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An American clipper-ship burns in the Pacific leaving her crew in boats thousands of miles from land.

Burning of the clipper ship "Hornet" on the Pacific, May 3, 1866, artist's impression, detail.
05/03/1866

The well-known clipper-ship Hornet had sailed from New York for San Francisco in January but with its voyage almost complete caught fire in the Pacific.  The fire burned all day giving Captain Josiah Mitchell time to get his thirty crew and passengers into three boats.  The boats were seperated but Mitchell's boat, with fourteen men aboard, embarked on an epic 4000 mile voyage, making land safely on June 15, 1866 on the island of Hawaii.  The other boats, with 17 men, were never heard from again.  (By John Osborne)

Source Citation: 

"Forty-three Days in an Open Boat," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume XXXIV, December,1866 to May, 1867 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1867), 104-113.