Friday, October 13, 2017

OCTOBER 13 = The U.S. Navy is Born



The United States Navy was given it's "birth certificate" on today's date, October 13 in 1775 by an act of the Continental Congress. Thus, today is the official birthday of the U.S. Navy.

The Need For a Navy

Commerce was a matter of prime importance to Americans who resided and made their living off of the coastal waterways of New England in the fall of 1775.  The fortunes and livelihoods of these men were tied directly to the sea. And thus the idea of a war with the most powerful fleet in the world (the British Navy) must have filled them with dread. So the matter of naval defense was naturally uppermost in their minds when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in the fall of 1775 (above). Afterall, Congress had created an army to fight the Red Coated British Army.  Why not a naval force of some kind?

The Continental Congress Debates the Idea

The proposal was introduced on October 3, and found many influential Congressmen very strongly opposed to the idea.  Edward Rutledge of
South Carolina (right) denounced the proposal as "the most wild, visionary mad project that ever had been imagined." Mr. Rutledge was further convinced that this idea would warp the minds of the sailors, essentially turning them into a pack of  Buccaneers: "it would ruin the character, and corrupt the morals of all our Seamen . . . [making] them selfish, piratical, mercenary, [and] bent wholly on plunder." Samuel Chase of Maryland was certain that the construction of a Navy would bring financial ruin and bankrupt the continent.  it was "the maddest idea in the world," But the navy was supported by one of the most
most effective speakers in the Congress: John Adams. Adams (below)
and his fellow "navalists" centered in on the possible benefits of having a navy "distressing the enemy" as well as creating a  "a system of maritime and naval operations" to defend the American ports against wholesale British Naval attacks at will. In the end Adams and his allies won the argument, and on this day of October 13 passed the following resolution:

 "Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct."

"Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct."

Thus with the navy formally organized on Dec. 22, one Esek Hopkins was named the first Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy.  Hopkins didn't prove to be a very good C. in C.;
"a strawman admiral" in the words of some of his contemporaries.  But there were other stronger and substantial men waiting in the wings to take the lead when there was real fighting to be done; men such as Capt. John Barry, and Lt. John Paul Jones. It was a small group of twenty or so ships, mostly converted from merchant service.  But they did their jobs bravely (see "I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT!!" http://historysstory.blogspot.com/2013/09/september-23-i-have-not-yet-begun-to.html)
And thus from such humble beginnings arose what would eventually the most powerful navy in
the world.



Sources =

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_Navy#Foundations_of_the_.22Old_Navy.22

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=49113

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/continental-congress-authorizes-first-naval-force

"Picture History of the United States Navy" by Theodore Roscoe & Fred Freeman
Bonanza Books, New York, 1956.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Rutledge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams

























Tuesday, October 10, 2017

OCTOBER 10 = The "Great Hurricane" of 1780



"At Barbados, where the cyclone had commenced it's terrible spiral, the wind was unchained with such fury, that the inhabitants hiding in their cellars did not hear their houses falling above their heads..." - Elisee' Reclus

"... a dreadful hurricane which began to rage with great fury at noon and continue with great violence till four o'clock the next morning, the 11th; At eight o'clock at night St. Thomas's parsonage was demolished and the church where the Rector and his family saought shelter began to fall about two hours after, the Chancel fell while the family were in the church ... St. Thomas's Chapel, St. Michael's, St. George's, Christ Church's and St. Lucy's churches were totally destroyed..."

 - St. Thomas, Barbados, parish marriage registers, 1780

With all of the news recently of the terrible destruction wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, I thought it might bring some useful perspective to point out that there have been hurricanes which caused much greater loss of life back in the days before we gave hurricanes name designations.  In fact on today's date, October 10 in 1780 a hurricane struck the West Indies that has the distinction of being the worst in history in terms of lives lost. What has become known a "the Great Hurricane of 1780" cost an estimated 20 to 22,000 lives.

The West Indies in 1780

The West Indies were a source of considerable riches for all of the
great powers of Europe by the late 1700's, as they were a rich source of spices and especially sugar.  So by the end of the American Revolution, both England and France had significant naval assets patrolling the waters of this region. But on the evening of Oct. 10 both navies were dealt a serious blow not from cannon fire, but from the hurricane which ravaged the entire area. The skies have been reported as having been orange that night before the hurricane hit at about 10:00. It raged on for eight days throughout the area, especially the island of Barbados, completely destroying it, leaving nary a tree nor a building still standing.

It then moved on to St. Lucia wherein the fleet of 12 ships of the British Navy under the command of Admiral George Radney had been anchored.  Eight of these warships were sunk with the loss of hundreds of sailors and soldiers (The area of the hurricane is in the map above). But the French got a worse hit than the Brits when a fleet of 40 ships were vanquished by the storm with a loss of 4,000 sailors &  soldiers sustained. Admiral Radney wrote of the destruction: “The strongest buildings and the whole of the houses, most of which were stone, and remarkable for their solidity, gave way to the fury of the wind, and were torn up to their foundations; all the forts destroyed, and many of the heavy cannon carried upwards of a hundred feet from the forts. Had I not been an eyewitness, nothing could have induced me to have believed it. More than six thousand persons perished, and all the inhabitants are entirely ruined.”

"A general convulsion of nature seemed to take place..."

"Whole families were buried in the ruins of their inhabitations; and many, in attempting to escape, were maimed and disabled.  A general convulsion of nature seemed to take place, and a universal destruction ensued. The strongest colours could not paint to your Lordship the miseries of the inhabitants: on the one hand, the ground covered with the mangled bodies of their friends and relations, on the other, reputable families, wandering through the ruins, seeking for food and shelter; in short, imagination can form but a faint idea of the horrors of this dreadful scene."
- Maj. Gen. Vaughn. Comm. of British forces in the area.

 On it's path of devastation through the West Indies, the hurricane,
packing winds of up to 200 mph, killed over 20,000 people, maybe as many as 24,000, thus making the Great Hurricane of 1780 the deadliest hurricane in Atlantic hurricane history.



Sources =

"Darkest Hours - the Great Book of Worldwide Disasters" by J. Robert Nash, Wallaby Books,
New York. 1976

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hurricane_of_1780

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/great-hurricane-ravages-west-indies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Caribbean




















Thursday, September 28, 2017

SEPTEMBER 28 = Hitler's Life Spared by Brit Soldier?



Out of the time-shrouded mists of a long ago war, one nearly forgotten by today's generation comes a story which may or
may not be true... it could be a kind of urban legend from history. Indeed the records to confirm it are pretty few. And mostly it relies on memory.  Nevertheless, it may be that on today's date, September 28, in 1918 a British soldier might have had his gun on a German soldier, and let him go. And the soldiers name might have been Corporal Adolf Hitler!

What EXACTLY is Supposed to Have Happened?

Henry Tandy (above), a private in the British in the British army who came from Warwickshire, had served with great distinction and bravery all over the Western Front during World War One. He had fought at Ypres, and the Somme just to name two of the major battles in which Pvt. Tandy took part. He became the single most decorated Private in the British Army during W.W. I. In fact he went on to win the Victoria Cross... England's highest military award. And this he earned
for "conspicuous bravery" displayed during the period from July to October 1918, when serving with the 5th Duke of Wellington Regiment.  At that time he took part in the successful British capture of the French village of Marcoing. During the later portion of the battle, when the Germans were in retreat, Tandy later reported that a weary German soldier came into Tandey’s gun sights. The German (above, Hitler, circa W.W. I) was wounded and did not even try raise his own rifle. Tandey chose not to shoot. “I took aim but couldn’t shoot a wounded man,” Tandey recalled, “so I let him go.” The German soldier saw him lowering his weapon and nodded his thanks before disappearing.

How Did it Become Known That This Might Have Been Hitler?

Ok. So a Brit soldier lets a German go in the midst of  a battle. How did it become known that this might have been Hitler? Well there are no sources to place Hitler's whereabouts on that day, but an interesting link later developed. A newspaper article was published about Tandy's
being awarded the Victoria Cross in Oct., 1918.  Hitler saw this article, and recognizing the picture of Tandy as being the man who had spared him clipped the article and kept it. In 1923 an artist named Fortunino Matania did a painting of Tandy saving comrades at the Battle of Ypres in 1914. In 1937, when Hitler was der Fuehrer and in charge of Germany he was made aware of Mantania's  painting and upon seeing a copy of the painting recognized the man in the painting as having been Tandy, from the newspaper article he had clipped and kept from 1918. Hitler ordered a copy of the painting and had it displayed at his alpine retreat, the Berghof,  A year later British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came to the Berghof to make the infamous Munich Agreement (which he said would bring "peace in our time" but did nothing of the sort). Chamberlain saw the Mantania portrait and inquired about it. Hitler replied:

"That man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again; Providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us."

Hitler then asked Chamberlain to give his regards to Tandy so the story goes, and Chamberlain said he would. Whether or not he did so is unclear; accounts exist of a phone call that was answered by
Tandy's nephew William. But it has been reported that the Tandy residence did not have a phone. And there is no reference to Tandy among Chamberlain's papers about the 1938 meeting.  Still Chamberlain must have told someone because the story got out in 1940 and has been talked about ever since.  Is it true? We may never know for sure. But it is certainly odd that of all people, Hitler should have mounted an image (below) depicting Allied heroism in his home. He must have recognized something.....



Sources =

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/british-soldier-allegedly-spares-the-life-of-an-injured-adolf-hitler

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/henry-tandey-vc-man-who-3009915

http://www.worldwar1.com/heritage/hitler2.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Tandey


























Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SEPTEMBER 20 = Arthur Becomes Third POTUS in One Year



Our political system may seem VERY odd... especially this
year with all off the unprecedented things going on with Donald Trump as President of the United States (POTUS). That statement
is intended neither as a criticism nor an endorsement of Mr. Trump.  But it has been an odd year. Well things were even stranger back in 1881. Because it was on this date, September 20, 1881 that Chester Alan Arthur (above)
a man who was hardly well known was inaugurated as POTUS. And he was the THIRD man to hold the office in that year.

Hayes to Garfield

The year 1881 began with Rutherford B. Hayes finishing his term.  Hayes had been elected under some very shady circumstances; it had come down to a tie back on election night in 1876 and several states were in dispute. Eventually the election was awarded to Hayes, who was thereafter called Rutherfraud B. Hayes in many quarters by bitter Democrats who felt that the election had been stolen from them.  Be that as it may, in an election that pitted the Ohio Republican James A. Garfield, a former Union General against another former Union general, Winfield Scott Hancock, Garfield managed to squeeze by
Hancock by a mere 10,000 votes out of the nine million cast. Garfield had chosen as his running mate one Chester Alan Arthur a man who had held the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York. Mr. Arthur had been known as a man who did the bidding of the political bosses.  Thus he was a man with a checkered reputation to say the least.

And Then Garfield's Gone...

   Nevertheless, he was sworn in along with James Garfield on March 4, 1881 as President and Vice President respectively.  Garfield began his administration intending to deal with Civil Service reform, and tariff reform, among other thiings.  Charles J. Guiteau, who considered himself an important part of  the victory was in fact nothing of the sort. He had written a speech supporting Garfield for president, and got it printed by the Republican National Committee but could find no important platform from which to deliver it. And when he did find a chance to deliver it, he couldn't finish it because he was so nervous. But
still Guiteau thought that he deserved some important position as a result of his "part" in Garfield's victory. In fact, he felt that he should be made the U.S. Consul in Paris.  Never mind that he spoke nary a word of French, nor any other  language than English. Garfield like any POTUS had tons of mediocre men wanting federal appointments and he met with Guiteau.  But seeing Guiteau as just another office seeker (which he was), he turned him down. Guiteau was furious and mentally unbalanced. So he got a gun and on July 2, shot President Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. (above). Guiteau tried to leave the station, but was apprehended a few minutes later.

Garfield Dies Slowly, and Then It's Arthur

   Garfield's death proved to  be a slow and painful one. This was mainly doctors did not  know how to treat the  wound. One bullet grazed his
arm, but the  other hit him in the back, shattering a rib and was lodged in his abdomen. He was taken first to the White House, but later was taken to Franklyn Cottage on the Atlantic coast to get him
away from the heat of Washington. It was hoped that the sea-side air would help his condition.  But the doctors just didn't know how to get at the bullet. And the wound was slowly becoming more infected and poisoning the President's blood. Although he seemed to rally a couple of times over the more than two and a half months of his confinement to a hospital bed, he never left that bed. And he died on today's date in 1881. Thus Arthur became the third president to take office in 1881. At the start of his administration, Arthur had a tough time with his past as a favor distributing party hack from the New York Republican machine.  But he actually wound up doing a good job in civil service reform. He sponsored and enforced the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Guiteau was found guilty of  Garfield's murder and was executed on June 3, 1882.

Actually, this came forty years after a previous year of three Presidents.  In 1841, Martin Van Buren's term came to an end in March, and he was succeeded by William Henry Harrison. President Harrison
developed pneumonia, and died after a mere month in office (the shortest presidential term in history), and his Vice President, John Tyler became the third POTUS in that year.



Sources:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/chester-arthur-becomes-third-president-to-serve-in-one-year

"Presidential Campaigns" by Paul F. Boller Jr., Oxford University Press, New York, 1984.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutherford_B._Hayes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_A._Arthur

Thursday, July 27, 2017

JULY 27 = Korean War Armistice is Signed



The Korean War came to a complete if inconclu-sive end on today's date, July 27 in 1953. The preamble to the treaty itself (the signing is pictured  above) makes that clear enough for all to see:

"The undersigned, the (all the belligerent states), in the interest of stopping the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides, and with the objective of establishing an armistice which will insure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved, do individually, collectively, and mutually agree to accept and to be bound and governed by the conditions and terms of armistice set forth in the following articles and paragraphs..."

And that was it.  No formal surrender as the Germans had done at Reims in 1945, and no grand ceremony of complete surrender as the Japanese had delivered on the Battleship Missouri in Tokyo harbor, also in 1945. It was for the "... stopping the Korean conflict, with its great toil of suffering and bloodshed on both sides...." and that was it. The two sides has spent over three years beating each others brains out, and they both had had enough.

The Korean War and It's Course

The Korean War had begun on June 25, 1950 when the Army of Communist North Korea suddenly and without provocation invaded the territory of Non-Communist South Korea in great numbers. This was a complete surprise to the western powers which supported a fee and independent government on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.  Soon it became clear that the South Korean Army would not be capable of defending their territory without assistance from it's western allies. In his thoughts about whether or not to intervene, U.S. President Harry Truman thought back the policy of appeasement which had ultimately lead to World War II: "If this was allowed to go unchallenged, it would mean a third world war, just as smaller incidents had brought on the second world war.” After debating the matter, the United Nations Security Council, June 27, 1950, published Resolution 83 which recommended member state military assistance to the Republic of Korea. This lead to armed forces from well over a dozen United Nations member states other than the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK)  into combat operations against the communist forces which were supported militarily by the U.S.S.R.

The Fighting goes Up and Down Korea Until a Stalemate is Reached

The North Koreans smashed a path all the way to a small parcel of land known as the Pusan Perimeter. There the U.S./R.O.K. hung on by their fingernails until September 1950, when a surprise landing by the U.S. Marines under the command of General Douglas MacArthur far in the 
rear of the North Korean lines broke the back of their offensive and forced them to withdraw deep into their won territory, all the way to the Chinese boarder.Then the Chinese attacked with over 30 Divisions in November and December of 1951, thus forcing the U.N. (United Nations) forces back to nearly the 39 parallel wherein the war began in the first place, Eventually Truman fired MacArthur on April 11, 1951, for insubordination over the war's direction. The fighting and bloodshed went on until Dwyght Eisenhower took over as President. 

Ike Goes to Korea, Changes Course...Slightly

All throughout the 1952 Presidential Campaign General Eisenhower (below) had pledged that if elected he would go to Korea to see the 
stalemate for himself. Thus when he became President in January of 1953 and saw that stalemate in person, he decided a new approach was needed.  He began allowing Nationalist 
Chinese forces from Taiwan to launch harassing air raids for their territory. He began leaning on the South Koreans to scale back on some of their demands.  And most importantly he began to publically hint that he might use the American nuclear advantage to break the stalemate in Korea. Whether or not Ike's hint that he might nuke the north were serious (that would likely set off World War III) the new approach helped. By July 1954 the two sides had hammered out their differences and had an ARMISTICE treaty ready to go.  And this was signed by the belligerents at the village of Panmunjom.

ARMISTICE NOT a Peace Treaty

This is why I made such a point referring the end of the Korean War as being complete, but inconclusive. The combat has long since stopped, and we can all be thankful for that. But and "Armistice" refers just to a cessation of hostilities, not a formal state of peace brought about by thee surrender of one side to the other..  And an armistice is all we have with North Korea.  And whatever one can say about communism -vs- capitalism, one has only to look at the bright vibrant economy
of the South Korea -vs- the misery, slavery, and "let's threaten the world with nukes" attitude of the "Dear Leader" in charge of North Korea, to have a clear answer about whether thee Korean War was worth he trouble.










Seoul, South Korea
                                                                                                                Pyongyang, North Korea





Sources =

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/armistice-ends-the-korean-war

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Armistice_Agreement

https://web.archive.org/web/20140305164517/http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/korea/kwarmagr072753.html

"Truman" by David Mc Cullough, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992.

http://historysstory.blogspot.com/2013/06/june-25-korean-war-begins.html













Sunday, July 16, 2017

JULY 16 = The Atom Bomb is First Tested



On today's date, July 16 in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the first atom bomb is success- fully tested in Alamo- gordo, New Mexico. This was the end result of  the Manhattan Project,  which was the code name that was given to the efforts of the United States government to produce an Atom Bomb. Pictured above is a photo of the explosion.

 Leó Szilárd and Albert Einstein Warn FDR

The effort had been going on for some years, ever since a letter written by the famed physicist Albert Einstein, and conceived by Einstein and the Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd In 1939 was sent to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Einstein (below) and Szilárd came to the conclusion that the neutron-driven fission of heavy atoms could possibly utilized to create a nuclear chain reaction which could yield vast amounts of energy for electric power generation or... atomic bombs. In the letter, written on August 2, 1939, just one month minus a day that Hitlers' armies invaded Poland and began World War II. And the letter didn't hesitate to point fingers:

"I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium 
from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsäcker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated."

General Groves Assembles the Team

This led FDR to the conclusion that a committee of scientists needed to be formed in order to counter the Nazi threat.  Initially the amount of $6,000.00 was granted toward this project, but with onset of war with Germany in December of 1941 this cap was removed. Brigadier
General Leslie Groves (left) who had himself spent his army career as an engineer, was put in charge of organizing the whole project, which included assembling the finest scientific minds in the United States, and bringing them into his program. Groves was introduced to Robert Oppenheimer.  Oppenheimer had like Einstein and others had made known his concerns about the Germans coming up with an atomic weapon, and this brought him to Groves attention. Groves had been favorably impressed with clarity of Oppenheimer's vision as well as his determination to get the bomb before the Germans could.  These were two very different types of men; Groves determined and quite boorish, and Oppenheimer cerebral and intellectual. But they both managed to work together at the secret facility that was put together by Groves at Los Alamos, New Mexico. In true U.S. Governmental fashion, the Manhattan Project grew to the employment of over 130,000 people and cost close to US $2 billion (roughly $27 billion in 2016 dollars).

The Bomb is Assembled and Tested

Neither Groves nor Oppenheimer were pleasant taskmasters for the men working under them. Maj. General Kenneth Nichols called Groves "...the biggest sonovabitch I ever met in my life. I hated his guts and 
so did everybody else." But with the men working at Los Alamos and elsewhere in the country he and Oppenheimer produced results - the bomb which was tested on this date.  The first detonation of a nuclear weapon was given the Code Name "Trinity"
by the ever mercurial Oppenheimer (right) who had been so inspired by the poetry of John Donne a  poet of Elizabethan England.  After an earlier delay Groves resumed the countdown. At the sixty second point, the scientists smeared suntan lotion on their faces, slipped on welding goggles, and huddled behind their sandbag shelters.  And at 5:29 a.m. the detonation unleashed the explosive energy of about 22 kilotons of TNT (92 TJ). There was only one possible target left, as Germany was out of the war, and that was Japan. It was so used on Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9, 1945), after which Japan finally surrendered. By March 1946, when Oppenheimer met President Harry Truman, he had long since decided that the use of the Atom bomb had been terribly wrong. "Mr. President, I have blood on my hands," To which Truman sternly replied "It'll all come out in the wash." After Oppenheimer had departed, Truman said to an aide: "Don't you bring that fellow around here again." Such are the vagaries at the intersection of politics and science.....


SOURCES =



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein%E2%80%93Szil%C3%A1rd_letter

 http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0028869/bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(nuclear_test)

"Past Imperfect - History According to the Movies" Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1995.
























Wednesday, June 7, 2017

JUNE 7 = Earthquake Wrecks Pirate Haven at Port Royal



Port Royal, a natural harbor on the island of Jamaica was a veritable den of pirate iniquity by 1692. It had been called "richest and wickedest city in the world" by some.  But on today's date, June 7 in 1692 the city was virtually swallowed up by an earthquake and tsunami which left it an uninhabitable mess, but which gave rise to one of the finest cities of the Caribbean.

Port Royal Grows Into a Pirate Haven

  Established by the Spanish in 1518, by the 17'th Century it had become a center of commerce and shipping in the Caribbean. It also became a home for privateers (which were essentially free-lance pirates operating with the tacit but never open blessing of one European power or another) for nations - mainly the English and the Dutch which wanted to raid Spanish shipping without going to war with the Spanish
empire. It was during the war with Spain with the English between 1655 and 1680 that Port Royal became a haven and a hideout for pirates of every sort. As said above it was a natural harbor and thus an excellent buccaneer hiding place, and launch site for their raids.  Of course along with this came all of the brothels and hundreds of taverns that went along with the pirate life. And along with this came the legal trade of slaves and sugar, and all manner off plunder that made Port Royal such a key piece of the not so legal mercantile picture in the Caribbean.

The "Ungodly and Debauched People" Are Hit By an Earthquake

Well in this corner of the Caribbean, on the morning of today's date at about 11:40 pm the Rev Emmanuel Heath, wrote that he had concluded prayers – “to keep up some show of religion among a most ungodly, debauched people” – and was patronizing a local tavern. Then he felt the floor started to sway beneath him. Plates, wine and chandeliers all came crashing to the floor.  The Reverend rushed outside just in time to see “the earth open and swallow up a multitude of people, and the sea mounting in upon us”. As Port Royal grew many of the buildings had been built on land that had simply been thrown in to fill up water. Thus, when the quake came it had only to sweep this fake land away. The tremor, the soil liquefaction and the huge tsunami that followed wiped the pirate den away with ease.

               Above  is a picture of the wreck of Port Royal, circa 1692.

The Frigate "Swan's" Journey and Mr. Galdy

The the frigate H.M.S. "Swan" had been in a slipway on the east end of the Port having the barnacles scraped away from her keel.  Suddenly she was thrust upward by monstrous seismic wave and was sent on a bizarre ride through the town skimming over the parts that had already been flooded, "sailing" over the tops of buildings at vast speeds.  But because she had so many ropes hanging from her sides that large numbers of would-be victims were able to grab onto her as "Swan" barreled trough the town and were miraculously saved. The "Swan" finally came to rest when she was beached on top of a building which had been partly sunken. A very strange experience happened to
one Thomas Galdy.  He was walking along when the second tremor opened a huge fissure in the ground before him into which he was swallowed up.  A moment later came the third tremor - a seismic sea wave that forced Galdy up from his spot like a cork and onto level ground again.

The Totals of Port Royal's 1692 Quake.

  There were a total of  three separate tremors on that hellish morning. They lasted it total less than two minutes.  But because of the landfill on which most of the houses had been built, almost the entire town was tossed about, and then flooded under some 43 feet of water by the resulting Tsunami. I have found sources on-line and in print calculating the number of dead as anywhere between 1,600 and 3,000. But the town had been totally obliterated.  The subsequent aftershocks kept a lid on any hopes of rebuilding the old pirate's den. But in time a
new city rose up nearby: the city of Kingston, Jamaica - one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of the Caribbean.


Sources =

"Darkest Hours - the Great Book of Worldwide Disasters - From Ancient times to the Present"
by Jay Robert Nash, Wallaby Books, New York, 1976

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/earthquake-destroys-jamaican-pirate-haven

https://www.eqc.govt.nz/news/on-this-day-1692-jamaica-earthquake

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/mar/24/story-cities-9-kingston-jamaica-richest-wickedest-city-world

 http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/regions-and-places/port-royal/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1692_Jamaica_earthquake