1804 - Loss of the Apollo


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1804 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 258

south-south-east with a strong south-west gale, to the astonishment of every person on board, the Apollo struck the ground. The ship continued striking very heavily, and making much water : in about 10 minutes, however, the Apollo beat over the shoal, and having lost her rudder, could not be steered. The ship then put before the wind, but, from the quantity of water she had made, and was still making, with every probability of soon foundering. In about five minutes, the Apollo struck the ground again, and continued striking with such tremendous shocks, that it was feared the ship would instantly go to pieces. The three masts were then cut away, and the ship fell on the starboard side with her gunwale under water. The violence. with which the ship struck the ground, and the weight of the guns, those on the quarterdeck tearing away the bulwarks, soon made the frigate a perfect wreck abaft : only four or five guns, therefore, could be fired to alarm the convoy and give notice of danger.

Most of the officers and men were entirely naked, the captain among the rest ; and who stood upon the cabin skylight grating, holding fast by the stump of the mizenmast, and making use of every soothing expression which could have been suggested to encourage men in so perilous a situation. Daylight, which appeared at about 4 h. 30 m., discovered the land, at the distance of about 200 yards, a long sandy beach reaching to Cape Mondego, three leagues to the southward. At the same time the melancholy sight presented itself of between 20 and 30 sail of the convoy on shore both to the northward and southward, and several of them perfect wrecks. An appearance of the ship's parting occasioned the crew, or the 220 that remained (about 20 having perished between decks and otherwise), by the captain's orders to remove to the forepart of the ship ; and, soon afterwards the Apollo parted at the gangways. Several officers and men, who attempted to swim on shore, were drowned. About 30, however, succeeded in reaching the shore upon planks and spars : among them were Lieutenant Edward Harvey, and Mr. Callam, master's mate. The succeeding night was a dreadful one, many old men and boys, including two young midshipmen, dying through hunger and fatigue. During the whole of it Captain Dixon remained upon the bowsprit.

We shall give the remainder of the melancholy details in the words of one of the officers of the ship: " Tuesday morning presented us no better prospect of being relieved from the jaws of death, the wind blowing stronger, and the sea much more turbulent. About noon, this day, our drooping spirits were somewhat raised by seeing Lieutenant Harvey and Mr. Callam hoisting out a boat from one of the merchant ships to come to the assistance of their distressed shipmates. They several times attempted to launch her through the surf, but being a very heavy boat, and the sea on the beach acting so powerfully against them, they could not possibly effect it, though assisted

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