Thursday, December 22, 2011

Steamer Brother Jonathan.

I will not give a lot of back ground on the Jonathan, as this information can be easily on the internet.  My interests lies with the men of the military who were on the steamer.

On her last voyage, the ship ran into a heavy gale within hours after leaving San Francisco harbor and steaming north. Most of the passengers on board the Brother Jonathan became seasick and were confined to their rooms by the continuing storm of “frightful winds and stormy seas”. Early Sunday morning, July 30, 1865, the steamer anchored in Crescent City harbor on the first leg of its trip to Portland and Victoria, B.C. After leaving the safety of the bay that Sunday afternoon, the ship ran headfirst into more stormy conditions. The seas were so bad near the California-Oregon border that the captain ordered the ship turned around for the safety of Crescent City. Forty-five minutes later on that return and close to port, the ship struck the rock, tearing a large hole in its hull. Within five minutes, the captain realized the ship was going to sink and ordered the passengers and crew to abandon ship. Despite having enough lifeboats to hold all of the people on board, only three were able to be deployed. Acts of courage and desperation, fear and self-sacrifice, were numerous. The rough waves capsized the first one that was lowered and smashed the second against the vessel's sides. Only a single surfboat, holding eleven crew members, five women and three children managed to escape the wreck and make it safely to Crescent City.

Among the victims were Brigadier General George Wright, the Union Commander of the Department of the Pacific; Dr. Anson G. Henry, Surveyor General of the Washington Territory, who was also Abraham Lincoln’s physician and closest friend; James Nisbet, a well-known publisher, who wrote a love note and his will while awaiting his death; and Roseanna Keenan, a colorful San Francisco madam, who was traveling with seven “soiled doves”. As a result of this tragedy, new laws were written to increase passenger-ship safety, including the ability of lifeboats to be released from a sinking ship.

Colonel George Wright.

Birth: Oct. 21, 1801.
Death: Jul. 30, 1865.

Wife: Margaret Wallace Foster Wright (1806 - 1865.)


James Heron Wright (1832 - 1837)
Elizabeth H Wright Owen (1837 - 1890)

Civil War Union Brigadier General. A graduate of West Point, George Wright's gallantry in the field earned him commendations; from the Seminole War in Florida, to the Mexican War, to the Indian Campaign in the Pacific Northwest. During the Civil War, President Lincoln gave him the command of the Pacific Coast.

Authors Note.  I was hoping to find a lot more but was unable to.  The only other two I found are the following.

First Lieutenant, Edward D. Waite, was promoted to First Lieutenant March 9, 1863, was killed on the steamer Brother Jonathan, July 30, 1865, while enroute to Headquarters Department of the Columbia.

Assistant Surgeon, Alexander Ingram, of Ohio, became Assistant Surgeon, May 28, 1861, was killed on the steamer Brother Jonathan, July 30, 1865, while enroute to Headquarters Department of the Columbia

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