MUTINY ON THE SHIP CHAPMAN
The Wellington Independent June 8th 1865
Captain Featherstonhaugh, of the ship Chapman, which arrived on the morning of Tuesday, has been suffering under the infliction of a mutinous crew, seven of whom will be brought up before the Resident Magistrate's Court to-day, charged with embezzling cargo in addition to the above serious offence. From what we can learn, it appears that only a few days ere the arrival of the Chapman, the chief officer reported to Captain Featherstonhaugh that the most of the watch were drunk, further stating that it was his impression that they had become so by breaking into the cargo. Acting on this information, the captain sent his first officer into the hold to see if such were really the case. The mate went and reported that access had been obtained to the hold through a scuttle in the forecastle, and that some cases of liquor, particularly mentioning a brandy case, had been broken up and their contents stolen. This information was given on the 1st of this month, only two or three days previous to the arrival of the vessel, and it was impossible then to calculate the amount of the depredations. That night, as the vessel was supposed to be near the land, Captain Featherstonhaugh was anxious to have a sharp look out kept on the forecastle, and for that purpose went foreward himself to see that all was as it should be. On mounting the top fore-gallant he found nobody, and instantly called out to know whose turn of duty it was. A man named Gatacre, running out of the forecastle, replied that it was his. After enquiring his reasons for leaving his post and going below, to which no satisfactory reply was given, Captain Featherstonhaugh ordered the man aft, upon which he made use of some insulting language, and rushed back into the forecastle. The captain followed to drag him out, and then the alleged mutiny took place. No sooner had he laid hands on the refractory Gatacre, than Morton and Lawson, aided by some other of the crew, whom he was unable to recognise, rushed at him and knocking him down released their mate. Seeing that his assailants were the worse for liquor, and not knowing to what lengths they might proceed, Captain Featherstonhaugh fired two shots from his revolver among the mutineers for the purpose of intimidating them. This had the desired effect, and he was enabled in the confusion, that ensued to regain his feet, and secure the ringleaders. No one was hit, but the cowards who had attacked one man, finding him determined, and knowing him to be backed by right, fell back and allowed him to effect the purpose for which he had entered the forecastle. This instance, flagrant as it is, is not the only one in which the crew of the Chapman showed their mutinous spirit. They, at least part of them, had previously attacked the second mate of the ship, when in the execution of his duty as officer of the watch, he had given them some necessary order. This order they distinctly refused to obey, and increased their crime by knocking down and beating the giver of it. Captain Featherstonhaugh and his officers are worthy of all praise for the bold manner in which they enforced discipline amongst such a disorderly crew, and it is to be hoped that though mutiny on the high seas is not now, where no loss of life has occurred, punishable by death, yet that these mutineers will be taught a lesson that they will not soon forget.