On board the General McClellan, Sunday, June 19, 1864.President Cannon.
Dear Brother,--As we expect to reach New York in the course of a few days, we think it proper to commence our report thus early, so that there might not be any delay, after our arrival, in acquainting you and our friends in old England, of the safe arrival of the General McClellan with her precious freight. Our distance from the desired port is but 450 miles, which, with some of the winds that we have had while on the voyage, might very soon be made; but, with the wind that we at present have, it is not likely that we will be able to reach New York much before the expiration of another week. We nevertheless trust that we shall be spared the necessity of continuing our present acquaintance with the General McClellan and her crew more than two or three days. This we desire, more especially, on account of the few sick who are on board the ship, and who have, since leaving England, suffered very much from extreme weakness caused by the strong sea air.
Since bidding you adieu at Liverpool, we (and we speak for the entire company) have had cause for no other feeling but that of gratitude to our Father in Heaven for the manifold blessings which have been conferred upon us during the passage thus far. Health has almost generally prevailed throughout the ship, on board of which we find eight hundred Saints; peace, concord and the Spirit of God have been abundantly manifested, and the pleasant weather which we have had nearly ever since we commenced the sea voyage has, as the captain frequently remarked, "been make for Latter-day Saints." The power of the Holy Ghost, with its healing influences, has been often demonstrated in our midst. Were we to commence we might write a full sized volume upon the many evidences of this. Suffice it to say, no company could wish for a better, and, indeed, we very much doubt if they could have a pleasanter passage across the mighty deep than this company has had.
It would occupy too much space, and, perhaps, it would be tedious to you, for us to give you a daily account of our passage, but we will briefly allude to the prominent circumstances which have arisen in connection with our voyage.
Brother Graham wrote you two letters: one he sent by the pilot, late in the evening of the 21st ult., the day we started, and the other by the captain of the steam-tug, who left us off Holyhead. Soon after the tug-boat left us we got a good easterly wind, which took us along smoothly and in the direction desired. This wind continued in our favor for nearly eleven days after we left Holyhead, and carried us considerably on our way, though not at so rapid a rate as we could have gone had the breeze been sufficiently strong. Since that time we have had to contend against frequent headwinds and a few calms, and, in consequence, the ship has had a great deal of tacking to do in order to take what advantage she could of the wind. We have had a little rough weather, but it did not extend over any great length of time. On the night of Thursday, the 9th instant, while in the vicinity of the Banks of Newfoundland, the wind rose to a high degree, and continued to rage with increasing fury during the whole of the night. It was during this night that the ship experienced the greatest shock it had ever before, since it has [p.476] been a ship, received. It was caused by a heavy sea which rolled forward in her course and completely engulfed the bow of the ship, causing the after part of the vessel to rise to a fearful height. The man on the lookout on the forecastle deck, and the man at the wheel, were nearly carried away. Such a noise of boxes falling and tins jumping caused the air to reverberate in a not very melodious manner; the creaking of the timbers, mingled with a chorus of juvenile voices, you would never desire to hear again. The night was foggy (the horn being blown every few minutes), and as icebergs had been seen, and felt, also - that is to say in the shape of cold weather - it was very naturally concluded that the ship had struck one of those formidable bodies and sprung a leak, for the rushing of water could be distinctly heard. However, the fears of the people were soon quieted by the reassuring words of the first officer, who cried below, "All's right." A few Saints then got together and sang the hymn, -"Jesus, mighty king of Zion, Thou alone our guide shall be," &c., which soon restored, to the timid and fearful, confidence and feelings of security. It was at this time that seasickness was generally felt by the company; but, generally speaking, the people have not suffered much from it.
The health of this company, we believe, is more than the average. It has been a subject of surprise to Captain Trask and the surgeon, when the people were assembled on deck for public worship, or to participate in recreation, to see the mass of healthful and hearty looking beings crowded together. They have admitted that for so large a company, they never were associated with a more healthy or a happier class of persons. Thus far, we have but one death to record: a child of five weeks old, whose mother died soon after its birth, in England. The father is Brother William Holgate, late of Oldham, near Manchester. The child (Seth by name) died on the morning of Monday, the 6th instant, and was consigned to its watery grave the afternoon of the same day.
Two births have occurred on board. On the 6th instant, the wife of Brother William Gee, late of Leicester, was delivered of a daughter; its name is Jenny M'Clellan, being the nearest approach to General McClellan, and suggested by the captain. The second occurred on the 12th instant, being a fine boy, whose parents are William and Mary Hutchinson, late of Dalry, Scotland. This child was named George B. M'Clellan, after "America's young Napoleon." Both mothers are doing well.
The marriages that have taken place on board this ship are thus: - On the 19th ult., while the ship was in the Bramley-Moore Dock, Brother David Williams to Sister Gwenllian Jordan, both late of the Merthyr Conference, by Elder Jeremy; on the same day, Brother William Evans to Sister Mary Jordan, also late of Merthyr Conference, by Elder Jeremy; on the 21st ult., on the River Mersey, Brother John Cornwall to sister Mary Leicht, late of the Birmingham Conference, by Elder Bywater, and on the 14th instant, Brother Atkinson Whitworth, late of Ratcliffe Branch, to Sister Agnes R. Boyd, late of Heywood Branch, both of the Manchester Conference, by Elder Jeremy.
When the weather or wind would permit, we have held meetings occasionally on deck, when the elders would discourse on the blessings which God had vouchsafed unto the Saints. On every occasion we have enjoyed ourselves exceedingly well, and much valuable instruction has been given. Today we held a conference on deck, at which mostly all the passengers convened. The presidents of the wards occupied the chief portion of the time in bearing testimony, and advancing some timely counsel suited to the circumstances under which the Saints are placed. At this meeting several resolutions of thanks, to Captain Trask, the officers of the ship and of the company, were drawn up and tendered to them, expressive of the gratitude of the Saints for the watchful care which had been shown to make them comfortable.
Brother William D. Sprunt, late of Kilmarnock, was, on the 9th instant, ordained to the office of an elder, by Elder Jeremy.
In anticipation of sundry expenses which the company may have to meet [p.477] -- such, for instance, as the passing of the baggage through the Customs, and supporting on the journey from New York to Wyoming, those who are destitute of funds, of whom we find an unusually large number--we have made collections in the various wards. Our call was cheerfully responded to by those who possessed means, and many were found to be acting too generously, for they were to some extent depriving themselves of what they would necessarily require. Again, in accordance with your instructions, the Saints have been recommended to deposit their sterling money in our hands, for the purpose of converting it into the American currency, and taking for them advantage of the market. Those who possessed gold and silver readily transferred it for that purpose into our hands. Every preparation necessary to be made for the landing of the company at New York, and everything that we could do to facilitate the business consequent on their disembarkation, have been done in view of lightening the labors of our brethren there. In these matters, as well as every other matter, we have had the cooperation of the presidents of wards, mostly all of whom have had the experience which the ministry in England affords.
In all the wards meetings are held every morning and evening, devoted to singing, prayer and testimonies from the Saints. Councils, composed of the presidents of wards, are held whenever circumstances require them, and it is there that the business of the company is arranged and transacted.
We have found it necessary, with this company, to be very strict and rigid in reference to cleanliness. Our reason for this is, the largeness of the number on board, and the proneness of some few, notwithstanding the repeated instructions given to them upon the subject, to neglect the regulations which are invariably adopted by our people when crossing the sea. This few, we are pleased to say, are confined to a few indeed; but the practice of uncleanly habits of even a few, in a large company like this, may prove very disastrous to the whole. Altogether, however, we can boast of a clean and orderly body of people, and the fact that none have been afflicted with any other complaint than seasickness, is sufficient to justify our statement. The people are willing to do what is demanded of them, in a general way; and we have experienced, in no way whatever, any disposition on the part of the Saints to complain at the instructions given to them from time to time.
Tuesday, 21st, 3 o'clock, p.m.-- Within the last half hour there has been a terrific commotion on board, in consequence of the appearance, in prospect, of a pilot boat. "The pilot! the pilot!" was cried aloud, and the cry was taken up between decks, followed by a tumultuous rush up the hatchway, and folks lined the bulwarks immediately, to await the pilot's arrival. Dinners were abandoned for the time, and a general holiday all over the ship appeared to be in full enjoyment, the excitement being intense. He has just arrived amidst "thunders of applause." Our distance from New York is now about 130 miles, and we are running at about 11 knots per hour.
Wednesday, 4 o'clock, p.m. - Sandy Hook in sight. Expect to anchor for the night as soon as we get to the Quarantine. We have just presented the testimonial above-named to Captain Trask; which was read by Brother Graham; after which the captain read a reply, which he handed in writing to us. The reply is as follows: --
"Gentlemen,- You will please accept and convey to the passengers my thanks for the very handsome testimonial which you have presented me with.
I am happy that my endeavors to make your passage pleasant and agreeable have been successful, and acknowledge the pride I feel in so flattering an approval of my course and conduct.
The gratitude evinced, the regard conveyed, and the thorough feeling of kindness and respect manifested by them, are both appreciated and reciprocated, and will be long treasured. And I trust this favorable passage is a foreshadowing of the remainder of your journey - not only to Utah, but through life - and that you and they may be richly blessed. The enjoyments a good people are deserving of.
G. D. T. TraskTo Messrs. Jeremy, Bull, Bywater and Graham, ship General McClellan.
9 o'clock, p.m. - Just anchored in the bay. The people passed the medical [p.478] officer without any difficulty. Captain Trask handed brother Graham a couple of sovereigns, one to be given to each of the parents of the two children born on the voyage, accompanied by his best wishes for the children's welfare. May the Lord bless him for his kindness to the people.
Thursday morning. - We are now waiting for our landing at Castle Garden, so we will bring this letter to a close, and pray that God may bless you and all whom we have left behind, with the choicest of his blessings.
Your ever faithful brethren,
T. E. Jeremy, PresidentJoseph Bull, CounselorG. G. Bywater, CounselorJ. C. Graham, Clerk [p.479]
BIB: Jeremy, T[homas] E[vans] [Letter], Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star 26:30 (July 23, 1864) pp. 476-479. (CHL)