Daily Event for October 14, 2010

The Monmouth was a sidewheeler built in Baltimore, Maryland in 1836, the only details I have for her is that she was 184 tons. She was originally used in New Jersey, but around 1850 she was moved to Baltimore and sailed between there and various stops in Virginia, ending her trips at Walkerton on the Mattaponi river. On the morning of October 14, 1856 she was on the way to Baltimore with 24 people on board. Early that morning there was a heavy fog when she made her way up the Chesapeake Bay and when she was near the Wolf Trap light she was rammed on the starboard side by the brig Windward.

The bows of Windward stove in to Monmouth amidships carrying away the wheel and the wheelhouse, the collision also damaged her shaft putting the port wheel out of service, Monmouth was dead in the water and taking on water. I am not aware if there was any communication between the captains of the ships after the collision, so I do not know if the captain of the Windward was told that Monmouth did not need assistance, but Windward's bows were damaged and her master, left the scene and made for Norfolk for repairs, he did not remove anyone from the Monmouth.

Captain W. S. Dansey of the Monmouth apparently did not feel that his ship was in immediate danger of foundering, and he apparently knew his route well because he dropped his anchors and waited for the steamer Gladiator, which he knew was due to pass by shortly. He said his intention was to have Gladiator tow his damaged ship to safety, perhaps a gamble on his part. Gladiator did pass by, but because of the fog she failed to see the Monmouth, Dansey's gamble did not pay off.

Monmouth lay at anchor until that evening when a storm blew in, when the weather got heavier the ship began to settle and Dansey now knew that the people on his ship were in trouble. Dansey and his crew built several rafts from what ever they could find on the ship and most of the stranded people took to them. As the ship settled deeper and deeper the desperate souls clung to the rafts in the hope of survival, some apparently refused to go into the water and remained on the doomed ship.

That evening the steamer Louisiana came upon the drama that was playing out in the Chesapeake and her master, captain Russell made every attempt to save the poor souls he found in the water, he had two boats lowered and soon his men had recovered a number of the survivors, but he was told that some were still onboard the ship and that at least one raft had drifted away. Russell went alongside the Monmouth, which by this time was almost completely under water, and found the ship completely abandoned, all who remained onboard had perished. Russell continued to search, but no more survivors were found in the water.

The next day (Oct. 15) the Monmouth sank, and Russell and the Louisiana left the area, Captain Russell was spoken of in the highest terms by the passengers of both ships for his actions in saving those in the water and for caring for those who were injured. Unfortunately he was not able to save them all and nine people lost their lives that night.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Remembrance
In memory of those who lost their lives in SS Monmouth
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Davidson, James
Davidson, Mrs.
Matthews, Matthias
Phillips, Charles
Coal Hauler
Ridgeway, Perry
Deck Hand
Woodland, William
Sons James and Theodore survived.
Master of schooner Ada of Baltimore.

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