History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
|Diary of the Atlantic Telegraph Expedition, 1866
Diary of the Atlantic Telegraph Expedition
The “Great Eastern” laden with a freight in which the whole civilized world is interested took her departure from Berehaven Bantry Bay at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday the 12th of July. During the week she lay in that safe and capacious harbour her coaling was completed and Mechanics and Artificers of all kinds were busily engaged in adjusting and testing the new machinery which has been planned and executed to meet requirements and to guard against contingencies which the experience of last year’s expedition suggested. The deck presented a very animated scene of active labour, and one could scarcely have believed that so much work could have been got through in so short a space of time. The live stock too, had this year to be shipped in Ireland which occupied a considerable time. 10 Bullocks, 1 Milch Cow, 114 Sheep, 20 Pigs, 29 Geese, 14 Turkeys, 500 Fowls were brought on board at Berehaven. There was dead stock too, which consisted of 28 Bullocks, 4 Calves, 22 Sheep, 4 Pigs, 300 Fowls - a goodly supply for the inhabitants of the floating town we live in. The public already know all that occurred during the passage of the ship round from Sheerness. She left her anchorage at noon on Saturday the 30th of June and a telegram from Mr R.A. Glass, the Managing Director of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, from Valentia, put them in possession of the fact that the shore end of the Cable having been successfully landed by the “William Cory” Steamer at Foilhummerum Bay on Saturday the 7th of July, had been buoyed on the following morning about 29 or 30 miles from the land. At 6:45 a.m. on the 12th our convoy consisting of H.M.S. “Terrible” 21 guns, and the screw steamers “Albany” and “Medway” both vessels of about 1800 tons each left the anchorage at Berehaven with instructions to proceed where the “William
Cory” left the buoy and await the arrival of the Great Eastern. On the evening of the same day having got up her monster anchors the big ship steamed majestically out of Berehaven, accompanied by H.M.S. “Racoon”. It is about 45 miles from Berehaven to the buoy placed over the shore end. The night was very thick, so much so that the fog whistle was kept constantly going. Wind from the south.
Friday, 13 July.
At a quarter to 3 a.m. we sighted the “Terrible” and the “Racoon” about a quarter to 4. Shortly afterwards we saw the “Albany” and “Medway” and at 5:50 a.m. the buoy was made out astern of the “Albany”. We came up close to it at 7. Signals were made to the “Terrible” and the other ships to send boats. The “Terrible’s” cutter came and made fast to the buoy which was now about a cables length from our stern. At 9:10 the “Albany’s” boat arrived and at 9:30 we made the end of the drum-rope on to the buoy-chain and commenced to haul in the mooring chain on to the end of the shore-end cable. There was a good deal of strain on the chain which was at a considerable angle on the port side. The wind was on the port quarter, canting the ship to starboard – the left hand screw working astern. Captain Anderson, seeing the position of the chain, gave orders to Mr Beckwith the Chief Engineer to disconnect the port paddle-wheel and to reverse full speed with the starboard. This order which was executed in about 18 or 19 minutes brought the stern of the ship in line with the Cable, which was speedily “up and down.” At 11:30 the end was brought on board - by 11:40 it was on the drum. This was the first practical test of the pick-up machinery and steam engine attached thereto made by Messrs. Penn of Greenwich, and nothing could be more satisfactory than the manner
in which it did its work. Preparations were now made to make the joint and the covering wires having been taken off the rope the skilled workmen from the Gutta Percha Works soon settled themselves under shelter of Mr Canning’s office on deck (it had been raining in torrents since 9 a.m.) and completed making the joint at 1:30 p.m. Mr Willoughby Smith the Chief Electrician lost no time in testing the insulation of the Cable to shore, which was found to be perfect. The making of the splice was now commenced - by 2:30 p.m. it was completed and coiled in the after cable tank. Just as the hands of the clock indicated 3:20, Greenwich time, the Atlantic Telegraph Cable of 1866 commenced to pass over the V wheel at the stern of the great cable ship. A hearty cheer from those who witnessed thus far the success of the start, the firing of a couple of guns, the hoisting of the ensign, and of that compound flag of nationalities the Union-Jack and the Stars and Stripes which has been in the service of two previous Atlantic Telegraph expeditions made up all the demonstrations which could be mustered. The “Racoon” gave us one parting gun, and availing herself of as fair a wind as could well blow in her favour, set every stitch of canvas and left for Valentia. The course of the ship was now settled W.N.W. for 33 miles, to be changed about 9 o’clock to N.W. by W. which will take us quite clear to the southward of our route relative of 1865. The following programme of proceedings for laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable of 1866 had been proposed by Mr Samuel Canning, the Chief Engineer so far back as the month of May last and approved of by Mr Glass, the Managing Director. It will be seen that punctuality up to the present moment has been pretty strictly maintained.
Programme of Proceedings for Laying the
1. The S.S. “William Cory” having received on board the shore end for the Irish Coast, and machinery at North Woolwich will leave the Thames not later than the 30th inst. and proceed to Berehaven to be in readiness to lay the shore end when the weather is sufficiently fine.
2. The S.S “Albany” having her recovering machinery, ropes, buoys, & stores on board, will leave the Thames on the 26th and proceed to Cardiff, fill up with coals, and go from thence to Berehaven to assist the “William Cory” in laying the shore end. She will afterwards accompany the expedition to Newfoundland.
3. The S.S. “Medway” having all her coals, cable, and machinery on board, will leave the Thames about the 5th July and proceed to Berehaven to join the “Great Eastern” and be ready to accompany her in laying the Cable.
4. The “Great Eastern” will leave Sheerness on the 30th June for Berehaven to complete her coaling, and be ready to steam out to the buoy on the shore end on or about the 10th July. The splice to the main Cable will be made on board the “Great Eastern”.
5. After the shore end is laid by the “William Cory” & buoyed, if the weather is fine she will remain by the buoy, and the “Albany” will return to Berehaven for the “Great Eastern”.
6. Upon commencing to lay the Cable from the “Great Eastern” the position of the “Terrible” will be ahead of the “Great Eastern” on the port or starboard bow, to keep other vessels out of the course, and the “Medway” will be on the port and “Albany” on the starboard quarter in readiness to pick up or let go a buoy or other work as may be signalled from the “Great Eastern”.
7. All the accompanying ships to keep their allotted positions, and within signalling distance of the “Great Eastern”.
8. The speed of the ship over the ground, in paying out the Cable should in no case exceed six knots per hour.
9. In laying the Cable of 1865, the average slack paid out through the deep water was 15.6 per cent, at an average speed of ship of 6.34 knots per hour, and with a strain ranging from 10 to 14 cwts.
10. The total length of Cable taken out this year being 2,724 miles, it will be seen from the following estimate that 764 miles will be left to complete the line 1865:—
Taking this 697.5 miles from 764, we have 66.5 miles of Cable left, and the Cable of 1865 must, therefore, be grappled and spliced within this distance from the end.
11. In the event of any unforeseen occurrence in laying the Cable of 1866, by which the Cable could not be recovered in the deep water, it becomes necessary to fix upon the length remaining on board with which it would be prudent to start again from the point lat. 52°51' N long. 14°40' W or 164 miles from Ireland.
Taking the figures in the previous paragraph with 20 per cent of slack through the deep water, and 7 per cent through the shoal water, the length of Cable required between Ireland and Newfoundland, is 1,960 miles; this taken from the total length
2,724 miles leaves 764 miles which could be paid out, and yet have sufficient Cable left to begin again if an accident happened at that place; but as the Cable can be grappled in between 200 and 300 fathoms depth at lat. 52°21' N long. 14°40’ W this would give 175.5 miles to be added to the 764 miles, making 939 miles, which might be paid out and yet have sufficient Cable to commence again at the above position & reach Newfoundland; but, in deciding upon a point of such importance, I consider a larger margin ought to he allowed, & should not therefore advise re. commencing at the end of the shoal water if more than 830 miles had been paid out when the end of the Cable was lost.
In the event of such an occurrence the expedition must first return to Berehaven or some other port, where the Cable can be transhipped from the “Medway” into the “Great Eastern” before making another attempt.
12. The disconnecting gear on the “Great Eastern” should be tried on the passage round to Berehaven to ascertain how she will answer with both paddle and screw.
13. In case of a fault been discovered, a signal from the testing room will be immediately made by gong to the bridge & paying-out machine to reverse the engines, and by electric bell to the coil, and as soon afterwards as possible, with safety to the Cable to commence hauling back.
14. Should a fault occur, a buoy placed ready at or near to the stern will be immediately attached to the Cable to buoy up the bight. The ship would then be kept as near this position as possible, and other buoys can be attached at intervals if necessary, and if the weather is such that, from the drift of the ship or other causes, too much cable is being lost, and it is necessary to cut the Cable, the end will be moored and buoyed with a large ocean buoy.
The latitude upon which the cable will cross each degree of longitude to be given to each officer in charge of the “Medway” and “Albany” in order that, should the ships part in a fog, any ship
having missed the “Great Eastern” can steam ahead to a meridian where she can be sure the “Great Eastern” cannot have reached, then steam slowly back with the view of picking up the “Great Eastern” which may be engaged recovering a fault.
Both Maryatt’s and Colomb’s signals to be used, the latter method having been already applied to the codifying of all probable signals.
At any time the “Great Eastern” may be heard firing guns, it is to be understood by the accompanying ships that they are desired to close with the “Great Eastern.”
In case of fog on approaching the Newfoundland coast, the “Terrible” will keep close ahead to the “Great Eastern” and direct the latter to alter course by firing one gun to port helm and two guns to starboard same; three guns danger ahead. If the “Great Eastern” fires one or more guns, attendant ships to close in with her.
If when near the land, our position or Trinity Bay cannot be ascertained on account of the fog, and the weather is calm, the “Great Eastern” can be kept nearly in her then position with the Cable, or, if for the safety of the ship, it is necessary to keep further from the land whilst the fog lasts the Cable can be cut, moored and buoyed, and watch buoys put down to facilitate in finding the Cable buoy.
This could also be done should a gale of wind be blowing up Trinity Bay, or whilst making the splice, so that it may be considered dangerous or unadvisable for the “Great Eastern” to go nearer the land.
As soon as the “Terrible” has taken in coal, she will proceed with the “Albany” to the position about 1 mile from the end of the Cable of 1865 and place mark buoys for guidance in grappling. The “Medway” and “Great Eastern” will follow as soon as they have coaled; but should they not join the “Terrible” and “Albany” by the time they have placed the mark buoys, the “Albany” will proceed to grapple for the
Cable, and if she succeed in grappling it, she will lift it as far as possible without approaching the breaking strain, she will then buoy the grapnel rope, and grapple for the Cable again further on. By continuing this she may succeed in lifting the bight or an end to the surface, and buoy it in readiness for the “Great Eastern”.
Should the “Great Eastern” and “Medway” arrive before the bight or end of the Cable is grappled or raised, they will take up their position and commence grappling.
If the three ships are grappling for the Cable at the same time, their relative positions will be - the “Medway” to the West, with the greatest lifting strain, the “Great Eastern” in the middle, and the “Albany” to the East, with the least lifting strain; so that if the Cable is broken by the “Medway”, the end will be secured either by the “Great Eastern” or the “Albany”.
The ships will be provided with grapnels both for breaking and holding the Cable.
It the ships have hold of the Cable, and a gale of wind springs up, so as to prevent the possibility of raising the Cable to the surface, buoys are provided for buoying the grapnel ropes, and watch buoys placed to assist in sighting the grapnel buoys, in case the ships are driven away from their position.
Saturday, 14 July,
Course during the night NW by W. wind WSW to WNW. A homeward-bound steamer passed us about 11.30. About 2 a.m. a message arrived from Valentia for Mr Canning from Mr Glass intimating that at a meeting held yesterday on the Island at the instance and at the invitation of Mr Henry Bewley of Dublin for the purpose of invoking God’s blessing on those engaged in the undertaking, the warmest sympathy was expressed towards all on board the “Great Eastern”. A reply was sent by Mr Canning thanking Mr Glass for these good wishes and conveying the intelligence that everything was progressing most satisfactorily: and that the greatest confidence was felt in success. The paying out machinery is working to perfection. The Cable comes up from the tank with great ease and facility. The cable-watch are clothed this expedition in canvass dresses which fit over their ordinary clothing. They are fastened from behind. The officer in charge is clothed similarly to the men. The “Terrible” “Albany” & “Medway” are keeping their allotted position. Weather fine - smooth sea. At noon, ship time, we were 135.5 miles from Valentia and 1,533.5 from Hearts Content. - had payed out 144.58 miles of Cable. Lat 52°0'15" Long 14°0'3".
All through yesterday the paying-out machinery worked so smoothly - the electrical tests were so perfect - the weather was so fine that fresh confidence in the ultimate result has been naturally inspired. The recollection, however, of the reverses of the expedition of 1865 is always before those who have the greatest reliance in success; and there is a quiet repose about the manner of the chief practical men on board which is an earnest that they will not allow themselves to be carried away by the smoothness of 24 hours events. The convoy kept their position accurately during the day. The “Terrible” signalled to us at 1.45 p.m. that a man had fallen overboard. Her cutter was speedily lowered. The sailor had, however, laid hold of a rope thrown to him from the frigate before the boat reached him. At 10:45 p.m. Mr Willoughby Smith sent us the latest news from Europe, set up in this form:—
The welcome arrival of this message (and by concert with the shore we shall be kept advised of all the leading European news) is a practical proof of the value of our Chief Electrician’s arrangements, for while the message was being transmitted to us, the insulation tests were continuously going on.
The fundamental difference between last year’s system of testing and that of the present expedition is that now all the ordinary tests for continuity &c. may be made simultaneously with the test for insulation which is not interrupted at all; whereas last year during half the time spent in laying the Cable, the Insulation test was wholly neglected, as will presently be shown.
Last year, each hour was divided into four parts. The first half of the hour was spent in testing for insulation. During the second half,
which was divided into three periods of ten minutes each, tests were made to ascertain the resistance of the conductor and to prove the continuity of the same. All these tests were of such a nature as to afford no criterion whatever of the state of the insulation during their continuance, so that during the half of each hour, or in other words, during half the time spent in laying the Cable, the insulation test was neglected. Also, while the insulation test was being made, there was no means of communicating with the shore, as the observations were taken on board only. This year, a test for insulation is constantly kept on, and by Mr Willoughby Smith’s arrangement, corresponding observations are made both on ship and shore. At stated times during the hour, the continuity test is made at the shore station by means of a condenser applied to the conductor of the Cable. The effect of this is to increase the deflection on the ship’s insulation galvanometer, thus serving as a continuity test. Communications from shore to ship are also made by these means. Ship can send signals to shore by simply reversing the current for certain lengths of time, answering to some understood code, or by increasing and diminishing the tension of the line according to a pre-arranged plan. All these operations may be performed without interrupting the insulation test except for a few seconds while the current is being reversed. So far for the new system in the electrical room as compared with last year. And now a word or two about the paying-out and picking-up machinery of 1866, and we shall see how the experience gathered from 1865 has been practically carried into effect. The paying-out apparatus is the same as used last year with the exception of a stronger drum, which is necessary for the purpose of hauling in the Cable at the stern, if required. Powerful gear has been placed by the side of the machine so that by means of clutches the drum can be reversed and the Cable hauled back in case a fault is discovered. This gear is driven by a 40 horse power engine made by Messrs. Penn, and supplied with steam from the main boilers of the ship which insures a supply at any moment. The hauling-in machine for grappling placed at the fore part of the ship is more powerful than the one used last year and consists of two
drums of 5 ft 8 in diameter each by 20 inches broad connected by gear with a Penn engine of 40 horse power similar to that attached to the paying out machine. The rope or cable passes over both drums and an arrangement is made for “fleeting” the grapnel rope or cable on the drums by means of small rollers placed between the drums and each roller guiding a turn of the rope or cable as it passes from one drum to the other. This engine is also supplied with steam power from the ship’s main boilers. At 10 minutes past 10 p.m. the “Albany” was observed to drop astern, and we learned through the medium of Colomb’s admirable flash signals at a distance of about 8 miles that she had lost the bolt of her excentric. At daylight the damage having been repaired she was again in position. The system of signalling on board is very perfect and the convoy like the “Great Eastern” has been supplied by the admiralty with experienced signalmen. We sent early this morning the news of Cialdini’s advance upon Rovigo to Captain Commerell of the “Terrible”, and to Captain Batt R.N. and Captain Prowse, R.N. who are on board the “Albany” & “Medway”. Messages are to be sent every morning to the convoy giving Greenwich time [by Rede’s cone telegraph]. The cone being opened two minutes previously, at 10:30 it will be collapsed and the time will be given accurately. Divine service was performed in the Dining Saloon by Captain Anderson. From noon yesterday to noon today we had payed out 138.97 miles.
Slack of Cable on distance 8.57. Lat. 52°l’15” Long 17°29' Course N 89.40 W. Distance 128. Distance from Valentia Telegraph Office 263. From Office at Hearts Content 1406. Another message has arrived and hag been duly published in the “Great Eastern Telegraph”:—
Monday 16 July.
Still everything going on well. The sea like a mill-pond. The paying out of the Cable from the after tank progressing with uniform certainty and steadiness and the electrical tests perfect. We are now paying out some of the cable of 1865. This tank contains 839.685 miles of which there are 267 miles of the old cable. The fore-tank from which we shall pay out next, holds 670.83 miles with about 3 miles of shore end and the number of miles stowed in the main is 865.439. Mr Canning calculates that we shall have payed out the remaining portion of the old cable by tomorrow morning, and if nothing arises in the way of accident that by Thursday night or early Friday morning the after tank will be emptied. We ought to be then pretty nearly half way to Hearts Content.
We had a second edition of the “Great Eastern Telegraph” at dinner yesterday giving us the following news which was speedily transmitted later in the evening by Colomb’s flash signals to Captain Commerell of the “Terrible” who can lay claim to being the first Captain of Her Majesty’s Navy who enjoyed the luxury of getting news from Europe twice a day on the Atlantic ocean.
Our track is about 30 miles to the South of that of last year, and at that distance we passed parallel to where the Telegraph Cable parted in August 1857. The depth of water during yesterday was between 1950 and 2100 fathoms. Temperature 58°. Average strain indicated by the Dynamometer 10.54. Our average speed has been about 5 knots. We were obliged to stop the screw-engines in order to bring her down to that speed, and moreover, to reduce the paddle boiler power. Captain Anderson’s ingenious mode of cleaning the ship’s bottom which he sedulously carried out during last winter at Sheerness, has proved to have effected this very desirable object; for Mr Beckwith, the
Engineer, is now enabled to regulate and adjust her speed, and get more out of the ship if necessary than he could last year, when her bottom was an encrusted mass of mussels.
We exchange latitude and longitude daily with the convoy. Staff Commander Moriarty takes his observations independently; and Captain Anderson and his officers take theirs: so whenever the sun gives them a chance many sextants are at work.
More news from Valentia, but alas! how sad in some respects:—
Captain Moriarty has just issued his bulletin – we learn that since noon yesterday we have payed out 136.88 miles of Cable. Per centage of slack 18.82. Distance run 115.2 miles. Distance from Valentia 378.2. From Hearts Content 1290 miles. Latitude 52°6’ long. 20°36’.
Tuesday, 17 July.
Another twenty four hours of uninterrupted success. All day yesterday it was so calm that the masts of our convoy were reflected in the ocean, an unusual thing to see. A large shoal of porpoises gambolled about us for half an hour. A glorious sun-set, and later, a crescent moon which we hope to see in the brightness of her full, lighting our way into Trinity Bay before the days of this July shall have ended. At 7:55 a.m. Greenwich time the remaining portion of the Cable of 1865 had been payed out of the tank, and we are now rapidly getting rid of the new Cable. At 9.10 the screw engines were slowed to 18 revolutions, and the paddles slowed to 4. We set some canvass, too, with a steady breeze for the south and a smooth sea. Our average speed since we left has been about 5. The strain indicated by the dynamometer since yesterday at 12 o’clock has been 11. After breakfast we saw a bark to the Northward steering Eastward.
Our progress since yesterday is thus indicated in the official paper posted in the cabin:—Distance run 117.8. Cable payed out 137.70. Slack on distance 16.91. Total payed out 557.82. Lat. 52°15' Long 23°48’. Distance from Valentia office 496.1. To Hearts Content office S. 89.35 W. 1173. Depth of water 1950. Wind south.
News from London just as we were at lunch.
Wednesday, 18 July.
A fresh breeze from the southward - a dull grey sky, with occasional rain, and a moderate sea prevailed from noon yesterday, At 5.28 p.m., Greenwich time, a bell in connection with the Electrical room sounded in the tank. Mr Temple, one of Mr Canning’s staff, being on duty, immediately pressed the valve of the steam whistle which is fitted [at Mr Latimer Clark’s suggestion] at the stern and communicates by compressed air through piping to the screw, paddle engines and helm, a similar apparatus being fitted in the bows of the ship. The signal to stop was so promptly answered by the Engineers that the Great Eastern was stopped in less than her own length. Mr Clifford hearing the bell ran at the top of his speed to the paddle engine hatchway, but long before he could reach it, they were stopped. Of course great anxiety arose to ascertain what was the matter. We were all delighted to learn that it was a false alarm. One of Mr Willoughby Smith’s assistants having by mere accident touched the spring of the bell. We had however practical proof from this incident that every one was at his post; and Captain Anderson, ever thoughtful & watchful took advantage of what occurred to make some alterations in concert with Mr Canning in the instructions to the officer on duty so that he should verbally communicate with the Engineer if a similar alarm was given, and not trust entirely to the whistle system effective though it is in working. All went on well until 12.20 a.m. Greenwich time, when the first real shock was given to the success which has hitherto attended us, and this time we had real cause to be alarmed. A foul flake took place in the after tank. The engines were immediately turned astern, and the paying out of the Cable stopped. We were all soon on the deck and learned that the running or paying out part of the [Cable] coil had caught three turns of the flake immediately under it, carried them into the eye of the coil fouling the lay out and hauling up one and a half turns from the outside, and five turns in the eye of the under flake. This was stopped fortunately before entering the paying out machinery. Stoppers of hemp also were put on near the V wheel astern, and Mr Canning gave orders to stand by to let go the buoy. This was not very cheering
to hear, but his calm and collected manner gave us all confidence that his skill and experience would extricate the Cable from the obvious danger in which it was placed. No fishing line was ever entangled worse than the rope was when thrust up in apparently hopeless knots from the eye of the coil to the deck. There at least 500 feet of rope lay in this state, in the midst of thick rain and increasing wind. The cable crew set to work under their Chief Engineer’s instructions to disentangle it. Mr Halpin was there too patiently following the bights as they shewed themselves. The crew now passing them forward - now aft, until at last the character of the tangle was seen and soon it became apparent that ’ere long the Cable would be cleared and passed down to the tank. All this time Captn Anderson was at the taffrail anxiously watching the strain on the rope, which he could scarcely make out the night was so dark, and endeavouring to keep it up and down, going on and reversing with paddle & screw. When one reflects for a moment upon the size of the ship and the enormous mass she presents to the wind the difficulty of keeping her stern under the circumstances over the Cable can be appreciated. The port paddle wheel was disconnected but shortly afterwards there was a shift of wind and the vessel canted the wrong way. Welcome voices were now heard passing the word aft from the tank that the bights were cleared, and to pay out. Then the huge stoppers were gently loosened and at 2:5 a.m. to the joy of all we were once more discharging the cable. They veered it away in the tank to clear away the foul flake until 3 a.m. when the screw & paddle engines were slowed so as to reduce the speed of the ship to 4½ knots. During all this critical time there was an entire absence of noise and confusion. Every order was silently obeyed and the Cable-men and crew worked with hearty good will. Mr Canning has had experience of foul flakes before this, and shewed that he knew what to do in the emergency. But what of the electrical condition of the Cable during this period? Simply that through its entire length it is perfect or as it is technically called O.K. We lost the Terrible in the thickness of the night and save for a few minutes, did not see her till 7 this morning.
The “Albany” and “Medway” shewed on the starboard & port quarters at 5 a.m. The weather is still very hazy. More messages through the Cable, which should be duly recorded for when this Diary is circulated among the newspapers of the United States within ten days from this date earlier intelligence of European news will be distributed than can be obtained in any other way. Here are the messages of yesterday’s “Great Eastern” Telegraph”:—
This message which consists of 136 words was sent through the whole Cable without the slightest mistake, at the rate of 1½ words per minute, the insulation test going on all the time. Distance run since noon yesterday 104.7 miles. Cable payed out 124.66. Per centage of slack 19.06. Distance from Valentia 600.2 miles. From Hearts Content 1068.8. Lat. 52°1’ N. long 26°37’ W.
Thursday 19 July.
There was a fresh breeze in the afternoon yesterday increasing towards evening. It brought a heavy swell on the port quarter which caused the ship to roll. The paying out from the after tank went on steadily. Two of the large buoys were lifted by derrick from the deck near the bows of the ship, and placed in position on the port & starboard side of the forward pick-up machinery, ready for letting go if necessary. The sun went down with an angry look, and the scud came rapidly from the Eastward, the sea rising. A wind dead aft is not the best for Cable laying, particularly if any accident should take place. By 11.30 p.m. tonight we shall have exhausted the contents of the after tank and the Cable will then be payed out from the fore tank along the trough to the stern, the distance from the centre of the tank to the paying out machinery being 494 feet. Last night the swell was very heavy to which the “Great Eastern” proved herself not insensible. Her rolling like everything else appertaining to her is done on a grand scale. We see the liveliness with which that operation is performed on board the “Albany” and “Medway”, and we are not at all disposed to be too critical in our observations on our own movements. The speed of the ship was kept at 4½ during the night — the slower the better is the opinion of all on board. - Festina lente. We are consuming about 100 tons a day of the 7000 tons of coal which we had on board when we left Berehaven, and Mr Beckwith who has been Engineer of the Great Eastern from her first voyage to the present moment says her engines were never in better order; and their appearance and working do him and his able staff of assistant Engineers the greatest credit.
The news from Valentia Station as published in the “Telegraph” is as follows:—
Thursday 19th 7.33 a.m. Prussians repeating victories and gaining adhesions from small states. The main army within 50 miles of Vienna - have cut the railway to Vienna. Austrian army between Prussians and Vienna under Archduke, 160,000 men. Money & archives removed from Vienna to Comorn. Armament of French fleet stopped. The Italians occupy Bargo Forte. Fleet left Ancona. “Moniteur*” denies Emperor contemplates armed mediation. Great preparations at Cronstadt for grand reception of Captain Fox bearing address from American Congress congratulating Czar on his escape from assassination.”
Distance run since noon yesterday 112.2 miles. Cable payed out 128.66. Percentage of slack 14.67. Distance from Valentia 712.9. From Hearts Content 956.1. Lat 51°54'30" N. Long 29°39’ W. Depth of water 2177 fms. Wind East.
[*“Moniteur”: Le Moniteur Universel, a French newspaper]
Friday 20 July.
Yesterday was a day of complete success, the paying out in every respect satisfactory. The wind still from the Eastward but inclined to draw to the Northward - the sea entirely gone down. As Mr Canning told us we should see the after tank emptied at 11 o’clock (ship’s time) we were all collected there about 10 o’clock by which time the Cable was down to the last flake. Next to having clear daylight for changing from the after to the fore tank we could not have had a more favorable time - clear starlight — no wind and a smooth sea. Looking down into the tank, the scene was highly picturesque. The cable-watch whose figures were lighted up by the lamps suspended from above, slowly & cautiously lifted the turns of the coil to ease their path to the eye. As each found its way to the drum, the wooden floor of the tank shewed itself and then we saw more floor and as its area increased the cable swept along its surface with a low subdued noise until with graceful curve it mounted to the outlet where it was soon to join a fresh supply. And now we hear the word passed that they have arrived at the last turn, and the men who stand on the stages of the platform of the eye with the bight, watch its arrival and pass it up with tender caution until it reaches the summit - then it rushes down a wooden incline to meet the spliced rope which had by this time come down along the trough leading from the forward tank. This operation was conducted with great skill by Mr Canning and his experienced assistants Messrs Clifford & Temple. At 1.11 a.m. (Greenwich) the fresh rope was going over the stern and the screw engines going ahead at 1.13. A watch of four men is now stationed fore and aft all along the trough which is illuminated by many lamps at short distances from each other. A lamp with a green light indicates the mile-mark as it comes up from the tank and this signal is repeated until it reaches the stern where it is recorded by the clerk who keeps the cable 1og in an office adjoining the paying-out machinery. A red lamp indicates danger.
During the day time red and blue flags are used. All through the night the sea was smooth as glass, and by this morning we saw that a sensible impression had been made on the contents of the fore tank which holds 670.83 miles of cable, underneath which is 3 miles of Shore-end. The after tank held 839 miles. The ship begins to lighten at the bows and by this time to morrow will come up more as the Cable passes out of the tank. At 7.30 a.m. we saw a ship-rigged vessel to the Northward steering about E. by S. - distance 7 or 8 miles. The wind shifted to S.W. about day break. “Terrible”, “Albany” & “Medway” all in position.
News comes to the “Great Eastern Telegraph” as regularly as Mr Reuter sends it to the London newspapers. Hers is what reached us yesterday:—
Distance run since noon yesterday 117.5. Cable payed out 127.46. Per centage of slack 8.48. Distance from Valentia 830.4. From Hearts Content 838.6. Course S.81 W. Lat. 51°36’. Long. 32°47'30"
Saturday 21 July.
Yesterday was our seventh day of paying out Cable, and so far we have been more fortunate than the expedition of last year. During the same period of 1865 two faults had occurred - one on the 24th July - the other on the 29th, causing a detention of 56 hours. At 3 p.m. we were half-way, and passed where the Atlantic Cable of 1858 parted twice, on the 26th and 28th of June. Sad memories to many! We feel however that every hour is increasing our chance of effecting this great work. “I believe we shall do it this time, Jack” I heard one of our crew say to another last night. “I believe so too, Bill” was the reply “and if we don’t we deserve to do it and that’s all”. It blew very hard from two o’clock yesterday up to 10 p.m. by which time the wind gradually found its way from South West to North West which is right ahead - just what we want for cable laying. The “Terrible” and the two other ships plunged into the very heavy sea which the Southwester raised, and we made up our minds from what we saw that the “Great Eastern” is the right ship to be in, in a gale of wind. During the night heavy showers of rain. This morning the sea was comparatively smooth and the sky shewed welcome patches of bright blue. If all goes well we shall be up tomorrow evening, at the place where last years Cable parted. A couple of days would bring us to shallower water, and then we may fairly look for our “Hearts Content”. Messages come from England with the news, regularly and speedily — excellent practice for the clerks on shore and on board ship — great comfort to us and the best evidence to those who will read this journal of the great fact that up to this time the Cable is doing its electric work efficiently. Yesterday’s “Great Eastern Telegraph” gave us the following intelligence:—
Mr Cyrus Field sent a message from the ship to Liverpool at 11.16 a.m. Greenwich time. The observations of the day place the ship in Lat. 51°18' long 36°1'. Course S.81.30 W. Wind N.W. Distance run 121.9. Payed out 135.73 nautical miles of cable making a total of 1074.33 miles. We are 952.3 miles from Valentia. 716.7 miles from Hearts Content in 1800 fathoms water. Average strain on the Dynamometer 14. The Cable touches the water at a distance of about 230 feet from the stern and the angle it makes is generally 10 to 12. The weather looking fine but it is variable between Long. 30°and 45°even at this time of the year.
Sunday the 22 July.
Still success to record. A bright clear day with a fresh & invigorating breeze from the North West. Cable going out with unerring smoothness at the rate of 6 miles an hour. There has been great improvement in the insulation. On leaving Sheerness the resistance of the Gutta Percha per knot was about 800 millions ohmads as it is scientifically called - or in other word “units”. It is now about 1900 millions units which shews an increased resistance of 5000 millions per knot on the portion already laid. It must be borne in mind that this result has been obtained by tests made through the whole length of the Cable both that part of it already submerged & that remaining on board ship and that this remarkable improvement is attributable to the greatly decreased temperature of and pressure on the Cable in the sea. This is a very satisfactory result to Mr Willoughby Smith. Signals too come every hour more distinctly and the Chief Electrician thinks that when the Cable is laid, working the present system, 7 to 8 words per minute will be the rate at which messages will be transmitted from Hearts Content to Valentia. This morning the breeze freshened. We are now about 30 miles to the southward of the place where the Cable parted on the 2nd August 1865, having then paid out 1213 miles.
Captain Anderson read divine service in the Dining Saloon. The following telegram arrived and was published in yesterday Evening’s edition of the “Great Eastern Telegraph”:—
This morning brings another message.
Noon. Lat 50°48’ Long 39°14’. Course S 76.20 W. Wind W. & S. Distance run 123.4. Payed out since yesterday 133.14 making a total of 1207.47. From Valentia we are 1075.7 miles. From Hearts Content 593.3. Depth of water 1950 fathoms.
Monday 23 July.
Between 6 and 7 p.m. yesterday we passed over the deepest part of our course. There was no additional strain on the dynamometer which indicated from 10 to 14, the Cable going out with its accustomed regularity. The wind still fresh from the North westward - during the night it went round to the South West, and this morning there is a long roll from the Southward.
At 11.46 a.m. Mr Cyrus Field sent a message to Valentia requesting Mr Glass to obtain the latest news from India and China, so that on our arrival at Hearts Content we shall be able to transmit it to the principal cities of the United States. In just eight minutes he had a reply in these words “Your message received and is in London by this”. Outside the Telegraph room there is a placard put up on which is posted the news shortly after its arrival: and groups of the crew may be seen reading it just as we see a crowd at a newspaper office in London. Mr Dudley, the Artist has made a very spirited sketch of “Jack” reading the contents of the morning Telegraphic news of the Times - Printing House Square being distant in or about 1600 miles. On board the Great Eastern, ship of luxury! he has been supplied with the latest intelligence from the seat of war twice a day. How he will grumble when he gets ashore! He is not going to pay a pound a word for news, but his newspapers will supply it to him and he does not know or care what it costs. But what a sum has been spent in Atlantic Telegraphs! It cannot now fall short of two millions and a half, or over 12 millions of Dollars. More millions will be found if it shall be practically proved that America can permanently talk to England and through her to the Eastern Hemisphere and England to America by this ocean wire.
At 1/4 to 12 today but 215 miles Cable remained to be paid out of the fore tank. Towards night we hope to see it empty — then, for a small supply from the main tank and then - but hopeful though we are, let us not anticipate.
The following is just to hand:—
Noon. Lat 50°15’48" Long 42°16'31" Course S 74.38 W. Wind S.S.W. Distance run 121.2. Payed out 137.77. Distance from Valentia 1196.9. From Hearts Content 472.1. Depth of water 2050 fms.
Tuesday 24th July.
Breakfast at 8. Lunch at 1. Dinner at 6. Tea at 8. 502 souls who live on board this huge ship following their prescribed occupations. Cable going out merrily. Electrical tests and signals perfect, and this is the history of what has taken place from noon yesterday to noon today. May we have three days more of such delightful monotony. It rained very hard during yesterday evening and as we approach the banks of Newfoundland we get thick and hazy weather. The “Great Eastern Telegraph” publishes the following:—
Noon. Lat 49°45’ Long 45°21’. Course S 75.15 W. Wind WNW. Distance run since yesterday 122.7. Payed out 134.82. Dist from Valentia 1319.6. From Hearts Content 349.4. Depth of water 2225 fathoms. Per centage of slack 9.87.
Wednesday 25 July.
Fog and thick rain - just the weather to expect on approaching the Banks of Newfoundland. The convoy keep their position, and though sometimes the fog hides the ships from our view yet we know where they are by their signal-whistles. 2 from the “Terrible” - 3 from the “Medway” and 4 from the “Albany” which is replied to by a prolonged single shriek from our whistle. At 1.52 Greenwich time (ship’s time 10.45 p.m. last night) the fore-tank being nearly empty preparations were made for passing the bight of the Cable into the main tank. At 2.15 all the Jockey-wheels of the paying out machinery were up and the breaks released. 2.23 the bight was passed steadily and cautiously by the Cable-hands outside of the trough to the main tank and at 2.35 the splice went out over the stern into 1542.8 fathoms. By arrangement with Sir James Hope, the admiral of the North American Station who has received instructions from the Admiralty to give the present expedition every assistance in his power, a frigate or sloop will be placed in Long 48°25'52" which is just 31 miles from the entrance to Trinity Bay and 60 from Hearts Content. She will probably hang on by a kedge in that position which shews the “fairway” right up the Bay: and if it be clear we ought to see her about day-break on Friday morning. The fog was very thick this morning but occasionally lifts. As long as the wind is from the Southwest we cannot expect clear weather.
The news of to-day is as follows:—
Noon. Lat 42°29'40". Long 48°10'40." Distance run 1430. Cable payed out 1610.53. Per centage of slack 12.62. Distance from Hearts Content 239.8 miles.
Thursday 26 July
All day yesterday it was as “thick as mustard.” We have had now 48 hours of fog. Though it lifted a little this morning at 5 a.m. it still looks like more of it. Captain Anderson signalled to the “Albany” at 10.15 last night to start at daybreak and proceed to Lat. 48°25’ Long. 52°30’ to discover the station ship and report us at hand. Should she fail to find her then to try and make the land and guide us up Trinity Bay. Another signal was sent at 12.30 to the effect that the “Terrible” and “Medway” would be sent ahead to meet the “Albany” and establish a line to lead us in even with a fog. The “Albany” started at 3.30. At 4.45 (Greenwich time) the Cable Engineer in Charge took one weight off each brake of the paying out machinery. At 7.40 all weights taken off; the assumed depth being 300 fathoms. The indicated strain on the Dynamometer gradually decreasing. Speed of ship 5 knots. Wind variable from S W to N W and then N E to East. We are going to try and pick up the Cable of 1865 in 2,500 fathoms; (and we mean to succeed too) therefore should the Cable we are now paying out part, it can be understood how easy it would be to raise it from a depth of 300 fathoms. At 8.55 we signalled to the “Terrible” to sound and received a reply - 160 fathoms. At 11.30 we informed her that when at the buoy off Hearts Content she should have her paddle-box boat and two cutters ready to be alongside immediately for holding the bight of the Cable during the splice and laying the shore-end. The “Medway” was told at the same time to prepare two 5-inch ropes and two large mushroom anchors with fifty fathoms chain for anchoring during splice in 170 fathoms water, and we intimated to her that when inside Trinity Bay we should signal for two boats to take hands on board her for shore end.
News of today. Telegram from Mr Glass in reply to one from Mr Canning:—“I congratulate you all most sincerely on your
arrival in 130 fathoms. I hope nothing will interfere to mar the hitherto brilliant success, and that the Cable will be landed tomorrow O.K.”
Noon. Lat. 48°45’ Long 51°16'30". Distance run 1558.2. Cable payed out 1744.08 miles. Per centage of slack 11.93. Distance from Hearts Content 110.8 miles. Depth of water 130 fathoms.
Friday 27 July
Shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday two ships which were soon made out to be steamers were seen to the westward, and the Terrible steaming on ahead, in about an hour signalled to us that H.M.S. “Niger” was one of them, accompanied by the “Albany”. The “Niger”, Captain Bruce, sent a boat to the “Terrible” as soon as he came up with her. The “Albany” shortly afterwards took up her position on our starboard quarter, and signalled that she spoke the “Niger” at noon bearing E. by N., and that the “Lily” was anchored at the station at the entrance of Trinity Bay as arranged with the Admiral. The “Albany” also reported that she had passed an iceberg in Lat 48°34’ Long 52°10 about 60 feet high. At 20 after 4 p.m. the “Niger” came on our port side, quite close and Captain Bruce sending the crew to the rigging and manning the yards gave us three cheers which were heartily returned by the Great Eastern. She then steamed ahead towards Trinity Bay. The “Albany” was signalled to go on immediately to Hearts Content, clear the N.E. side of the harbour of shipping & place a boat with a red flag for Captain Anderson to steer to, for anchorage. Just before dinner we saw on the southern horizon, distant about 10 miles, an iceberg, probably the one which the “Albany” met with. It was apparently about 50 or 60 feet in height. The fog came on very thick about 8 p.m., and between that and ten we were constantly exchanging guns and burning blue lights with the “Terrible” who with the “Niger” went in search of the “Lily” station ship. The “Terrible” having been signalled to come up and take her position, informed us they had made the “Lily” out and that she bore then about E.N.E. distant 4 miles. Later in the night Capt Commerell said that if Capt Anderson would stop the Great Eastern he would send the Surveyor Mr Robinson, R.N. who came out in the “Niger”, on board of us and about 3 the engines were slowed and the “Terrible” but very shortly afterwards came alongside with that officer. Catalina Light at the entrance of Trinity
Bay had been made out three hours before this, and the loom of the coast had also been seen. Fog still prevailing! According to Mr Robinson’s account, if they got one clear day in seven at the entrance of the Bay they consider themselves fortunate. Here we are now (6 a.m.) within 10 miles of Hearts Content, and we can scarcely see more than a ship’s length. The “Niger” however is ahead and her repeated guns tell us where we are with accuracy. Good fortune follows us and scarcely has 8 o’clock arrived when the massive curtain of fog raises itself gradually from both shores of Trinity Bay disclosing to us the entrance of Hearts Content, the Albany making for the harbour, the Margaretta Stevenson, surveying vessel steaming out to meet us, the prearranged path-way all marked with buoys by Mr J.H. Kerr R.N. and a whole fleet of fishing boats fishing at the entrance. We could now plainly see that Hearts Content, so far as its capabilities permitted was prepared to welcome us. The British & American flags floated from the Church and Telegraph Station & other buildings. We had dressed ship, fired a salute & given three cheers & Capt Commerell of H.M.S. “Terrible” was soon on board to congratulate us on our success. At 9 o’clock ship’s time just as we had cut the cable and made arrangements for the “Medway” to lay the shore-end, a message arrived giving us the concluding words of a leader in this morning’s “Times”. “It is a great work a glory to our age and nation, & the men who have achieved it deserve to be honoured among the benefactors of their race. Treaty of peace signed between Prussia & Austria”. It was now time for the Chief Engineer Mr Canning to make the necessary preparations for splicing on board the “Medway”. Accompanied by Mr Gooch M.P. Mr Clifford, Mr Willoughby Smith, Messrs. Temple and Deane went on board, the “Terrible” and “Niger” having sent their paddle box boats & cutters to assist. Shortly
afterwards the “Great Eastern” steamed into the harbour and anchored on the N.E. side, and was quickly surrounded by boats laden with visitors. Mr Cyrus Field had come on shore before the “Great Eastern” had left the offing, with a view of telegraphing to St. John’s to hire a vessel to repair the cable unhappily broken between Cape Ray in Newfoundland and Cape North in Breton Island. Before a couple of hours the shore end will be landed, and it is impossible to conceive a finer day for effecting this our final operation. Even here people can scarcely realize the fact that the Atlantic Telegraph Cable has been laid. To-morrow, however, Hearts Content will awaken to the fact that it is a highly favoured place in the world’s esteem, the western landing place of that marvel of electric communication with the Eastern Hemisphere, which is now happily, and we hope finally established.
Messages of the Queen and President, and to Cyrus Field
A separate document, which appears to be in the same hand as the Diary, reproduces on one side the text of the messages exchanged over the cable between Queen Victoria and President Andrew Johnson, and on the other, congratulatory messages sent to Cyrus Field at Heart’s Content by President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward:
THE QUEEN’S MESSAGE
THE PRESIDENT’S REPLY
Telegraph received from the President of the United States
“To Cyrus W. Field Esq., Heart’s Content, July 31st 1866.
I heartily congratulate you, and trust that your enterprise may prove as successful as your efforts have been persevering. May the cable under the sea tend to promote and to perpetuate peace and harmony between the Republic of the West and the Governments of the Eastern Hemisphere.
(signed) Andrew Johnson.”
Telegraph received from the Secretary of State
“To Cyrus W Field Esq. Heart’s Content July 31 1866.
(signed) W.H. Seward.”
Landing of the Shore End and Recovery of the 1865 Cable
Atlantic Telegraph Expedition 1866
Atlantic Telegraph Expedition 1866
The Harbour of Heart’s Content presented a scene of interest and excitement on the evening of Friday the 27th July which will not easily be effaced from the memory of those who witnessed the final triumph of the Atlantic Telegraph Expedition of 1866. Securely anchored in its capacious waters lay the “Great Eastern” surrounded by her faithful convoy, while boats of all sizes & kinds flocked about her laden with the inhabitants, who rushed wildly on board to see the Leviathan ship and all her wonders. Now, groups were seen examining the machinery – others & by far the greater number found their way to the Grand Saloon, the luxurious fittings of which appeared to attract their greatest admiration. The velvet covered sofas in the Ladies Saloon found a succession of occupants in the persons of the fair daughters of Heart’s Content, and the piano responded to the touch of more than one of them on some popular music of the day. For a week before the arrival of the ship, people living even as far away as St John’s, eighty miles distant, had been waiting to see her. Where or how they lodged is known only to themselves. To us who reckoned the houses in the village & round the Bay (and they number about 60) is a mystery.
While this crowd of visitors was on board there was a select gathering on shore, comprising the leading resident gentry & their families awaiting the landing of the cable from the “Medway” by the boats of the “Terrible”, to whom that honour was assigned. Her large paddle-box boats, her cutters, pinnaces, and gigs were all brought into requisition, and, under the command of Lieut. Stretfield, the second lieutenant, conveyed it to the shore, close to one of the wooden fish-stages nearest to the Telegraph house, some three or four hundred yards distant from the water’s edge. This part of the shore is fringed with huge boulders of rock, so that the boats could not get within 20 yards of the beach; but the “Terrible’s” crew, accompanied by the leading cable men, under the orders of Messrs. Temple & Loudon, soon jumped into the water, and there was a hearty, animated, & amusing
struggle between them to see who it was that should first bring the cable on shore. Perkins, one of the cable staff, broke a bottle of champagne on the bight of the cable as it left the boat; and as nearly as possible at 4 pm the chief Engineer, Mr Canning, received the end of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable of 1866 at its western terminus. Well may he have felt proud at seeing the triumphant result of his labours in the completion of the greatest of modern enterprises. Captn. . Anderson was close to him, sharing in his feelings of gratification. Mr. Daniel Gooch, M.P., Captain Hamilton, & Mr. Cyrus Field, directors of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, with their Secretary, Mr. John C. Deane, were there also, awaiting the intimation which they were soon to receive from the Telegraph House that the cable had been connected with the instruments, and still more that it was in perfect electrical condition.
Mr. Willoughby Smith, the chief electrician, soon pronounced the signals to be perfect from the Irish shore, and then he began to speak to Mr Glass, the Managing Director at Valentia, & got replies from him as speedily as if he were only a mile away. Twenty-one guns each from the “Great Eastern”, “Terrible”, “Niger”, &”Lily”, announced the landing of the cable, and the cheers which were given on shore were answered by those from the ships, over & over again.
Early in the morning, before the “Great Eastern” entered the harbour, Mr. Gooch had received the message from the Queen to the President of the United States. It was in these words:- “The Queen, Osborne, to the President of the United States. The Queen congratulates the President on the successful completion of an undertaking which she hopes may serve as an additional bond of union between the United States & England.”
Saturday July 28th
Ships alongside supplying us with coal, and the accomodation ladder supplying us with visitors from all parts of Newfoundland, who braved the difficulties of the very worst roads, and about as bad vehicles, to get to Heart’s Content to see the ship. But one came to whom it was not permitted to have that gratification. A blind girl, led by her young brother, walked about the deck, and gathered from his intelligent description and by the exercise of her sense of touch, some notion of the great size of the ship. Coming up the ladder at the side, doubtless gave her an idea of the height, and then a walk from stem to stern an estimate of the length. It was touching to see the radiant smile on this poor girl’s face as she listened to the boy, who told her of the wonders he saw. Heart’s Content, they say, is so called from the Harbour being like a heart in shape; but then the two next harbours on the same side of Trinity Bay are respectively called “Heart’s Desire” & “Heart’s Delight”, but with certainly no resemblance to the organ in any recognizable way.
Sunday, July 29th
Monday, July 30th.
On such an occasion one can easily imagine, there was a good deal to be said & in the way of mutual congratulations. Mr. Cyrus Field, Mr Gooch MP, Mr Canning, Mr Clifford, Mr Willoughby Smith, Professor Thomson, Captn. . Commerell & Captn. . Moriarty, respectively saying appropriate words.
Tuesday, July 31st.
from Valentia that it had been delivered to the Queen at Osborne. The message was in these words:- “The Executive Mansion, Washington, 11 30 am July 30. To Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The President of the United States acknowledges with profound gratification the receipt of her Majesty’s dispatch, and cordially reciprocates the hope that the cable that now unites the Eastern & the Western Hemispheres may serve to strengthen and perpetuate peace and amity between the Government of England & the Republic of the United States. Andrew Johnson.” Shortly after the President’s message was received, which was about noon, ship’s time, the American flag was saluted by the “Great Eastern” with 21 guns. Mr. Cyrus Field had congratulations from his fellow countryman the President, in terms almost identical with those sent to the Queen, and a characteristic communication from Mr. Seward, in which that distinguished statesman stated that “if the Atlantic Cable had not failed in 1858, European States would not have been led in 1861 into the great error of supposing that civil war in America could either perpetuate African slavery or divide the Republic.”
Wednesday, 1st August.
Tuesday 2nd August.
tastefully decorated, received the invited strangers, who had an opportunity afforded them by their fair hostess of seeing that Newfoundland can hold its own with any other part of the world in the beauty of its women.
Friday & Saturday, 3rd & 4th of August.
Sunday, 5th August.
Monday 6th August.
Tuesday 7th August.
Wednesday 8th August.
with a salute of 17 guns from the “Great Eastern”. He was received at the gangway by Captn. . Anderson, Mr Gooch MP, Captn. . Hamilton, Mr Cyrus Field, Mr Canning, Mr Wilby. Smith, Professor Thomson, Mr Clifford, & Mr Deane, who were severally introduced to His Excellency by the Premier and Attorney General, Mr Cartier. The governor brought some twenty guests in the “Lily”, all of whom were entertained at dinner, and remained, as did His Excellency, to sleep on board the “Great Eastern”.
Mr Canning conducted the Governor over the ship, showing him the tanks, the machinery used in the expedition, and presenting him with specimens of the cable. Great satisfaction was felt by everyone on board that Her Majesty’s representative in the colony of Newfoundland had paid this official visit.
Thursday 9th August.
By noon, Mr. Halpin, the chief officer, had got up the anchors, and we left Heart’s Content, the “Lily” accompanying us. The “Medway” had gone out half-an-hour before, & waited for us in the Bay. A complimentary signal was sent from the Governor thanking Captn. Anderson for his hospitality, and then we shaped our course to the eastward, having just 600 miles to run to meet our fellow labourers the “Albany” and the “Terrible”.
Friday, Aug. 10.-The big ship bowled along all night at 8 knots, and to-day at noon we had gone 188 miles. The weather is calm, but foggy, and one’s ears are pierced with the constant shrill of the fog whistle. Anything but a fog for a sailor. No matter how it blows, he feels himself comparatively secure, but he hates going blindfolded, which is practically the case when navigating in weather affording an opportunity of seeing about half a ship's length, and many a time on this coast & bank of Newfoundland scarcely your hand before you.
Saturday, 11th August.
Sunday, 12th August
Monday 13th August
Mr. Canning & Mr. Temple having consulted for about an hour, the latter left for the “Albany”, Captain Moriarty remaining on board the Great Eastern and Captain Batt returning to the Albany. Preparations were now made to commence grappling, and at a ¼ after 4, ship’s time the grapnel was let over the bow, the huge grappling rope being paid out by the new machinery with great ease. The weather is as favourable as it can well be. The steamship “United Kingdom” Captn. Ferrier from New York to Glasgow in sight about 12 o’clock – ran down to us, and obligingly took a bag of letters. If she be favoured with fine weather, her news of the cable fleet will anticipate that sent last Monday via Halifax.
Tuesday 14th August
Wednesday 15th August
drifted with singular precision. This inconvenient if not dangerous collision (for it might have fouled the paddle-floats or screw) was what Captn. Moriarty expressively described as a “victory in nautical astronomy – cable caught, and mark buoy touching us the same time.” A thick fog prevailed while we were getting rid of our after all not unwelcome visitor, and we burned a blue light to see the direction in which it floated astern. At 1 o’clock am everything was ready to let go the large buoy, with the veering rope attached to it, when unfortunately, the first disaster took place on board the “Great Eastern” in her picking-up expedition. The splice between the grapnel rope & buoy-rope drew, and passing along with terrific velocity over the wheels above the platform to the V-wheel in the bow, plunged into the ocean. Fortunately no one was hurt. During the night we steamed to the NE and drifted. At 5.30 steamed up SW Wind ESE - passed the “Albany”. At noon today (Thursday) our latitude & longitude, as also those of No 4 buoy, were N 51° 29 40 and W 38° 49 30.
Friday 17th August
Today all doubt and uncertainty has been set at rest for ever, for the great fact has to be chronicled, and a great one it is in every sense of the word, that the lost cable of 1865 has been lifted from its oozy bed two miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Attached to the flukes of the grapnel, it made its appearance at a quarter to eleven a.m. ship’s time, amid a spontaneous, earnest, and heartfelt cheer which will never be forgotten by those who heard it. The sound of the cheering, however, had scarcely passed away, when the fact became known that the cable had quietly & easily disengaged itself from the flukes and spring of the grapnel, and left those who witnessed this fresh disaster more depressed from the great slip which had taken place between “cup and lip.” The depression, however, was only temporary; we all felt that a great feat had been performed, and that we had now only to try a few more times to ensure success.
Dealing thus with the main incident of the morning, let us go back to yesterday, and see what the chief engineer had been doing. At 1.50 p.m. he gave instructions to pay out the grapnel-rope, which was on the ground at 4.49. About 7 p.m. they commenced to heave it in. 9 had hauled in 100 fathoms, about an hour afterwards had paid them back again, and then hung on by the rope until daylight this morning, when the heaving-up went on continuously. At 7 a.m., 1100 fathoms being in, there was a strain on the dynamometer of 10.4,and when we got it down to 300, the instrument indicated 8.2, with a calculated strain
of 6.7 on the electric cable. We signalled to the “Terrible” to send us boats, and her two cutters came, into each of which we put a leading cable hand, and they took up their position, the one on the starboard, the other on the port bow. By 10.30 a.m. 2300 fathoms of grapnel had come on board, and there now remained but 15 fathoms of the 1 1/8 chain attached to the grapnel. Nearly everyone on board the ship crowded to the bows to see the grapnel come over water, and I have already endeavoured to describe the effect produced by this event that occurred. On the appearance of the cable, we were all struck with the fact that one half of it was covered with ooze, staining it a muddy white, while the other half was just in its state as it left the tank last year with its tarred surface and strands unchanged, which proved that simply lay in the ooze only half imbedded. The strain on the cable gave it a twist, and it looked as if it had been painted spirally with black and white. This disposes of the oft repeated suggestion that we should never be able to pull it up from the bottom in consequence of its being buried in sand, and those who advanced this theory appeared to forget that the particles of ooze are of greater specific gravity than the mean specific gravity of the cable itself. Professor Thomson has just shown us a diagram by which he calculates the number of miles of cable which the grapnel had in suspension during the five minutes it remained in sight. Upwards of nine miles were lifted off the ground, the depth being two miles. The bottom of the sea would represent the base of a curve, and the two curved slants of cable from the grapnel to the bottom were each 4½ miles in length, the angle where these met at the grapnel was 87 degrees. The length along the bottom, being the space from where the cable was raised, was 8 miles. The strain at each side of the grapnel amounted to 4½ tons, being equal to the weight of nearly six & a half miles of the cable in water. this calculation was made from the following data: 1st Weight of cable in water per mil, 14 cwt, 2nd Depth of sea, 2 miles, 3rd, Whole vertical strain, as marked by dynamometer, with weight of grapnel & chain deducted, 6½ tons.
The scientific world will tell us that there has never been such an example of the catenary curve as this!
Mr. Canning is in capital spirits, and has let down his long line to fish again, with the certainty that he will ’ere long get a bite, and with the full confidence that he will bring the prize on board. The “Albany” and the “Medway” are near us, with instructions to grapple according to the programme.
Saturday 18th August
This morning the buoy was not in sight - at 3 p.m. we were alongside of it, and found that its flagstaff had come to grief. Steaming S W by S, 7 miles, with a set from the N.W. we commenced lowering a mushroom anchor for another buoy - No. 5 - and at 7.30 p.m. let it go, No 4 buoy bearing NW ¾ W. Towards evening there was a fresh breeze from the East.
Sunday 19th August
The “Albany” had signaled to us that she had hooked the cable, her dynamometer indicating 9, but we scarcely thought this was likely, looking at the position she was in. About 4 p.m. our strain went up to 10½ and occasionally touched 11, leaving no doubt that we had the cable again. Away went the pick-up engine, and after getting in about 300 fathoms, Mr. Canning felt that as some four or five hours must necessarily elapse before he could get the remaining
2000 in, he resolved to buoy. It took a couple of hours to get everything ready, and it was not until 10 p.m. that it was lowered over the starboard bow. The sun had gone down very angrily, & there was every appearance of wind. there would be no use in running the risk of lifting the cable on board at night, & moreover in such heavy weather, and there is nothing for it except to keep in position and wait a favorable opportunity. We steamed between the buoys during the night.
Monday, August 20th.
Tuesday, August 21st.
Last night it blew strongly from the NE and this morning it had all the appearance of freshening into a gale from the northward. At 10.30 this morning we came alongside of buoy No. 4 which we found adrift. Steaming up to it, & having it towed by a boat under our starboard bow, Thornton, one of the boatswain’s mates, was lowered in a bowline to the buoy, which turned round with him like a top, & he was repeatedly immersed in the water. He managed however to hook a chain on to it, & at 11.30 it was hoisted on board. The riding chain had broken at the angle.
One is never surprised on board the “Great Eastern” at hearing of acts of personal bravery. There is always a readiness to face any danger. For example, sometime before the grapnel came up with the cable on Sunday, Clark, our diver, was extremely anxious to be permitted to go down 20 fathoms to see whether the grapnel had hooked the cable!
Apropos of grapnels, a word of description here of the several kinds used in this expedition may not be uninteresting. the “ordinary grapnel”, which we are now using is about 4 ft high from the stock to the bottom. It has 5 prongs, each 10 to 12 inches high, & is fitted with springs to prevent the cable getting out of the flukes in case it has to be buoyed. Each prong has been tested to a strain of 10 tons. There is also a “holding grapnel”, which has not yet been used. It may be wanted in grappling for the end of the cable. It has also 5 prongs, which have been tested to 18 tons each. There is a “cutting grapnel”, too, of the same shape as the “holding grapnel”, but with steel cutters fitted on each prong, to cut the cable, if necessary.
At noon to-day the latitude was 51 32 15 N., near No. 6 buoy.
Wednesday, August 22nd. Her Majesty’s ship “Terrible”.
Thursday, August 23rd.
At 2.30 p.m. the stern of the “Great Eastern” was canted to the NW., the current setting us ESE in line with cable. At 2.55 the “Medway” signaled to us that having grappled to the west of the “bight buoy,” she had hooked the cable. At 4 p.m., being carried too far to the eastward, we commenced to heave up. The “Albany” was told to pick up No. 2 buoy, which was observed to have drifted. At 5.40 we had another signal from the “Medway”, intimating that she had been mistaken, & had not hooked the cable. It appeared that when she had 1800 fathoms out the strain went up to 9½, and suddenly down to 6½ tons, which was the proper weight due to the rope. They had some apprehension on board her that they had broken the cable. When we hauled up our grapnel, we discovered a large piece of granite on the fluke - & not very much ooze on the rope.
The “Medway’s” grapnel was out all night, and on signalling to her this morning at 5.45 we learned that she had 2000 fathoms out, with a strain of 8½ on the dynamometer, and had hooked nothing. At 8 o’clock we steamed for the east end of the “bight buoy” (the one to which the cable is suspended), and the “Medway” was ordered to go east of us, and the “Albany” to be ready to let go a mark buoy when we signalled to her. At 9 o’clock we commenced to lower the grapnel, and at 9.43 it was down. We are drifting towards the buoy, from which we are distant about two miles, and everything processes fair.
We are out today a fortnight from Heart’s Content. Captn. Anderson’s, Captn. Moriarty’s & Mr Canning’s charts (they each keep a separate one) of our tracks in steaming & drifting are so marked with lines that it is an easy matter to understand them. We must have steamed a great number of miles between the buoys.
At noon to-day the “bight buoy” - No. 6 - bore N 53 W (true) 2¼ miles. Lat. 51 30 20 N. long. 38 37 W. Wind N.N.E:.
Friday, August 24th.
Saturday, 25th August.
At 5 this morning, we passed No. 5 mark buoy, bottom up. The “Albany” came and picked it up. At 6.30, stopping 1½ miles E. of the bight buoy, having lowered the grapnel about 200 fathoms, it was found that the rope required a little repair. Mr. Canning therefore judged it more prudent to heave up. This will delay us a little, but it is far better to lose time than to lose our rope, our store of which has been already lessened by the two miles lost by the “Albany” on the 11th, and two miles by the “Great Eastern” on the 15th, when the splice between the grapnel rope & buoy rope drew.
The “Medway” commenced grappling two miles west of the bight buoy a little after six this morning. At 9.30, our rope having been repaired, we stopped 1½ miles east of the bight buoy, and again lowered the grapnel. We are about 3 miles from the line of cable, and it will be some hours before we are there.
Sunday, 26th August.
By midnight, it was almost calm, and the sea very smooth – the strain on the dynamometer indicating 8 tons still driving on, not knowing exactly how far, we got at 3 am today an intimation from the dynamometer that the strain had gone up to 10½ tons, when suddenly it went down to 7½. This did not look very promising.
At 5 10 we observed the “Medway” SW ¾ W, about 5 miles distant. We were then about 6 miles N of the cable, and 7½ from where the grapnel was lowered. To have passed over the cable again without hooking it was very discouraging, and so we commenced heaving up at 5.35. When the grapnel came on board we found two of its springs much bent, as if they had come in contact with a large stone. At 7 o’clock the “Terrible” made a signal that the “Medway” had hooked the cable, and we found her ½ a mile S by W of the bight buoy - the “Albany” grappling to the westward. At noon we were close to No. 6 buoy, lat. 51 31, & found by observations that it had not moved. Wind, N.W.
Monday, Aug. 27.-For the tenth time, we lowered the grapnel yesterday at 1.17 p.m., and it reached the bottom at 3.36. There was a general gloom over the ship. Men began to doubt whether, notwithstanding the fact of our having raised the cable, we should be able to get it up this season. In the North Sea and
Mediterranean, where cables have been picked up over and over again, a cable engineer can reckon upon having some calm weather, but in the Atlantic Ocean at this time of the year, there is no depending upon its continuing fine for twelve hours. We may hook the cable many a time, and even bring it to the surface, but there must be a comparatively smooth sea to enable the cable crew to handle it , and put the stoppers on, so as to bring it on board ship. However the general feeling on board the Great Eastern is, so long as there is a biscuit left, and a bit of rope, in the ship, we should persevere.
Just before dinner, the “Medway” having come up to us, sent a boat, and we learned from Mr. London when he came on board, that she had broken the cable SW of the buoy and set it adrift. We told her to pick it up, supposing the end still to be fast to No. 6.
This indeed was bad news, and added materially to the gloom which prevailed. There being no use in grappling for what we considered a loose bight, we commenced to haul in at 7.35 and signaled to the “Medway” with rockets not to touch the bight buoy, but to watch by it until further orders. At 10.25 the grapnel was up.
From that hour up to 1 o’clock this morning nothing particular occurred, when the “Albany” was observed bearing down upon us. She came close alongside, fired a gun, and her crew gave a ringing cheer. The welcome news was soon conveyed to the “Great Eastern”, that she had the end of the cable buoyed. The observations decided that the “Albany” had hooked it east of the bight held by No. 6.
Mr. Temple having come on board at an early hour this morning, informed us that he had hooked the cable at 5 p.m. yesterday, hove it up at 6.30, and got it over the bow at 11.30, buoying it at 12.30; so that having got down to convey to us the intelligence at 1.30 he had done a good deal of work in the time. It appears that the maximum strain on the dynamometer of the “Albany”, when the cable was hooked was 11 tons, and under 3 tons when it reached her bows. Considering that it was lifted by the “Albany” with the identical machinery and engine used by the “Great Eastern” in picking up last year, with 4 strands of the grapnel rope gone, and 3 of the flukes of the grapnel nearly straitened, we should never for one moment despair of recovering the Atlantic Telegraph cable of 1865.
We are now (10 am) close to No 8 buoy, which the “Albany” put down, and the ship’s stern is being brought to the wind in order to heave in the cable. The next few hours will be very exciting, and even if we should fail, at all events we have got a large piece of the cable cut off from the grapnel by Mr Temple before buoying it – the best and most practical evidence that it has been raised to the surface.
Monday 27th August = 9 p.m.
Mr. Willoughby Smith immediately proceeded to ascertain by taking resistances what length there was to be brought in, and pronounced that it would be but a mile or two. In a very short time, the engines working with great rapidity, 2 miles were brought on board & coiled below. The condition of the cable surprised everyone. There it was, almost as fresh as when it was put down a twelve-month ago—hemp & wire perfect. Above all, the gutta percha was as new in appearance as when it left the manufactory in the City Road; a fact so important, that notwithstanding the disappointment which we all felt, we know now that as an insulator it is practically superior to any, and that a cable once laid across the Atlantic without a fault, may be looked upon as permanently secure.
When we had got this piece of cable on board, we steamed for the bight-buoy with the view of hauling up the cable attached to it. We commenced picking up at 5.30. At the time I now write (9 p.m.) the grapnel-rope is coming in very fast, with a strain on the dynamometer amounting to nothing, so that if the cable was on, it must have slipped off the grapnel when it began to haul up.
The “Albany” leaves in the morning for England, having only ten days more provisions. If anything should occur between this & her departure, I shall add a postscript. We go tomorrow to fresh ground to grapple, animated with the best hopes, and with a determination to persevere to the last. We have just a month’s provisions on board. The “Terrible” must leave us for St. John’s on Monday next, her stock being nearly exhausted.
Tuesday August 28th.
We now hove up, and signalled to the “Medway” to do so as well. By observations at noon, we were in Lat 51 38 15 N. Long 38 14 45 W.
Wednesday August 29th.
By 7 15 p.m. the grapnel was again down with 2300 fathoms of rope. We drove ENE slowly backing, the ship’s stern to the northward, with one paddle wheel—the rope being at a very great angle. From 8 p.m. to midnight the wind was west, & the “Medway” was grappling two miles further to the westward. The strain of our grapnel rope became so great against the hawse-hole guard & side of the ship, that the dynamometer could not indicate properly, and it was suggested that the grapnel seldom touched the bottom, but was kept floating by the strong current. The wind was now increasing, and at 4 this morning was blowing half a gale. At 6 we commenced heaving up in sight of the buoy and the “Terrible”. At noon today Captn. Moriarty placed the ship in lat. 51 39 N. long. 38 13 30.
We are now going to change our ground, and try to grapple for the cable 100 miles to the eastward, in 1600 fathoms.
Thursday August 30th 1866.
Friday, Augt 31st.
Saturday, Septr 1st.
At 11 50 p.m. the strain on the dynamometer, which had been going up slowly from 7 to 8 gradually reached 9 & 9½. Mr. Canning and Mr. Clifford both pronounced that we had hooked the cable. The “Medway” signalled to us that she had also hooked the cable & slipped it, the fluke of her grapnel having broken. The strain was temporarily taken off the dynamometer by steaming ahead
a little, and when the engines were again stopped, and the ship allowed to resume her position over the grapnel rope, the strain again indicated was 9½ showing that undoubtedly the cable was hooked. Away went the pick-up engine again, and worked away all night. By 4.50 this morning, the sea being as smooth as glass, the cable was up to 800 fathoms from the surface, and the strain 7.4 tons. At 5.20 we stopped heaving up, and slipped bight and buoy No. 12.
Shortly afterwards we were glad to find the “Albany” in sight. Captn. Batt came on board at 8, and told us that they had come to the rendezvous according to signal, but were disappointed at not finding us. We had felt the force of a strong current sending us about ¾ mile an hour from the southward, and so we missed each other. At 10 o’clock, the weather still being all that could be desired, after steaming a couple of miles to the eastward, we have again lowered the grapnel, and hope for the best results.
Sunday Morning 3.45, September 2nd.
From 3 45 p.m. when we began to haul up, the strain on the dynamometer varied from 9 to 11. After dinner we received a signal from the “Medway” that she having hooked the cable she had hauled it up about 500 fathoms. We told her to heave up as rapidly as possible, and in fact to break the cable, so that we might have the strain taken off our portion of it, and so increase our chance of raising it to the surface. To the eastward the effect would be produced by the bight we lifted yesterday, and buoyed on the bight buoy.
The picking up went on with its usual certainty and precision, and by 12 o’clock (midnight) the bows of the ship were crowded not only by those actually on watch, but by nearly all the hands, who turned out to see the result of this attempt to recover the cable. By this time the boats of the “Albany” and “Medway” rowed up under our bows, not so much with a view to assist us in putting stoppers on the cable, but to be there in case any of the men who were lowered in bowlines over the bow should fall into the water during their perilous work.
Precisely at 12 50 this morning the cable made its appearance upon the grapnel, & save when the voice of Captn. Anderson or Mr. Canning was heard giving an order, one almost could hear a pin drop, such was the perfect silence which prevailed. No excitement, no cheering, as there was on the Sunday when we lifted it before - all was calm and quiet, the men scarcely spoke above their breath. The cable hands, having had the bowlines slipped over them were lowered down over the bows, and placed huge hempen stoppers on the cable, which was speedily attached to 5 inch ropes - one being placed to protect the eastward side of the bight, and the other the westward. This took the best part of three quarters of an hour. It was then found that the bight was so firmly caught in the springs of the grapnel, that one of the brave hands who put on the stoppers was sent lower down to the grapnel, and with hammer & marlinspike and other implements, the rope was ultimately freed from the tenacious grip of the flukes. The signal being given to haul up, the western end of the bight was cut with a saw, and grandly & majestically the cable rose up the frowning brows of the “Great Eastern”, slowly passing round the sheave at the bow, and then over the wheels on the fore
part of the deck. Even then there was no excitement, but now men were seen to cross the platform and to touch the rope in order to feel satisfied that success had been achieved.
The greatest possible care had to be taken by Mr. Canning and his assistants to secure the cable by putting stoppers on between the V wheel and the pick up machinery, and to watch the progress of the grapnel rope and shackles round the drum, before it received the cable itself. This occupied a considerable time; and now it became evident that ’ere long the end would be passed down as far aft as the Electrician’s room. There awaiting its arrival were Mr. Gooch MP, Mr. Cyrus Field, Captn. Hamilton, Mr. Canning, Mr. Clifford, Professor Thomson, Mr. Deane and others. At last Mr. Willoughby Smith, the Chief Electrician, made his appearance at the door with the end of the cable in his hand, & the connections having been made, he sat down opposite the instrument. A breathless silence prevailed. Not a word was spoken, all eyes being directed upon the experienced operator whose expression of countenance indicated the deep anxiety he felt in making the test. At the expiration of some ten minutes, he relieved our suspense by stating that as far as he had then gone, he believed the tests to be perfect; but another minute had scarcely elapsed when he took off his hat and gave a cheer, which as can be easily understood, was lustily taken up in the room, and having been heard outside, it was echoed from stem to stern of the ship with a heartiness which every Englishman can appreciate.
A rocket or two having been fired from the ship to announce to our convoy that we had succeeded, the crews of the “Albany” & “Medway” answered our cheer enthusiastically.
Mr. Canning at once sent a message to Mr. Glass the Managing Director of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Compy. expressing the pleasure he felt at speaking to him through the cable of 1865, and the operator at Valentia telegraphed back his congratulations.
We are now going to make the splice, which will take about 3 hours, and ’ere long & we hope to hear the welcome sound of the paying-out machinery in the stern of the ship.
The weather continues as calm as it was yesterday, and there is every probability that we shall be favoured with at all events some few hours more of quiet sea to enable us to slip the bight buoy, and proceed on our way to Heart’s Content.
Monday 3rd September
All went on well during the day. Several messages were sent from the ship to England & Newfoundland, and we got the current news from home. We learned after dinner that Captn. Commerell had arrived in the “Terrible” at St. Johns at noon, and we were also informed by Mr Kerr, commanding the “Lily” that he and the “Margaretta Stevenson” would meet us at the rendezvous at the Entrance of Trinity Bay. Orders were sent to the Agents, Brooking & Co of St John’s, to bring stores for the Great Eastern to Heart’s Content, and Mr Wyatt of that house, replies that he will be there on Saturday morning! And so, being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we talked to Valentia, Valentia to Newfoundland, Newfoundland to Valentia, and Valentia back to us, a distance of nearly 5500 miles.
Captain Anderson wants to know what sort of weather there is in Newfoundland, and while sitting with Mr Willoughby Smith in the Electrician’s room, I saw the message sent to Heart’s Content via Valentia, and in less than 10 minutes, the answer comes back “Wind North, light breeze”! What will Lieut. Maury say to all this? For we hear that he has told the public that it is an impossibility to pick up the cable of 1865. What will Professor This, and Doctor That, and Philosopher the other say, who have been shaking their wise heads for the last year? Where are the abstruse calculations about forces engaged in lifting the cable? Where the theories about volcanic action in certain places well known to them at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean?
What about the certainty of the failure of Gutta Percha as an insulator? Why, simply and practically this – the Atlantic Telegraph Cable of 1865 has been picked up after a fortnight’s hard work, and we are sending and receiving messages through it.
But now we have to try and finish the work by landing it at Heart’s Content, and have to encounter all the difficulties inseparable from Ocean Cable laying. It was only this morning at 3 o’clock that we were reminded of our old enemy “Foul-flake”. A part in the coil brought away the next turn with it, but before it could get up in the “eye”, it was held back by the watch in the tank. The order was given to stop the engines, but it was all right before the paddles and screw ceased to revolve. It is a curious coincidence that this occurred almost at the precise spot where the cable was lost last year.
It is blowing very strong from the ENE with a heavy sea. Toward noon, the glass was going up, and there is evidence that the wind is about to moderate. At noon today we were in Lat 51 34 N Long 39 35 W. DR having run up to the present time 117 miles from the splice, and paid out 134 miles of cable. Distance from Heart’s Content 586 miles.
Tuesday Sept 4th.
The night passed very quietly, the wind having gone down completely. Our progress since noon yesterday to noon today - Captn. Moriarty having obtained sights – has been 109 miles - course N 73 W Lat 51 2 26 N Long 41 53 W. 227 miles from Splice, and 494.6 from Heart’s Content. Depth, 2424 fathoms.
Friday 7th Septr. noon.
The official statement showing the position of the ship &c, is put up in the saloons at noon daily, and here is the form in which it has been kept. It is signed by Captn. Anderson and Staff Commander Moriarty.
Last night a congratulatory telegram came to Mr Cyrus Field from Mr Low, President of the New York Chamber of Commerce, requesting him to send a message to be read at a meeting of that body held today. It was thought right to send a reply in the names of the Directors on board who have accompanied the Expedition. It was in the following words:– “The undersigned Directors on board the Great Eastern send their greetings to the New York Chamber of Commerce, and take advantage of the success which has crowned the efforts of the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Coy. to recover the cable temporarily lost last year, to convey to them through it and the cable laid in July last the hope generally entertained throughout the United Kingdom that the telegraphic communication now established between that country and the United States will tend to promote peace and harmony between them. Signed, Danl. Gooch, Chairman of Great Ship Company, Director of the Telegraphic Construction & Maintenance Compy and of Anglo-American Compy, Aug T. Hamilton, Cyrus W. Field, Directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Compy and Anglo American Telegraph Compy”
The “Medway” has just been despatched to look for the “Terrible” whom we expect in a few hours, as she left St John’s last night. The weather is very fine, and the sea quite smooth. We hope to be well up the Bay by 12 o’clock tomorrow.
Saturday September 8th.
At that hour, the wheels of the “Great Eastern” were suddenly stopped, the alarm of a “fault” in the cable having been made from the Electrician’s room. While a message from Valentia was being received, the spot of light disappeared from the scale of the galvanometer, indicating “dead earth”. Instructions were speedily given, and the cable was cut immediately, forward of the paying-out machinery, and tested through a wire leading to the testing room; the result of which was, a declaration on Mr Smith’s part that the fault was not far off. He next tested the sea end, and very much to his own gratification, as well as to the joy of every one on board the shop, it was reported to be perfect. Valentia upon being called, gave an immediate reply. Communication was now stopped in order to make a splice with another length of cable in the after-tank, and in about half an hour it was completed, and the ship on her way up Trinity Bay – Heart’s Content being distant 13 miles. the discovery of this fault was instantaneous, and showed the great practical utility of Mr Willoughby Smith’s new testing arrangement, which has already been described.
We went on paying out until 2.20 Greenwich time or 10.45 ship’s time, and shortly afterwards, the “Terrible’s” paddle box boats, under the command of Lieut. Curtis, First Lieut. and Lieut. Arundell were under the stern of the “Great Eastern”. The cable was then cut and handed into his charge to pass to the “Medway”, on board of which was coiled the shore end. The big ship having now completed her work, steamed slowly into the Harbour of Heart’s Content followed by the “Terrible”, “Lily”, & “Margaretta Stevenson”.
The splice took about two hours to make on board the “Medway”, & at 3 pm (ship’s time) she had arrived in the Harbour, and anchored opposite the Telegraph House.
The shore end was now passed to the boats of the “Terrible” under the immediate
superintendence of Mr Canning, Chief Engineer, Mr Clifford, and Messrs Temple & Loudon. Shortly after 4 o’clock it was landed amidst the enthusiastic cheers of those who were scattered about the beach, a royal salute being fired from the “Terrible”, “Lily” and “Great Easter”. Passed up from the shore in the trench leading to the Telegraph House, the end was speedily handed into the instrument room and the connections made. The cable crew were loud in their congratulations to their chief Mr Canning, & he and his able assistant Mr Clifford had to submit to the process of being chaired around the large space adjoining the Telegraph House where the end was coiled. Mr Field received a similar honour. the Governor, the Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, Mr Gooch, Capn Hamilton, Mr Field, Mr Deane were in the operator’s room; and the first message having been sent and an answer received from Valentia, a loud cheer was given by those assembled there. His Excellency and the Bishop saying a few words appropriate to the occasion. An address of congratulation from the Commercial Society of St John’s was presented to Captn. Anderson, Mr Canning, Mr Gooch, Mr Field, and the principal executive officers engaged in the cable expedition, to which a suitable reply was given and a large party of ladies & gentlemen were entertained on board the ship.
Sunday 9th Septr.
The “Blue Peter” was now sent up to the fore of the “Great Eastern”, and everything being in readiness, Mr Halpin was again seen on the bow superintending the weighing of the anchor. But this time he was doomed to a disappointment of a very peculiar kind. when the anchor stock came up to the surface of the water, it was found to be minus the anchor itself! So the big ship had lain quietly all night in the Harbour, where it blew half a gale of wind, and upon looking at her position, she did not appear to have shifted a yard! The anchor was one of Trotman’s. At 3 p.m. we were under weigh, amidst the cheers of the “Terrible” & “Medway” repeated over & over again. Mr Cyrus Field on leaving the ship for the latter vessel, in which he goes to lay the cable from Cape Ray to Cape North was heartily cheered by the whole crew.
There is every probability of the weather being fine. All on board are looking forward with happiness & pleasure to meet their friends in England, and feel proud in having been identified with an Enterprise which will be ever memorable in the history of the world.
Notice to Ships to avoid the Atlantic Cables in Trinity Bay
This information on the location of the Atlantic cable(s) at Newfoundland was published under the heading Nautical Notices in the October 1866 edition of The Nautical Magazine. This must have been written before the successful completion of the 1865 cable on 8 September 1866, as the last paragraph notes that this second cable was only “intended” to be landed at Heart’s Content.
48: Atlantic Cable Caution
Caution to avoid Anchoring near Atlantic Telegraph Cable at Newfoundland.—The shore end of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable passes 150 yards west of Norther point, on the east side of the entrance to Heart's Content harbour, Trinity bay; and from thence, two beacons-situated over the southern cove of the harbour—will be seen in line S.b.W.; these beacons mark the direction of the cable's first course into the harbour.
When the white beacon on the eastern shore is in line with the School house, the cable commences to curve to the eastward, and continues to do so until the Church tower is in line with the northern pier, on the shore under the Church; on this line the Atlantic Cable approaches the shore within a cable's length, and thence to the land under the Telegraph Office.
Vessels intending to anchor, should carefully avoid the line indicated above, by anchoring either east of the line of the Southern beacons, and north of the line where the East beacon bears S.E.½E., appearing midway between the School house and the house next south of it; or by anchoring South of the line where the Telegraph station flag bears S.E.b.E., on with a whitewashed stone on the shore, as on this latter line it is intended to place a second Telegraph Cable.
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Last revised: 6 September, 2023