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Middleton House, Paisley Road, Glasgow.

SIR,— One or two erroneous statements having obtained circulation in the public journals regarding some of the incidents connected with the massacre of the captain and three of the crew of the British schooner Propontis, in the Straits of Magellan, numerous enquiries have been made of me since arriving in this city as to the true narrative of the action which was taken to punish the Indians for the perpetration of such an outrage. Permit me to give publicity to such of the facts as came under my observation.

Having left Glasgow in December last for Valparaiso in the s.s. Princess Louise, I arrived at Sandy Point, in the Straits, on the 13th March, where I found the Propontis at anchor. From Mrs Barnes (the captain's wife) I learned the fate of her husband and three of the crew, who had been massacred by Indians only a few days before my arrival. The governor of the colony was equipping a party of soldiers to proceed to the district in order to chastise the natives. For some reason or other the party was delayed; so that when we had coaled, and were preparing to leave on the 16th March, the governor expressed a strong wish that I should visit Port Gallant, where the outrage had taken place, and in his name endeavour to overtake the offenders and execute justice upon them. I consented; and having received 4 Enfield rifles and about 100 rounds of ammunition, I sailed in pursuit of this horde of savages, who had been known as old offenders in molesting passing ships.

After struggling with adverse weather, we arrived at Port Gallant at noon on Sunday, 19th, and the following is a copy from our logbook of that date:—

"Daylight.—Got under weigh from Wood's Bay with a strong breeze and fine weather.

"Noon.—Steamed on round Port Gallant Harbour in expectation of seeing the Indians. Observed an English boat, American skiff, and a canoe with Indians coming from the Charles Islands opposite. Stopped the engines and set all the fore and aft sails. The boats landed first, our progress being slow, the Indians kept shouting and following us along the shore. They then all got in their boats and came for us. Having good steam we steered for the English boat at full speed—our intention being to run them down. They then made for the shore. We fired into the boats several times; uncertain whether any were wounded or not.They all landed on a small hill and left the English boat—the skiff pulling hard for the port. Backed the steamer close to where the English boat was, the Indians hiding among the brushwood on the hill. We kept firing at them when they showed themselves. Called for some to volunteer to get the English boat from the shore. Lowered our own boat. Mr Stirling, engineer, with four men, went on shore, and brought the boat on board, which we felt convinced had belonged to the Propontis. We found several shot holes in her and an English boot, which had been cut up the sides, and sewn again with sinews. This evidently belonged to the captain of the Propontis, whose body was found with his legs cut off. At this time the canoe was making for the shore. Went on full speed. In trying to run them over they kept clear; then we fired into them, wounding and killing some. Considered it right and most merciful to put them out of their misery, so steamed on for them, again firing, and passed over them, when they all disappeared. Went on and anchored in Elizabeth Bay.

"Monday, 20th.—Started at daylight and steamed through Crooked Reach. Saw a schooner at anchor in Boorga [Borgia, Ed.] Bay, which proved to be the H. M. Hutchinson, from San Francisco, on a sealing voyage.

"Came to anchor, and got some firewood; left the boat (English) that we had taken from the Indians with the schooner, having no room for her.

A canoe with Indians arrived in the bay. They landed, made large fires during the night; obliged to keep a strict watch upon them."

Our passage from thence through Smyth Channel, though a tedious one, was not attended with any mishap. Calling at St Carlos (Isle of Chiloe) and Cornell [Coronel, Ed.], we arrived safe at Valparaiso on 22d April.

This latter remark is made with a view to correcting the report that the s.s. Princess Louise was wrecked in the Straits of Magellan.

By inserting this in your valuable paper anxiety may be removed from the minds of those interested in those composing the crew of the Princess Louise.

—I am, &c.,
Late Master Princess Louise.

Source: "Glasgow Herald" (Scotland), 6 July 1871
Clipped: 8-I-2016
Acknowledgment: David Asprey kindly supplied this more authoritative account of the actions and fate of the S. S. Princess Louise. It should be considered to invalidate the previously published account of the seaman Joseph Lorritz.
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