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WRECK OF THE BARQUE ROVER.

MURDER OF THE CREW.

Chinese papers, received by the last mail, contain accounts of the wreck of a barque named the Rover, and of the murder of the captain, his wife, and the crew. A correspondent of the North China Herald, writingtrom Formosa, says : —

I regret to have to communicate to you the wreck off the south point of this island of the American barque Rover, on her voyage from Swatow to Newchwang, xinder circumstances •which leave no doubt that her crew were foully murdered by the savage natives of that place. j The news was brought here by a Swatow Chinaman, who alone was fortunate enough to escape, and who arrived at Takow on the 22nd instant. His story, was that the vessel left Swatow on the 9th instant, and struck on rocks (evidently the Vele Rete Rocks) on the 12th. She floated off, but m a . sinking condition, and the master (Captain Hand) determined to abandon her. The crew took to the boats, and were divided as follows : — The captain, his wife, one mate, and three Chinese m one boat ; the other mate and seven Chinese m the other. They pulled northwards, but during the night were parted. The first boat sighted land after seventeen hours' pulling, and its occupants landed and sat down on the beach. After sitting about half an hour, their were surprised by a discharge of firearms, from the bush close by, directed on to their party. Without waiting to see the result of this volley, the Chinaman fled and hid himself till night, when he crossed the hills and reached Leangkiaou (a Chinese, village) whence, after

a delay of six days, he got passage to Takow, m a sampan. On receiving this intelligence, Capt. Broad, m command of H.M.S. Cormorant, which happened to be m port, at once decided upon proceeding down the coast, and if possible to ransom any of the crew who might have survived. The Cormorant left Takao on the morning of the 25th, having on board Mr Carroll, H.M. Acting-Consul for Formosa, and Dr Manson (of Takao), who joined the expedition as a volunteer. About 4 p.m. the ship anchored m the bay at the extreme point of the island, where on the beach were to be seen the remains of the boat from which the unfortunate crew had landed. On the morning of the 26th, the whaleboat, the gig, and cutter were ordered to be prepared. In the first were Captain Broad, Mr Consul Carroll, and the native interpreters; m the second, Lieutenant Mathias and Dr Lucas the surgeon ; and m the third, Lieutenant Ryder and Dr Manson. The two first pulled ashore to where the Rover's boat was lying, and the cutter lay on her oars at about thirty yards from the shore, with orders to keep a look-out for any hostile movement. Everything', however, appeared quiet, no natives to be seen save on the hills about 300 yards from shore. A few buffaloes had also made their appearance on another part of the beach, with what object did not appear, and m charge of no one. Lieutenant Mathias was the first to jump ashore, and Captain Broad was m the act of doing the same, when a sharp fire of musketry was opened mpon the party from two points m the jungle, at not twenty yards distance. The abrupt nature of the sand-beach at this spot, however, prevented this first volley from taking effect on the whaleboat and fife- ■ „

The position of the foe being only indicated by the smoke from their muskets, and they themselves being quite hidden m the dense bush, Captain Broad wisely determined not to risk the lives of his men m pursuit of an invisible enemy m a jungle where every advantage would have been on their side. The boats were ordered off, the retreat being covered by the cutter, from which was kept up a fire which, from the cries of the savages, evidently told. Their bullets and arrows, however, now fell thickly round the boats, all of which were struck m several places, one ball passing right through both sides of the whaleboat, only a few inches below the seat on which were sitting Captain Broad and Mr Carroll. As no doubt now reminded as to the sad fate of the Rover's crew, nothing could be done but to inflict some punishment on their murders. On returning to the ship, therefore a fire of shell was opened upon the thickets, out of which they now ventured. The effects were, soon visible, large parties beingseen to hurry up the hills m the rear of the position they had occupied. At the two points alone whence fire was opened there could not have been less than fifty men, whilst I feel convinced that others were stationed all along the Bay, the buffaloes beihg only a decoy to entice the crew ashore.

To explain this I must state that the one and great object of life of a Formosa savage is to obtain heads, and I doubt not that they were greatly disappointed at not getting a few from the Cormorant. They fired not long ago into die boats of the Swallow, and I feel convinced that the crews of half the sailing vessels have been lost and never heard of on their way northward from Hong Kong have perished at this spot.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/THD18670710.2.12

Bibliographic details

Timaru Herald, Timaru Herald, Volume VII, Issue 221, 10 July 1867

Word Count
906

WRECK OF THE BARQUE ROVER. Timaru Herald, Volume VII, Issue 221, 10 July 1867

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