The Cape Packet - The melancholy fate of the Sydney whaler Cape Packet and her unfortunate crew has long been known in Sydney, but the following account contains particulars that have not been before published. It appears that she was taken by the natives at the Sandwich Island, one of the New Hebrides, when the whole of the Europeans belonging to her were killed and eaten ; but three New Zealanders and a Sandwich Islander were spared.
The Elizabeth touched at Sandwich Island to endeavour to procure sandalwood and vegetables, &c., and finding the natives appeared friendly and inclined to barter, the ship remained there several days without the officers or crew being at all alarmed. Some of the natives were allowed to remain on board all night, amongst whom was one of the New Zealanders who had been speared, and who was instantly recognised by one of the crew of the Elizabeth who had sailed with him in some other vessel.
The sailor immediately taxed him with having belonged to the Cape Packet, and after a deal of hesitation, upon being taken on one side, he admitted the truth of the assertion. The account he gives of the affair (being able to speak English fluently,) is that three of the boats with their crews had gone on shore for water, when they were attacked by the natives, and every one of the men were killed. The canoes then pushed off for the ship, on board which were Captain Powell, ten white men, and four coloured men ; the natives were allowed to come on deck, when they seemed to behave in their usual manner, until they had surrounded their victims when the signal was given, and the massacre begun. The attack was so sudden and unexpected that no arms were on deck at the time ; the captain was killed at the first onset by a blow from a club, and eight others shared the same fate ; the carpenter, however ; happened to be at work with his adze at the time in the fore part of the ship, and defended himself bravely, killing three of his assailants ; but being at length surrounded, was overpowered and killed. The four coloured men were not molested, but taken on shore, where they were kindly treated.
The bodies were also taken on shore and eaten. as well as those which were slain at the watering place. The ship was then ransacked and pillaged of everything moveable ; she had 700 barrels of sperm oil on board, but the casks were broken up for the purpose of getting the iron hoop. and after stripping the ship of all her rigging, arms, gear, &c., she was set fire to on the 4th day after her capture, Three of the men saved, had left the island by other vessels, and the one now on board the Elizabeth was the only one remaining there. He also apprised Captain Jones that, a plot was laid to take his vessel the following morning, on which account they immediately prepared for sea, and were under weigh before the natives could get alongside in their canoes.
SG 23 May 1846
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