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2-205 (Original)

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addressee author,male,Broadside,un
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Ingleton, 1988
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FULL Particulars of THE Dreadful Shipwreck of the SHIP TARTAR, FREE TRADER,
With the horrible sufferings of PART OF THE CREW. Who were compelled to Eat each other to SUPPORT EXISTENCE.
The Ship Tartar of 837 tons, commanded by captin J. H. Peck, left Cork on the 8th January, 1839, bound to Sydney on a trading voyage, having a crew on board of 37 men, a Surgeon, and 28 Passengers, 10 of whom were females, and 13 children; 2 of the passengers died on the passage, so that at the time the vessel struck, she had on board no less than 75 souls.
For some weeks the voyage was pursued under the most favourable circumstances; the wind was tolerable fair, and though there was some sickness among the passengers, everything seemed to prognosticate a speedy and propitious voyage. Alas! how soon was that assurance of safety changed to horrors of the most awful description. Danger lurked in their path, and death with all his terrors, stood unseen before them. Little dreaming that their existence was drawing so near a close, they thought not of the future till warned by the terrors to which they were subjected.
At about noon on the 13th of April, according to the ship's reckoning, she was about 90 miles from King's Island, at the entrance of Bass Straits, and things wore a favourable aspect. In about 2 hours afterwards, breakers were discovered right a-head and immediate orders were given to tack by Captain Peck, who was then engaged in his various duties on the deck. Scarcely had the crew and passengers recovered from the alarm into which they had been thrown, when the vessel again struck on the larboard bow, swung her broadside on the reef and bilged.
Horror succeeded to the consternation and alarm into which all the parties had been thrown by this unexpected event. The captain was called upon to render what assistance he could, to rescue them from the perils and dangers which threatened them; he endeavoured to soothe and comfort them under their misfortunes and besought them to restrain their terror and alarm, as much as possible under these awful circumstances, but the imminent danger of their situation rendered them desperate, and their cries for deliverance rose louder and louder, as the danger of the ship and their situation became every moment more apparent.
By whose orders we know not, but the pinnance was now lowered, and the captain, and the surgeon, and two of the crew, got into her and endeavoured to make off from the sinking vessel. At this period of dismay and confusion, many threw themselves over the side of the vessel, and clinging to the boat, quickly swamped her, when horrible to relate, all, excepting the Captain and two sailors, perished amidst one wild cry of horror - and despair.
With the greatest difficulty, the Captain contrived to regain the Ship, when, without losing a moment of time, he ordered the long boat to be launched and that care should be taken to prevent a similar accident to that which had just befallen them, by two [sic] many endeavouring to force their way into her. After having taken the utmost caution, the long boat was at length pushed off; but scarcely had they got away from the Ship, when she was upset by the violence of the surf, and the whole party precipitated into the sea.
The master and the chief mate, being good swimmers once more succeeded in saving themselves from the death which appeared to be inevitable. With extreme difficulty they managed to reach the ship, but scarcely had they got on board, when a new horror awaited them. The vessel went to pieces, and every hope of preservation vanished like an unsubstantial dream.
The scene at this moment was most awful. The vessel had been divided into four parts, each of which,, was covered with the terror-stricken females in the light dress in which they had just before simultaneously rushed from their beds; clingly wildly to parts of the wreck, and screaming for help in the most piteous manner. This was, indeed, a moment of terror, which would have appalled even the boldest. Situated as they were, upon a frail and shaking wreck, not one gleam of hope broke in to cheer or inspire them. Beneath, and all around, were the lashing waves, roaring aloud as if eager to engulf them. Every plank and joint creaked as the contending elements warred furiously with each other, and insecure as this place of refuge seemed, the hearts of the poor creatures quailed lest it should sink and bury them in the yawning abyss of water. [203] The vessel soon afterwards went to pieces, the final work of destruction was complete, and the whole of those on board were precipitated, shrieking with horror, into the raging ocean.
In this perilous situation, nearly the whole of the unfortunate sufferers were consigned to an untimely death. About 22 persons, however, consisting of some of the crew and 5 passengers were carried, by clinging to various disjointed portions of the wreck, to a small uninhabited Island, which was situated at the distance of about 9 miles from the spot where this distressing accident took place. Of these 22 suffering creatures seven shortly afterwards died, from exhaustion and the fatigue to which they had for so long a period been subjected.
After having buried the bodies of their unfortunate companions, and in some degree, recovered from the cold and fatigue they had endured, the remaining 15 succeeded in erecting a temporary tent of the few things that were occasionally washed ashore from the wreck. In this dreadful situation they were not suffered to perish, a few provisions were washed ashore from the vessel, and upon the scanty supply thus afforded, they contrived with economy to subsist for about 15 days.
During this time they had employed themselves in constructing, from the numerous portions of the wreck which were found washed ashore, a raft, on which they hoped to make their escape to King's Island, which they supposed to be about 150 miles distant. Actuated by curiosity, and a desire to ascertain whether any more of the crew had escaped, 5 of the survivors commenced a journey round the Island, in order to satisfy themselves; they encountered perils and fatigue of no ordinary kind, and after a search of 4 days, returned to their fellow victims of adversity.
The crew of the Tartar had been accompanied by a sealer, a passenger in that vessel, who had luckily saved several of his hunting dogs. With the assistance of these sagacious animals they soon succeeded in taking a wallaby, upon which the persons on the Island lived. Whilst some of the party were employed to see if any vessel passed, others were engaged in erecting tents for their shelter from the inclement season, which had just set in, in those latitudes.
The sufferings to which these poor creatures were subjected, it would be impossible to describe. Thoughts of home and distant friends were ever flitting through their minds. They remembered the happiness that had once been theirs, and contrasting it with the misery to which they were at present doomed, despair at last yielded to the hopes they had once formed of escaping from the wretched situation in which their lot was cast, and they wished that the raging elements which had destroyed so many of their companions, had involved them in the same dreadful fate.
At last on the 15th of June, exactly 1 month from the time of the wreck taken place, they left this inhospitable Island, and committed themselves to the dangers of the deep on the fragile raft they had constructed, when awful to relate, fresh, and more horrible disasters awaited them. In 3 days their whole stock of provisions were exhausted - 2 days passed without tasting a morsel. What followed next? Nothing, but what devouring famine could have suggested. It was agreed that one should die to support the rest, and they accordingly cast lots; the first lot fell upon Patrick Lidane, who requested, that for their immediate subsistance, they would only take the calves of his legs; representing that Providence might do more for them than they expected. His request was granted, and after cutting away the flesh, which they eat raw, and of which he begged a morsel for himself, but was refused, he was permitted to live 30 hours. The second person who suffered was Brian Flaherty. Of these two bodies which were eaten raw, without any drink, but what rain-water they could catch in the skulls of the killed, the rest subsisted. In this interval, three of them who had escaped the lot, after languishing for a considerable time, expired on the raft.
On the following morning 8 others in despair jumped into the sea. Next morning the raft was descried by some persons on King's Island, who had them conveyed on shore, and although the greatest care was extended to the two unfortunate survivors, the Captain died in 30 hours after.
John M'Daniel, the only person saved of the ill-fated crew, as soon as he was able to travel, made the best of his way home to Galway, to fulfil the dying injunctions of the men who fell by lot, and relate to their friends their miserable sufferings and sad catastrophe.