• Ship's Captain Joshua Hale Writes About Damages To Ship Persia In 1835

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    JOSHUA HALE was born in Newburyport, MA, in December 1812 and went to New York in 1829 as clerk in the Washington Marine Insurance Company of Boston. In his brief autobiography, submitted to the Marine Society, Hale said that he suffered severe headaches working in an office and returned to sea. He took command of several ships in the years following, including the ship Persia in 1835.  He writes a highly detailed letter regarding the fragile nature of sea travel, 3 pp, 7 ¾ x 12 ¾ to his brother, Thomas, on June 17, 1835, while aboard the Persia.  Thomas was involved in the Commercial Insurance Company.

     “When I last wrote you we were along side of Steamer, close to the Bar...The Capt. Of the Steamer said we should be the first vessel to go out and that by the marks on shore there would be no danger of our touching on the bar.  All at once he told us to have another anchor clear and at the same time he...took the Julia out clear of the bar and then came back for us. When we were getting underway, Pilot told us as we were heading for the bar to set the three Top Sails and he as is customary went on board the Steamer. As soon as we were heading for the bar, we set the Top Sails but soon found the Steamer had not power enough to keep clear of us & that she would not steer and then we lowered down the Top Sails and while doing it, we struck on the bar about half of ship’s length westward of the channel & as soon as she touched the steamer let go our lines & left us. There we laid until Wednesday (3 days) morning when the English Ship Dalhousie Castle floated and drifted afoul of us...

    “The English ship swing along side of us and anchor struck a hole through his side big enough for a man to creep through. When she struck us, she came with such forced that it knocked us off the Bar and we run out and anchored. At 3 pm we got underway having repaired damages & stood out to sea in company with Henry Lee & Choctaw of Boston and the next morning they were out of sight ahead...The fourth day we were in 50 miles of Fort Ugas and it was not until the 10th that we were up with them and on that day we saw the Henry Lee...On the 16th day we passed Matervilla [?].  I cannot judge very well how the ship will sail as we did not have the opportunity to try her until she had her bottom covered with barnacles.  We did one day get 9 knots out of her for 8 hours & for the remainder of the day...She is very tender although she had in all of the ballast excepting 8 or 10 tons of dirty stuff we discharged...She leaks bad and I am afraid she has damaged her cargo but I hope not...

    “We have 10 bales of cotton in the house and they will average 500 lbs to the bale so there is $50 freight money saved already. I bought a watch chronometer in New Orleans and gave an order...for a gun...I found it [the chronometer] a good service to me in working out of the Gulf. I tried it by land several times and found her right so that some days when we could not see the land she was of great benefit to me...Here we are at last in Havre. We arrived safe on the 6th, 54 days of passage...The ship is so very tender...I am very fearful we shall have some damage...I bought in New Orleans 3000 Stoves and did not charge them to the ship but calculated them for my own adventure (subject however to the approval of your Uncle Eben.)...Our consignor told me this morning that the Spartan would be ordered to Liverpool from here. I shall put the ship on the Gridiron and caulk her to the bends. We have wore one pump bolt entirely out and another ½ off. My Stewart in New Orleans who stole so much. I entered a complaint against as a thief and the mayor took charges of him – and I believe was in jail when we left...

    “I think it is likely I may get a charter to go to Wales...Your office bro Joshua...”

    Folds, toning. Fold splits reinforced with archival tape.  A fine example of 19th century seafaring dangers.

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