Wreck of the 'General Grant', Auckland Islands

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"General Grant"
New Zealand Bound

Wrecked on the west side of Auckland Island
She carried 83 people, wool, hides and an unknown quantity of gold. The wind fell light and the current caused the ship to drift into an immense cave. The masts where knocking against the roof of cave and where driven through the bottom of the vessel, and she sank in 20 fathoms of water on the west coast of the Auckland Islands.  68 lives where lost, 15 making it to shore, ten rescued.

Finding of Court of Inquiry: Wreck an accident; no blame attributable to anyone on board

The wreck of the General Grant occurred about six months after the Victoria and Southland expeditions had returned. How was it that the men failed to discover the provisions which Captain Norman left on the principal island, and the notice of leaving which he caused to be posted at various points?  The crew of the General Grant seem not to have found any of the stock of the provisions.  The goats seen to have thriven; they and the pigs, which were discovered only after fifteen months had passed, must have been of inestimable value.  

Aaron Haymon. Photo courtesy of Gunter Meuller.Otago Witness Saturday 18th January  1868, page 4, column a
The Lost Ship, General Grant
Survivors Living on Auckland Island Eighteen Months
Eleven persons saved - Sixty Eight Lost
Narrative of a Passenger
by James Teer
Joseph Jewell's letter
  (offsite - opens in another window, wayback)

Invercargill, Tuesday
The whaling brig Amherst arrived at the Bluff, yesterday, from Auckland Islands, whence she brought ten men and one women, survivors of the crew and passengers of the American ship General Grant, who had been on one of the Islands for nearly 18 months.

The following is an outline of the particulars of the wreck, and of the very weary sojourn on the Island, as gathered from the survivors:-

The General Grant, 1095 tons, Captain Loughlin, sailed from Hobson's Bay, Melbourne on the 4th May, 1866, with about 70 persons (crew and passengers) on board, a full cargo of wool, and a considerable amount of gold for London. Nothing noticeable occurred until the night of the 13th May; when, about ten o'clock, land was sighted, and the conclusion formed was that it was Disappointment Island. The course then being steered was E.b.N., and the wind was N.W.

About eleven o'clock, the Auckland Islands were sighted, right ahead, and the ship was hauled on the port-tack. The wind being light, and there being a nasty short sea, the ship hardly had steerage way; and she continued to set bodily towards the land.

The ship soon struck against great perpendicular cliffs, and carried away her jib-boom. She then dropped astern about half a mile, to a projecting point of land, and there she carried away her spanker-boom and rudder. 

After this, the ship canted with her head towards the land, and she finally set into a cave, fully 250ft deep. The fore-topmast coming in contact with the top of the cave, and the foremast was carried away close to the deck, the maintopgallant-mast falling with it, and the bowsprit and cathead being smashed off.
    Some great pieces of rock were brought down by the mast, and these stove in the forecastle.
    The ship lay in this helpless position until daylight, striking the whole time, forward, but having 25 fathoms of water under her stern.
    As soon as there was daylight, men were set to clear away the bows, and then a boom was got over the stern, with the necessary tackle for launching the boats.
    The pinnace was first launched, and three men were sent in her, with lines, and a kedge to be laid, for hauling out the other boats.
    Some time was occupied before the second boast (the gig) could be got over the stern; but she went out of the cave safely, with the chief officer, three seaman, and James Teer, a passenger.
    Up to this period, the tide seemed to be falling; but now the maintop-mast came down, and the ship forged further into the cave; and the heel of the mast must have started the ship's bottom, as she settled down very fast.

Wreck of the General Grant on the Auckland Islands
 Illustrated London News, 1868, page 376

    The tide now making rapidly, and the wind and the sea rising, the work of getting the women into the boats was at once hurried on.
    Mrs Jewell, the stewardess, was secured by a whip, but she fell into the sea. Her husband jumped after her from the ship, caught her, and succeeded in getting her into the boat.
    Allan and Caughey, two passengers, followed Jewell in jumping, and they also got into the boat safely.
    The sea now swept over the poop, and the long-boat was seen floating off the deck. The gig was taken outside clear of the breakers, and five men got into the pinnace.
    The Chief Officer made an effort to return to the ship; and at this time the long-boat was seen floating from the poop, with at least 40 persons in her, and ship was sinking fast.
    The long-boat proceeded about fifty yards, but did not clear the breakers; and by the back-wash from the rocks, she was soon filled, and she sank, leaving her heavy human freight in the midst of great dashing waves.
    Three men, named Ashworth, Hayman and Sanguilly (?Sangulier) swam through the breakers, and were picked up by the boats.
    The captain was seen in the mizen-top, waving his handkerchief, and one man was by his side,. They had scarcely been observed, when the ship rapidly sank, and altogether disappeared. 
The boats outside the cave lay-to for some time; but as it became evident that all who were not in the boats had been drowned, the boats were pulled off; and an endeavor was made to reach Disappointment Island, distant about ten miles.
    In the course of the evening, the boats reached some rocks, about midway to Disappointment Island; and shelter for the night was taken there.
    Next morning, after pulling some distance, a landing was effected near Sarah's Bosom, Auckland Island, with a view of lighting a fire, for all suffered from cold and wet, most of those in the boats being up to their middles in water. There was but one licifer match in possession of the party.
    Some of the party spent several days in looking for food, supposed to have been left by H.M.C. steamer Victoria, and the Southland steamer.
    There was great suffering from dysentery; for, during 15 months, the survivors lived principally on seals and mussels.
    Capt. Musgrave's hut was found, but no provisions or clothing. After the hut had been found, however, some pigs and goats were caught, and their flesh proved luxuries.
    Piles of wood were regularly burned as signal fires; but there was no sign of succour. One man (a passenger) died; and his death greatly disheartened the survivors.
    The time of the party was constantly employed in hunting for food, keeping a look-out, making clothing and bedding - caps, coats, trousers, shoes, or moccasins, and under-clothing, including some for the stewardess, being made exclusively from the skins of seals.
    At last, on November 21st, the Amherst was sighted, and she made for the Island, and took the suffers on board.
    "Words," says one of the men, "cannot express our feelings of joy for such a deliverance from the hardships and privation, during a period of 18 months." It is believed that a good deal of the cargo of the lost vessel might still be recovered.

The Survivors:
Nicholas Allan (Allen)
David Ashworth  (passenger)
Frederick "Fred" Patrick  Caughey  (passenger)
Cornelius Drew
Aaron Hayman
Joseph Jewell
Mary Ann Jewell (stewedress)
James Teer (passenger)
William Murdoch Sanguilly
William Ferguson

[David McLellan died on the island]

June 2007 Update. One of the survivors: William Murdoch SANGUILY true name is "William Murdoch Sanguily Garritte", he was born in 1844 in La Havana (Cuba) and died in 1909 (probably in Sydney). His father was native to France and his mother to Ireland.  He was a shipmate on the General Grant and nowadays his descendants are still living in Australia.

Reference online:  'Papers Past' - a NZ National Library website.
 Otago Witness 24 May 1905 page 4 4. Note the newspaper did not have a photo of Aaron Haymon.
Source: Otago Witness 24 May 1905 page 44

Otago Witness January 25 1868 page 3  column 1

Narrative of a Passenger

It was written by James Teer, one of the passengers; and as he was formerly an acting Pilot at Hokitika and elsewhere, he was no doubt a capable observer of what happened. Obtained from the Southland Times which states that the narrative was written during the time passed on board the brig Amherst; Mr Teer's writing materials being some sealskin parchment and a piece of charcoal. The story was transcribed by Mr W.M. Sanguily, for publication:- 

The ship General Grant, Captain Wm. H. Loughlin, left Hobson's Bay, on Friday, May 4th, 1866, bound for London, with eighty-three souls on board. Experienced fine wether with light westerly winds until the 11th, when the weather became thick and foggy, and the Captain ordered a look-out for land to be kept on the 12th, as he had taken no observation after 8 a.m. on the 11th. A sharp look-out was ordered to be kept on Sunday, 13th, for the land, which was sighted at half-past ten o'clock p.m. on the weather of port bow. The watch below was called back on deck and orders given to square away the yards, to clear her for the land, which was instantly done. The land was soon lost sight of and I went to bed. But as I had not fallen asleep I heard the man on the look-out give the cry of "Land on our starboard bow." While I was below the captain had hauled her on her course again. The land had the appearance of a fog bank, and it was on out lee beam, about three or four miles distance. The wind was fast falling away, and in a few minutes it was dead calm, the ship was totally unmanageable. The captain did all in his power, with every flaw of wind from the flapping sails, but his attempts were useless. The yards were hauled in every possible direction that might enable the getting his ship off the shore, but all to no purpose, as the heavy S.W. swell was constantly setting her nearer and nearer the fatal rocks.
    About 12 or 1 a.m., the ship was close to shore, and the current seemed to be setting her northward along the coast, until a rock stopped her progress. She touched it with her jib-boom and carried it away.  She then shot astern to another point, which she struck with her spanker boom and rudder, injuring severely the man at the wheel. It was just half-past one a.m. on the 14th. The two points struck formed the entrance to a cove, and her side was rubbing against the perpendicular rocks. Owing to the darkness, we saw nothing save the dark mass above and around us. We could see overhanging rocks, and no place where a bird could rest upon them. Soundings were taken, and I think it was twenty-five fathoms under the stern, and all the while she kept working into the cave. The boats were then thought of, but the captain finding her lying so easy, and pieces of spars and rocks coming continually down, made it dangerous to attempt getting them out until daylight. The water being so smooth as we entered the cave that he concluded it was best to wait till daylight before he would be able to launch them.
    The ship continued to go farther into the cave. She caught the overhanging rocks with her fore royal mast, and carried it away; the topmast and lower masts touching the top of the cave brought down large pieces of the rocs; one piece went through her forecastle deck, while another went through her starboard deckhouse. During this time all on board kept aft, as the after part of the ship still continued to be safe. Nearly at daylight the mizen top-gallant mast came down, and at daylight the captain gave the orders to get the boats in readiness. There were three boats on board, two quarter-boats, each 22ft over all and 5ft beam, and a long boat, 30ft keel, and six or seven feet beam. A quarter boat was then launched over the stern by means of a spar rigged for the purpose. In this boat there were three men, Peter McNevin, Andrew Morrison and David McLelland, all A.B.'s.
    A line and some iron were placed in the boat to be used as an anchor, and dropped outside to haul out the other boats with, she was also to see if a landing could be made outside the cave. This boat was expected to return for more persons, but owing to some misunderstanding of orders given, she laid outside and did not return. In the meantime the second boat was got ready. A quantity of beef and pork, and about fifty tins of bouilli were placed on board her. This boat was intended by the captain for the transmission of women and children to the first boat. These were all that could be taken in the boat, owing to the heavy sea, which was getting up. This boat took five of her passengers to the other boat, leaving Mr Bartholomew Brown, Chief Officer, Mr William Newton Scott, Corn, Drew, A.B.'s, and myself, who were to go back to the ship again for more.
    By this time the long boat, then lying on the quarter-deck, was filled with passengers, and the ship was sinking rapidly (the main-mast having evidently been driven through her bottom by contact with the rocks above), till the boat with its cargo was floated off her deck. owing to the small space in the cave we were obliged to wait till the long boat was quite clear of the ship, but the sea breaking over her filled her with water, and she was swamped when about 100 yards from the ship. We then went as near the boat as it was safe to go, and saved three of the passengers, being all who were able to swim through the surf to us - L. Ashworth, passenger; William Sanguily, and Arron Hayman, two of the crew. Mr Brown wished to go to the ship to save his wife who was on board, and also the Captain who was seen in the mizen top-mast crosstrees. The hull of the ship was under water. The rest of us wished to save some of those in the water, but in a few minutes there were no more. One man was seen on the bottom of the boat, and we made signals to the outer boat to save him, but prudence forbade them rendering him any assistance, as the boat was so near the rocks, with the sea braking heavily. 
    When the mate wished again to return to the ship, we thought it useless, as we were unable to render assistance, and placed ourselves in great danger owing to the heavy seas and the constant increase of wind. While outside deliberating upon what was best to be done, I had an opportunity of seeing the whole of the cave. The rocks around it, I think, were about 400 feet high, and overhanging. The ship was in underneath these about two lengths of herself. The coast, as far as we could see, was high perpendicular rocks, and we saw no possibility of landing. We now consulted each other; and those in the other boat, upon what was best to be done. We concluded we could not assist those inside, as it was only endangering ourselves, owing to the constant increase in sea and wind. We thought it best to pull to Disappointment Island, about six miles distant in a westerly direction. We had more trouble than we anticipated to get there; our boat having such a quantity of beef and pork and bouilli tins in her and seven men. It was only with incessant bailing we could keep out the water which from time to time she lifted. Once or twice she was all but full, and at last we gave up and intended to run our chances among the rocks to leeward, trying the same time to get as far towards the north end of the island as possible, hoping to find a beach where some might get ashore; but as we proceeded to the northward, we saw that the sea and wind were decreasing. We pulled head to the wind, and seeing a large rock about one and a half miles distant to the N.E. of Disappointment Island, we pulled for it, and reached it just at dark.
    The other boat, which, like ourselves, had given up, before it moderated, came to the island about twenty minutes after we did. At this place we put in a most miserable night, wet and cold, and without a drink of water.  We opened some bouilli tins, but little of their contents were eaten. We were obliged to keep on our oars all night so as to prevent our being blown off the land.
    At daylight on the 15th we attempted to pull around the north end of the main island, but owing to the increasing sea and wind during the night, we could make but about half-a-mile after an hour's pull. We turned back, and during the day we were able to reach Disappointment Island, where we found good shelter, but on attempting to make a landing with the boat containing the provisions, she was capsized. We were able to save but three pieces of pork and nine bouilli tins. The other boat regained the swamped one, baled her out, and her crew got on board again from the rocks. We afterwards landed, got some water, but were not able to procure any wood for a fire. The wind was falling away, and about 10.am it was a dead calm. We pulled away, and succeeded in rounding the north end of the island (main) and entered a place called North Harbour; but, not thinking it a fit place to stop at, at daylight on the 16th started again and reached Port Ross.
    On the evening camped within quarter of a mile of the trees marked by the steamers Victoria and Southland, on Enderby's old settlement, but did not notice them at that time. 

[Samuel Enderby was a whaler in the south seas during the 1840s and 1850s and his son Charles helped to establish a short-lived colony at Port Ross, Auckland Islands. The colony was abandoned in 1851.]

Had a few matches; tried one, and it lighted; but, as we had no dry brush or grass in readiness, it was wasted. Gathered some dry wood and grass, but could get but one match out of all that remained to light. From this one match we obtained fire, which, by constant care, we never allowed to go out during the eighteen months we were on the island. Boiled one or two birds obtained on Disappointment Island, and one tin of bouilli. Gathered some limpets, which were cooked with the birds in the empty bouilli tins. This was our first meal after three days and two nights of suffering, and never did sumptuous repast taste better to a king than this frugal meal to us.
    On the 17th gathered some limpets and made our breakfast. Having now but seven tins of bouilli, we kept them for cases of sickness. Pulling along the south side of the bay we fell in with and old hut.; the walls had fallen in, and the roof rested on the rafter. We left one boat and nine persons to fix up the hut and arrange it for the night. The other boat started in search of a better shelter, and were fortunate enough to find some old huts, one of which was pretty good condition. We went back with the news, gathered some limpets, took our supper, and retired to rest on a shake down of grass just gathered. Next morning, 18th, made a breakfast on limpets, when one of the boats started to explore, and the other boat started for the hut. This day Fortune again favoured us. We killed four seals on the sandy beach at Enderby's Island; saw the goats, which the Victoria had landed there, but we did not succeed in catching any of them.

Saturday 19th May
Pulled round Enderby's Island in search of Musgrave's hut, but we knew not at this time where it was situated. We intended leaving no spot on the island without a thorough search, as we expected to find there a depot for clothing and provisions. I may here  mention some of us were without shoes or stockings, while some had neither these nor coats or hats to keep warm in a cold and wet climate. We had four or five empty bouilli tins. We were able to roast the seal on the fire, and boil some so as to drink the broth, but the worst thing was the want of salt.

Sunday 20th May
Rested from our labors, as we were nearly knocked up.

Monday 21st May
Andrew Morison, Cornelius Drew, P. McNevin, David McClelland, William Ferguson, and I started to go along the coast (east) to seek for Musgrave's hut, looking in all the bays as we proceeded. Night coming on, we camped, having brought fire in the boat. We also brought some cooked seal and a piece of pork, which was saved from the boat which, was capsized. 

22nd May
Remained here, owing to weather.

23rd May
Started again, but were obliged to put back on account of thick fog, which was coming on. The seal being finished, we were obliged to gather shell-fish. Mussels were plentiful, and seal could not be got.

24th May
Again started. All of us were sick with dysentery. Made but little progress. In the afternoon it rained and blew very hard, and we put in at a small bay about five miles north of Carnley's Harbor. Here we got a seal, and being all sick, we ate sparingly, as we fancied the seal was unhealthy. We passed a miserable night, wet and cold. We found the remains of an old maimai where we fancied some unfortunates like ourselves had camped. 

25th May
Took some raw seal and again started. On coming to the entrance of Musgrave's Bay, we were unable to go any further. We did not know at this time this was the bay we were in search of, being so much reduced by toil and dysentery, we gave up the search. We were so weak we good scarcely lift our oars out of the water. It was then we found relief from the piece of pork, which had been for so long hoarded up. Some were unable, owing to sickness, to eat even their small allowance; while those who eat it found relief and gained strength, enabling us to pull to one of the bays, where we camped for the night.

26th May
Started again, but were not able to reach home. Camped in a small bay about five miles north of the place left that morning. Here we killed a seal. We remained here until the 28th, when we arrived home. We found here all sick, like ourselves; and, in fact,, they were reduced to mere skeletons, and we did not know each other after an absence of eight days. All things have an end. It was wonderful to see how fast we improved when we got a little used to our new mode of life. Still thought Musgrave's hut could be found. Made an attempt to make a sail of the New Zealand flax, which grows in small quantities at the old settlement.
    During this time, some of those bare footed tried to make shoes out of the seal's skin, but it did not succeed very well. One day, I thought of the moccasin, and made a pair for P. McNevin. Soon after this, all hands were able to make them for themselves. Theses were good substitutes during our stay on the island. I made some needles from the bone of the albatross; also, some salt. The salt was made in a piece of an old broken pot which I found at the hut  It held half a pint of water at a time, therefore the quantity was small and useless.

26th June
A sail having been made from the seal's skin, one of the boats again started in search of Musgrave's hut. I was unwell, and therefore did not go in the boat.
    After much suffering from inclemency of the weather and camping out in the rain, snow and wet, the long looked for hut was found on the 11th of July. But picture our disappointment, instead of finding a well-stocked depot, we found nothing of value except an old boiler, afterwards used to boil salt in, and some old canvas, which lined the inside of the hut, all else having been carried away. The boat returned on the 13th. But during the absence of the boat we were searching around home with our other boat. We found the papers and trees marked by the Victoria and Southland at the old settlement, where we learned that there was nothing of any value to us left by them, and that we might give up all hopes of either steamers returning to these islands. Saw some pig tracks at the head of the bay, they were all well, and when we were told what was left in the hut, we offered up many a hearty prayer. 
    On return of the boat's crew they wished all hands go to Musgrave's hut, as it was larger than ours, and the seal were more plentiful on that part of the island.

14th July
Some who were away in the boat wished to see the papers left by the steamers; went to the settlement, and while there were fortunate enough to find an oven belonging to a stove; this made a good cooking pot for cooking in.
    During the boat's absence we visited a small island lying between Enderby's and the main island, where an old hut was found already fitted up with three bunks, some wearing apparel, a few old bouilli tins, and old adze, and a spade. The hut appeared as though recently vacated, as the hind part of a seal was still hanging to a tree. Rabbits were very numerous, but we had no means of catching any; we gave it the name of Rabbit Island.

18th July
Went to Enderby's for seal, and caught three kids and found one dead; we tied up those that were alive, thinking to catch the old ones suckling them; but as the boat started back to Musgrave's on the 19th, did not go back till the day after. One kid was dead, but we caught the mothers of the two other kids, and brought them home.
    A few days later found an oven at the settlement, and some galvanised iron, from which we made frying pans, the oven, was used to make salt in. After this the weather was very cold, and we could seldom get a day to go for seal as we were obliged to use the boat for this purpose; no seal could be got where we were living. Nearly all our time was employed in mending clothes. At night we crawled into our grassy beds huddling close to one another to keep warm, the hut being colder than when the other eight were there. The eight at Musgrave's hut, I imagine, lived pretty much as we did; but as I was not there I am unable to give particulars of their mode of living, I suppose theirs is the same.

 September 1st
Caught a goat and brought home, having then four live animals sharing our hut with us. We tried every means to manufacture seal's skin into clothes, as those we had left were all threadbare, and the skins we had to keep us warm at night were like boards. We scrubbed them with sand, and scraped them with glass, but to no purpose. At last I hit upon a successful plan. I was trying to get a patch for my trousers, and thought of paring the skins with a knife, but I cut a hole in every square inch; I saw the plan would answer by paring the dried skins close to the roots of the hair; the skin was then very soft, and by perseverance and practice I found that we would be able to make clothes much better than we imagined. 

On 19th September, after seven weeks of very severe weather, the boat returned from Musgrave's, bringing some seal thinking we might be short, but they found us all right. Weather being fine, they started the next morning, and reached the hut at midnight. F.P. Caughley, D. Ashworth, and in fact, nearly all of us were taken sick with a swelling of the limbs; which commenced at the stomach, and worked its way to the legs and feet, rendering them almost helpless. At first, thought it was the scurvy, as the swollen parts when any pressure came upon them retained the indentation made for quite a long time; but we have since found out that the disease is known to whalers by the name of the "cobbler."
    The weather being fine we were able to go about in search of anything useful. On Enderby's we killed some fur seal, the skins of which, when pared, made blankets. We found a couple of files, a gun flint, and one or two old knives at the old huts. We made some tinder, which saved each man the trouble of a two hours' watch over the fires at night. 

6th October
While at Rabbit Island a ship was seen, firs were started on the island, four of us took the boat and made a chase but could not catch her. She must have seen the smoke, as we were within a couple of miles from her, and she was passing us we hoisted the sail to attract her attention, but on she went, leaving us to pull home in very low spirits. This caused visits to be paid to Rabbit Island very often. There we got a number of rabbits by knocking them over with sticks.
    As spring set in we got some sea-fowls eggs, which were a great change and caught quite a number of fish. About November 1st, we caught another goat; and on the 8th December, the other boat returned for good. We were at this time able to make coats, vests, and trousers out of seal skins. Those who had been at Musgrave's had nothing made of sealskin; but, they patched up their clothes with the remaining pieces of canvas. One day, while at the old huts, which had been burned, when gathering nails, found an axe; and the same day those at home got on the stump of an old tree in front of the hut we lived in.
    We commenced to fit up the boat for a passage to New Zealand, as before the summer was over she was expected to start - D.V. The boat left on January 22nd, '67, not being able to start before on account of the weather. Her crew consisted of Bartholomew Brown, chief officer, William Newton Scott, Andrew Morrison, Peter McNevin, A.B.'s. The boat had been decked over with seal's skin. They carried about 30 gallons of water in seal gullets, and some seal's meat, and the flesh of three goats, and about twenty dozen of eggs - all cooked. There was also a very small stove made by W.N. Scott, and some charcoal to burn in it. They had no compass or nautical instrument of any sort.
    They did not know the course, as they thought that steering east-north east would bring them to New Zealand, but since we have learned that the course was north, or a little to the west of north. When the boat left the wind was S.W., but it shifted the first night to the N.W., with rain. It blew very hard most of the night. On the 23rd it shifted to the S.W., and remained so till the 29th with fine weather, giving them ample time to reach New Zealand if they survived the first night. There is a possibility that they might have made Campbell Islands, a s they are about 100 miles in a easterly direction; if so, they are most likely there still.
    After the boat was away about five weeks, we began to give her up, and thought of keeping a look-out on Enderby's for passing ships, and where seal might be procured without the constant use of the boat, which we were obliged to take great care of.

 8th March
Went to Enderby's and built two huts, also built a small hut for a look-out station, where a look-out was kept from daylight till dark all the time we were on the island, the men taking it in turn. On the 23rd April, we gathered a pile of wood for lighting as a signal, in case a ship was seen.
    When the huts were being built we went to North Harbour in search of boards along the beach, and saw quite a number of pigs. We caught a small one, and were within five or six feet of several large ones, but could catch none. Any sort of weapon would have been of great use. Seal being very plentiful on Enderby's we had but little trouble in procuring enough to eat. Before winter set in we went to Musgrave's and brought some casks, and the oil boiler for making salt in. Salted some seal down, and it was well we did so, as the winter was very severe.
    Had we been living at the old hut we should probably have been obliged quite often to have gone without anything to eat, as there were three or four weeks together the boat could not have been used. Our original woollen clothes being all worn out, it took us all out time to mend and manufacture seal's skin coats, and make thread from the New Zealand flax. About this time we found, on the mainland on a stave on which was written with charcoal the words "Minerva - 4 men, 1 officer - Leith - May 10th, 1864 - March 25th, 1865."
    A man's mane had evidently been added, but was illegible. From the relative position of the words, our impression was, that the word Leith had reference to the man or men, and not to the Minerva.  During the month of June we caught a small pig, which was kept three months before she was killed. On the 3rd September 1867, David McLelland, and old man of 62, who had passed through our hardships, departed this life. 

    This sad event, owing to its suddenness, and which by many was unexpected, cast a feeling of deep gloom upon us. He was buried upon the sand hill on Enderby Island. Previous to his death he stated that he was born in Ayr, Scotland, and had, for some years, been employed by the firm of Messrs Todd and McGregor, in Glasgow. His wife still resides in Partick, Glasgow.
    We were badly off for some means of capturing the pigs, but at last hit upon the following plan:- We had seen them in the bay several times and could catch none; I at last proposed a "hook," which was ridiculed by some, but I determined to try it, and as I had some pieces of old iron, that from time to time were picked up, I got a half-inch bolt and pointed it, bent it in the shape of as good a hook as might be expected under the circumstances, and then made a flax line, secured it to the hook, and made the hook slightly fast to a pole 10 feet long.
    A few days later we saw pigs on the beach; tried the hook and found it a success.  I hooked a fine sow, the rod pulling from the fastening of the hook, leaving her fast to the rope; also caught a small one. We all made hooks, but as the weather was till bad, we were unable to get out to the place where the pigs were most plentiful. Three or four weeks later, on going along the shore, we got another young pig.  We had not our hooks ready, but as he took to the water, we caught him by means of the boat.
    Next day, were prepared with our hooks - saw seven, and caught three, proving the success of our weapon for pig hunting. Two days after this, went to North Harbour, or, as we have named it, Pig Bay. Killed two large pigs, and brought home nine small ones alive. Had we been accustomed to hooks, we would have got many more. Following week killed seven, and brought home five small ones alive home. Were not out again for two weeks; this time was taken up in fixing our pig-yards, and in planting out potatoes.
    I forgot to mention that about the old huts in different parts of the island, which had been previously used as gardens by the old settlers, we found some very small potato growing wild. Marked the places where they grew, and when ripe gathered them for seed. About this time we sent off a small boat, in the hope that some vessel might pick it up, and thus learn our existence. We subsequently sent off another small boat, and at various times sent away the inflated bladders of the pigs and goats we killed, with a slip of wood attached to them.
        The boats were formed of a rough piece of iron so as to trim the little craft by the stern, to keep her before the wind - a short stout mast, with a tin sail, completed the little vessel. On the deck of the boat was carved the ship's name, date, and place of the wreck, number of survivors, and the date on which the boat itself was launched.
    The same particulars were also punched with a nail into the tin sail, and carved on the labels attached to the bladders. We also put the words "want relief" on the bows of the boats and on the sails and labels. Another boat and several bladders were ready to be sent adrift when we were taken off by the Amherst. All the seeds planted by the Southland are dead.
    The next time we were in Pig Bay, nine pigs were killed, and we caught three small ones. It rained hard in the afternoon. We took shelter, and it did not clear up till the next morning. After standing round the fire all night, in the morning felt more like sleeping than pig-hunting, so we started for home. We salted the pigs down.
    We were preparing to go out again and build a hut to shelter us from the rain, as we intended to salt all the pigs we got for a winter's stock. We were to let loose all the small ones on Enderby's to stock the island. Seal were getting scare, but our troubles were soon to end.

19th November
The man on the look-out sighted a sail to the eastward of the Island, which afterwards proved to be the "Fanny" (cuter bound to this Island; but as she passed on without seeming to notice the smoke we made as a signal to her we began to give up all hopes, not knowing that relief was near at hand.

    On the 21st November sighted the brig Amherst, Captain P. Gilroy, of Invercargill, running along the land from the southward. The boat was launched, and we pulled and got on board. We were very kindly received by both officers and crew. On the following morning, after nearly nineteen months of the severest hardships, all of us were taken aboard.

22nd November
Let loose the pigs upon the island for the benefit of others. When all of us were aboard, we had such clothes given us as could be well spared by both the officers and crew of the brig Amherst. 
    Everything aboard was given with the greatest kindness, and, in fact, we could not be better treated by them.

5th December
We saw the Fanny (cutter) in Carnley's Harbour.  The captain having seen the papers left by the Victoria at Musgrave's on the back of which we had written our names, where we were, and the name of ship in which we were wrecked, had put his casks ashore, and was on the way to look for us when we saw him. For this we feel greatly thankful to Captain Ackers and the crew of the cutter Fanny.

An inquiry into the wreck has been held at Campbelltown (Bluff Harbor), under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act. We make some extracts from the evidence of W.M. Sanguily. At Melbourne, he says, "we took in a cargo of wool, hides, &c., from London, also 56 passengers, amongst whom were six ladies and about twenty children; the crew consisted of 24 men, all told. The last observation taken by the Captain was on Friday, 11 May, at 8 a.m.; after that time an observation could not be taken on the account of the thick weather." As to the sinking of the ship, he says, "The cause of the ship sinking was on account of the swell lifting her. The stumps of her masts coming in contact with the roof of the cave, had forced the foot of her masts through her bottom, and her bilges were greatly chafed on both sides against the sides of the cave, ," his statement being that the cave was 400 yards long. As to relics found by the party, Sanguily adds the following to Mr Teer's account: - "In Port Ross we found a small hut, and remained during the night there; the next day we found another hut with the name 'E. Shrive,' cut in letters over the fire-place," 

"The names of those lost as far as I can recollect are Passengers: 
Mrs Ott and five children
Mrs Allen and three children
Mr and Mrs Oldfield and two children
Mr Laing
Mr Mitchell and others, names unknown to me.

The crew lost are as follow:- 
W.H. Loughlin, captain, of New York
B.F. Jones, second officer of Mass.
Mangus Anderson, carpenter, Sweden
Keding, steward, purser, cook, assistant cook, names unknown, two seaman names unknown, and the first officer's wife."

Passengers: per Belfast Banner  (Aust.) 1868
1095 tons
Mr & Mrs Ray
Mr Edels
Mr Deans
Rev. Father Sauda
Mr Johnson
Mr Woodrow
Mr Tibbits
and 33 in second and third class cabins.

The dramatic nature of the sinking and the lure of the gold has meant that the General Grant has become the wreck to find in the South Pacific.

The General Grant was a new ship, 1,095 tons, and was owned by Page, Richardson & Co., of Boston.

New York Times. Aug 23, 1899; p. 1
London, Aug. 22. An Australian named de Jersey Grut examined the General Grant's ship papers at the Custom House and found that there was only 7,000 aboard the wrecked vessel.

NEW ZEALAND BARS GOLD SALVAGE BIDS New York Times Jul 9, 1961; p. F23;
It is unlikely that any licenses to salvage the gold will be issued because of dangers involved in getting to the wreck. Nine known expeditions have tried to retrieve the vessels cargo of gold but all have failed and in many cases lives have been lost. The clipper's manifest showed its cargo included 2,470 ounces of gold and more than nine tons of zinc, which was believed to comprise more than 46 per cent gold.

Otago Witness March 14 1868 page 12 column 4
The steamer Southland (Spence Brothers) has sailed from Bluff Harbor for the Auckland Island, for the purpose of making search for the wreck of the General Grant, with a view to the recovery of the treasure on board of that vessel. Mr Teer one of the survivors, accompanied by experienced divers, is with the expedition, and there is every reason to believe that the combined efforts of Captain Fitzpatrick and Mr Teer will finally settle the character of the cave in which this fine vessel sunk, and throw important light upon many subjects connected to the wreck that as yet are unknown. 

Otago Witness Tuesday April 4 1868 page 11
Invercargill, Thursday
    The brig Amherst arrived at the Bluff on 31st from the Auckland Islands. After leaving the bluff she experienced light winds to the snares, and reached them on 28th Jan. She searched, but found no castaways. There are thousands of Mutton birds on the islands.
The Captain of the Amherst had a large pole, 15 feet, erected on which were placed bottles containing letters. Matches, fish-hooks, knives, &c. were left.
    The Amherst reached Port Ross on the 1st February, and formed depot No. 1 on Enderby Island, containing clothing, blankets, compasses, matches, tools, &c. It was placed in a good position, and on it was written, "The curse of the widow and the fatherless light upon the man who breaks open this box whilst he has a ship at his back."
Plenty of goats, &c. are on the islands. A search was made round the coast, but no trace of any cave was discovered.
Traces of wreck were seen near two rocks, which jutted out like buttresses. A landing was made at Darnley's Harbor. 
    Depot number two was made near Musgrave's Hut. Depot's were left at the principal islands, and goats and pigs were landed. Plenty of pigs, birds, seals, and rabbits were found on most islands. No traces whatever were found of castaways. 
    The Depots on Auckland and Campbell's Islands have been made with care, and their positions distinctly defined. The latitude and longitude of all the islands were taken, and it was found that the Aucklands are placed on the Chart 35 miles to the south of their true position. This glaring error, says the official report, is sufficient to account for the number of wrecks. The official report, published in the Southland Times, makes four columns, and is most interesting. The Amherst saw nothing of the steamer Southland. The Islands are adapted for Penal Settlement.

Hawkes Bay - WT 27 Jan 1868
Another Wreck at Auckland Islands
Seventy-Three lives Lost.
Ten Survivors rescued after 18 month's imprisonment
(From the Nelson Examiner, 10th January.)

On Sunday night last, nine men and one woman, the survivors of the crew and passengers of the American ship General Grant, eight-three in number, who sailed from Melbourne on the 4th May 1866, were landed at Bluff Harbor, by the whaling brig Amherst, having been rescued from the Auckland Islands on the 21st November last, where the General Grant was wrecked upwards of eighteen months previously. The names of the survivors brought off by the Amherst are:- Mary Ann Jewel (stewardess), Joseph Jewel, William Ferguson, Patrick Coughey, Nicholas Allen, Cornelius Drew, James Teer, A M Sangilly, A Harpman and David Ashworth.

Timaru Herald, 11 March 1871, Page 2
Waif of the Sea.- A strange waif of the sea has recently been purchased by Mr Hart, of the Old Curiosity Shop, at the corner of the Arcade, Melbourne. It is a boat-shaped piece of wood picked up on the New Zealand coast some mouths since, and it bears this inscription: "Ship Gen. Grant, wrkd Auckland Isles, May 14, 18� (last two figures illegible)� 10 survive on Enderbys, Dec. 1, 1867. Want relief. The authenticity of this little billet of wood is apparent, it being thoroughly waterworn, and presenting all the appearance of having been immersed for years.


Former Otago Daily Times editor Keith Eunson wrote The Wreck of the General Grant (1966)  (1974) 168 pages, [8] leaves of plates : ill ; 23 cm. Published by A.H. & A.W. Reed Ltd, Wellington. 
Goldseekers Of Australia
Shipbuilders Of Maine
Drift Towards Doom
Flame Of Life
Forlorn Hope
The Longest Day
New Beginnings
Greed Of Gold
The Cavern Explored

Sanguilly, A. M. Shipwreck of the 'General Grant'. [New York, 1869]

Gold Seekers
'General Grant' article'

North Otago Times, 17 May 1877, Page 2 THE GENERAL GRANT.
The "Southland News" has been favored with the following report by one of the crew of the Gazelle, in reference to the above named vessel : "From every reason we believe that all doubt with regard to the position of the General Grant are at last resolved. She has gone into a cave within the neighborhood of Cape Bristow. The figurehead has been found, and we are prepared to say that the long lost treasure remains to be taken by dint of waiting for easterly weather, which on this occasion it was not the Gazelle's luck to have." The scene of the wreck was not found until throe week's ago, and only two opportunities have offered to visit she spot, both of which were made use of. On the last occasion the boat was put out, and a breeze suddenly springing up, the boat was smashed to pieces, and the Gazelle scudded away before the gale for two days, and then got into a harbor, name unknown. The coals and provisions being almost down, it was deemed prudent to leave for the Bluff, Captain Stevens and a man being left at the place. Should the owners of the Gazelle decide to send another vessel, Captain Giles feels sanguine of success. The Gazelle is now waiting orders from headquarters at Lyttelton. The Awaru, schooner, was at the Auckland Islands when the Gazelle left. She had been visiting the Macquarries and islands to the south, and had met with fair success. Mr and Mrs Nelson, who were on the island for over twelve months, returned by the Gazelle.

Timaru Herald 16 July 1877
Bluff, July 14
Sailed - Gazelle, s.s., Captain Giles, for the Auckland Islands, in search of the gold lost in the General Grant.

ODT Thursday, 5-March 1998 
`Gold salvor' gets 12 months' jail 
Christchurch: A salvor's campaign to salvage gold from the wreck of the General Grant has ended in a 12-month jail term. Arthur John Baxter (62) was being sentenced after earlier being found guilty of deceiving the 135 people who provided more than $300,000 for his 1995 salvage venture through its misleading prospectus and letters to investors. In the Christchurch District Court yesterday, Judge Stephen Erber said Baxter "got carried away with his dream" of salvaging millions of dollars worth of gold, which was believed to be aboard the wreck of the General Grant lying off the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands. 
He said Baxter had already begun refitting his vessel, Seafarer, for a multi-million-dollar attempt to salvage the gold but which failed to attract sufficient investors. NZPA

Otago Daily Times Wednesday, 17-February 1999
No sunken gold for treasure seekers
by John Gibb
Bill Day did not strike gold on his recent trip to the windswept Auckland Islands, but his fascination with sunken treasure remains as strong as ever. The Wellington shipping company owner returned from the sub Antarctic islands on Sunday after an expedition to look for the wreck of the General Grant. The ship's manifest showed 2576 ounces of gold on board, but neither the wreckage nor gold has been found. "I'd like to knock it off - it's just a puzzle I'd like to solve," Mr Day said in an interview yesterday. He had left from Bluff aboard his 30m-long vessel Sea Surveyor and had been able to eliminate one wreck from the hunt. He brought back several artefacts, which will be given to the Wellington Maritime Museum, but no gold. Backed by a 10-strong crew, he had planned to carry out "data gathering" and took part in dive checks on 100 sites. "We achieved everything we wanted to," he said, but the celebrated wreck was yet to be found. Results were useful but "not spectacular" and more analysis was needed. During the three-week expedition, diving was possible for only three and-a-half days. Operations were hampered by high winds. He still has salvage rights in the area, and intends another expedition next January.

Otago Daily Times Friday, 24-November 2000
`General Grant' hunt
A Gisborne man is heading the latest expedition to find the wreck of the General Grant, and its legendary cargo of gold. The ship's manifest showed 2576 ounces of gold on board, but many believe it was carrying more bullion than was declared. Neither the wreckage nor gold has been found. Dean Savage is latest to search for the wreck, aboard the Sea Maru. His crew includes John Baxter, of Christchurch, who aborted a 1995 expedition to find the General Grant. They are apparently awaiting consent from the Conservation Ministry to disturb the seabed, before starting the trip. Wellington businessman Bill Day headed the most successful expedition, returning with a handful of gold and silver coins, although there was no proof the coins came from the General Grant.

The Hunt for the General Grant - Deep Sea mystery solved?
From time to time, fineprint will invite guest authors to write a column. In this summer issue, we introduce Bill Day, a client of one of our member firms, who has spent some years hunting for gold from the elusive barque General Grant.  For the past 130 years it as been a magnet to treasure hunters and adventurers, fraudsters and scoundrels. Wellington businessman, Bill Day has been proud to add his name to such as illustrious list. In 1986 he was junior member of an expedition that went to investigate a possible wreck at the Auckland Islands. On that trip they identified the site as a different wreck entirely. They swam the coast and found yet another site. In 1996 Bill led a team of 15 people to uncover this new wreck. This time Bill believes that they have found the General Grant. They have recovered anchors, cannons, crockery and, most importantly, gold and silver coins. Unfortunately they have not found any gold bars, so Bill is taking his team back this year to complete the excavation of the site. Diving the General Grant requires a series of interlocking legal rights from the Department of Conservation, Maritime Safety Authority, Historic Places Trust and the Receiver of Wrecks. The ultimate ownership of any bars of gold that Bill does find will, like every other wreck recovery this century, be decided by the courts. These days it is not enough to be a great wreck diver. As Bill Day says, You need excellent research skills in order to maximise your chance of finding a site. After that you need excellent legal representation in order to maximise your chances of retaining what you find. 

Timaru Herald Thursday 15 August 1889 pg 2
Captain Fairchild reports that the cattle, sheep, and goats placed some time since on the southern islands as a provision for ship wrecked mariners are doing well, and "increasing and multiplying." There is a ample food for them on their island homes, and in some parts they are said to be literally "wading" in grass.

ODT Friday, 10-July 1998
The cattle were placed on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands after the General Grant wreck and a depot of supplies for castaways was maintained until 1929. During their 100 years on Enderby the cattle developed independently and acquired a taste for kelp (seaweed.) The pure-bred shorthorn cattle evolved into an animal with shorter legs and a longer body to survive in the harsh South Pacific conditions. The bulls on Enderby were slaughtered in 1993 by conservation workers. Lady, a 12 to 13 year old cow, was the sole survivor of a Conservation Department attempt to secretly kill the unique herd. 

ODT Thursday 8-April 1999 
Members of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society rescued Lady from subantarctic Enderby Island, along with semen from dead bulls, and scientists are trying to save the breed by cloning. The Enderby "breed" is of interest worldwide because of its ability to survive harsh, sub-zero conditions.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 December 1910, Page 11 AFTER 42 YEARS.
DRAMATIC STORY OF A WATCH. MEMENTO OF THE "GENERAL GRANT. The following, which appeared in the Down Recorder (published at Downpatrick, Ireland) en October 15, will be "read with unusual interest by those who have any recollection of the wreck of the General Grant, at the Auckland Islands, 44 years ago: 

THE STORY CONDENSED. "That time brings truth to light, and at last sets all things even, has been strikingly illustrated in the experience of Mr Richard Gould, of Newcastle. A parcel that he received by post this week, containing a watch sent from China, may be said to form the last chapter of a story in its own way as wonderful as anything to be found in the pages of Marryatt. In May, 1866, the ship General Grant was wrecked at Auckland Islands. On one of the loneliest of these islands in the South Pacific, the survivors, including James Teer, of Newcastle, spent many dreary months, hoping against hope. Teer was tacitly accepted as their leader, and exerted himself to help them and to sustain their drooping courage. Eventually, they were rescued by a whaler, and carried to New Zealand. Soon afterwards Teer was presented with a gold watch. Strangely enough this memento became the sport of fortune. It was forwarded to Melbourne, to be taken to London to Teer's sister, Mrs Bishop, by Mr Gould, then first mate of the ship Tartar. But the Tartar was wrecked on the Haitian coast, near Foo-Chow, on October 6, 1871, and stripped bare by pirates. The watch was part of the plunder. Conflicting versions of the fate of the watch became current. Mr Gould made repeated enquiries, without avail, in the hope of recovering it. At last, by the oddest of chances, a miracle it seemed, certain news reached him from a misssionary society in September, 1908, warranting the belief that the mystery would yet be cleared up. The watch had passed from the hands of the man who stole it into other hands. Then ensued correspondence, now baffling, now encouraging, with the missionary society, the Chinese postal authorities, the Board of Trade, and the Foreign Office. After long official delays, Mr Gould's persistence and energy were finally rewarded. Restitution has been made. From the Chinese postal authorities he received the watch.

TO FULFIL HIS TRUST. For 37 years Mr Gould has been the victim of base insinuations as to the disposal of the watch that was entrusted to his care by the recipient. In the course of his unremitting search for its whereabouts, he had certain correspondence with the Invercargill police authorities, to whom he supplied the news of the belated restitution of the watch, - as related in the extract republished above. He further asked for a copy of the Invercargill papers, of the year 1868, containing an account of the circumstances in which the watch was presented to James Teer.

THE SEARCH. The watch was apparently traced in 1876, because, through the British Consul at Foo-Choo, information was received by Mr Gould at that time that the headman of the village had been beaten and fined for the theft of a gold watch and chain, which they acknowledged had been taken by a relative of one of them who had since disappeared. In 1908 some person from China wrote to the police authorities at Invercargill asking if James Teer could I be traced. The result of that enquiry was that it had been found that Teer, had died on the West Coast. Mr Gould afterwards apparently heard that the Chinese authorities in Foo-Choo had made enquiries from the Invercargill police as to the whereabouts of Teer, and asked to be put in touch with the writer from Foo-Choo presumably Mr Gould got into personal touch with the Chinese writer aforementioned, and eventually recovered the watch, which was returned to him on the 14th October last.

What hidest thou in thy treasure caves and cells,
Thou ever-sounding and mysterious main!