The Journey to Philadelphia

We hoisted sail sometime in the month of August, 1814, and steered away for Baltimore. Our ship was called the William Penn. Captain Turner. In about eighteen days after leaving Port Royal, we made Cape Henry, on the Virginia coast, where we found a British blockading fleet at anchor, the commander of which ordered us to Philadelphia, to which port we steered away, but we had the bad luck to strike upon the shoals of Barnegat, during a thick fog that came on that afternoon, but after three hours hard labor we got off and went on our voyage and soon made the Delaware bay, which was also blockaded. Here we were again refused the privilege of going into port, but were ordered to Boston, and were told by the British officers to get out to sea within three hours or they would fire into us. At this time we were almost out of provisions and water. Of this we made the tyrant officers acquainted, but they utterly refused either to furnish us with these necessaries or permit us to enter Philadelphia. So we were again compelled to go to sea with one day’s provisions and water, and steered away for Boston. The next day about 10 o’clock, A.M., we made Great Egg Harbor. The crew then told the Captain that he must go ashore, for they would not stay aboard and starve.—He said he dared not do it. They then told him that they would give him half an hour to think of it, and if he did not then comply that they should take the ship ashore. He however complied, and we steered away accordingly. We were soon aground and were compelled to throw overboard all the ballast, casks, and every thing on board; however, after much hard struggling with the sand and waves we got over the bar, and got as near shore as possible, where we drove stubs down to keep the vessel. After which, we stripped her of all her rigging and sails. The next morning we saw the shore lined with the militia of New Jersey, who took us to be an enemy, but they soon found their mistake. Instead of an enemy, they found us a poor set of weather-beaten, starved fellows. Soon after this, the Custom-House officer sent down boats and took us off, and carried us to the village that was near by, and gave us all a good dinner; after which, we dispersed; some went to New-York, and some to Philadelphia. This was about the middle of September, 1814. Two hundred and seven of the crew started the next day after we got ashore, for Philadelphia by land, which was about one hundred and fifty miles. With this number I journeyed. We suffered much on our journey, being destitute of money, and being compelled to beg what little we eat on the road. At night we slept in the woods. We were seven days in getting to the place of our destination, two of which we eat nothing but whortleberries, which we picked by the way side. On the third day a Friend Quaker kindly provided us with a good breakfast and gave us money to pay our bridge fare. This man’s name was John Rogers; and of him it may be truly said, “he did unto others as he would have them do unto him.” How few of the pious of this covetous age can be found to exhibit as much real disinterested benevolence as this man did. After this we did not suffer for want of food.

We arrived at Philadelphia, and from thence we went either to sea or to our several homes.


Go Back

Keep reading