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Cape Cod Case Against the Mooncussers

The stories about Cape Cod salvagers, or wreckers, especially those of Chatham, have been many, some good and others not so savory, as evidence those connected with the notorious “Mooncussers of Cape Cod”.

Here is such a story, concerning the Brig Susan, which on February 6, 1859, was being towed out of Holmes Hole by a sister schooner. The Susan’s lumber ports were stove by sheet ice, and she was rapidly filling with water. Chatham wreckers saw her flying a flag on her top foremast… a sign of a disabled ship, and went to her rescue.

From this point, the story has two different versions. The master of the Susan maintained that he wanted a pilot, not a wrecking crew. The men from Chatham and Monomoy said they saved the vessel from destruction by their fast and efficient service. The only fact that could be proven was the one that the Chathamites had boarded the Susan, the towing ship had sailed away and the Susan taken in. She was grounded on the way, was kedge-anchored over the bar, and brought in safely.

The case finally ended in Federal Court on a salvage claim. At the hearing Judge Peleg Sprague gave James Colson and his salvaging crew $259 and costs.

“Encouragement should be given to competent persons, upon dangerous parts of our coast, to associate together, and keep themselves organized with suitable boats and other appliances, to render prompt and efficient assistance to vessels in distress,” said the Court.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 07/19/06
Categories: ChathamHistory
Keywords: history, maritime, shipwrecks


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