THE WRECK OF THE WILLIAM BROWN: A True Tale of Overcrowded Lifeboats and Murder at Sea
Redman, Rod E., Sea Classics
THE WRECK OF THE WILLIAM BROWN: A True Tale of Overcrowded Lifeboats and Murder at Sea By Tom Koch 212 Pages, Illustrated, 5.5-in x 8.75-in, Paperback. ISBN: 0-07-145631-7 - $12.95. McGraw-Hill Companies; 1-800-262- 4729; www.internationalmarine.com
In the legerdemain of famed shipwrecks, the April 1841 sinking of the sailing ship William Brown, with its loss of 65 mostly immigrant passengers, hardly rates more than passing mention. The wreck itself was neither unique nor especially newsworthy, for in that early era of transatlantic sea travel, collisions with drifting icebergs was a fairly common occurrence - a period map revealing no less than 31 such sinkings from 1830 to 1842. What gave the otherwise forgettable sinking of the William Brown its notoriety lay more in the tragedy's aftermath than in the sinking itself. And shake-up the maritime world it definitely did.
With all of the survivors crowded into under-sized longboats, what commenced as a routine tale of survival at sea rapidly transformed into a murderous spree of criminality that saw 14 helpless Irish immigrants thrown overboard simply to lighten the load. Their cold-blooded murder by frightened crewmen was underscored by the significance that not one sailor perished in the sinking of the William Brown. …