Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy A weird series of tales of shipwreck and disaster, from the earliest part of the century to the present time, with accounts of providential escapes and heart-rending fatalities.
(click on an icon to download eBook)
In the year 1791, Woodward sailed from Boston in the ship Robert Morris, Captain Hay, for the East Indies. On his arrival there he was employed in making country voyages until the 20th of January, when he sailed as chief-mate in an American ship from Batavia bound to Manilla.
In passing through the straits of Macassar, they found the wind and current both against them, and after beating up for six weeks they fell short of provision. Captain Woodward and five seamen were sent to purchase some from a vessel about four leagues distant. They were without water, provisions, or compass,—having on board only an axe, a boat hook, two penknives, a useless gun and forty dollars in cash.
They reached the ship at sunset, and were told by the captain that he had no provision to spare as he was bound to China and was victualled for only one month. He advised them to stay until morning, which they did. But when morning dawned, their own ship was out of sight even from the mast head, and with a fair wind for her to go through the straits of Macassar. Being treated coolly by the captain, they agreed with one voice to leave the ship in search of their own. On leaving the vessel, the captain gave them twelve musket cartridges and a round bottle of brandy, but neither water nor provision of any sort.
They rowed till twelve o’clock at night, in hopes of seeing their own vessel, and then drawing near an island they thought it prudent to go there to get some fresh water.—They landed and made a large fire in hopes their ship might see it. But not being able to see any thing of her in the morning and finding no water or provisions on the island, they continued their course in the middle of the straits six days longer, without going on shore or tasting of any thing but brandy. They soon had the shore of Celebes in sight, where they determined to go in search of provisions and then to proceed to Macassar.
As they approached the shore they saw two proas full of natives, who immediately put themselves in a posture of defence. The sailors made signs to them that they wanted provisions, but instead of giving it the Malays began to brandish their cresses or steel daggers. Three of the men jumped on board a proa to beg some Indian corn, and got three or four small ears. The chief seemed quite friendly and agreed to sell captain Woodward two cocoa nuts for a dollar, but as soon as he had received the money, he immediately began to strip him in search of more. Captain Woodward defended himself with a hatchet and ordered the boat to be shoved off, the chief levelled a musket at him, but fortunately it missed him.
They then stood off, went round a point of land and landed out of sight of the proas, when they found a plenty of cocoa nut trees. Captain Woodward while engaged in cutting them down, heard the man whom he had left to take care of the boat, scream out in a most bitter manner. He ran immediately to the beach where he saw his own boat off at some distance full of Malays and the poor fellow who guarded it lying on his back with his throat cut, and his body stabbed in several places.
They now fled immediately to the mountains, and finding that they had lost their boat, money, and most of their clothes, they concluded that their only chance of escape was to get to Macassar by land. Being afraid to travel in the day time they set out in the evening, taking a star for their guide bearing south. But they soon lost sight of the star and at daylight found themselves within a few rods of the place, where they had set out. They had travelled on the side of a mountain, and had gone quite round it instead of going straight over it. They started again and travelled by the sea shore six nights successively, living on berries and water found in the hollows of trees.
On the sixth they arrived at a bay where they saw a party of the Malays fishing. Here Captain Woodward found some yellowish berries which were to him quite palatable, but his men not liking them eat some of the leaves. On the next day they concluded to make a raft and go to the small island on which they first landed, thinking that they might be taken off from it by some ship passing that way. But they were obliged to abandon this project, for in the evening the men who had eaten the leaves, were attacked with violent pains and were crying out in torture during the whole night.—Although they got better towards evening yet they were so weak and dejected that Captain Woodward was convinced that they could not reach the island and asked them if they were willing to surrender themselves to the Malays....