The further adventures of a famous American seaman
This is the second volume of recollections penned by the renowned schooner captain and author George Coggeshall to be published by Leonaur. This volume comprises many voyages in famous vessels from the great age of sail including The Centurion, The Hamilton, The Eliza, The America and others. Through Coggeshall’s narrative we experience all the dangers and adventures of life at sea in both the merchant marine and the ships of the United States Navy. This is one of the most gripping accounts of the early days of American seamen on the world's oceans and is available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors.
We saw the Retrieve lying at anchor alone in this snug little harbour, and not another ship or vessel in the port except ourselves. Captain Kearney and myself soon repaired on shore and waited on the Governor; we showed him our credentials and authority to recover the Retrieve, cargo and crew, and soon explained everything to his satisfaction. He was a native of Old Spain, and a fine gentlemanly man. He said he had no doubt that we were fully authorized to take charge of the property and sailors in prison belonging to the vessel, still he was fearful that if he gave up the schooner and men without first writing to the captain general at Guatimala, for his permission, he might, perhaps, implicate himself.<br>
The distance from this place to the capital is about 400 miles, and to wait the answer of the chief of the province, would probably occupy about fifteen or twenty days. The Governor, however, was an obliging good man, and when we stated to him the necessity of dispatch, and that it would be impossible for the Enterprise to remain long in this sultry climate with so many persons on board, he consented to take the responsibility of displeasing the commander-in-chief at Guatimala, and kindly gave up the prisoners and property forthwith.<br>
Captain Kearney immediately supplied me with carpenters, calkers, riggers and sailmakers, so that in the course of a few days we had the schooner calked throughout, sails repaired and bent, and everything ready to take in the cargo, which was stored in the town of Omoa, about a mile distant from the port. Captain Kearney, with the consent of the Governor, had the two remaining prisoners removed from the castle to the Enterprise, and there in the presence of the Governor and his principal officers, was held a court of inquiry on the mate and the rascally sailor, who turned evidence in favour of the State.<br>
The substance of their story was as follows:—<br>
that they were six in number exclusive of the captain; that before leaving Cadiz, the mate and crew had embezzled a few barrels of brandy and some other trifling articles, which they sold while Captain Lewis was on shore, and had divided the money among them; and that after getting to sea, the mate said they would, on their arrival at Vera Cruz, be detected and punished for what they had done; therefore if they would join him to throw Captain Lewis. overboard, he would navigate the schooner to some port in the Bay of Honduras, where they would sell the vessel and cargo, and divide the amount in silver and gold, and thus escape without detection.<br>
Having agreed upon the plan to be adopted, about a week after leaving Cadiz, when in the neighbourhood of Palma, one of the Canaries, about 7 o’clock in the evening, the steward, who was also the cook, called Captain Lewis and the mate to tea. He went below, and sent the steward on deck to request the mate to come into the cabin and get his supper; he replied that he wanted none, and ordered the steward to bring him a pitcher of water.<br>
The steward obeyed the order, when he took the pitcher and dashed it on deck with great violence, over the captain’s head, who came immediately on deck to know the reason why Mr. Brown had broken the pitcher, when the mate drew a boat’s tiller from beneath his pea-jacket, and struck the captain a violent blow on the side of the head, so that he fell bleeding and prostrate on the quarter-deck; the mate then called aloud for the crew to come aft, and “throw the old rascal overboard;” they all obeyed except the steward, who was below at the time, and took no part in the murder; the mate and every one of the crew then laid hold of the captain and threw him overboard.<br>
They all put their hands upon him when performing this act, that they should all be equally culpable. The wind was light at this time, and the schooner only going at the rate of three or four miles the hour. When he was thrown into the water he revived, and begged them for God’s sake to spare his life, and said he would forgive them even then, if they would take him on board; but they were deaf to his entreaties, and steered directly on their course.<br>
After this cruel and inhuman act, the mate called all hands into the cabin, got a Bible, and they all swore never to reveal the secret of the murder. It was agreed that Mr. Brown should personate the captain; assume his name, and wear his clothes; and for fear of detection, a consultation was held as to what they had better do with the steward. As this man had no hand in the murder, they feared he might betray them. At length it was decided to spare his life, but to swear him to keep the secret, and one and all swore to kill him should he ever betray them.<br>
When these arrangements were finished, they all drank freely of brandy to sustain their courage, and sailed down through the West India Islands and into the Bay of Honduras, always drinking brandy like water, and now and then quarrelling among themselves. After getting into the Bay of Honduras they ran off the town of Truxillo, but could not agree among themselves about going into the harbour; some were for and some against going into port; at length they stood out and ran down the bay. That night they drank so freely that some of them imagined they saw the captain’s ghost, and were terribly frightened, and thought they never could be happy until they divulged the awful secret.