lost at sea


A. A. Hoehling
Stackpole Books
12.7 Mb

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   When Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife Sarah, and two-year-old daughter Sophia left Rose Cottage in Marion, Massachusetts that crisp autumn of 1872 for their little ship, outfitting and loading in New York, they had an appointment with a bizarre destiny. At Pier 50, East River, the 282-ton, two-masted half-brig Mary Celeste ("Heavenly Mary") went lower and lower into the water as sweating dock hands trundled 1,700 barrels of alcohol into her holds. Cartified at 93.35 proof, the intoxicating liquid was contained in partly porous red oak casks. Although the vessel's overall length was but 100 feet, her capacity was listed as twice as many barrels as this shipment. For thirsty Europeans, American alcohol or rum was not an unusual cargo, although a portion would predictably be consigned for industrial use. Carrying these heady spirits via Jamaica, Cuba, and Bermuda had been big business for blockade runners during the Civil War...

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