Send Us Help or We Are Lost

Found 6 August 1883, Sea Isle City, New Jersey.

In a bottle, picked up on the beach next to life-saving station 34:

Off Jersey coast. Lost at sea June 21, 1883, bark Atlanta, bound from Genoa to New-York. Have been without food for three days. Send us help or we are lost. Have buried Captain, mate, boatswain, and all but three sailors. Help us or we perish.

In July 1883 the US Board of Health reported three cases of yellow fever aboard a bark named Atlanta, which arrived at New Orleans (not New York) from Genoa after a journey of 97 days. The mate had died, and other crew-members had “dissipated”. The ship had not visited any ports known to carry yellow fever. A few weeks later, Dr Holt, the president of the Board of Health, stated his opinion that “it was alcoholism, not yellow fever, from which the mate died and the others were made sick”.

[New York Times, 7 August, 1883]

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