Wednesday, April 17, 2013

14194. Haviland Barstow


Oh, how quickly we forget.

The USS Oneida did its part to win the Civil War for the north, sinking enemy ships, attempting to blockade southern ports (not always successfully), destroying obstructions on rivers, etc. One could argue that under today's moralistic code one of its greatest feats, the sinking of a Confederate steamer loaded with wounded soldiers, might be considered less than heroic even by its own side. War is hell.

After the war, the ship served in the Far East with the Asiatic Squadron, at a time when the United States was opening diplomatic channels with the countries of that region. The British were there, too. They, essentially, killed Haviland.

It was a steamer of the Peninsula & Oriental line, the City of Bombay, that struck the screw sloop-of-war, tearing away its side. As the American ship sank, the captain of the City of Bombay ordered his ship forward, never looking back. The ship sank in 37 fathoms of water, as Japanese fishermen scrambled to save as many men as they could. They grabbed 61. Our man was not among them. "Haviland Barstow, 1st Asst. Engineer, U.S.N., Born June 11, 1839, went down on the U.S.S. Oneida, Yokohama Bay, Japan, Jan. 24, 1870, standing at his post of duty."

His bones may or may not have been found. Japanese salvagers raised what they could - the U.S. government sold the rights to the ship rather than conducting the work - in the days after the disaster. Some bones were interred at a temple in Tokyo. Recent archaeological work has resulted in more such discoveries, all these years later.

Wherever Haviland lies, may he rest in peace.

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