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NARRATIVE OF AN EYE WITNESS.

Lieutenant Wilson of the warship Vandalla, arrived ia Auckland by the Marfpoaa, having been Beat by Admiral Ktmberley to forward information of the calamity to Washington by cable. In a oarrative of the wrecks. Lieutenant Wilson says that at daylight nothing oonld be Been of the Eber whilst the Adler wa« on the reef on het beam ends The other ships were yawing aboat under the inflaenoe of wind and abn. The Vandalla met strong oroes currents, and it was with the greatest difficulty that she was eventually brought op head to wind, bat the ■train upon her anchors was so great that the began to drag. At one time It became necessary to cross the bow of the Calliope, otherwise the two vessels mast have foaled. Whilst the ships were crossing, the Calliope was obliged to go asi&n as far as potslble, whilst the Vandalia was forcing herself ahead. It teemed almost certain that the Calliope's boom would oat through the stern of the Vandalla before the lattar warship got across, and she had almost a miraculous escape. The management of both ships was very skilful. As it web, a collision was averted by about only one foot, the quarter of the Calliope cutting aome two feet Into the light framework on the Vandalla's qusr ter-gallery . Directly after this, the Calliope slipped her chain and went to sea. This proved the salvation of that vessel and of all on board; The VandalU continued to drag, and was carried inshore by the wind and sea. It was only by constant vratohlog on tbe part of Captain Sohumaoher that she was kept off the reef. An effort was made to beach her m tbe safest posiiblo place, and this would probably have been sncceß&fnl were it not that the Olga came up on the starboard beam, and was m imminent danger of crashing into her. In .order to save both ships, tbe Vandalla dropped asteroi and had jast cleared the Olga when she was struck broadside on by the sea and oarrled on to a soft sandy bottom jast beyond the reef. Once m this position all hope of saving the Vandalla was over ; but the engines were kept going aa long as they had any effect on the ship,- the man m the firing room etandlDg by their fires to tho last. The seas, which were ao«7 ranning very ' heavily, swept over the ship from the stern, carrying away the boats and clear* ing tbe deoks. The men were forced to take refuge on tbe top-gallont forecastle, i and on the quarter deok. The last boat was swamped before it conld be lowered away, so that all means of communication with the shore or with other vessels was oat off. The firing of rockets and shooting a liDe by thai; means was attempted, bat as everybody and everything In the ship was thoroughly Boaked. no means of lighting a rocket oonld be found. The ship oommenoed to settle, and each succeeding sea lifted her and carried her farther m shore, until she rested on the bottom of tbe harbor, where heavy seas broke over her, making it almost impossible for anybody to hold on. Many of the men and some of tbe officers then took to the rigging, while the captain the exeoatlve officers and others still remained on the poop deck. The distance from the shore could not have been more than one hundred and fifty yards, bat the heavy sea which was ranning Into tbe harbor made the intetvening water a perfect whirlpool. One man, coxswain Hammon, jamped over* board without orders, taking with him the end of a line, and tried to reach the shore. He was a powerful swimmer, bat the sea was too heavy, and he was lost before he had got fifty yards from the ship. He was soon followed by boatswain's mate, Merrage, also a powerful Bwimmer, and a man of perfect fearlessness, who made another vain attempt to carry a line ashore, bat was also drowned before he could cover half the distance. From time to time men with life preservers wonld leave the ship and attempt to reach the shore ; and* three oat of every foar who did so were either drowned clo^e to the ship or carried oat to the sea by the strength of the current. A number of men saoceded In reaching tbe Nipsto, which was beached close to wbete the Vandalla lay ; and from that vessel it was a comparatively easy matter to gain the shore. Just as Captain Sishqmaoher was about to take to the rigging, a .sea which swept the poop deck, caught h>m and threw him against a Gatling gun. The same wave carried him overboard and he was drowned In view of all thoße who were on board tbs Vundalla. A thoutand dollars were offered to any m«n who could get a lice to the ship. One of the Natives was drowned m an attempt to earn thin reward, and no amonnt of persuasion oonld induoe others to make the effort. Many swung from the rigging of tbe Vandalla into hat of tbe Trenton. Some m their effort to make this precarious leap, being weakened by exposure and by constantly holding on to the rigging, were unable to maintain their grasp of tha ropea, and fell between the vessels, and poriabed. Lieutenant Wilson himself narrowly esoaped drowning m tbts way. He fell twice into the water between ! the Vandalia and the Trenton, and would nndoubtedly have been lost had he not b"sen gallantly rescued by a sailor from the Trenton, who at the rik of his own life hauled bica on board the American flagship. A few seconds after this, the mainmast of the Vandalia went by the board the mizzen ma&t having previously been carried away ; and several who were , clinging 10 it were drowned. Very few of

the bodies of thoso drowned came ashore, and by lat at ncco"n*s only thirteen bai been recovered i>.c mii :.* the bodies of Capfsia Schumacher au / Paymaster A rnica.

The Calliope, wheh pat to pea durint the gale, returned to Api-i on the following Monday morning, having f ustained eonae alight damage. She lost two or three boats, sprung her foreyard, and fustaiue slight damage to her hull. S:e took it; coal as quickly as possible, an 1 left on Wednesday for Sydney. One of th German officera took passage m the Calliope for Sydney, to forward despatchee to Berlin.

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http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890401.2.26

Bibliographic details

NARRATIVE OF AN EYE WITNESS., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2099, 1 April 1889

Word Count
1,090

NARRATIVE OF AN EYE WITNESS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2099, 1 April 1889

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