Describes diver in 1843 salvaging machinery from sunken USS Missouri

Date Written

Dec. 21, 1843

Charles Carroll Bayard was 15 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Richard Henry Bayard, was 47 when it was received.

Charles Carroll Bayard died 6 years, 1 month, 20 days after writing this.
It was written 175 years, 5 months, ago.
It was a Thursday.

December 21st 1843

My Dear Mother,

I send you a few lines which I shall commit to the care of the American Consul & he will send them to you by the first opportunity, for by this time tomorrow we shall be bounding over the deep blue billow on our way to the Brazil’s. We arrived here at 10 o’clock last Friday. It was blowing very hard & everything seemed to go wrong for we nearly run down several small vessels in the dark. At last we managed to let go our anchor & get everything snug, but we had not long resigned ourselves to the arms of Morpheus before we were roused out to clear ourselves from a Barque which had run foul of us. In about an hour we got clear and were not disturbed any more that night.

I have visited the wreck of the Missouri. It is a very melancholy sight. She is burnt down to the water’s edge so the only thing we can do is to raise all the machinery & the iron work that remains & sell it to the best advantage. For this purpose, they have employed a diver for $25 a day who goes down & makes tackles fast to everything he finds. They are then swayed up into a Schooner hired for the purpose & sold to the best advantage. The diver wears an oil cloth suit & has a large helmet on his head from which there goes a hose connected to an air pump through which they pump air to him continuously.

I was amused the other day when the Captain & some others were at the wreck. There came on a violent shower. The diver was under the water hammering at some tanks. When it was over he came up perfectly dry while we were wringing wet. It seems odd, does it not.

The U. S. S. Cumberland arrived here yesterday on her way to relieve the Delaware & as she will go home shortly, I send you two boxes containing a few little gifts by Mr. Maddox & Miss Rodgers. I am afraid, my dear mother, you find that I am deteriorating rather than improving in my composition but the fact is I have so few opportunities of writing & am so hurried that you must not expect much from me. So pleading this for my excuse, I say good night with my love to all. Bye the bye, I forgot to say that we will probably be home in July, so once more good night & pleasant dreams.

Your affectionate son,

Charles C. Bayard

Scans of Letter