31 Oct The Flying Frenchman
This #TallShipTuesday, Providence’s own Midshipman Alex Morgan recounted a spooky interaction with a ghost ship. This story was based on the real events that happened in 1777. Lieutenant Trevett wrote an account of the experience. To hear another rendition of this story, feel free to listen to the account of the Flying Frenchman by Able Seaman Barlow as he performs a reading of the firsthand account below, taken from Valor Fore and Aft by Hope Rider.
Her crew appeared to act strangely, she decoyed us before the wind, and sometimes shaking in the wind, top-gallants and all sail out… We came within a pistol shot and hailed her, but received no answer. We gave her three shots at one, which made a cracking on board of her, but still no answer and no lights were seen. Captain Rathbun ordered the boat out, armed her, and told me to take command of her, and said for my consolation, if they killed me! he would not spare one of them. I set out and ordered the cockswain to steer ender her stern; I held a lanthern and saw her rudder was gone, and hailed, but received no answer. I ordered the cockswain to steer round her larboard quarter, and go alongside, and I sent one man up with the lanthern, and followed him.
I found no boats on deck, but saw on the quarter deck a deep sea-lead and line. I went into the cabin and found all the beds and all the trunks full of rich clothing, and chests with their keys in them. One of our men cried out, a man! a man! I ashed where, and it proved to be a small dog, that opened all the eyes he had, but could not speak our yankee tongue. I then went into the hold and found her ballast; no cargo or provisions, except bread, and 40 casks nails, and a few cases of French cordials.
After that, Captain Rathbun ordered Providence’s Carpenter to try to fix the ship, when that was not possible, he ordered everything to be brought aboard Providence that they could. Trevett wrote,
Apparel of finery, men’s shirts all ruffled, small shirts and French pocket handkercheifs, &c. Last of all we took out the dog and for fear she should fall into the hands of the English (she was a tight ship) we set her on fire and burnt her down to the water’s edge.
And so ended the encounter with the Flying Frenchman. Her name was never discovered, and her hull now rests at the bottom of a deep ocean.