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From ‘The Western Daily Mercury’-5th October 1880

A vessel, floating bottom upwards, with the corpses of her crew in her cabin and forecastle, was discovered in September of 1880, within a few hundred miles of New York, by a pilot boat. What first appeared to be a ship’s boat, with something in it, was observed by the look-out on the pilot boat. Arriving near the vessel, a boat was launched, and Captain Allers and two men rowed alongside the wreck. On her stern could be made out the word ‘Gladiator’, the last few letters of which had become nearly obliterated. Under the name was “N.S.”, meaning Nova Scotia. The letters were painted in white upon a dark ground. A terrible stench was noticed, and the boat rowed around to the bows of the vessel, where a horrible sight met the view of the three men. The dead body of a man, entangled in a line which hung from the jib guys, was floating by the bowsprit. It was bloated, and the flesh had dropped away from the skeleton hands and feet. It was fast decomposing, and although it was lifted up, the lines still remained fast to it. The body was covered with a white shirt and ordinary pantaloons. It was probably the body of the Captain, or mate, for none of the sailors on board vessels of that size ever wear white shirts at sea. The stench from the body was so sickening that the men were obliged to let it drop back into the water again. Captain Allers thought this ill-fated wreck should be scuttled, especially as it lay directly in the track of ocean steamships. The boat rowed back to the ‘Pet’, where an axe was procured. Again the three men came alongside the ‘Gladiator’, and one of them climbed onto the bottom of the wreck, a line having first been made fast to him, so that he could be dragged on board the boat if necessary. After great difficulty a hole about 4 feet by 4 was chopped near the water mark, in order to let out the air. The frightful stench which proceeded from the hold left no doubt that the decomposed remains of the greater part of the crew were still on board. One of the men nearly fainted, and the effect upon the other two was so sickening that they were compelled to leave the wreck. It had now become dark, and the sea was breaking over the upturned keel, so that Captain Allers concluded to make no further attempt to scuttle the boat.

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