Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Deserters

Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Deserters


We left Valparaiso about the middle of April, [1866], and proceeded to Vancouver. On the way, the Sutlej ran into a French barque, taking her foremast and bowsprit out of her. Captain Coode stood by the rail, his arms crossed, his hands folded in his sleeves, looking down upon the wreck with a sardonic grin, while the French captain, gesticulating below, shouted, “O you goddam Englishman for you it is all-a-right, but for it it is not so nice!”

But we repaired all damages so that at the latter end he was better off than when he started.

We arrived at Vancouver early in June, and left a few days later, to encounter a terrific hurricane. It blew from the 18th June to the 22nd June; and the track of the ship on the chart during those four days looks like a diagram of cat’s-cradle. The ship was much battered, and her boats were lost. On this occasion, I heard the pipe go “Save ship” for the second time in my life.

We put into San Francisco to refit. Here many of our men deserted. In those days, it was impossible to prevent desertions on these coasts, although the sentries on board had their rifles loaded with ball cartridge. Once the men had landed we could not touch them. I used to meet the deserters on shore, and they used to chaff me. As we had lost our boats, the American dockyard supplied us with some. One day the officer of the watch noticed fourteen men getting into the cutter, which was lying at the boom. He hailed them from the deck. The men, returning no answer, promptly pushed off for the shore. The officer of the watch instantly called away the whaler, the only other boat available, intending to send a party in pursuit. But the deserters had foreseen that contingency, and had cut the falls just inside the lowering cleat, so that the whaler could not be lowered.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project