GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2007-05 > 1178757024
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Samuel Austin Whitney - Concord, Mass. to Maine
Date: Wed, 9 May 2007 20:30:24 EDT
Subject: Samuel Austin Whitney
Source: History of Castine, Penobscot & Brooksville, Maine,
Including the Ancient Settlement of Pentagoet
by George Augustus Wheeler.
Samuel Austin Whitney, 9th child of Samuel & Abigail Whitney, was born at
Concord, Mass., Sept. 27, 1770. The most active part of his life was
spent on the ocean. He was noted for his intrepidity, contempt of danger,
and perseverance. His indifference to danger amounted almost to rashness.
On the 4th of July, happening to pass where a man, torch in hand, was stand-
ing by a loaded cannon, he asked him why he delayed firing it. The man re-
plied that it was loaded to the muzzle and no one dared to fire it.
Whitney took the match, touched the fuze and the gun burst. He was carried
home, senseless, his flesh filled with atoms of powder and his nose broken.
His exploits in the re-capture of the ship, Hiram, have already been
Captain Whitney was married July 28, 1801, to Miss Ruth Perkins of this town.
In 1802, he moved to Lincolnville, Maine, where he died October 15, 1846,
aged seventy-six years. His wife died at Waldoboro, Maine, Sept. 15, 1849.
They had five children, the descendants of whom, many of them reside here.
Subject: Samuel Austin Whitney
Source: History of Castine, Penobscot & Brooksville, Maine by
George Augustus Wheeler.
Capt. Samuel Austin Whitney, was captured four times by the French. In the
1810, the schooner, Abigail, Capt. John Perkins, was also taken by the
of the same nation. The account of the third capture of the ship Hiram, in a
book entitled, "Incidents in the Life of Samuel Austin Whitney, pp. 37 to 41,
of Appendix, is so interesting that we give it entire:
"On the 13th of September, 1800, the Hiram was taken by a French armed
By dint of long persuasion, the Frenchmen were prevailed upon to allow
Whitney to stay by his vessel, together with his young brother, Henry
also an old man and a boy. They put a prize-master and nine men on board. One
of whom was a negro. Captain Whitney had secured his pistols in a crate. When
his companions saw him putting out of the way, every article that could be
as a weapon, clearing up decks and making everything tidy, they concluded
ere long they should be called upon to bear a hand; and in this way they were
The prize-master was lying on the hen-coop, dozing; there was a light wind
some of the crew chanced to be in the forecastle. Captain Whitney went
after placing the heavers where he could see them, and took his rusty pistols
from the crate. He came on deck, went directly aft, and knocked down the man
who was steering. He next grappled the prize-master, lying upon the hen-coop,
who proved too stout for him - and while he was trying to put him overboard,
the men below heard the outcry and ran to the rescue. As the ship rolled at
that moment, he pushed the prize-master overboard and regained his footing
as the crew reached the quarterdeck. He then drew his pistol, saying that he
would shoot the first man that came another inch aft, and leveled a blow with
his fist at the leader, who ran forward, the rest following. Captain Whitney,
at their heels with a hammer in one hand and a pistol in the other. They ran
forward around the long boat and so aft, and as often as they turned, he
point the pistol, saying: "Surrender, and I will use you well; resist, and I
will shoot."The men ran into the cabin; and so terrified were they, that
Whitney, who followed them in, seized a chest by the handle, and drew it
to the deck of the ship. He afterwards remarked: "I never could tell how it
done, for it was very heavy." Having landed it on the deck, the first thing
met his eye, was the man he had thrown overboard, who had just regained the
and stabbed his brother, Henry Whitney, with a dirk. He said to the old man,
'Stop that fellow;' and himself dealt a blow which so staggered him, that he
was Whitney was able to put him into the cabin with the others - now eight in
all. Poor Henry Whitney was in a sad state, faint with loss of blood, and no
means of stopping it at hand; but the Whitney courage never failed him. His
brother took some oakum, and bound it over the place made by the knife, and,
carrying him to the forecastle, laid him down beside a lot of bottles. He
stationed the old man at the companion-way, also with several bottles - to be
used in case of resistance. He then ordered the men up, one by one, and they
were all put down into the ship's forecastle. Having secured his prisoners,
his next thought was for his young brother, who had gone below, and seemed to
be comfortable; but in three days he was very ill. On examining the wound,
proved to be very badly gangrened, and Capt. Whitney was certain he must lose
him; but all he could or did do, was to keep the wound wet with brandy, until
Henry was convalescent.
Captain Whitney had possession of his ship ten days; and during that time,
until he was again captured, he passed all the food to the crew through a
which had been made for a funnel, when, on his previous voyage, he carried
passengers forward. He and the man handled the heavy canvass, so that the
was under easy way.
About nine o'clock in the morning, his man, then at the helm, discovered a
bearing directly for them, but a long distance off. He called Captain
who, after watching the stranger for some time with his glass, said, "We will
keep on our course; I have no doubt it is a French Man-of-War." When within
mile of her Captain Whitney took the helm and sent the man below. They were
p.97 BROOKSVILLE AND PENOBSCOT.
within speaking distance, when he ordered to send his boat on board; but he
no notice of the privateer, which had shot ahead, rounded to, and run across
stern of the Hiram, quite near, hailing 'Send your boat on board of us."
tampering with his pursuers in this way for some time, they fired on him; but
he still kept on his course; they backing, filling, chasing and firing, till
finally, the wind dying almost entirely away, they ran so near as to inquire
what he meant to do. He had no colors flying. He replied that he was along,
could not leave his ship; and if they wanted anything of him, they must come
see him; at which they asked him to heve back his topsail. He called this
and hove the ship to, and a boat was sent to him, the French captain, who
English, coming himself.
A long discussion ensued between Captain Whitney and the French commander,
at first, was incredulous at his statement; but, while they were talking,
of the boat's crew went to the forecastle and set the prisoners free. The
master soon told the whole story, where upon the French captain exclaimed,
one man take nine." The prize-master entreated them to spare him. It was
fying enough to be taken, but he did not wish to hear about it. It was a
time before Captain Whitney could persuade them to let him remain by the
He urged upon them the unfairness of taking him away, as they might fall in
an English cruiser and in that case he would be on the spot to claim his
At last they consented and to let Henry Whitney stop with him; but his man
taken on board their vessel. He belonged in Newport, and was living at the
Capt. Henry Whitney told of these transactions. They put on board the shi,
a lieutenant and eighteen men.
Captain Whitney's first work now was to destroy or put out of order, all
nautical instruments. His own quandrant he was master of himself, and kept a
dead reckoning, so that he knew something of their position. After sailing
a week, the crew grew uneasy and the officers lost confidence in themselves,
applied to their prisoner to navigate the ship. He told them that he would do
so, and gave them his word that he would do all in his power that they
be well treated! Finally they gave him command. He shaped his course for
as nearly as he could and in a few days had
p.98 HISTORY OF CASTINE.
the inexpressible joy of seeing the land and feeling the land breeze. Said
'In twenty-four hours I should have been in, had not the lieutenant called
men aft, and telling them what an everlasting disgrace it would be to him
suaded them to let him again have command.' Twice they foiled him in this
Twice he had made his port, and twice they took all hope from him; and when
they turned from land the second time, he told them in pretty strong language
that they might take the ship and go to perdition, for he would have no more
do with them; and then he went below. 'In a day or two after this,' he said,
I was lying in my berth, I heard a great noise on deck and as I rolled over,
ship came round within half cable-length of the shore, and not a soul but my-
self knew where we were. It was Bermuda. I then made up my mind that I would
advise a little and directed them how to shape their course for Guadaloupe,
meaning all the time to bring up at Martinique, and in this I was pretty
ful.' He continued: 'It was about eight o'clock in the morning, when the
ant came below, and told me wehad made a large ship, that we must be near
Guadaloupe, and before morning, would be in. I laughed to myself, to see how
nicely they were caught, but said nothing, till they were so near that there
no chance for escape. I then said to the lieutenant, 'You had better have
to the United States; you are a prize to the English.' The lieutenant was
fectly dumb for a moment. He saw what must take place; and as they got
barge from the ship, he begged of me, when they hailed, to say, 'an American
ship.' "I will, I replied, 'but I will also add, a prize to the French,
did, and the reply was, "We shall be most happy to relieve you.'
He was at Port Royal three months; and the court, before which the case was
tried gave several dinners without asking him, or even inviting him to the
table; and when the salvage was paid, he found the dinners charged also,
costing him several hundred dollars! At last he set sail under convoy and
arrived in Savannah some time in 1801."
Transribed by Janice Farnsworth
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