The Late Nassau Hurricane of 1866

From: Nautical Magazine and Journal of the Royal Naval Reserve – 1867

THE LATE NASSAU HURRICANE. OCTOBER 1ST 1866. 

The Late Nassau Hurricane – This Visitation is well entitled to be called the Nassau Hurricane, since it appears that the central calm passed over that place, and that it suffered, perhaps, more than any other place in the West Indies. As, however, we have only seen the few accounts that have appeared in the public prints (although no doubt extensive official reports have been received), we preserve from them the following notice of one of the most disastrous hurricanes on record.

We are informed that Governor Rawson, in a long account to Lord Carnarvon, dated October 17th, has stated that the destruction of property on land and at sea has been very great throughout all the island, and especially in New Providence. Happily, the loss of life has been comparatively small. On this island only three deaths have been reported. On some of the Out Islands it has been greater. Considering the number of vessels, colonial and foreign, which have been wrecked throughout the archipelago, it is surprising how few of the crews have been lost. I estimate the number, including five crews, two of colonial and three of foreign vessels, at between sixty and seventy persons.”

But we turn to Commander A. J. Chatfield’s report of October 9th, in command of her Majesty’s ship Nimble, for a progressive account, noticing by the way that this ship was blown on shore, as appears in his letter to Commodore McClintock at Jamaica. The following are the remarks of this intelligent officer at Nassau, of New Providence, relative to this phenomenon, which occurred on the 1st and 2nd of October last.

“The hurricane commenced on the 1st of October, about 10h. a.m., although the great fury was from lh. p.m. until 7h. p.m. from N.N.E. and N., and from 9h. p.m. until 2h. a.m. from S., after which it gradually went down. From 7h. 20m. p.m. until 8h. 50m. p.m. on the 1st of October was a dead calm, when the vortex passed over the harbour, the barometer falling to 27.70. There was no indication of the approaching storm until late on Sunday night, when the barometer began to fall. Sunday was a fine clear day, with a fresh N.E. breeze; no banking up of the horizon until sunset, or lightning; at midnight, however, I thought the weather looked threatening, and at daylight I struck lower yard and topmasts, got up steam, and secured boats and guns.”