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more than four hundred yards, and as, by taking a somewhat serpentine course, I managed to swim in without getting foul of the rock, or being tumbled over by a breaker, there is no doubt the boat might have done so also.
"One fact I cannot omit mentioning. When the vessel was just about going down, the commander called out, "All those that can swim, jump overboard and make for the boats." Lieutenant Girardot and myself were standing on the stern part of the poop. We begged the men not to do as the commander said, as the boat with the women must be swamped. Not more than three made the attempt.
"On Sunday evening, at six P.M., all the men who were at Captain Smales', and the four I had with myself on the coast, were embarked in boats and taken on board the Rhadamanthus,' and we arrived in Simon's Bay, at three A.M., on Monday, the 1st of March. Eighteen of the men are bruised and burnt by the sun, and the commodore has ordered them into the naval hospital. The rest are all right, and seventy require to be clothed. I need scarcely say that everything belonging to the men was lost.
"I have, etc.,
"EDWARD W. C. WRIGHT, "Captain, Ninety-first Regiment.
"Lieut.-Col. Ingilby, R.A., Commandant of Cape Town.
"P.S.-I must not omit to mention the extreme kindness and attention shown by Captain Smales to the men at his house; and by. Captain Ramsden, of the 'Lioness' schooner, and his wife, to those taken on board his vessel. E. W. C. W."
From other accounts it would appear that considerable numbers perished in the water from the attacks. of the sharks, which surrounded the wreck in shoals.
The Duke of Wellington signified his appreciation of Captain Wright's services in the "Birkenhead,"* in a letter, dated Horse Guards, 13th April, 1852, from which the following are extracts: :-
"It was impossible for the Commander-in-chief, however, not to observe with admiration the conduct of the troops under such painful circumstances; and I am to express his full and entire approbation of the subsequent exertions of Captain Wright, and the surviving officers, in procuring relief for those more fortunate individuals who reached the shore, and in subsequently endeavouring to discover any others who might have been thrown on the beach.
"In contemplating the appalling extent of this misfortune, as detailed in Captain Wright's excellent report, and which has cast a gloom over the whole
* A graceful tribute has just been paid by the Queen to the memory of the officers and crew who perished on board the "Birkenhead" troop-ship. Her Majesty, desirous of recording her admiration of the heroic constancy and unbroken discipline shown on board that vessel, has caused to be placed on the colonnade at Chelsea Hospital a tablet in commemoration of that event. A tablet has also been erected, by command of Her Majesty, to the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Willoughby Moore, who perished on board the "Europa," when that vessel was burnt at sea, on the 31st of May, 1854, about two hundred miles from Plymouth, with the head-quarters and a detachment of the 6th Dragoons on board, affording a noble example of courage and discipline in the discharge of duty. In both instances the names of the officers and men who perished are recorded on brass plates, adjoining the tablets.
community, it is consolatory to the Commander-inchief to find, that the obedience and discipline of the troops were maintained to the last; and that, with a devotion which was truly admirable, no one thought of providing for his own safety until that of the help-less women and children was secured.
"I have, etc.,
"G. BROWN, Adjutant-General.
"Lieut.-Gen. the Hon. George Cathcart, Cape of Good Hope."
Fire on board must obviously be an additional alarm, and commencing with that calamity, so the illustrations close with instances of a similar character.
The loss of the "Sarah Sands" is fully detailed in the accompanying General Order, which conveyed his Royal Highness's approbation of the conduct of the. troops on board, offering another example of the fortitude and manly conduct of British soldiers :-
"Horse Guards, 27th February, 1858.
"His Royal Highness the General Commandingin-chief has great gratification in making known to the army, the substance of a report received from MajorGeneral Breton, commanding the troops at the Mauritius, recording the remarkable gallantry and resolution displayed by the officers and soldiers of the Fifty-fourth Regiment, on board the ship Sarah Sands,' on the 11th November, 1857, under circumstances of a most trying nature, namely, when that
vessel took fire at sea, having at the time a large quantity of ammunition on board.
"It is under such emergency that presence of mind, high courage, and coolness-qualities which are the attributes of British soldiers-are conspicuous, and are rendered particularly so, when attended by the maintenance of that discipline which was evidently observed on the occasion.
"Major-General Breton states in his report, that the first consideration acted upon was to throw the powder overboard, a most hazardous and dangerous duty, which was effected (with the exception of a very trifling portion of it) by volunteers, at the risk of their being suffocated by the smoke below.
"The boats were got ready--the women and children placed in them-and the greatest degree of emulation evinced by the officers and men in the performance of all that could be required of them.
"For the lengthened period of sixteen or eighteen hours the ship was in extreme peril, until the fire was subdued, and the hold cleared of water, which was thrown in for the purpose of extinguishing it, or which had rushed in through the opening in the stern, caused by the explosion of the last of the powder.
"The following non-commissioned officers and privates are specially named by Major Brett (upon whom the command devolved) as having particularly distinguished themselves on the occasion:-
"The colours of the Regiment appear to have been saved by Private William Wiles, Fifty-fourth Regiment, and Richard Richmond, one of the quartermasters of the ship, at the hazard of their lives.
"Major Brett exerted himself to the uttermost, and is entitled to high praise for his conduct throughout. He reports of the officers generally that their conduct was admirable, and gives great credit to Captain Gillum, Lieutenant and Adjutant Houston, and Lieutenant Hughes.
"By extraordinary exertions the ship was saved from destruction, and enabled to reach Port Louis.