Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Clipper ship, not named, in a hurricane force gale, from NYPL. Neptune lines ' Neptune Car ' had two captains through the gales around Cape Horn- husband and wife.
As the country stood on war's knife's edge, March, 1861 saw the death and burial of Mary Ann Brown Patten, in Boston, Massachusetts. By April, Massachusetts and Maine regiments were forming- a George Patten, 16th Maine volunteers left for his war having buried a buried and sister-in-law.
Mary Ann Brown Patten, wife of Captain Joshua Adams Patten, of Neptune lines extreme clipper, Neptune's Car
There's a fairly famous story surrounding the also-famous ' extreme ' clippership ', " Neptune's Car " launched in Virginia by a the famous " Neptune " line. We hear a lot about female soldiers- not very many years before they marched off in disguise, a female ship's captain made new.
At her death, Mary Ann was only 24. ' Consumption ' killed her, TB. She was a young mother, leaving son Joshua an orphan. Mary Ann's husband Captain Joshua Adam Patten died a year previously. Her widowed mother and family, with whom she'd been living since her husband's death raised Joshua.
She's here, aged 23, 11 months and 11 days
" Extreme " Clippers were built for speed, cargo space was necessarily less since fatter hulls meant slower passages. Still. In an age when getting from a. to b. quickly was a constant contest ( and records contested ), there was a demand.
Joshua, at 24 married his teen bride not long before she accompanied him on a new command- extreme clipper " Neptune's Car ". 19 and pregnant, Mary Ann's berth wasn't unusual. With ships' captains away at sea for long months ( and years ), wives frequently made some trip instead of enduring separation. So- July 19th, 1856 saw the Pattens, ' Neptune's Car ', and a load of mining supplies leave Hudson Bay for San Francisco. The crew included a malcontent Lt. - a Mr. Keeler, and an inept navigator for the second lt., Hale. When the former , mutinously inclined was relieved from duty , the latter, a Mr. Hale was promoted.
Why mutinous? Keeler had a shot at inflaming the ship's company on the grounds their captain was taking them into danger. Well he shouldn't have come- rounding The Horn was dangerous for any ship. Anyway, in the frigid waters off Tierra Del Fuego Captain Joshua stayed on duty fighting gales for so long he collapsed-
Mary Brown Patten had her husband strapped in to his cot, faced down sailors determined to navigate towards safer waters and took the wheel in 60 foot waves. While her husband worsened to the point of losing sight and hearing, Mary charted, logged and nursed, wore the same clothes for 50 days and finally, nearly 5 months after leaving Hudson Bay, took the helm into San Francisco's bay.
Captains Mary and Joshua received grateful commendations from the line's owners- I think Mary Patten, besides being the media wonder of her time, received 1,000 dollar check. Husband nor wife ever recovered- Joshua failed until 1858, Mary's consumption killing her in 1861- weeks before war broke out.
I mention Joshua's brother George on purpose- leaving behind family tragedy to witness more, this death a mere month before Edwin Ruffin gave that cord a savage, history changing yank. Pretty sure George made it home - he left us all a ring carved from bone while in camp, 1865.
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