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SS San Francisco


The New Steamship for San Francisco

Disaster at Sea!

Later on the San Francisco and "Wrecks at Sea."

More News and Other Accounts!

The Search Begins!

The Details!


Top Level Investigation Ordered by President!

Capt. Watkins' Letter



Daily Alta California, August 12, 1853 ---
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The New Steamship for San Francisco - A New York paper of July 5th, gives the following account of this new steamship: This beautiful addition to the steam fleet of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, lately launched from the yard of Mr. Wm. H. Webb, foot of Sixth street, has been built in the most substantial manner and with special attention to the trade she is intended for. Her model is very sharp, having concave lines at each end, and it is fully expected she will excel in speed the celebrated Golden Gate, (another of Mr. Webb's construction.) which has run from San Francisco to Panama, stopping at Monterey, San Diego and Acapulco, in eleven days and four hours, a distance of 3600 miles - beating all competitors from two to three days. Her length on deck is 285 feet; breadth of beam, 41 feet; and she is 24 feet deep. She has three decks. With a light joiner's deck 8 feet above the 24 feet deck, making a covering for cabins, state rooms, and the officer's rooms on the latter deck, besides a clear space above, and forming a splendid promenade fore and aft. She will be rigged with two masts. The hull is remarkable for its immense strength. The bottom is solid, and there are double diagonal braces as an additional security for the frame, running from the floor heads to the upper deck, all bolted to the frame and rivetted (sic) together at each crossing, and still further secured by a large iron plate which runs fore and aft over the upper ends of the diagonal braces, to which it is rivetted (sic), and also bolted to the frame. In addition to this, another method of strengthening has been introduced into this vessel never before adopted. This consists in having two bulkheads, running fore and aft, one on each side of the engine and boilers, and secured to the bottom and the middle deck beams, and diagonally braced with iron the whole length, rendering it an impossibility for anything much less a complete wreck to start a timber. The interior is to be arranged with state rooms above and with single open berths, similar to the Hudson river boats, and with open steerage berths below. Having a great number of very large sideports and skylights, affording an unusual amount of light and ventilation, this portion of the arrangements will not be subject to the inconvenience resulting from the want of those two necessities for comfort that render traveling in warm latitudes on board some steamships quite a serious consideration. The machinery is now being completed at the Morgan Works. It will consist of two oscillating engines, with two boilers. The engine will oscillate with a new adjustable cut-off arrangement.

The cylinders are 65 inches in diameter, with 8 feet stroke and placed fore and aft in the ship. The wheels, which are fitted with feathering buckets, are 28 feet in diameter, with a face of 8 feet; wheel shafts 18 inches in diameter; one pair of cranks, and one crank pin, and four piston rods. The air pumps will be worked with an auxiliary engine. The dimensions of the boilers are 13 feet eight inches in diameter and 34 feet long. The engine frames are made of boiler iron. The fire rooms are placed fore and aft, with air-tight arrangements. The danger from fire is well provided against, by having two independent fire pumps, with boilers attached. The San Francisco, when completed, will be the finest steamship on the Pacific. Nothing will be spared to render her worthy of that position. Her beautiful construction must excite much attention there, and she will undoubtedly command a large share of the traveling patronage between San Francisco and Panama. She registers about 2200 tons.

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New York Daily Times, January 6, 1854 --- Disaster to the New Steamship San Francisco. A telegraphic dispatch from Liverpool, N. S., dated yesterday, says the Maria Freeman arrived there reports -- that on the 26th of December, in Lat. 38 deg. 20', long. 69 deg., fell in with the new American Steamship San Francisco, from New York, for San Francisco, with her decks swept, boats gone, and completely disabled. Could not render any assistance, as she drifted out of sight during the gale.

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New York Daily Times, January 9, 1854 ---
EDITORIAL:
Wrecks at Sea ... San Francisco.

Storms at sea contend with fires on land to make the new year memorable with melancholy events. Our coasts are strewn with wrecks, and the hulks of vessels that rode proudly on the waves shortly since are driven before the wind or cast about at the sea's pleasure. In our paper this morning will be found the details of losses before announced, beside others which only now come to hand. It is very hard to give up so staunch a steamer as the San Francisco, and there is even yet some good reason to hope that she will be rescued. Under our telegraphic head will be found all that is known about her. The Alabama steamer has been fitted out to cruise a fortnight in the track she would likely to drift in, and the sanguine will not give it up that she shall yet see, brought in to repair, this prematurely disabled favorite.

Of the Staffortshire --- the largest clipper ever built before the Great Republic eclipsed all predecessors --- and her sad fate, we also have additional particulars. (NOTE: The Staffordshire was confirmed lost on January 5, 1854. Capt. Richardson went down with his ship; forty-four survivors. NYDT, January 6, 1854.)

The Empire City, of which we were prepared to hear worse news, was towed into our bay yesterday, not seriously injured by her tossing off Barnagat.

Then there are others, of which the news of their losses, total or partial, are fresh to the public ear. The ship Commerce, not yet a year old, sprang a leak, and had to be abandoned on her way to London, the day before Christmas. She probably sunk that night, with all her cargo of flour and grain; crew and passengers happily were saved.


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New York Daily Times, January 9, 1854 ---
THE SAN FRANCISCO.
Additional Particulars of the Loss of this Steamer.

Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7.

Another dispatch received this morning from Liverpool, N. S., furnishes the following additional particulars concerning the San Francisco. The Captain of the Maria Freeman states that when he saw the San Francisco her engines were not working, her smoke-pipe was gone, and her decks were swept of everything. The Captain of the steamer requested him to stay by him, and he did so, but a gale sprung up during the night and drove her out of sight. Saw at least one hundred and fifty persons on board.

Capt Freeman, of the brig Maria, at Liverpool, N. S., who fell in with the steamer San Francisco on the 26th of December, as previously reported, adds to his report that during the following night the wind increased to a hurricane from the northwest, during which the Maria laid to, but lost sight of the steamer and he thinks she must have foundered during the gale, as he could not find her afterwards.

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ANOTHER ACCOUNT

Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7.

The brig Napoleon, Captain Strout, from Matanzas, 29th November, reports experiencing three tremendous gales, lost sails, sprung a leak, and had to stave twenty-one casks of molasses to ease the vessel.

Captain Strout also reported Dec. 23, fell in with the steamship San Francisco, dismasted, everything swept above deck, and the spray making a complete breach over her. Captain Watkins stated that the steamer was leaking fast; but the next morning the steamer was not in sight -- having drifted fast to the eastward. First saw her at midday, and lost sight of her at dark. Her hull appeared sound.

The wind blew a fresh gale from the northwest during the night, but moderated on the next day and was nearly calm.

The first mate of the brig states that a part of the hurricane-deck forward was standing and the crew were busily engaged cutting it away and throwing it overboard. The steamer was on the southeast edge of the Gulf stream, and was drifting out.

Capt. Strout judged that they were more safe on board the steamer than those on board the brig.
The owners of the San Francisco have just received the following dispatch from Boston: "I was on board the Napoleon when your dispatch came. The captain is disabled, but, the mate leaves at 4 o'clock, by the land route, and will be at your house at midnight. They went within thirty yards of the steamer, and spoke to Captain Watkins. He said the ship was making water, but did not say how fast. He wanted a boat sent, but at that time the sea was running high and it could not live.

The smoke-pipe was gone but the galley was saved, as the mate says he saw smoke from the galley; part of the house standing forward, and the masts gone. When the brig last saw her, at 12 o'clock M., the ship was on the S. E. edge of the Gulf Stream, and would soon be out of it, in smooth water.

"The Captain says her hull was all right, and he felt as if he had rather, for safety, been on board of her than in his brig."

Boston, Saturday, Jan. 8.

It is reported today that the Revenue cutter on this station is ordered to sail to-morrow morning in search of the steamer San Francisco.

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New York Daily Times, January 10, 1854 ---
The Search for the Steamship San Francisco.

Philadelphia, Monday, Jan. 9.

Owners of the steamship Keystone State tendered the use of that vessel to Government, to search for the crippled steamship San Francisco, but the offer was declined.


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New York Daily Times, January 11, 1854 ---
The Steamer San Francisco.
The United States sloop of war Decatar has been ordered by the government on a cruise for the San Francisco, and she is all ready for sea, and will sail from her anchorage near the lighthouse to-morrow morning.


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New York Daily Times, January 14, 1854 ---
The Loss of the San Francisco.
In our columns, this morning, we furnish the details of a disaster more terrible than any of which it has ever fallen to our lot to record. The United States steamship San Francisco, about which so many fears have been abroad for ten days past, stimulated by telegraphic dispatches, and under untelegraphic rumors, has gone to the base of the ocean, and of seven hundred living beings that she carried, three hundred will see the light of the sun no more. Tragedies have been recently accumulating. What with conflagrations on land, and disasters at sea, we have "supped full of horrors." If anything could add to the tragedy of the San Francisco, it would be the outbreak of cholera, consequent upon the dissipation indulged in by the black and white waiters, and by a few of the troops, who deemed drunkenness and gluttony the best preparation for a "sea change." From fifty to sixty deaths -- statistics are somewhat dubious at present -- are chargeable to such excesses.

The human freight of the San Francisco is scattered. Three hundred and more are in the waves; one hundred and fifty (round numbers) are gone to Liverpool in the ship that saved them; about the same number have arrived, mostly without garments, in this port; and nearly an equal number rescued by another vessel have still to be heard from. A good word must be said for the captain of the British ship now in this port, who kept about the wreck six days, rescuing as many as were left, and suffering no soul to sink. He did his duty and no more, but the blessings of those he saved, and of their friends at home, will not forsake him. For the fullest particulars that could be obtained to the time of our going to press, we direct our readers to the details in another column.


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New York Daily Times, January 14, 1854 ---

TOTAL LOSS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO.
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LOSS OF OVER 300 LIVES.
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Outbreak of Cholera, and Sixty
Deaths.

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Over One Hundred Souls swept Overboard
by a single Wave.
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150 TROOPS TAKEN TO LIVERPOOL.
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One Hundred and Fifty brought
to this Port.

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One Hundred Rescued by another ves-
sel, and yet unheard of.
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FULL DETAILS OF THE DISASTER.
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REPORT BY AN OFFICER OF THE STEAMSHIP.
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REPORT OF LIEUT. WINDER.
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The British ship Three Bells, of Glasgow, Capt. Creighton, from Glasgow to this port, arrived yesterday at 4½ P. M., with merchandise and passengers, after a passage of 45 days. She brought over 150 passengers from the steamship San Francisco, and confirmed the worst fears that had been entertained of the fate of the vessel.
The San Francisco, Commodore Watkins, left this port on the 21st of December, bound to San Francisco, via the Straits of Magellan, touching at Rio Janeiro, Valparaiso, and Acapulco. On board, were Companies A, B, D, G, H, I, K, and L, of the Third Regiment of the United States Artillery, amounting, with the non-commissioned staff and band of the regiment, to over 500 men.
The following is a list of the officers in command:
Colonel Wm. Gates, commanding regiment.
Major, and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Washington.
Major Charles S. Merchant.
Surgeon R. S. Satterlee,
First Lieut. S. L. Fremont, Regimental Quartermaster and Acting Adjutant.
First Lieut. L. Loeser, Acting Assistant Commissary.
Capt. And Brevet Lieut. Col. M. Burke, Commanding Company I.
Capt. And Brevet Major George Taylor, Commanding Company A.
Captain and Brevet Major F. O. Wyse, commanding Company D.
Capt. H. B. Judd, commanding detachments of recruits to constitute Companies B and L.
First Lieut. and Brevet Capt. H. B. Field, commanding Company K.
First Lieut. W. A. Winder, commanding Company G.
First Lieut. C. S. Winder, commanding Company H.
First Lieut. R. H. Smith.
Second Lieut. J. Van Vorst.
Brevet Second Lieut. J. O. Chandler.

The officers' families consisted of:
Mrs. Gates and three children; Mrs. Carter; Mrs. Merchant and two children; Miss Valeria Merchant; Mrs. Chase and son; Mrs. Fremont and three children; Mrs. Loeser; Miss Eaton; Mrs. Taylor; Mrs. Wyse and child; Mrs. Judd.

Mr. Geo. Aspinwall, Capt. J. W. T. Gardiner, (of the First Dragoons, on his way to join his Regiment in California,) James L. Graham, Jr., and Lieut. F. K. Murray, U. S. Navy, en route for the Squadron at Rio, were also on board. There were also some passengers whose names we have not learned.

The list of the ship's officers is as follows:
J. T. Watkins, Commander
Edward Mellus, 1st officer
Geo. Gratton, 2d do. (duty officer)
Chs. F. Sarton, 3d do.
John mason, 4th do.
J. W. Marshall, Chief Engn'r.
A. Auchinlick, 1st Asst. do.
J. Farnsworth, 2d do.
D. Dunham, 2d Asst. Eng'r.
James Crosby, 2d do.
B. Lanaghan, 3d do.
C. Hoffman, 3d do.
Edward Osner, Quartermaster.
John Gallagher, do.
Leonard Hooker, do.
_____ Kelley, do.

The above, with sixteen seamen, and the cabin and steerage waiters, made up a total of 700 souls who sailed in the San Francisco from this port. She was entirely a new ship, constructed with a view to her occasional employment in the transportation of troops. She had three months' provisions for the crew, and twelve months' provisions for the troops.

As our readers are aware, the first news obtained of her after her departure was contained in the following telegraphic dispatch:

Halifax, Thursday, Jan. 5.

A telegraphic dispatch from Liverpool, N. S., dated yesterday, says the Maria Freeman arrived there reports -- that on the 26th of December, in Lat. 38° 20', long. 69°, fell in with the new American Steamship San Francisco, from New York, for San Francisco, with her decks swept, boats gone, and completely disabled. Could not render any assistance, as she drifted out of sight during the gale.

From that time until last evening the public mind was kept in a state of terrible suspense respecting her. Senator Gwin applied to the Secretary of the Navy for aid, and a merchant steamer was at once chartered to go in search of her, Mr. Vanderbilt having twice refused the use of his steamer North Star for that purpose. The steamer Alabama was also chartered by the War Department, and dispatched to aid in the search. The steamer Union, Captain Adams, with Commander Hudson, and several officers of the Navy, on board, left this port on the 11th inst. She took out six metallic life-boats.
On the 7th inst., intelligence was received at Boston that a herm. Brig, the Maria Freeman, as she was erroneously called, her name being the Maria of Liverpool, had seen the San Francisco in a disabled state, but was unable to render her any assistance. Still later, the following dispatch was received and published by us:

Boston, Saturday, Jan. 7. P. M.

The brig Napoleon, Captain Strout, from Matanzas, 29th November, reports experiencing three tremendous gales, lost sails, sprung a leak, and had to stave twenty-one casks of molasses to ease the vessel.

Captain Strout also reported Dec. 23, fell in with the steamship San Francisco, dismasted, everything swept above deck, and the spray making a complete breach over her. Captain Watkins stated that the steamer was leaking fast; but the next morning the steamer was not in sight -- having drifted fast to the eastward. First saw her at midday, and lost sight of her at dark. Her hull appeared sound.

The wind blew a fresh gale from the northwest during the night, but moderated on the next day and was nearly calm.

The first mate of the brig states that a part of the hurricane-deck forward was standing and the crew were busily engaged cutting it away and throwing it overboard. The steamer was on the southeast edge of the Gulf stream, and was drifting out.

Capt. Strout judged that they were more safe on board the steamer than those on board the brig.

The owners of the San Francisco have just received the following dispatch from Boston: "I was on board the Napoleon when your dispatch came. The captain is disabled, but, the mate leaves at 4 o'clock, by the land route, and will be at your house at midnight. They went within thirty yards of the steamer, and spoke to Captain Watkins. He said the ship was making water, but did not say how fast. He wanted a boat sent, but at that time the sea was running high and it could not live.

The smoke-pipe was gone but the galley was saved, as the mate says he saw smoke from the galley; part of the house standing forward, and the masts gone. When the brig last saw her, at 12 o'clock M,., the ship was on the S. E. edge of the Gulf Stream, and would soon be out of it, in smooth water.

"The Captain says her hull was all right, and he felt as if he had rather, for safety, been on board of her than in his brig."


On the same evening the owners of the San Francisco received the following dispatch from Boston:

I was on board the Napoleon when your dispatch came. The captain is disabled, but, the mate leaves at 4 o'clock, by the land route, and will be at your house at midnight. They went within thirty yards of the steamer, and spoke to Captain Watkins. He said the ship was making water, but did not say how fast. He wanted a boat sent, but at that time the sea was running high and it could not live.

The smoke-pipe was gone but the galley was saved, as the mate says he saw smoke from the galley; part of the house standing forward, and the masts gone. When the brig last saw her, at 12 o'clock M,., the ship was on the S. E. edge of the Gulf Stream, and would soon be out of it, in smooth water.

The Captain says her hull was all right, and he felt as if he had rather, for safety, been on board of her than in his brig. In this way the excitement respecting the ill-fated ship was kept up, when yesterday afternoon the arrival of the Three Bells, of Glasgow, with a portion of the troops, officers, passengers and seamen, at this port, terminated the suspense. By the following account, by an officer of the San Francisco, we are put in possession of the whole history of her voyage and mishaps, from the time of her sailing till she was scuttled and abandoned. When last seen she was on her beam ends, and would go down in less than an hour. Nothing we may add, was saved from the wreck.

We conversed last night with Mr. Edward Osier, of Buffalo, one of the Quartermasters of the ship. He assures us that the accounts given by the mate and the other officer are correct. According to the best means he had of judging, about three hundred persons were lost, over one hundred being washed away by a single wave which swept the deck. About one hundred and fifty were taken on board the Antarctic, bound for Liverpool, and about the same number were taken off by the bark Kilby, on the 28th ult., bound to this port. The Kilby being short of provisions, and having only one cask of water on board, would probably make the nearest port. She has not yet been heard from.

Col. Gates, Major Merchant, Col. Burke, Capt. Judd, Lieutenant Fremont, Lieutenant Loeser, and Lieutenant Van Voast, with all of the ladies, were put on board the Kilby. Lieuts. C. S. Winder and J. G. Chandler were put on board of the ship Antarctic, bound for Liverpool. Major F. O. Wyse and Lieut. Wm. A. Winder came on the Three Bells.

Col. J. M. Washington, Major Taylor and wife, Capt. H. B. Field, and Lieutenant Smith, were washed overboard on the first night of the gale.

The following memorandum has been handed us by one of the officers of the steamer San Francisco, who desires it published for the information of friends:
OFFICERS OF THE STEAMER SAN FRANCISCO ON BOARD
THREE BELLS, ARRIVED AT THIS PORT

Edward Mellus, 1st officer.
George Grattan, 2d officer.
W. Buel, M. D., surgeon.
W. H. Wickham, storekeeper.
J. W. Marshall, chief engineer.
Auchinlick and Dunham, 1st assistant engineers.
Farnsworth and Crosby, 2d assistant engineers.
B. Donaghan and C. Hoffman, 3d assistant engineers.
Edward Osier, quartermaster.
All of the crew.

ON BOARD SHIP "ANTARCTIC," BOUND FOR LIVERPOOL.

Capt. J. T. Watkins.
Charles F. Barton, 3d officer.
John Mason, 4th officer.
T. L. Schell, Purser.
DIED.

Levi Heath, steerage steward, white.
Walter Heath, waiter.
Both of the above were from Haverhill, Mass., but not near relatives.
Charles Sanford, colored, insane, jumped overboard while on board the Three Bells.
William Wilson, colored, waiter.
L. Testador, colored, waiter.
Johnson, colored, head waiter.
Arthur Henry, fireman.
Brooks, colored, waiter.
Walter Watkins, fireman.
Brooks, colored waiter, }
The barber, colored, } washed overboard.
F. Duckett, white, steer. waiter, }
A seaman named Alexander, }

DISIPATION ON BOARD -- OUTBREAK OF CHOLERA.

One of the most terrible features of this shocking disaster was the outbreak of cholera, occasioned by the dissipation of a portion of the troops, and of the white and colored waiters. While the ship was at the mercy of the waves, many of these individuals, as is too often the case at such seasons determined since they had given up the idea of escaping, to enjoy themselves before the ship went down. In the confusion that prevailed, the storeroom was left unfastened, and the contents were too tempting to be withstood. They accordingly indulged their appetites without restraint. They partook of preserves, cakes, sweetmeats, daintees of all kinds ad libitum, and then repaired to the spirits room, where they washed down their repasts with copious and undiluted draughts. The effects of this conduct unexpectedly manifested themselves in violent attacks of cramp and diarrhea. Some of the debauchees died in less than ten hours from the time of seizure, others laid a day or two, while some recovered altogether. We are informed by an officer that nearly sixty individuals perished in this manner, some dying onboard the Three Bells, while on her way to this port; others were put onboard the Antarctic, so much reduced by diarrhea as to give but little prospect of recovery.

Only one seaman was lost. He was knocked from the spanker-boom, and was drowned. Another of the crew had his leg broken. He was taken off in the Kilby.

In nautical phraseology, the ship was "too deep." But the gale by which she was overtaken was too tremendous to leave any question of her qualities open to criticism. We learn that she was nearly opposite Cape Hatteras when she was struck by the wind and driven to the northwest. She was soon rendered unmanageable, and drifted before the gale. When she was met by the Three Bells, she was some hundred leagues to the northward, out of her course.

The number of troops lost, according to Lieut. Winder's computation, is nearly or quite 160. Four officers were swept off by the wave that cleared the deck of over 100 souls. The troops on board the Three Bells have lost nearly every article of clothing. In fact nothing was saved from the San Francisco -- neither provisions nor baggage. When over 250 men had been lost everybody thought himself lucky who escaped with his life. Many of the soldiers brought to this port by the Three Bells are prevented from going on shore for want of apparel.

The Three Bells is an iron vessel. She is owned by three brothers named Bell, citizens of Glasgow. The rescued soldiers and crew on board are loud in praise of her commander. They unanimously state that no language is adequate to describe the kind and considerate manner in which they were treated, and the readiness manifested to supply their necessities. We asked one of the officers last night about the Captain of the Three Bells. He replied, with feeling emphasis, and his eyes watered as he spoke -- "He is a gentleman, God bless him -- he is a gentleman." The Three Bells laid by six days, accomplishing her good work of rescue.

With these discursive facts, gleaned in haste, but from sources perfectly reliable, we introduce the following, digested and authentic statement of one of the officers of the ill fated vessel:

The SS San Francisco departed New York on December 21, 1853, "... with light breeze from the southwest and clear weather." On December 24 the weather changed to a "... moderate breeze from the west ... and heavy rain towards evening." By midnight the weather was very heavy and the San Francisco had lost many sails. "Blew away fore-staysail. Hauled up the foresail at 12 P. M. Blew away fore-spencer and foresail from the lee yardarm; lashed the head of the spanker to haul out the clew. About this time, ship laboring heavily, knocked up her planking over the after guards. Ordered all of the troops forward. Cleared away the after standees, and stowed them forward. At 1:15 P. M. the engine stopped; the end of the air-pump piston rod breaking off, and the air-pump bracket consequently adrift. At this time the spanker blew away, thus leaving the ship entirely at the mercy of the waves and wind."

"At 7 P. M. the foresail went over the side, with all attached, breaking about six feet above deck, and splintering to the berth deck. At 9 P. M., shipped a heavy sea amidships, which stripped the starboard paddle-box, carried away starboard after king post, both smoke stacks, all the upper saloon, staving the quarter deck through and washing overboard a large number of the passengers -- one hundred and fifty ..."

During the ensuing days, the Kilby, the Three Bells, and the Antarctic took on the passengers and crew of the SS San Francisco.

"Captain Watkins boarded the Kilby (and) on behalf of the United States Government, contracted to pay the owners $15,000 to take as many of the passengers off the steamer on board his vessel as was possible. He further agreed to give the Captain $200 a day, on behalf of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, to lay alongside in case he should be obliged to do so for any great length of time. The Captain was also to receive $1,000 for his noble conduct in launching his boats when his crew had refused the duty, and the sea threatened to swallow him up with his frail craft, as well as five percent primage on the amount contracted to be paid by the Government. At 3 o'clock P. M. the hawser was run to the bow of the Kilby, and soon after the disembarkation of the passengers commenced. Great fears were entertained by many that the boats would be swamped, owing to the rush to get into them. Several of the officers had provided themselves with weapons to keep back the crowd, and Colonel Gates addressed the troops, declaring that he would be the last to desert the ship, and that he hoped the officers and soldiers on board would follow his example, and wait with patience until their names were called. The first boat soon after came alongside. I was on deck at the time, and shall never forget the scene of confusion which ensued. The first boat which left carried Col. Gates and his family. After this the officers followed according to grade, and the boats continued plying to and fro until dark, at which time about one hundred passengers had been transferred to the Kilby. The last boat which crossed was swamped alongside of her, and the captain of the Kilby stated that he would prefer discontinuing the further disembarkation of passengers until the morning, as the sea beginning to rise, and a violent northwester was again springing up."

By "7 A. M. (on January 5, 1854), all out of the ship excepting Capt. Watkins, Mr. Marshall, (Chief Engineer) and myself; we then left, Capt. Watkins being the last."


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New York Daily Times, Tuesday, February 7, 1854 ---

THE SAN FRANCISCO DISASTER.
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Court-Marshal at Gen. Scott's Head-quarters.
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Investgation of Circumstances attending the Loss of the San Francisco.
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Examination into the Conduct of Col. Gates and other Army Officers.
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Interesting Proceedings.
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The Court of Inquiry, convened by order of the President of the United States, to investigate the circumstances attending the loss of the U. S. transport steamer San Francisco, and such other matters as may relate to the embarkation of the troops and the conduct of the officers and men of the command, commenced its sessions yesterday morning at the headquarters of General Scott, the Commander-in-Chief, at No. 114 West Eleventh street.

The Court consists of the following members: Major Gen. Winfield Scott, Commander-in-Chief; Gen. Stanton, Q. M. Dept.; Col. Sumner, 1st Dragoons; Major John F. Lee, Judge Advocate.

The Court having previously in secret session, now opened its doors, and upon entering the room with a brother reporter, we were informed by General Scott, with the concurrence of the Court that if there were any reporters in the room, he desired to say that they neither invited or declined their presence, but wished it to be understood that they would be admitted just as any other citizens who might desire to hear the public proceedings of the Court. The General very kindly added that he desired us to have all the facilities which the room afforded for writing. A table was furnished us accordingly, for which as well as for the general courtesy that has been extended to us by the Judge Advocate and other members of the Court of Inquiry, we take this opportunity for returning our most sincere thanks.

General Scott then observed to the Court that it would be improper to proceed with the taking of testimony until the arrival of the officers into whose conduct they were particularly directed to inquire, (referring to Col. Gates). This officer was accordingly notified that the Court was in session

General Winfield Scott, the President of the Court, whose glorious achievements have made his name a household-word throughout the land, was seated at the head of the table; beside him lay the splendid award presented to the old Hero by the State of Louisiana. It bears the following inscription:

"Presented by the People of the State of Louisiana to General Winfield Scott, for his gallantry, and Generalship exhibited in the siege of Vera Cruz, in the battles of Cerro, Gordo, Contreras, Charousco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, and in the final entry into the city of Mexico."

We are happy to say that the General is looking well, though still suffering from the effects of his fall. On the right of the President of the Court was seated Brigadier General Stanton, of the Quartermaster's Department, and on his left Colonel Sumner, of the First Dragoons; the foot of the table being occupied by major John F. Lee, the able and learned Judge Advocate of the Army, who conducted this investigation on the part of the Government. Colonel William Gates, of the Third Artillery, the officer who commanded the troops on board the San Francisco, and whose conduct has been so bitterly attacked without giving him and opportunity to defend himself, by some of the country Press, was then informed that the Court was in session and desired his presence. The Colonel was dressed in the undress uniform of his grade, and upon entering the room took a seat upon the right of the Judge Advocate. A reference to the order convening this Tribunal will show that an investigation of the conduct of this officer is one of the principal objects contemplated in the institution of the present inquiry.

The Court then rose and took the oath prescribed in such cases by the regulations -- the Judge Advocate administering it.

The Judge Advocate was then in turn, then sworn by the President of the Court.

Upon the conclusion of this ceremony the Court was read by Major Lee:

Copy of the order convening the Court:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE
Washington, Jan. 28, 1854
Special Order, No. 17. -- The following order from the war Department is published for the information of all concerned:
WAR DEPARTMENT, Jan. 27, 1854.
By direction of the President of the United States, a Court of Inquiry will convene in the City of New York, on Monday, the 6th of February, 1854, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to examine into all the circumstances attending the embarkation, in December last, of the troops under the command of Col. William Gates, Third Artillery, on board the steamer San Francisco destined for California; the cause of the failure of the expedition, and the disorganization of the command at sea; and all facts and circumstances which may concern the conduct of the commander, and of the officers and men of the command.

The Court will be composed of Major-General Winfield Scott, Commanding the Army; Brevet Brigadier-General Henry Stanton, Assistant Quartermaster General; Brevet-Colonel E. V. Sumner, Lieut. Colonel First Dragoons; and Brevet-Major John F. Lee, Judge Advocate of the Army, as recorder.

The Court will make a full report of the facts in this case, with their opinion.
(signed)
JEFFERSON DAVIS, Secretary of War,
by order, S. Cooper, Adjutant General.

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Daily Alta California, Maritime Section, February 10, 1854

Spoken.

Per San Francisco - December 28th, lat 57 8 S, lon 76 W, ship Ringleader, Matthews, 67 days from Boston for this port. Dec 29th, passed ship Northern Light, Hatch, hence for Boston, several vessels in co. Dec 30th, boarded by Capt. Palmer, of whaleship Navigator, of Nantucket, 53 months out, 800 bbls sperm; all well; to cruise for a short time, and then home.
Memoranda.

The steam-tug Resolute, Capt. Griffin, came up from the wreck of the San Francisco yesterday for assistance, and in half an hour obtained 75 men, which he put on board the brig E.D. Wolf, which was taken in tow for the wreck, to save all that could be saved. They have cut a hole in the deck, and are now discharging as fast as possible. The steam-tug Abby Holmes, Capt. Welch, came up from the wreck at 5 PM, with a portion of the cargo, boats, %c. The ship laid nearly on her beam ends when the Abby Holmes left. The A. H. will take another vessel down to assist in saving all the cargo they can. The Resolute came up last evening with the brig E.D. Wolf in tow, having cargo from the wreck. The ship is full of water.

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The lengthy hearings were published daily in the New York Daily Times for the next 2 weeks. Capt. Watkins submitted the following letter which was subsequently published in the Times:

New York Daily Times, February 10, 1854

The Wreck of the San Francisco.
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LETTER FROM CAPTAIN WATKINS.
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Interesting Particulars.
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Ship "Antarctic,"
Liverpool, Jan., 1854.


Nathaniel Hawthorne, Esq., U. S. Consul at Liverpool:
SIR: I have the painful duty to report to you the loss of the U. S. Mail Steamer San Francisco, under my command.

The San Francisco was chartered by the U. S. Government as a troop ship, and sailed from New-York for San Francisco, California, Dec. 22, 1853, having on board eight Companies of the Third Regiment U. S. Artillery. The following is a list of the officers: Col. Wm. Gates, (and family,) commanding regiment; Major and Brevet Lieut. Col. Washington; Major Charles S. Merchant, (and family,) surgeon; G. S. Satterlee, assistant surgeon; H. E. Wirtz, third lieutenant, S. L. Fremont, regimental quartermaster, and family; First Lieut. Loeser, acting assistant Commissary, and family; Capt. And Brevet Col. M. Burke; Captain and Brevet Major George Taylor, and family; Captain and Brevet Major J. O. Wyse, and family; Capt. F. B. Field; Lieut. W. A. Winder; Lieut. C. S. Winder; Lieut. B. H. Smith; Lieut. J. Van Vost; Lieut. J. S. Chandler;, and W. G. Rankin. Also, Capt. Gardner, of the First Dragoons; Lieutenant Murray, of the U. S. Navy; and about 70 camp women and children.

The following is a list of the other cabin passengers: Sr. Jacinto Derwanz, (Brazilian Consul,) lady and servant; Capt. Battie, (Brazilian Army,) and lady; Mr. Geo. W. Aspinwall, Mr. J. Lorimer, Jr., Rev. Mr. Cooper and family; Messrs. Tenney, Gates, Southwick, and one gentleman, name unknown; numbering in all, ship's company inclusive, about 750 souls.

On the night of the 23d December, judging myself on the southern edge of the Gulf stream, we experienced a most terrific gale from northwest, which continued to increase with great violence until it blew a perfect hurricane, with a very high, irregular sea. At 3:30 A. M., on the 24th, the chief engineer reported to me that the engines had broken down. Up to this time the ship behaved very handsomely, but she immediately fell off in the trough of the sea, and labored very heavily. At 5 A., M., lost our foremast, and all the canvas off the ship, carrying away, at the same time, four of our life-boats, with the wreck of the spars.

I had now great fears that the ship could not safely out live the gale. At 7 A. M., just as the chief engineer was making an effort to start the engines under high pressure, a terrific sea boarded us, carrying with it the whole of the upper saloon and everything abaft the paddle-boxes, and about 150 souls; both smoke stacks, the remainder of our boats, staving about 50 feet of the spar deck over the main saloon, and leaving the ship almost a perfect wreck -- leaking very much.

The following is a list of the officers and others, cabin passengers, who were washed overboard: Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Washington, Brevet Major George Taylor and lady; Captain H. B. Field, Lieutenant R. H. Smith, Mr. Gates, son of Col. Gates, Mr. Tenney and another gentleman, name unknown, together with 130 soldiers and four of the crew.

The remainder of the passengers were as soon as possible formed into gangs to assist in bailing and pumping, and in twelve hours succeeded in gaining on the water several inches. On the morning of the 25th, the weather became more moderate, and the engineers succeeded in starting the steam pump, which soon released the passengers from bailing. The crew, with a number of carpenters from the command, were employed in clearing away the wreck, stopping leaks as well as possible in the upper works and lightening the ship.

From the 25th to the 27th inclusive, experienced moderate gales with high, confused sea. On the 28th fell in with and boarded the American bark Kilby, for New Orleans. This vessel was chartered by Col. Gate to take on board all of the troops, and convey them to the nearest port in the United States; and at 7 o'clock P. M. succeeded in getting about 100 souls on board of her, when I received word from the captain that he could receive no more on board that evening.

At 10 P. M. it commenced blowing fresh from the southward and eastward, with rain, and at midnight it blew a heavy gale, with a very high sea. At 4 A. M. on the 29th the gale was most terrific. Passengers were again mustered into gangs, to pump and bail. During the night lost sight of the Kilby, and saw nothing more of her. At noon the gale moderated, with the wind from the N. W.

On the 30th, more moderate. All hands employed in lightening the ship and stopping the leaks. During the last gale the ship had labored and strained so much I deemed it impossible for her to outlive another, and as I had no motive power on board by which I could work her to the southward, out of the Gulf Stream into fine weather -- the engineer having decided that it was impossible to work the engines again, and the passengers and crew were fast dying off with fatigue and exposure -- I determined to abandon the ship the first opportunity. On the 31st, wind blowing fresh from the W. S. W., with a high sea, fell in with and spoke the British ship Three Bell, of Glasgow, bound for New-York. Requested the Captain to lay by us until it moderated and take us off, which he promptly consented to do, but the weather continued too boisterous for him to send his boat alongside up to the 2d inst. The ship was then well to windward of us, lying to. At 9 A. M. on the 2d she made signals of distress to a strange sail, which was answered, and both ships ran down to us. At 1 P. M. spoke the strange sail, which proved to be the Antarctic, Captain G. C. Stouffer, of New-York, bound for Liverpool. Begged him to take us off, which he readily consented to do, and both ships immediately lowered away their boats and sent them alongside, when we commenced transferring the troops to both ships.

On the morning of the 5th, succeeded in getting all hands out of the ship without accident. Up to this time we had lost fifty-nine, who died from fatigue and exposure.

The following is a list of officers on board the Three Bells: Brevet Major F. O. Wyse, Lieutenant W. A. Winder, and about 200 troops, including camp women and children. Of the ship's company -- Edward Welles, First officer; Dr. W. B. Buel, surgeon; John W. Marshall, chief engineer; George Gretton, second engineer; Wm. Wickman, storekeeper, and all the assistant engineers, firemen, and coal-passers, and all the bulk of the ship's crew, with a few exceptions, who are on board of this ship.

On board the Antarctic are Lieut. Charles C. Winder and servant; Lieut. J. G. Chandler, and 192 troops, women and children, and with me, my purser, Theo. L. Schell, Charles F. Barton, third officer; John Mason, fourth officer; Washington Duckett, carpenter, and one servant.

The constant kind attention which we have all received from Captain Stouffer, of the Antarctic, and his officers -- his deep solicitude and his judicious care of our men, women and children, since we came on board of his ship -- is above all praise, and merits our most sincere and lasting feelings of gratitude.

Very respectfully,
(signed) Jas. T. Watkins




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