The voyage of the General Grant from Launch to Arrival in Australia



The General Grant

Sails South



The General Grant Slipped her moorings from India Warf, Boston on the 10th March 1864 on her maiden voyage to San Francisco. The weather was moderate with a light NNW wind.

The journey was a total distance of 19,000 miles around the infamous Cape Horn, a fair test for any sailing ship on her first voyage.

To mark the sailing and as an advertising tool the shipping agents Windsor produced a sailing card, as was usual at that time. Very few of the General Grant survive but I have listed a copy below.

To my knowledge there are only two artefacts that have been on board the General Grant and survive to this day. The first is the General Grants original Log Book which is now held in the Essex Institute in Salem. Massachusetts. This details the maiden voyage around the cape.


Rounding Cape Horn in Fair Weather

The captain is not listed but is believed to be Capt Albion P Alexander, who is known to have taken her on her next trip to Calcutta.

One item of the cargo that the General Grant carried also survived although I have never seen this fascinating fact recorded in any General Grant publication. What could that be? - be prepared to be amazed.

Part of the cargo loaded at India Warf was a consignment of stagecoaches built by Abbot-Downing Company at Concord. NH. In 1863.

They were part or, possibly all of an order of thirty-two coaches placed by Louis McLane, of San Francisco. Who was president of the Pioneer Stage Company for whom the coaches were designed.

One of these coaches was destined to become one of the most famous modes of transport ever built and known throughout the world. I refer of course to the world renown "Deadwood Stage".

Originally used on one of the prominent mountain stage lines in operation to the mines of northern California, she later found her was across the Sierras on the overland line. She was drawn by a team of six horse during her time on the Overland. Subsequently she reached the Rockies, where, for some time, it was used in Wyoming, in the early days of Deadwood.

Becoming known as the Deadwood Stage.

She was driven at one time by Martha Jane Canary better known as "Calamity Jane" and a great friend of Wild Bill Hickock.

The stage endured many years of service suffering attacks by Sioux Indians, Robbers and Bandits. On one occasion bandits escaped with over $60,000 in gold.

Eventually, following one such attack the stagecoach was abandonedand but for one strange twist of fate would have rotted away and disappeared from history.



But this was not to be, the coach was destined to survive, to travel to Europe, and carry heads of state of many countries, and finish her life in one of America's great Museums.

It survival was due to another great Wild West name - W F Cody better known as "Buffalo Bill"

He had once travelled on the Stage when returning from a scouting mission in 1876, reputedly carrying the scalps of several Indians he had encountered.

When he learned of the plight of the Deadwood Stage he organised a party to recover it and secured it from Colonel Voorhees, the manager of the Black Hills Stage Line.

The stage was destined to become the centre piece of Buffalo Bill great Wild West Show which he toured throughout the USA and Europe.

Amongst the great names of the day to travel in the coach were:

The Prince of Wales

The President of the French Republic

The Child King of Spain

The Emperor of Germany

His Holiness The Pope Leo XII

But nowhere has the Deadwood Stage been greeted more warmly than on its return to Concord, the city of its birth on the 4th July 1895 by the people who built her.

On inspection by those who built her one of the workers produced a pocket knife and scraped away at the running gear to expose his initials placed there 32 years before. It is said that the coach still retained its original wheels!

The following inscription was placed upon her:

1863. HOME AGAIN 1895.

This remarkable stage-coach has been attacked by Indians and highwaymen on the "Overland" and has since journeyed through the new and considerable portion of the old world. In its early days , it travelled hundreds of thousands of miles in the mail, express and passenger service. For years it has been looked upon and cherished as a sort of priceless relic. Inside it have ridden many high officials, both civil and military, in America, and, while across the briny deep, a number of crowned heads of Europe have ridden in it.

The old and somewhat time-worn coach has become a truly historic vehicle, and it is doubtful if anything much less than its own weight in gold would have at one time have tempted its owners to part with it.

It is now preserved in the Historical Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody. Wyoming.



         W F Cody - Buffalo Bill with the Deadwood Stage at Concord



For further information on the Deadwood Sytage View:


The next voyage of the General Grant was to Singapore and then on to Calcutta, leaving San Fransisco on 7th November 1864. The following day an unfortunate event occured which was recorded in the ships log:

Mr Merriman, Second Officer, while securing the starboard anchor fell overboard. Blowing very strong at the time with a mean sea, the ship was agoing 10 miles an hour at the time.

Hauled up the courses, let go the topsail halliards and backed the main yard. Got the boat ready to launch..

Mr Curtis, First Officer, being aloft at the time said Mr Merriman had sunk. Under the circumstances, as I would have lost men and boat if they went from the ship, advised with Mr Curtis and there being no chance to save Mr Merriman kept the ship on her course, and with much regret at the time.The ship came to the wind , thought we would loose the masts. Continued blowing through the night with a cross sea. Ship rolling badly...

The General Grant  arrived in Calcutta on 18th March 1865.

Following this voyage she returned to Boston arriving on 22 September 1865, where she was surveyed and re-registered and a new Captain appointed. The new master was Capt William Henry Loughlin of New York. He was also listed as part-owner along with Preston Ames, Henry L Richardson, George L Richardson and Frederick L Richardson (Boston), and Charles T Child (Rhode Island) The Company Name being Page, Richardson & Co. The house flag was a deep blue pennant with three five-pointed red stars.

Page Richardson handed over the running of the ship to C. Brook & Co's Australian Line, who cleared her for passage to Melbourne on 27th November 1865. Amoung those signed on as Officers at that time were Bartholomew Brown as Mate, B.F Jones as Second Mate, Rufus Tyler as Third Mate and Marcus Andersen a Swiss Carpenter. A crew of twenty sailed the ship south with no passengers on board.

Once again an unfortunate accident occured on the second day out. Rufus Tyler was lost overboard while the crew were shortening sail. Much has been made of the two accidents by later authors suggesting the ship had been branded unlucky by the crew, but such occurences   were far from unusual aboard sailing vessels of the day. There were no safety harnesses and life jackets in those days and once overboard it was almost certain death.

The General Grant rounded the Cape in sixty eight days arrived off Port Phillip Head on 13th March 1866, a voyage of 107 days. On arrival at Melbourne most of the crew were signed off