Stories of the Sea

Wreck of the Brig, 'Billow', at Ragged Islands, N.S.

LOSS OF ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN LIVES!

The Brig 'Billow', 160 tons, James A. Dennis master and part owner, sailed from Bermuda on the 3rd April, 1831, for Halifax, with discharged soldiers, in charge of Lieutenant Listen, 81st Regiment, and was wrecked at night on the Outermost Ledge of rocks, one -third of a mile from the Ragged Islands, and about twelve miles East from Shelburne Light, during the gale of 9th and 10th of April.

Of the One Hundred and Thirty-seven persons on board not one escaped to tell the dreadful tale! From a document found on the shore, the following detail of the number on board is taken , namely: - one Commisioned Officer, one Non-Commissioned Officer, thirty eight Privates, twenty Women, sixty-eight Children, eight Crew, and one Passenger, (Mr. John Bond, of Yarmouth;) in all one hundred and thirty-seven.

The number of bodies found - drifted on shore - were eight Privates, six Women, and sixteen Children - in all thirty. Her crew consisted of - James Hilton, 1st Mate; Mr. _______ Curry, 2nd Mate; John R. Crosby, Reuben Hersey, two brothers named Clements of Chebogue, Seamen; and Amos Richardson, cook. A raft made of some of the deck-planks and rails of the vessel - to which a number of the bodies were of the crew and passengers were lashed - drifted on shore about two miles to the East-ward of the wreck.

It is stated that this was the most distressing event, that had occurred on the Nova Scotia coast since the loss of the H.M.S. 'La Tribune', near Herrring Cove, Halfax, in November, 1797.

From the Yarmouth Record of Shipping - Pages 224-225.

There are also a considerable number of lines of dramatic poetry written about the event with the below caption:

The following lines (Taken from the 'Yarmouth Telegraph', of 18th May, 1832,) were written by a person who had friends on board this ill-fated vessel, and who visited the scene of the wreck a short time afterwards. (The information would be available from the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives if any one is interested.)

Click on the below thumbnail to see an expanded image of a modern 'Brig' vessel.

Highslide JS
A photo of USS Brig Niagara in near full sail.

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