Capture of a Slave Ship, African Coast, 1857

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This record was last updated on 26 Jan 2015

Image Reference

The Illustrated London News (Sept. 19, 1857), vol. 31, p. 284.

Caption, "H.M. Gun-boat 'Teaser' capturing the slaver 'Abbot Devereux'." Written by the captain or another officer of the British naval vessel, this eyewitness account, dated Aug. 6, 1857 (with accompanying sketches), describes the capture of a slaver off the coast of Whydah (Ouidah), in West Africa. There were 235 enslaved Africans on board, and although the nationality of the slaver is not mentioned, it had a 27 man crew of Spaniards, Americans, Portuguese, and Brazilians. The writer describes the chase in detail and adds: "As soon as we boarded her the hatches were opened, and such a scene never was witnessed. The slaves had been battened down all day during our nine hours' chase. They were all seasick and the stench and filth are incredible; perhaps you can imagine 235 human beings shut up in a place 50 feet by 20 feet, and only 3 feet 6 inches high, just room enough to clear the top of their heads when they are in a sitting position. They cried and sang, and those who could danced with delight." The liberated Africans were sent to Sierra Leone, "the first full vessel taken to Sierra Leone for upwards of nine years" (pp. 283-284).