15 January 1862: “Death of Colonel J. W. Allen, Surgeon Weller and the Second Mate of the Ann E. Thompson, January 15, 1862.”

Death of Allen and Weller

Item Description: Illustration “Death of Colonel J. W. Allen, Surgeon Weller and the Second Mate of the Ann E. Thompson, January 15, 1862.”  Illustration from unknown source, but first published as part of the article “Tragic Incidents of the Burnside Expedition” in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 15 February 1862, page 1.

Accompanying text:

TRAGIC INCIDENTS OF the Burnside Expedition.

It seems now to be generally conceded that, deeply as is to be deplored the untimely fate of such gallant men as Col. Allen and Surgeon Weller, no expedition of equal magnitude has ever passed through the ordeal of so terrible a storm as that of the 13th January with so little loss as that whose arrival in Pamlico Sound we recorded and illustrated in our last number, and some of whose tragic incidents we portray in the present number. And when it is borne in mind that, in addition to the fury of the elements, there was the villainy of the contractors, who purposely deceived the Government for the sake of gain, the event almost reaches the regions of the miraculous.
it is currently reported that, when Gen. Burnside saw so many of his vessels ashore, he turned round to one of his aids and said, “Those villainous contractors have ruined me.” The Tribune, in quoting the words, significantly reminds Gen. McClellan that Wellington, an Irishman of considerable military genius, very efficiently put a stop to the career of army villainy by hanging half a dozen rascally contractors one fine morning before breakfast. But we are afraid that no such summary action will be taken by our Government, whose forbearance is fast exhausting the patience of the great American people. The three incidents our Artist has sent us have been so well described by the Correspondent of the New York Times, that we quote him:

Melancholy Death of Col. Allen, Surgeon Weller, &c.

The most lamentable occurrence, however, which I have to mention
is the drowing of Col. J. W. Allen, of the 9th New Jersey, and of Sur-
geon F. S. Weller, of the same regiment, caused by the swamping of a
boat in which they, with other officers, were returning on board the ship
Ann E. Thompson. During the gale of Monday and Tuesday, this ship,
with five other ships and barques, were compelled to remain at anchor
outside, and at a distance of from two to five miles north of the inlet.
On Wednesday (this morning), several boats left their respective ships
to go on shore, among them one from the Ann E. Thompson, for the
purpose, as they said, of reporting to the Commanding-General, and to
solicit a steamtug to tow them in. It was one of the ship’s quarter
boats, and was imprudently loaded down with twelve persons. Impru-
dently, I say, because there was a heavy line of of breakers running on the
beach, and on each side of the Inlet. There were in the boat Capt. Mer-
riman, of the ship; his second mate, Mr. William Taylor; three seamen,
two privates of the 9th New Jersey, Col. Allen, the Lieutenant-Colonel,
the Adjutant, the Quartermaster and Surgeon Weller—twelve in all.
They entered the inlet, and after calling on Gen. Reno, they spent some
time wandering on the beach collecting shells, surveying the forts, &c.
They then started to return to the ship, but in attempting to pass through
the breakers, near the east side of the inlet, the boat was filled by a
roller and capsized. Being a long distance from any vessel, their peril-
ous situation was not noticed, and they were over half an hour in the
water, clinging by turns to the boat and struggling unsupported in the
breakers. By this time our vessel, the Highlander, in tow of a steam-
tug, came up to them. Capt. Dayton instantly lowered away two boats,
one of which was manned by his second officer, Mr. Higgins, and the
other by the officers of the 23d Massachusetts, who were on board. Nine
persons were rescued alive; two lifeless bodies—those of Col. Allen and
Surgeon Weller—were taken into the-officers’ boat, and one, the second
mate, had sunk to the bottom. The bodies of the unfortunate officers
were carefully lifted on to the quarter-deck of the Highlander, where
Dr. George Derby, the able surgeon of the Massachusetts 23d, assisted
by twenty willing hands, began their efforts to restore them to life.
Artificial respiration, and every expedient known to medical science,
were resorted to for the purpose, and these exertions were continued
without intermission for two hours. These humane efforts, however,
proved unavailing—the vital spark had fled.

Shipwreck of the Transport New York. [sic, was the “City of New York”]

One ship, the screw steamer New York [sic], went ashore on Monday, on
the south end of Hatteras Inlet, with a cargo of Government stores
valued at $200,000, and is now totally lost. To add to the misfortune,
the greater part was ammunition, ordnance, etc.

A Soldier’s Funeral.

The two officers of the 9th New Jersey who lost their lives on Wed-
nesday, and whose remains had been deposited in a small building on
shore, under guard, were to-day prepared for burial under the super-
vision of Quartermaster Keys. The only ceremony observed was the
lowering of the flag at half-mast on the brig Dragoon, and a dirge
played by the band. The bodies were tightly sewed in canvas, and
covered with a coating of tar to exclude the air. They were then de-
posited in strong boxes and conveyed in a boat to the high sand ridge
two miles east of the fort, where they were buried, and the spot marked
by a wooden slab containing their names. Persons who may be sent to
recover their remains can have the spot pointed out by inquiring of
Capt. Clark, Commissary, or of Capt. Morris, Commandant of the post.
The Chaplain of the regiment being still on board of the ship, outside,
accounts, probably, for the omission of the usual religious ceremonies,
or of anything to characterize the burial as a funeral. There are a great
many Chaplains hereabout, but I notice there is little attention paid to
the decencies which mark these and events in civilized life.

The Drowning of the Horses.

The steamer Pocahontas, well known as a Baltimore and Chesapeake
boat, which was chartered to convey horses to this point, and which
had on board 113 horses, mostly belonging to the Rhode Island 4th regi-
ment, went ashore in a storm on Frida[y] night last, about 12 miles north
of Hatteras, and all the horses, except 24, which swam ashore, were
lost. No lives of the crew were lost. The steamer is a total wreck.
During the gale she first blew out some portion of her worthless
boiler, and the grates fell down. The boiler was plugged or patched,
and then the steering gear gave way. This was mended, when the
smoke-pipe blew down, and as the vessel, from laboring in the sea, had
sprung a leak, she was run ashore. The sending to sea of this worth-
less old hulk, after it was known how utterly unsafe she was, with a
full deck load of valuable horses and a crew of men, was most inexcu-
sable. There was drunkenness and disorder on board. The boat is
said to have been built in 1829!

Valuable horses were thrown overboard 10 miles at sea, and when
the vessel struck, or was near the beach, the teamsters who had charge
of the horses were so careful of their own worthless carcases that they
refused to go down on the lower deck and cut the halters of the ani-
mals, thus leaving the poor brutes to perish on the wreck, when they
might nearly all have been saved. The Government ought to sift this
case to the bottom, and call as witnesses the pilot of the Spaulding, and
George Brown, an intelligent surfman of Long Branch, both of whom
were on board. They found oats and hay on the beach, thrown ashore
from the wreck of the Grapeshot.

There were, besides the crew, five carpenters on board, who lost all
their tools and clothing. They were hospitably received and enter-
tained by the people near Hatteras, and arrived at Hatteras Inlet on
Saturday, bringing with them the horses which had so courageously
struggled through the surf and reached the shore, despite the neglect
of their keepers.

Citation: Item in portfolio of illustrations cataloged with title “[Burnside Expedition],” call number FFCC970.73 B96.  North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This entry was posted in North Carolina Collection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 15 January 1862: “Death of Colonel J. W. Allen, Surgeon Weller and the Second Mate of the Ann E. Thompson, January 15, 1862.”

  1. Pingback: The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – January 15-21, 1862 « BJ Deming's Blog