The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Antwerp Gazette (Antwerp, NY), February 13, 1884

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Fatal Accident at Sacket's Harbor

Between 10 and 11 Saturday morning, the old war ship New Orleans, which has been on the stocks in Sacket's Harbor since 1815, and has been undergoing demolition for three weeks, parted directly in the center and fell to the ground, instantly killing a workman named John Oates, and seriously injuring Ralph Godfrey, M. Jeffrey and a man named Hemans. Eight other workmen narrowly escaped. Oates was terribly mutilated, a spike being forced entirely through his head and a bolt through his back. He was 29 years of age and unmarried. His parents reside at Sacket's Harbor.

The New Orleans was begun by Henry Eckford, of New York, about January, 1815, under contract with the government. Her name was fixed by the authorities after General Jackson's victory at New Orleans on Jan. 8 the same year. She was to be 3,200 tons burden, 187 feet length of keel, 56 feet beam, and 40 feet depth of hold, pierced for 110 guns but could carry 120. When Eckford was awarded the contract a large force of men was secured and timber was gathered from the surrounding forests. Nails, spikes and bolts were forged on the ground, the bolts being entirely of copper. The timbers were mostly cedar and oak, the beams in the keel being of an extraordinary size. The gun carriages were carted across the country from the Mohawk valley, and were composed of mahogany and lignum vitae, and are still in the storehouse at Sacket's Harbor. The peace commissioners from England and the United States met at Ghent, Belgium, and declared peace on December 24, 1814. The news did not reach Washington until the February following, and it was not until two weeks later that Eckford received orders to cease work, which he did about March 1. During 60 days the immense ship had been nearly finished, the main deck was laid and supports for the bulwarks raised. The New Orleans was intended to be used as a sort of floating battery, to be stationed at the head of St. Lawrence river to prevent the British fleet from entering the lake. As she was constructed entirely of green wood, it is an open question whether she could have ever been navigated.

The government caused a house to be erected over the New Orleans several years ago, but that was finally destroyed although the place was visited by hundreds of tourists and curiosity seekers each season. In 1882 Congress ordered the sale of the New Orleans at auction. Last August, Alfred Wilkinson of Syracuse, bid her in for $400. While being demolished under his orders the accident occurred. Wilkinson, it is said, will net about $4,000 from his investment.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Same report in: The Philadelphia Monitor, Philadelphia NY, February 14,1884.
Date of Original:
February 13, 1884
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement:
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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Antwerp Gazette (Antwerp, NY), February 13, 1884