The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), Nov. 10, 1865

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Thursday, Nov. 9th - Stevenson et al vs. Calvin et al

The Defence.

William Sughrue, sworn. - I was 30 years of age last February. I am a mariner, and have sailed eighteen years; I was nine years in the tug line, employed for towing vessels on the St. Lawrence. I was on the tug William last year, and was on board last September, and in charge; it was my duty to collect a tow previous to starting downwards. I was in the city on the 5th September, and was told that a schooner wanted to be towed down, when I went to Garden Island, fired up and came over between one and two o'clock along side the schooner Rapid. I ordered a line to be run out to Holcomb' wharf which was not done; the wind caught the tug on the starboard bow, and brought us against the barges. Had the line been run out we would not have drifted. I went aboard the barge and met the captain of the schooner, and he ordered me to run in to the slip at the other wharf. I ordered the helm to be put down hard aport on the tug and the schooner. The schooner did not comply, but the tug did. I said, "captain, this is a very bad job"; it was then that he ordered me to put the vessel in the slip. I did all that could be done to get the vessel to the wharf. The cause of our being driven on the barge was the wind and the fact of the line not having been put out. Had we backed at the time the vessel would have struck on the pier with great force, as the wind would have carried them round on it.

By a Juror - It was necessary to take the schooner to Holcomb & Henderson's wharf before completing my tow.

By Mr. Kirkpatrick - I never met with an accident before.

Resumed. - I got no instructions to take the schooner to the wharf; it was necessary to do so to leave her there while I took a barge to tow which was at Berry's wharf. I left the schooner at the wharf for my own convenience. When the vessel canted, I rang the bell to back her; she gave about two turns; she was then seventy feet from the pier; had I not backed, the tug would have got on the end of another pier; two turns reversal would overstop the tug's headway. After I reversed I gave no order to go ahead. When I first took the schooner there was no room to take her on the inside; had I taken her on the inside I could have managed her any way I liked. The sunken pier would under any circumstances have prevented from coming inside.

Cross-examined - The wind was too strong, and had I continued to reverse, the schooner would have been carried broadside on the pier. Backing out would have been impossible. When I said there was no room to go inside of the schooner, I mean when she was at her moorings. I backed her out after she lay broadside on the pier. When the order to back was given, had I continued to back it would bring her against the pier. The tug was not stationary although the engine was stopped. I could not see the sunken piles that caused the injury to the vessel. The force of the wind carried the vessel round on to the pier after she was struck; the collision did not seem very great.

John Sullivan, wheelsman, sworn. - I was on board the tug William at the time of the accident. We left Garden Island between one and two o'clock, and came on the larboard side of the schooner to bring her to the wharf while we went to Berry's wharf for the barges to tow. This is the usual custom. I heard the mate of the tug order the mate of the schooner to run a line to the wharf to keep the vessel's bows from canting in. When the anchor broke the wind struck them on the starboard bow and canted the vessel in towards the shore. I run my helm hard aport by the mate's orders; the bell was rung for the tug to go ahead; the tug would not obey. The mate of the schooner ordered the mate of the tug to stop; he did so, and reversed, to keep the schooner from striking Cowan's wharf. I cannot say whether the schooner struck, but heard the captain of the schooner say that the vessel had struck. Some of the tug's men went to pump, not the men of the schooner; the tug then reversed out and took the schooner to the foot of Union street slip. Had the line been out and fastened to the wharf the vessel would have headed out and not canted in as she did. After striking the pier nearly half an hour elapsed before getting away. The want of the line and the wind positively drove her against the pier.

Cross-examined - I heard the mate of the schooner tell the mate of the tug to stop; he did so, and reversed; had he gone on reversing he would have gone on to the pier; the pier was about forty feet from the tug, inside the pier; when the order to reverse was given, both tug and schooner were inside the pier. After the order to reverse was given, the bell was rung to stop reversing, and no more orders were given. The rope was ordered to be put out from the bow of the vessel to Holcomb's wharf; the wharf we run on was east of this.

Michael Donahue, a deck hand on the tug William, sworn. - I was on board in September last, and at the time of the accident. I heard the mate of the tug order the mate of the schooner to run a line to Cowan's (Henderson's) wharf, and then to heave up his anchor. The line was not run out until after the barges were struck; no man went to the helm of the schooner when the order "hard aport" was given; this caused the vessel to swing in. When the anchor broke, the tug went ahead, and then reversed; had she gone ahead she would have gone on Henderson's wharf. I then saw the schooner foul of the barge; she then run against the pier; a line was then put out; there was a couple of feet of water in the hold; they then backed out and left the schooner where she sunk. The wind drifted her on the pier; had the wind blown the other way she would not have got on the pier; a fender would have prevented her from striking, as her side was against the pier.

Cross-examined - I have been on board the tug for three years. The wind blew hard when the vessel was taken in tow, and until she sunk. The vessel lay at anchor about 100 yards from the wharf. I can't tell how far the steamer moved the schooner before she struck. The tug was going towards the inside of Holcomb's wharf; the engine reversed a few turns, being then about thirty feet from Cowan's wharf. There was nobody at the helm when the order to hard aport was given. The tug went ahead when there was no one at the wheel of the schooner. It was necessary to get out a line. The line was not out when the steamer went ahead. When the tug reversed, she stopped. I don't know why they did not continue to reverse. The schooner struck the pier about amidships. The steamer backed slowly out, and took the schooner with her, lashed as they went in. We went to Garden Island after the schooner struck, and another boat went down with the tow.

By Mr. Kirkpatrick - The vessel was under the influence of the wind more than the steam. The wind drove her round.

John Flanagan, chief engineer of the tug William, sworn. - I was not on board at the time of the accident; the assistant engineer had charge. When I got there the accident had happened.

George Thurston, Foreman of the Marine Railway, sworn. - I reside in Kingston. I saw the Rapid at anchor on the day of the collision. She lay from 80 to 100 yards from Henderson's wharf. I saw the tug go alongside of the vessel, but did not see them again until the schooner struck the barge. I saw the mast of the barge fall. The bowsprit carried the mast away. I could see the vessel shake at the time of the collision. I had the vessel repaired at the Marine Railway. The Rapid was not a very strong vessel. I examined the injury; a plank was broken by one of the logs of the pier, which stuck out eight or ten inches from the rest; the plank broken was a poor plank. (A part of the plank was here produced.) We caulked the vessel wherever necessary, and did other work so far as we were ordered. The Rapid was about 300 tons. All vessels carry more than their tonnage. We merely made the vessel staunch so far as her bottom was concerned; she was repaired at some other place. The only injury to her bottom was the hole made by the plank being broken. I don't think the vessel was strained much. A line being thrown out to Henderson's wharf would have prevented the accident.

Peter R. Henderson, sworn. - I am engaged with vessels. Last year, generally speaking, vessels lost money. I know the Rapid. I can't say if the Rapid would have realized her expenses. The fall of last year was worse than the summer.

Cross-examined - A vessel of 990 tons register (sic - probably should be 190 tons - ed.) carrying freight from Cleveland to Prescott for $944 would not make much. A vessel carrying stone would lose more than another vessel. The voyage would occupy about three weeks.

John Donnelly, sworn. - I examined the sunken pier near the marine railway, on which the accident occurred. A log projected out about eight or ten inches. The amount of injury to the vessel would depend on the force of the collision. This log was evidently the one which did the damage. It was quite sharp, as if hewn by an axe.

Archibald Smith, Harbor Master, sworn. - The rule is that a vessel at anchor is to be 300 yards from the wharf. (This evidence was objected to by the plaintiff's counsel, and Mr. Smith retired.)

John Sughrue, sworn. - I was captain of the tug William when the accident happened, but my son was in charge at the time, in my absence. Taking the vessel into the wharf before getting the barges would be acting in the usual manner. (An objection was raised to this question by the plaintiff's counsel.)

This ended the case for the defence, when Mr. O'Reilly addressed the jury at some length for his clients. His address occupied exactly an hour.

Mr. O'Reilly was followed by Mr. Cameron for the plaintiffs, his address lasting half an hour.

Owing to the noise in the court, particularly in his vicinity, our reporter could not clearly catch a single complete sentence of the Judge's summing up, which occupied a little more than half an hour. The Judge at length called the court to order, after which silence was partially restored, but not sufficiently long to enable anything to be noted with accuracy; the jury, he said, must be convinced of what was the amount incurred for repairing the schooner, and that the plaintiffs would be entitled to recover all expenses prudently and properly incurred in repairing the damage.

The counsel for the plaintiffs were the Hon. John Hilliard Cameron, of Toronto, Q.C., and Sir Henry Smith, Q.C.; Mr. Burns of Toronto being present, and associated with them in the interest of the Insurance Company, but taking no active part in the trial. The counsel for the defence were Thomas Kirkpatrick, Esq., Q.C., and James O'Reilly, Esq., Q.C.

The jury came into Court shortly after eight o'clock with a verdict of $582 for plaintiffs, having taken into consideration the raising of the schooner by defendants.


Grand Haven, Michigan, Nov. 9th - The propeller Brockville was wrecked on Saturday night. She went to pieces near Big Point Sable, Lake Michigan. No passengers were on board at the time of the disaster. The wheelsman, Collodon, and the first mate, Polly, were drowned. The rest of the crew saved themselves by the aid of a small boat. Neither the mate or wheelsman could leave the propeller. The vessel is insured. She had 2,400 barrels of flour on board, which are a total loss.The Brockville left Milwaukie on Friday, bound for Montreal, and was owned by Messrs. George Chaffey & Bros., Kingston, C.W.

The schooner Wasp was reported foundered, but has since arrived at Oswego with canvas gone.

Imports - 8,9; Exports - 9,10.

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Nov. 10, 1865
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), Nov. 10, 1865