Special Thanks to Michael Phillips

Vol.XXX 1813 [page 306]
[From an American Paper]


The following is an account of the singular and melancholy fate of the American ship TONQUIN, the crew of which were destroyed by savages, while on a trading voyage on the coast north of the River Columbia, on Vancouver`s Island: A ship arrived from New York after a passage of near seven months, with merchandise and provisions for the company.

It was here that we learnt with horror, that the story of the TONQUIN`s having been cut-off was but too true. The circumstances have been related in different ways by the natives but that which carries the greatest appearance of truth is as follows:- That vessel, after landing a cargo intended for Astoria, departed on a trading voyage to the coast of Columbia river, with a company, including officers of 23 men, and had proceeded about 400 miles along the sea-coast, when they stopped on Vancouver`s island at a place called Woody Point, inhabited by a powerful nation called Wake-a-ninishes. These people came on board to barter their furs for merchandise, and conducted themselves in a most friendly manner during the first day; but the same evening information was brought on board by by an Indian whom the officers had as an interpreter, that the tribe where they then lay were ill-disposed and intended attacking the ship the next day.

Capt. Thorn affected to disbelieve this piece of news, and even when the Indians came next morning in great numbers, it was only at the pressing remonstrance of Mr M`Kay, that he ordered seven aloftto loosen the sails. In the mean time about 50 Indians were permitted to come on board who exchanged a number of sea-otter skins for blankets and knives. The former they threw into their canoes, but secreted the knives. Every one, when armed, moved from the quarter-deck to a different part of the vessel in such a way that three of them opposed every man of the crew. At a given signal they rushed on their prey and, notwithstanding a brave resistance, they were all butchered in a few minutes. The men aloft, in attempting to descend, lost two of their number, beside one mortally wounded, who, notwithstanding his weakened condition, made his way with the others into the cabin, where, finding a quantity of loaded arms, they fired on their assailants through the sky-lights and companion-way, which had the effect of clearing the ship, and long before night these five intrepid sons of America were again in full possession of her.

Whether from want of abilities or strength, supposing themselves unable to take the vessel back to Columbia, on the following morning, the four who were left unhurt left her in the long boat, in hopes of regaining the river, wishing to take along with them the wounded person, who refused their offer, saying he must die before long and was as well in the vessel as elsewhere.

Soon after sunrise she was surrounded by an immense number of Indians in canoes, come for the express purpose of unloading her; but who, from the warm reception they met with the day before,did not seem forward in boarding. The wounded man shewed himself over the railing, made signs that he was alone and wanted their assistance; on which some embarked, who finding what he said was true, spoke to their people who were not any longer slow in getting on board, so that in a few seconds the deck was considerably thronged and they proceeded to undo the hatches without further ceremony.

No sooner were they completely engaged in this, than the only survivor of the crew descended into the cabin and set fire to the magazine containing nearly 9000 lbs of gunpowder, which in an instant blew the vessel and everyone on board to atoms. The nation acknowledge their having lost 100 warriors, beside a vast number of wounded who were in canoes around the ship. The four men in the long boat were, two or three days after, driven ashore in a gale and massacred by the natives.