The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Apr 1864

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p.2 The Old Maple Leaf Destroyed By a Torpedo

There are few of our readers who were accustomed to travel on Lake Ontario a few years ago but will remember the old Maple Leaf. She has recently been in the employment of the Federal Government as a transport, and intelligence has just been received of her destruction by a rebel torpedo, with the loss of five lives. The following particulars are given in the New York papers: -

"By the arrival of the steamer from Port Royal we have confirmation of the news of the destruction of the Government transport Maple Leaf by a rebel torpedo. The affair took place on the 1st of March, on the St. John's River, Florida.

The Maple Leaf at that time, was on her return trip from Pilatka to Jacksonville. She had left Polatka about midnight on the 31st, and when fifteen miles above Jacksonville, near Mandarin, at four o'clock in the morning she ran on or against the torpedo, which exploded some thirty feet from her bow causing her to sink in two or three minutes. At the time of the disaster, the Maple Leaf had between fifty and sixty persons on board, all asleep except the officers and crew of the watch in charge of the boat.

Fortunately all escaped in the life-boats, excepting two firemen and three deck hands, who were asleep in the forecastle, and were either killed by the explosion or drowned. - The boat immediately sank in 27 feet of water, leaving only her hurricane deck, masts, and smoke stack out of the water.

It is impossible to say what kind of an infernal machine destroyed the Maple Leaf. There is a great diversity of opinion, but from all that can be learned, we think the torpedo was stationary and submerged. The Maple Leaf was commanded by Capt. W.H. Dale; was owned in Boston by Lang & Delano, but was chartered to the Government. She was of 600 tons burden, and was valued at $50,000. She was built in 1852 at Kingston, C.W., and formerly ran on Lake Ontario. In addition to the loss of life and the steamer, she had on board the camp garrison, equipage of three regiments of Foster's Brigade. Also the personal baggage of the officers, in all valued probably , at $20,000 or more.

A correspondent of the Palmetto Herald, who witnessed the explosion, says: - The torpedo struck the ill-fated steamer squarely under the foremast, which was thrown out of her like an arrow from a bow. The water rushed in with the most rapidity, and the feeling of sinking was likened by the captain to the sensation experienced when coming down in a swing. In the midst of the darkness, and in spite of the terrible shock the utmost order was maintained among all on board. Apprehensions that the rebels on shore might put out and capture the entire party, prevented them, from attempting to save anything but their own persons.

-ad for steamer Banshee, Capt. H.E. Swales, for Toronto and Hamilton.

p.3 K.C. & M.

-Advance In Vessel Property - sch. Joseph Grant sold in March last for $9000, recently sold for $11,500. [Oswego Times]

-Propellers Through the Welland Canal - City of New York and Wisconsin arrived at Cleveland; props Michigan and Cleveland, from Cleveland, left canal for Ogdensburg.

-A Ship Canal Through Sturgeon Bay - is proposed.

-Imports - 25.

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25 Apr 1864
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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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 British Whig (Kingston, ON), 25 Apr 1864