bush of the panther kind. Found some bundles of pigs' heads, tied with cane, laid together in heaps, and stones suspended from the trees by rattan. They supposed this to be some religious ceremony of the natives. They found a quantity of excellent oysters on the rocks. They made a fire, and dined off them.
Sunday, 15th.—Divine service as usual. This was the 20th day after the departure of the Hope. The present amount of ration to be reduced one-half from to-morrow, which will be little better than starvation. Very little shell fish to be now found within miles of the camp. About eleven o'clock, A. M., there were two smart shocks of an earthquake. The Briton shook so violently that all hands ran up from below, fearing that she would fall over. The last shock had scarcely subsided, when the shout of a sail, a sail! issued from a look-out tree, on the right of the camp, upon which the people themselves had established a watch, relieved every hour. The welcome cry quickly resounded throughout the camp. The Runnymede immediately hoisted her ensign and fired a gun, which was a pre-concerted signal. The camp was in great commotion, every one enquiring where the sail was, and straining their eyes to catch a glimpse of the stranger. Within a quarter of an hour afterwards, she had rounded the point and was visible to all. At one o'clock, P. M., she came to anchor abreast of the Runnymede, in 15 fathoms, the men cheering on shore, whilst the ship saluted her with twelve guns. She proved to be the Honourable Company's schooner, George Swinton, of 70 or 80 tons, from Mergui, with supplies of provisions for the sufferers, and the Hope towing at her stern. Our canoes went off, and brought on shore Mr. Michael, an ensign of the 17th Madras Native Infantry, the bearer of despatches from Mergui to the commanding officer, to whom he communicated the news of the safe arrival of the Hope at that port, and of the welfare of her crew. They had reached Mergui in 11 days from the time of leaving the island. They had suffered much from the heat of the sun and fatigue, because, having either foul or light winds, they were obliged to row the greater part of the distance, and to give up all idea of going to Calcutta. Having made their report, they were supplied with a lighter boat belonging to the American missionaries, in which they proceeded to Moulmein. The next day the commanding officer at Mergui despatched the George Swinton, under the command of Captain Daniels, to the relief of the sufferers, bringing, amongst other things, six young buffaloes. The arrival of this vessel at the exact moment of need caused great rejoicings, and an extra half-pound of biscuit and glass of spirits were issued to each man to commemorate the event. In the afternoon a soldier of the 80th was unfortunately drowned in the surf whilst bathing. On the arrival of the Swinton the rations were increased, and comparative plenty was restored.
Wednesday, 18th.—The Runnymede's mainmast was cut away, and she was shored up with it to make her ride easily, being much shaken by the surf. The Hope was brought on shore, and her deck and false keel taken off, that she might be used for landing provisions and stores. A brig appeared in sight to the southward. The Runnymede made signals, but she passed on without taking any notice. She was supposed to be a country ship.
Friday, 20th.—The island is putting on a spring-like appearance. Verdant spots are here and there to be seen, and the trees are beginning to come into leaf. Even those which were thrown down by the hurricane are struggling for life with the few roots left in the ground, and some of sixty feet high, without branch or top, have shot out small green twigs, forming a curious contrast with their scathed trunks. Melons, limes, and other seeds, sown by the officers, now coming up. Two native canoes took up a position near the north island, and afterwards their people passed along the reef fishing. Captain Doutty counted twenty-four persons on the reef, besides those left in care of the canoes. A soldier of the 50th died in hospital this day of brain fever.
Sunday, 22nd.—Divine service as usual. The poop-awning of the Briton was blown away, and the cuddy filled with water. The weather very rough.
Tuesday, 24th.—The Swinton's jolly-boat was swamped in the surf whilst taking off water-casks. The long-boat went to their assistance, and towed them alongside the schooner. The east end of the north island was covered with natives in search of food; the poor creatures seemed to depend entirely on shell-fish and sea-slug, picked off the reefs, for their subsistence, with occasionally a fish caught with their spears. During bad weather they must suffer much from hunger.
Wednesday, 25th. Christmas Day.—The Swinton left for Moulmein. Mr. Michael returned in her with despatches. The Runnymede's dingy returning from the schooner was capsized in consequence of Thompson, a seaman, falling on one side of her, when Edmund Hutter, a seaman, was drowned, means of resuscitation proving of no avail. Divine service was performed on board the Briton. The tents of the 80th looked very gay, being decorated with green boughs in honour of the day. There was no roast beef, but very good plum-puddings were made without sugar.
Thursday, 26th.—Flies and musquitoes came in myriads; they were very troublesome; there were none till now; the hurricane must have swept them away. Very beautiful periodical flowers appeared. Also snakes; several have been killed in camp. A young pig was shot by a serjeant; the mother and the rest of the family escaped.
Friday, 27th.—A wicker-work pot was made to catch fish in deep water. A tablet was engraven on the rock, near the burial-ground, with the names of the soldiers who had died on the island. At night large fires were made round the camp to burn out and keep off the musquitoes.
Saturday, 28th.—At 7 A. M. a sloop-of-war brig, the Pilot, Captain Jervis, with two schooner gun-boats in convoy, appeared. The latter ran into the anchorage, and the former went round the islands in search of other vessels. Sent our boat on board one of the former and landed the officer, Mr. White, of the Company's Marine, who stated that transports were at hand to relieve the sufferers; also that the rest of the 80th regiment had arrived safely at Calcutta. The new six-oared boat named "The Andaman" was launched at noon; she went through the surf beautifully. The Pilot sent her cutter round with Lieut. Leslie, and also some fresh meat and vegetables.
Sunday, 29th.—At noon the Ayrshire, of 250 tons, arrived from Moulmein, being one of three ships taken up by the Government there to convey the sufferers away from the island; the other two were called the Agnes Lee and the Elizabeth Ainslie. Capt. Jervis and three of his officers dined on the island.
Monday, 30th.—The first division of the 80th regiment commenced embarking on board the Ayrshire. At 3 P. M. the Elizabeth Ainslie arrived for the remaining portion of the 80th, and anchored near the Runnymede.
Tuesday, 31st.—The Pilot came round from the northward, and brought up in front of the camp. Commenced embarking the heavy stores on board the Elizabeth Ainslie. At 4 P. M. the Ayrshire sailed with the first division of the 80th regiment.
Wednesday, 1st January.—The second division of the 80th regiment embarked in the Elizabeth Ainslie, as also Captain Doutty and the crew of the Runnymede. The officers dined on board the Pilot. There were numerous native fires on both islands.
Thursday, 2nd.—The Elizabeth Ainslie sailed. The natives collected in great numbers on both islands. The gun-boat's gig, manned by Lascars, whilst pulling along the reef, was pursued by five canoes. The brig-of-war's cutter went to her assistance, when the canoes pulled back to the reef and made off. The 50th detachment strengthened their camp-guard and posted extra sentinels.
Friday, 3rd.—The transport Agnes Lee arrived from Moulmein. The invalid soldiers, women, and children, and heavy baggage were embarked in the course of the day. At night the natives came round the camp in great numbers; there were fires in every direction. A picquet was sent out to drive them back; the picquet fired at a party moving in rear of the tents, who fled, and extinguished their fires in a most extraordinary manner, the whole, except a few scattered embers, disappearing almost as if by magic. The brig of war despatched two boats to pull along shore in front of the camp, and afterwards fired two shots and a shell amongst a large body of natives gathered round a fire a short distance to the left of the Briton. They took themselves off and did not appear again that night.
Saturday, 4th.—The remainder of the detachment of the 50th embarked in the Agnes Lee. At night the natives again assembling in and around the camp, the marines of the Pilot were landed to protect the wrecks. Several shots were fired during the night.
Sunday, 5th.—The last detachment of the wrecked troops, after a sojourn of 55 days, sailed this day for Calcutta in the Agnes Lee, and bid adieu to this inhospitable island, in words very different from those of the poet, who sang
"Isle of beauty, fare thee well."
The voyage was most prosperous, the several ships having arrived at their destination within a few days of each other. The only place of note they passed on the voyage being Barren Island; they had a full view of its volcano, which is a cone thrown up from a valley. It was then in partial action, and was ejecting volumes of smoke as they passed it.
Monday, 13th.—Latitude, by observation, 20 deg. 59" north. A comet has been seen for the last ten or twelve nights, in the south-west, about equal to a star of the second magnitude, with a tail of about 8 or 10 degrees.
The detachments of the 10th and 50th regiments, on arriving at Calcutta, proceeded on to Chinsmah by steam, and the detachment of the 80th landed at Calcutta, and took up their quarters in Fort William.
Thus terminated one of the most remarkable shipwrecks upon record, remarkable in all its circumstances, when we consider the coincidence of two ships, each carrying troops, each sailing from a different quarter of the globe, both bound to the same port, and both thrown upon the same island, in one night, within half a mile of each other, and the Runnymede possessing stores and necessaries which the Briton stood in need of, and without which her company would, in all probability, have perished: and each having the means of defence against a race of savages, reputed to be cannibals, and so proverbial for their ferocity, that they are greatly dreaded by the seamen of the country ships, by whom they are called Wild Men of the Woods, and who, but for the fire-arms they had, would have destroyed the whole of the party.
But a still more remarkable fact is the extreme healthiness, under numerous hardships and privations, of a company of upwards of six hundred and thirty individuals, many of them women and children, in a climate so unhealthy, that, in time past, it was obliged to be abandoned by those who sought to settle in it. But here, in a sojourn of 55 days, besides those who died by accidents, only three men, one woman, and two or three children perished. And this to the great surprise of those who came to their rescue, and so fully expected to find disease prevalent, that they took with them a surgeon, a stock of medicines, and a quantity of comforts for the use of the sick and convalescent. These favourable circumstances may be attributed, with propriety, to the almost miraculous interposition of the Almighty, who vouchsafed to bless in an especial manner the prudence, good seamanship, and cool intrepidity of the captains and officers of the ships, and those under their care, whilst at sea: and afterwards, when on shore, the judgment, skill, and good management of Lieut.-colonel Bunbury and the military and other officers, as well as the steady discipline of all who were under their command. These all in their several stations have done great honour to their country, as well as much credit to the respective services in which they were employed.
We must also remark upon the very sound state of the hull of the Runnymede, which had not the slightest leak in her during the whole of a most appalling tempest. The only water she made was that which came in from the dashing of the waves.
We may also learn one important lesson from the perseverance of the crew of the Runnymede. That is, never to abandon any good undertaking on account of difficulties. Some unlooked-for circumstance may arise to crown our endeavours with success. The crew of the Runnymede had lost every thing but hope, when deliverance came to them unexpectedly.
We would conclude with one question to the benevolent and religious; to those who desire to promote the civilization of the heathen. Can nothing be done to christianize the ferocious tribes of the Andamans? Let it be remembered what the New Zealand cannibals and the wild bushmen of South Africa were before missionaries went amongst them, compared with what they now are; and then let endeavours be made use of, in reliance upon heaven's blessing, to bring these poor creatures out of the lowest state of darkness and degradation into one of Christianity and happiness.
PELHAM RICHARDSON, PRINTER, 23, CORNHILL.
This book contains archaic and variable spelling, which is preserved as printed. Minor punctuation errors have been repaired, and hyphenation has been made consistent.
The frontispiece illustration (No. 3) has been moved to its appropriate place in the text.
Page 30 has a reference to the ship Loyds. This may be a printer error for Lloyds, but has been preserved as printed.
Page 36—repective amended to respective—"... to explain to the crews of their respective ships ..."