The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Watertown Times (Watertown, NY), Feb. 9, 1884

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The Old Ship New Orleans Falls and Kills John Oats - Others Seriously Hurt - Horribly Mutilated.

Special to the Times.

Sackets Harbor, Feb. 9.

The old ship New Orleans, which was built in 1815, and which was purchased last summer of the government by Alfred Wilkinson, fell this morning, instantly killing John Oats and injuring Ralph Godfrey, M. Jeffrey and a man named Hemans.

The men were workmen employed by Mr. Wilkinson and were engaged in tearing down the vessel. It is probable that in taking out some of the massive timbers, the whole structure was so weakened that it fell in without warning. P.


Special to the Times.

Sackets Harbor, Feb. 9.

The accident occurred between 10 and 11 o'clock this morning while the men were at work. What was left standing of the old ship split in two without warning and fell. There were ten men at work besides the foreman. John Oats, the man who was killed, was caught between two beams, and a large spike was forced through his head and a large bolt through his back. He was otherwise mutilated.

Oats was 29 years of age and unmarried. His parents reside at this place. The other injured men are not seriously hurt. No blame is attached to any one, but all the men had a very narrow escape. The work of demolition was resumed this afternoon. P.


The old ship, which for so many years has been the greatest object of interest on the American shore of Lake Ontario, thus fatally closes the last act in its history. The New Orleans was built in 1815 and was named after General Jackson's victory over the British at the city of New Orleans, which was fought January 8, 1815, although peace had been declares December 24, 1814. But the peace commissioners had met in Ghent, Belgium, so that the news of the declaration did not reach Washington until February, and it then took two weeks to forward it to Sackets.

Meanwhile, the workmen who had begin work on the vessel about the first of January, kept up until about the first of March, when the news of peace reached them and they were ordered to desist. They left the vessel with her main deck just completed, to be gazed at by hundreds of visitors to the Harbor. The contract for building the New Orleans was let to Henry Eckford, of New York City, who had built several smaller ships for the government. She was 3,200 tons burthen, 187 feet length of keel and 40 feet depth of hold. She was pierced for 110 guns, but could have carried 120. Hough, in his history of the St. Lawrence river, says the New Orleans was intended as a sort of floating battery to be placed at the head of the St. Lawrence to keep the British fleet from entering the lake. As she was constructed entirely of green wood it was extremely improbable that she could have been navigated with any degree of success.

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Feb. 9, 1884
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Richard Palmer
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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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Watertown Times (Watertown, NY), Feb. 9, 1884