While this story is both sad and happy, I'll be willing to bet that there were many similar stories we never heard! After all, the sea can keep many secrets, right?
The Crew Of The Peggy
American sloop The Peggy was returning to New York in 1765 after trading in the Azores. For almost the entire month of November, The Peggy struggled to cross the Atlantic as one storm after another pounded the ship. The mast, sails, and rigging were all damaged. The ship was adrift and it’s hull was leaking badly. What few provisions survived the storms were quickly exhausted as the crew worked desperately to keep The Peggy afloat. It was obvious the men of The Peggy would starve long before reaching land, even after the ship’s cat was killed and eaten. Their only hope was the unlikely chance another ship might pass nearby.
Initial talk of cannibalism among the crew was shut down by the captain, David Harrison, but it was futile. By mid-January, the crew had eaten all the leather and candles aboard the ship, and with Captain Harrison bedridden, the crew resorted to cannibalism. The customary lottery was mere pretense—it seems the crew had already decided Harrison’s black manservant should be the one to make the ultimate “sacrifice.”
At the end of January, the body of the servant was gone and the captain clung to life on a mixture of water and rum rather than take part in the cannibalistic proceedings. A second lottery was conducted, but the victim, David Flatt, was granted a night’s reprieve to pray thanks to the pleas of a haggard Captain Harrison. Miraculously, a London-bound ship brought salvation to all aboard The Peggy—including Flatt—the next morning. The crew of The Peggy had been preparing a fire to cook the next victim when the captain of The Susan provided the starving sailors with food, tackle, and escort to London.
Guess that working as a sailor wasn't always good for your health! Probably didn't pay very well either. Certainly not enough to chance being on the menu!
Once more we'll have our coffee in the kitchen. Flat out cold this morning, ya know?