Daily Alta California, September 15, 1857 ...
The U. S. Mail steamer Illinois was lost on a reef about twenty miles from here, on the 23d instant.
I was one of the passengers who left San Francisco in the Golden Age, on the 5th inst., for New York. Our passage was a delightful one, until last Sunday night, at eleven o'clock, when we all felt a severe shock, which seemed to try every timber in the steamer. It affrighted us mightily, and it was found, on examination, that we were high and dry on a coral reef. Fortunately the sea was calm, otherwise there is no telling what would have become of us.
Soon after striking, we began firing guns and sent up rockets, as signals of distress, and so we continued to do, till about three o'clock in the morning, when the Spanish war-steamer Lero came to our assistance, when she immediately went to work to get us off; but all her tugging was in vain, and daylight found us still fast, and there we remained for twenty-eight hours. At the end of that time, having found that throwing overboard all the coals and heavy articles in the vessel would not lighten her enough to enable her to float, we got on board the Lero, and came to this place. Captain Boggs and the crew stayed on board. After our arrival here, two war steamers were sent out to the Illinois, but have failed to get her off, and it is generally believed here now that she will be totally lost.
No lives were lost, and all the passengers are here, but what is to become of us is a serious question.
The yellow fever is raging all over the Island, and great consternation prevails on account of it, for the passengers do not like fever of the yellow sort. Seriously, many of us are of a sad plight -- care and trouble have prevented all sleep, and many of us, from the time the vessel struck, until now
After finding ourselves safe on shore here, one of our first moves was to hold a meeting, with J. E. McDonough as Chairman, and subscribe $1,000, to obtain some kind of a testimonial, to be presented to Capt. Rovria, of the Lero, as some slight acknowledgement of our obligations for his great kindness.
Although I lament our misfortune greatly, on account of the passengers in our party, many of whom will suffer much by the accident, yet I must remember the wonderful good fortune of these Mail steamers on this side, in running through these islands for eight years, without a shipwreck, until this one; and I am tempted to rejoice that a vessel so small, mean, dirty and unsuitable to the demands and profits of California traffics has at last gone ashore, and I hope that the George Law, which is still worse, will soon follow, taking the first chance to commit shipwreck when she has no passengers on board, and when the crew will lose no money or comfort. Then give us steamers on this side like the Golden Age, Age, Stephens, &c., on the Pacific, and I shall wish them all success.
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