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The Skeleton Closet

Letters on Lightning

A letter to a the Editor of a Liverpool newspaper in England, which I believe was also printed in America, relating to the Fastest Crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by the ship "Lightning". Apparently from my research into this, the captain of the "Red Jacket" claimed to have made the fastest crossing, and there were several others who did so too.

Fastest Atlantic Crossing


In your paper of yesterday I perceived that Captain Eldridge claims to have made the fastest passage ever made across the Atlantic in the clipper ship "Red Jacket". However, I think I can dispute that assertion, not only in so far as regards my own passage in the "Lightning", but I can also name several other ships which have made faster passages than the "Red Jacket".

From inquires I have instituted I find that the "Red Jacket" left her dock at New York on January 9th, and proceeded some distance down the bay and that she finally sailed at 5 a.m. on the 10th and arrived in the Mersey at 6 p.m. on the 24th, which makes the passage after deducting difference of time, 14 days and 8 hours, and not 13 days and 1 hour as represented at the time of her arrival.

I find on reference to the Liverpool Courier that the passage of the "Sovereign of the Seas" in July last year, one of the worst seasons for making a fast passage in a sailing ship, occupied only 14 days and 2 hours, and the old packet ship Independence made the passage from New York to Liverpool ten years ago in 14 days and 5 hours, and if I remember rightly the Yorkshire made the passage in about the same time upwards of ten years ago, which are all faster passages than the Red Jacket's and from the same port. Moreover, I think the owners of the Red Jacket do not entertain quite so high an opinion of her as does Captain Eldridge, as I know they yesterday refused to back her out to Melbourne (where they are both bound and will probably sail about the same time) for the sum of 100 to 500 guineas, the money to be given to a charitable purpose.

Yours faithfully,

James Nicol Forbes

Commander of the Lightning

Liverpool, March 8th, 1854.


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