Astoria, OR Steamer GENERAL WARREN Disaster, Jan 1852


The principal item of news by this arrival, is the account of the loss of the steam-propeller GENERAL WARREN, Capt. CHARLES THOMPSON, which was wrecked at the mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon, on the 31st January, by which casualty forty-two passengers and crew, out of fifty-two persons on board, were lost. A statement published by the survivors sets forth, that the WARREN had started for San Francisco, and meeting heavy weather, in which she carried away her foretopmast, she put back for Astoria, crossed the bar in safety, but subsequently struck, in consequence of the engineers not being in their stations when an order to back the vessel was given, in order to avoid the breakers which were discovered in the uncertain darkness of the storm. Soon after striking, the vessel sheered off into ten fathoms water, but was found to leak so badly that it was reported she could not live half an hour, and she was beached accordingly on Clatsop spit, at about 7 o'clock in the evening.
Immediately upon her grounding, all hands, both passengers and crew, commenced heaving overboard the deck load, for the purpose of easing her. The surf broke over her with such violence that the main saloon was stove, and was first being detached from the hull. The starboard quarter boat was washed from the davits; the larboard boat -- the only means by which the lives of so few were saved -- was, by the extreme exertions and activity of Capt. THOMPSON, preserved. With the utmost difficulty he conveyed it forward and had it secured. At about nine o'clock, all that portion of the vessel ahaft the foremast was carried away, the sea making a clean breach over the remainder. Up to this time no lives had been lost, the entire ship's company and passengers having mustered on the forecastle and in the fore rigging, trusting that that[sic] the wreck would hold together until daylight, when assistance might be procured from the shore. The sea was increasing in violence, and finding that the wreck was rapidly going to pieces, Capt. THOMPSON, at about 3 o'clock A.M., selected a boat's crew, ten in number, from among his crew and passengers, and requested Capt. FLAVEL, the Pilot, to launch the boat and take command of her. He ordered the boat to pull for the shore, and procure any assistance that could be had. In the selection of the boat's crew for this perilous expedition, Captain THOMPSON was cautious to choose men in whose return he could implicitly rely. As there was a strong ebb tide, the boat was doubly manned, in order to expedite her movements and asist in passing the breakers, which there was little hope of their ever crossing in safety. This last measure was resorted to by the Captain, knowing that it would be the only chance of saving the lives of those left on board. The passengers and crew who were not selected for the boat service made no effort to crowd into the boat, preferring the chance of being saved, by remaining upon the wreck, to the peril of passing the breakers in the boat. There was no excitement, no confusion; all that was accomplished was done in the most systematic and orderly manner. The boat encountered great difficulty in passing the breakers, having shipped a sea, from which she incurred great danger of being swamped. The weather still being very thick, she was compelled to run entirely by the roar of the breakers. After about an hour's labor, the hights of Chinook (called Scarborough's claim,) were discovered. The pilot, upon finding his exact position, steered for Astoria, where he fell in with the brig FRANCISCO, lying at anchor off Taney Point. Upon inquiry of the captain of the brig if he had a boat which could prove of assistance to the wreck, he was informed that the only boat belonging to the vessel was too small to live in the breakers. The pilot then proceeded with his crew to Astoria, where he boarded the bark GEORGE AND MARTHA. Capt. BEARD, of this vessel, lost no time in dispatching his first officer and an able crew, in a whale boat, to the assistance of the wreck. The steamer's boat then left the shore, where the pilot and his wearied associates manned a large surf boat and proceeded to the scene of disaster, when, to their horror, they could discover no vestige of either wreck, passengers or crew.
The following are the names of the persons saved:
The following are the names of the persons lost, so far as ascertained:
R. J. PROVIN; THOMAS MICKLE; MR. BENSON; MR. RANDOLPH, of Oregon City; ALANSON POMEROY, of Tualatin Plains; MR. STANLEY; MR. MONTGOMERY; MR. MILLER; MR. FULLER; JOHN F. DUNCAN, of Mo.; M. LUTHER, of Clyde, N. Y.; MR. SHLOSS, of Humboldt; A. COOK; D. A. BUCK; HUMBOLDT; GEO. HATCH, porter; MR. NELSON, steward; MR. JEMISON, steward; MR. O'NIEL, engineer; AUGUSTUS STANLEY, Marietta, Ohio; CAPTAIN CHARLES THOMPSON; MR. JOHNSON, purser; JOHN DELLON, Musquetine Co., Iowa; W. H. HART, late of Vancouver, formerly of Iowa; WM. JONES; MR. WALL.
The body of MR. LUTHER had been found with over $400 upon it.
The GENERAL WARREN was owned by GARRISON & FRETZ, of Panama. There seems to be little doubt that the catastrophe was a result of the utter unseaworthiness of the vessel, which was very old and rotten.

The New York Times New York 1852-03-16