[We are Indebted to Mr. Bateman Smith]The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1249, p. 285.
March 19, 1864
We are indebted to Mr. Bateman Smith, one of the cabin passengers who escaped from the wreck of the Bohemian, for a sketch of that vessel upon the rocks near Portland Harbour, on the coast of Maine, U.S., where she got aground on the 22nd of last month. The steamer, carrying nineteen cabin passengers and 199 steerage, besides the mails and cargo, with a crew of about one hundred men, left Liverpool on the 4th of February, and had been some days overdue at Portland when she met with this disaster. She was just rounding Cape Elizabeth, to enter the harbour from Casco Bay, when she struck upon a ledge called St. Alden's Rock, about three miles from land. It was about eight o'clock in the evening; the night was foggy, and the speed of the vessel was not more than two or two miles and a half an hour. It appears that the master, Captain Borland, had misjudged the distance of the lights visible on Cape Elizabeth. The vessel, having struck and passed over
Page 286the rocks, found a large hole in her bottom, and began to fill rapidly. She was then turned towards the shore, with the intention of beaching her; but, when she got very near the land, her engine fires were put out, and she sunk in four fathoms of water, in an almost upright position, as shown in the Engraving. This was about an hour and a quarter after she struck. The weather was mild and calm, and there was no sea but the usual groundswell. The deck, after the ship had settled down, was a foot or two above water at low tide, and not more than an eighth of a mile from the shore. Most of the passengers, however, had already left the ship, the first boat taking eighty of them in one trip and seventy in the next trip all safe to land. The second boat was, unfortunately, swamped, and nineteen or twenty lives were thus lost, all Irish steerage passengers, including five or six women and one or two children. The other boats, with the remainder of the passengers, had no difficulty in getting to shore. Captain Borland, with some of the officers and crew, remained on board until next day, and managed to save the mails. By the verdict of the Coroner's jury, at the inquest held upon those drowned, it is declared that, "after the vessel struck, her officers and men worked with energy and good judgment, rarely equalled and never surpassed, to avoid the loss of life." The citizens of Portland, and especially those dwelling near Cape Elizabeth, are much commended for their humane efforts to relieve and provide for the destitute passengers and to help them to their destinations. There are still hopes of raising the vessel, which rests with her centre upon a rock, but with her bow and stern in deep water.