The loss of HMS Mutine in 1848
The loss of HMS Mutine in 1848


The Royal Navy
The Royal Navy


The brig Mutine, launched only four years previously, was lost - with 5 hands - in a storm near Venice on 21 December 1848.


Extracts from the Times newspaper
DateExtract
Tu 2 January 1849The following is an extract from a letter written by an officer on board Her Majesty's ship Ardent, dated Trieste, Dec. 24,1848—
"We are here on a sad occasion, just arrived from Venice (where we are stationed), with the surviving crew of the brig Mutine, which was lost on the 21st off Venice. Only five lives were lost, four officers and one marine; it is a perfect miracle that so many were saved considering the dreadfully severe weather we have had. A great many are frost bitten, but it is hoped all will recover."
We 3 January 1849

THE LOSS OF THE MUTINE.

The following is an extract from a letter, containing a more detailed account of the loss of the Mutine. The letter is dated

Venice, Dec. 24,1848.

Fearful that exaggerated reports may reach home, I write by the earliest opportunity to inform you of the wreck of the Mutine, which took place on the 21st at Palestrina, about 10 miles from Venice, in one of the heaviest gales of wind (commonly called "Boras" in this part of the world) I ever saw. Fortunately every one has been saved, with the exception of four officers and one marine, viz., Edward Whiting (acting mate), drowned in a most gallant attempt to get on shore in the dingy with a line; H.E. Charlton (acting mate), dead from exhaustion and intense cold; James Burke (assistant-surgeon), whose death was caused in a similar manner; James Dowse (carpenter), who fell out of the bowline-knot as they were hauling him on shore, and was drowned; and Edward James (private, Royal Marines), found frozen to death under the forecastle. How so many were saved appears to be almost miraculous, after being exposed nearly 30 hours to the most dreadful weather; the cold being so intense that the seas froze on everything as they came on board. Many are suffering severely from their hands and feet being frostbitten. It is impossible to speak too highly of the kindness and hospitality evinced by the inhabitants and authorities of Palestrina, who seized officers and men as they were landed, and carried them up into the houses, actually giving up their own beds, and supplying them with warm drinks; and, in fact, doing everything their dearest friends could have done for them. The ship is now lying within 20 yards of the shore (having beaten over three quarters of a mile of shoal water), with her masts and rudder gone, and back broken. It is expected we shall save the greater part of the things on board, though there is no hope for the ship.
The people on board were landed by means of a hawser run out to the shore, with a bowline-knot and hauling-line.
We 10 January 1849

THE LOSS OF THE MUTINE.
(Extract of a Letter.)

"On Christmas-day, about noon, I reached the spot where the Mutine lay, the sea, as if in mockery, being as smooth as a mirror. On the 'Murazzi' (the great sea-wall or breakwater of Venice) there were flags and sails and lockers and cordage and clothes and hats and mattresses and blankets and the captain’s gay Turkey carpet lying in confused heaps. Having gazed at these, I walked with my gondolier over a plank that had been laid between the wreck and the sea-wall. In the Captain's cabin, as the water was ebbing, I could stand dry-shod; its floor was strewn with letters and with linen saturated with water, but folded neatly as it came from the laundry. In the other cabins were decanters and clothes and the doctor's medicine-chest, and I slid over soaked biscuit washed out of the bread-bins, on the fragments of which a huge rat was feeding.
"When the Mutine struck she had 108 hands on board, of whom only five, thank God! perished — namely, two mates — Charlton, who was frozen to death, and Whiting, dashed to pieces in attempting most bravely to swim ashore with a hawser; one assistant-surgeon, who died on the night of the 21st; a marine, who shared his fate, vowing that he preferred trusting to Providence, rather than to the bowline by which the communication with the shore was effected; and the carpenter, who was drowned owing to the weight of 40 dollars, from which he would not part, as they were destined as a present for his wife. All hands had been landed by half-past 6 o’clock p.m. on the 21st, with the exception of these five individuals, and also of the boatswain’s mate, the first lieutenant (Curtis), and the master, these two last refusing to leave the brig whilst a single human being remained on board alive; and as they were unable to induce the assistant-surgeon and the marine to trust themselves to the bowline, these two gallant officers, finding all the cabins filling, withdrew to pass the night on the lower deck, and there, seated on the armourer’s bench, they calmly awaited their fate during 15 hours, benumbed, half frozen, fasting, and the storm raging with unabated fury both above and below them.
"On the morning of Friday, the 22d, they went on the main-deck, and finding the assistant-surgeon and the marine dead, they considered themselves the sole survivors on board, when to their surprise the boatswain's mate came and reported himself, he having passed that awful night in the midshipman’s berth.
"When, the brig first struck the gallant Mr. Whiting exclaimed in the gayest tone, 'Now, my chips, who volunteers for a boat - we will save them all!' Three seamen instantly joined him, and though the boat capsized, they got safe on shore with the line, excepting Mr. Whiting, whose brains were dashed out against the 'Murazzi.' His body was recognized by a severe wound in the arm, yet unhealed, which he had received shortly before at Trieste, in the following manner:-There was a broil on the quay, and a foreign seaman gashed his arm most severely; the purser knocked the assassin into the water, and then Whiting, wounded as he was, perceiving that the fellow could not swim, dashed into the sea and held him up until assistance came."


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