Ship Carack Destroyed by Fire

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My GGG Grandfather, Tobias Ambre Ohmer, sailed from LeHavre, France to New Orleans on the ship Carack, arriving in April of 1851. The following is an account of the the burning and eventual sinking of that very ship in the year 1857.

Built 1849 in Thomaston, Maine
Ship Carack, 874 tons
Built by R. Walsh
Chief Owner W.J. Fales, Robinson, Ambrose Snow

Telegraphed to the New Orleans Picayune

Steamboats Passed Vicksburg

[By the National Line]

Vicksburg, Aug. 1 — The John Briggs passed down at 7 o’clock this morning.

Later from Key West

Probable loss of Bark Pacific

The annexed letter from our Key West correspondent, giving an account of the destruction of the ship Carack, by fire, and the probable loss of the bark Pacific, with other marine intelligence, came to hand this morning:

Key West, July 25, 1857. The Thomaston ship Carack, Capt. Stilphen, from New Orleans bound to Liverpool, with a cargo of 2,728 bales of cotton, was destroyed by fire on the 16th and 17th inst., 100 miles northwest of Tortugas. Capt. S. arrived at this port on the 22nd, in the pilot boat Edna, Jones, having been taken from the bark Ann Elizabeth. Capt. Norgrave, off this harbor, which vessel had fallen in with his boat near Tortugas, the 18th. The captain gives us the following account of the loss of his ship:

“On the 16th inst., when 250 miles E.S.E. of Tortugas, with fine weather and light winds from S.S.W., about 12 M., a thunder squall came up and the ship’s main mast was struck by lightning, which, coming down the lightning rod attached to the main royal back stay, penetrated the vessel, descending into the hold. We discovered by the smoke soon after, that the ship was on fire, and used every exertion to get at and extinguish it, but without success; and, as a last resort, calked down the hatches, stopped all ventilation, and kept the decks wet. We made sail for Tortugas, that being the nearest point, and hoped to have reached that place before the fire broke out. The smoke soon became so thick in the cabin as to compel us to leave it entirely. We then had the boats made ready and launched, so as to leave the ship when the fire should force us to abandon her. The fire first made its appearance near the main rigging, forcing up the deck so that the smoke came through the seams. We still continued to wet the decks, and by that means kept the fire from bursting out before it would otherwise have done.

July 17 – The ship still on her course for Tortugas, but the smoke becoming so thick that we could only keep a man at. The wheel for a few minutes at a time. About 2 P.M. fire burst through under the mizzen chains, and we then took the boats and dropped them astern. About 3 P.M. our painters burnt off, and we were cast adrift. We then were eighty miles from Tortugas. We remained in sight of the ship until she was on fire fore and aft, and her masts had burned off. We then started with the ship’s three boats for Tortugas.”

A squall came up that night, which separated the boats. The captain’s boat was picked up on the 18th, by the bark Anne Elizabeth, Capt. Norgrave, of Philadelphia, and left her off Key West the 22nd inst., the captain and crew coming here. The boat commanded by the first mate was picked up by the ship Dudley B. Moses, and arrived at Key West the 23rd.  The third boat, in command of the second mate, has not yet been reported; there were in her seven men, viz., the second mate, carpenter, and five seamen. Capt. Stilphen thinks that they were picked up by some passing vessel.

The Carack sailed from New Orleans, the 11th inst., with 2728 bales of cotton, bound to Liverpool. The ship was eight years old, 874 tons burden, valued at $30,000 and fully insured. The cargo was valued at $200,000, and is together with the ship a total loss, there being no possibility of her drifting ashore.

Capt. Stilphen sent part of his crew to New Orleans, in the ship S. R. Mallory, Capt. Lester, leaving this port the 23rd. He leaves in the Isabel, tonight, bearing to his owner the accounts of the sad disaster.

-The Times Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
02 Aug, 1857 (Sunday)

The Missing Boat of the Ship Carack

In the account given by our Key West correspondent of the loss by fire of the ship Carack, (published on Saturday evening,) it was stated that the third boat, in command of the second mate, was missing, and that there were in her seven men, viz : the second mate, carpenter, and five seamen.

We learn from the Tampa Peninsular, of the 25th ult., that the missing boat is safe. The Peninsular says:

It was the intention for the boats to keep company and sail for Tortugas. The were, however, parted in a squall on the following night. Mr. Stearns (the second mate,) having dismasted his boat and sprung some of her timbers, was compelled to keep before the wind, and on the morning of Monday, 27th, boarded the fishing smack Frank Pierce, when he replenished his water casks, which had been empty for twenty-four hours, and started for Egmont Light – twenty five miles distant – which he reached the same evening.

Mr. Stearns arrived at this place, in company with Capt. Treska, lighthouse keeper, on Wednesday last. The carpenter, being sick, was left at the lighthouse.

Mr. S. speaks in the highest praise of the kind treatment of Capt. Sparks, of the Frank Pierce, and Capt. Treska.

-The Times Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
04 Aug, 1857 (Tuesday)

Captain Ambrose Snow

Captain Ambrose Snow, a member of the Board of Pilot Commissioners, and widely known in Brooklyn and New York, died at his home No. 129 Bainbridge Street, June 28, 1895. Although eighty-three years of age he had experienced none of the ills which old age usually entails, but retained the active use of his faculties of mind and body almost to the day of his death.

Captain Snow was born in Thomaston, Maine, on the 28th of January 1813. He came from an old New England family, his maternal grandfather having served as a private under Washington. He was trained to the sea from boyhood, and at an early age became master of a ship. During the palmy days of the merchant marine he commanded in succession the ships “John Holland,” “Leopard,” ” Leonidas,” “John Hancock,” ” Carack,” “Telamon,” and “Southampton.” When he was forty years of age he established a shipping firm in New York under the firm name of Snow & Burgess. He was elected President of the Marine Society in 1869, was re-elected several times, and was President of the Board of Pilot Commissioners for many terms. Upon the occasion of his twelfth successive election as President of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation in 1890, he was presented with a magnificent chronometer and diamond compass.

Captain Snow was President of the Board of Trustees of the Sailors’ Snug Harbor for seventeen years. He was coxswain of a barge manned by a crew of shipmasters from the Marine Society that rowed President Harrison ashore at the Washington Centennial celebration. A crew from the same society rowed General Washington from Elizabethport to New York at the time of his inauguration as the first President of the United States.

The funeral services were held at his son’s house and were as simple as possible in accordance with the frequently expressed desire of the deceased. The interment was at Thomaston, Maine, where he was bom and where his wife is buried. Captain Snow was married on March i6, 1836, to Mary Robinson, of Thomaston, Maine. He left two sons, Alfred D. Snow, of Brooklyn, and Louis T. Snow, of San Francisco.

Proceedings at the first and subsequent annual and spring meetings, and first and subsequent annual dinners, from 1880 to 1895, inclusive, of the New England Society in the City of Brooklyn, and names of members (1896).

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