Page 25 - Galveston Monthly - September 2017

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SEPTEMBER 2017 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
25
and deliver the recall orders to Moore. But first, under
pressure from the
Sylph’s
owners and passengers,
Seeger was ordered to sail to New Orleans and
disembark the shipwreck survivors there. It was a
welcome assignment as Seeger had Yucatán silver with
which he could purchase provisions and supplies for
the
San Antonio
and the two Texas warships still off the
coast of Mexico.
In the Harbor
Arriving in New Orleans on February 9, 1842, Seeger
anchored the
San Antonio
off a point which lay across
the Mississippi River from the wharf, rather than directly
alongside the dock. The spot of anchor was located in
the strong flow of the river, and although it was not
the most accessible place for provisioning, the distance
from land and the strong current was a deterrent against
any desertion attempt by the crew. Having been denied
their pay by the Texas government, the crew had been
restless for some time.
On February 11, after the survivors of the
Sylph
had
been sent ashore, Seeger and his first officer left the
ship to purchase supplies, and the ship was left in the
command of young Lieutenant Charles F. Fuller. In order
to stem the risk of a mass desertion, the crew was not
granted shore leave. Lt. Fuller was concerned that the
city of New Orleans offered too many temptations to
men who had long been at sea aboard a dank and putrid
ship with lousy food and harsh discipline. He attempted
to assure them that his superiors were ashore trying to
remedy conditions for the men.
As Fuller stood on the deck watching the ship’s boat
depart for the bright lights of the Port of New Orleans,
a cabin steward named William Bearington walked past
him and whispered, “Be careful, there could be trouble,”
before disappearing below the deck. All afternoon
and early evening while the
San Antonio
lay at anchor,
the ship was besieged by harbor traders who came
alongside the schooner in their rowboats, canoes and
small sailing craft. They peddled fresh fruit, decent
bread and fresh meat. Knowing that the men had long
been deprived of shore side luxuries of whiskey and
spirits, attempts were also made to slip these past the
guards on watch.
As darkness fell, Lieutenant Fuller assigned sailing
master Monroe Dearborne as officer of the deck
and cautioned him to look out for trouble. If any
uncomfortable situation developed, Dearborne was
instructed to call out the Texas Marine Corps guards who
were on board. Fuller then went below to his cabin to
get some much needed rest.
Under the cover of darkness, some harbor traders
slipped past the eyes of the guards and many bottles
Top:
Texas Schooner
San Antonio
, Galveston 1841
Middle:
Texas Sloop of War
Austin
, Flagship of the Texas Navy
Bottom:
Texas Marine Corps Sergeant (left) and Texas Navy
Midshipman (right) by Bruce Marshall