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Author Topic: Thar be zombies in these waters! ARRRRR!!!  (Read 5015 times)
IronBrig4
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« on: June 15, 2010, 01:02:25 am »

From the journal of Robert Stretton, an English merchant-turned-privateer (some would say "pirate") during the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654). Stretton's journal was kept in his family's wealthy estate until 1917, when it was auctioned off after all natural male heirs were killed in World War One. It remained buried in the National Maritime Museum's archives until very recently, when it was rediscovered by a history graduate student who was conducting research for his master's thesis. Most of the journal is about the weather, battles, and shipboard conditions, so only the relevant parts are below.

March 14 – Moderate gales, rainy weather. The Taylor nearly founder’d in the storm last night. All hands are in fair health except for a boy who broke several ribs. A wave nearly washed him overboard but instead hurled him into the taffrail. The mainmast is in a weaken’d state and so we have reef’d the sails. We must make repairs or we shall be in dire straits.

March 15 – Small gales, fair weather. We reached an islet that would shield us from any heavy wind. We had been pushed off course but know we are some days out of Elizabeth City Shire [now the Hampton Roads metropolitan coastline]. We immediately dropp'd anchor and mann’d our boats to go ashore, as well as take on fresh water. Many officers and men wish’d to go hunting, for there was divers fowls and deer in the surrounding woods. The other officers and I din’d on a good quarter of venison and potatoes, which are a great rarity to us at sea. Men with experience in the Americas had never seen potatoes this far north, so it must be surmiz’d that other mariners brought the seed or cuttings with them on a previous voyage.

March 16 – Before we came hither, our mainmast had worsen’d. The bottom of the hull also needed scraping. Barnacles grow quickly in these waters and exceedingly slow a ship. The carpenter and his mate went into the woods with a hunting party to find suitable timber. The timber in this country is very good and plentiful, and provides all the necessaries for building and careening ships. The rest of the crew built a camp. The absence of Indians is odd, because there are several nations which dwell in this country. They are often eager to trade and will give victuals or furs in exchange for a simple knife.

March 17 – A day of rest for the crew was ordered while the carpenter repaired the mainmast. The heavy actions which we had endured over several weeks, along with the exceeding hard labors performed when much of our company was reduced to man prizes, had very much fatigued many of them. The ship was made sound again, but not before evening. The captain decided to set sail with the next morning’s tide. However, there is a curious story I must relate.

Earlier this afternoon a hunting party returned in a state of great agitation. They said their foray had begun with much success, and they had shot several deer and a number of fowls. But as they traveled further the game vanished. They had decided to return to the camp when they heard a horrible groan. Thinking they were being stalked by a tiger or lion, they dropped their heaviest kills and ran the full mile back to camp. This was greeted with laughter from the older crew, who knew that such animals do not exist in this country.

But upon hearing their story our gunner’s mate, a Frenchman nam’d Francois Hebert, from Saint-Domingue, took a great fright and advis’d our captain to get underway with much haste. This surpriz’d the whole crew because he had fought with great brav’ry and skill in many actions at sea and on land. We did not think it possible for him to be so afright. The captain assured him that all would be well and that we would part the next morning. Several Negroes from Barbados, normally of good humor and high spirits, quieted and look’d somber. They arm’d themselves with cutlasses and pistols, and no amount of entreaties or orders could compel them to part with their weapons even while in the camp.

March 18 – Strong gales, stormy weather. The conditions do not permit us to set sail, for we are on a lee shore and would surely be dashed aground. These tremendous winds are much stronger than those we faced several days ago. Francois and the Negroes are much distraught. They are all well liked by the crew and so everybody is worried somewhat.

Two of our Irish crew, O’Neill and Connolly, have gone missing. They are terrible gamblers. Knowing that our captain had forbidden gambling, I suppose they went to a hidden place to play cards or dice. I have begun to worry, though, because they missed their rum ration. Being Irish, they have a natural tendency to always be present when spirits are serv’d.

I myself, with the captain and other officers, held a committee, and publish’d an order, forbidding our officers and men on severe penalties to leave the camp, excepting hunting parties led by an officer.

March 19 – Strong winds. The rain has lessened to a tolerable degree, but the winds still make sailing impossible. I led a group of hunters into an unexplor’d part of the forest, hoping to find a bear or other large game. Francois was ordered to come with us because it was thought the activity would improve his frighten’d demeanor. Instead of finding game, we discover’d the remains of a house. It was a ruin, with only the stone fireplace and chimney standing. After searching the area, we found several skeletons lying in the growth. One of the skulls had been pierced by a musketball, and I know this because it dropped out when I examin’d the bones. The other skulls had been severely crushed by a rock, hammer, or musket butt. But one skull was intact, and the only sign of damage was several marks on one of the limbs. It looked as a creature had bitten it. It was odd that the rest of the bones had been undisturb’d. Beasts often feast on the bodies and scatter the bones over the area.

The carpenter’s mate was in my party, and he said the house’s timbers had not rotted, but been burnt. Other hunters had unearthed a small box that contain’d a number of silver coins. Most was debased French coinage, but others were good English currency. Francois found a set of opened doors that led underground. He refused to venture in, so I took the lantern and went underneath myself. It was a stone cellar, and I saw a good quantity of Madeira, Breton glassware, and Flanders linen. Much of it was rotted or smashed. This was most definitely a smuggler’s cache, since we are not permitted to trade with the Spanish and other rivals who are jealous of our English commerce. I observ’d scratch marks all along the stone walls. The pattern show’d that they were caused by human fingers. I had turn’d around to walk back up the steps when I heard a faint moan from the far end. In the dim light cast by my lantern, I saw a collection of old burlap sacks between two tuns of Norman cider. It was moving slightly, as if something was squirming underneath. I approach’d the pile, unsure of what I’d find. A gust of chill wind came from the entrance and must have blown my scent towards it, for the moanings became louder and much more agitated. Instead of gently swaying, the movements became more violent, like a terrier just before its master lets it attack rats in the arena. There was a growing sense of unease at the back of my mind, but my curiosity got the better of me and I reached for burlap.

*End of Part 1*
« Last Edit: June 15, 2010, 01:07:47 am by IronBrig4 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2010, 05:22:45 am »

I'm liking it so far. It reads well.
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2010, 04:07:13 pm »

I approve. It is very interesting! It's always good to hear stories of zombies in settings others than the ones we are so used to!
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2010, 01:55:29 am »

*Part 2*

A forceful grip stayed my hand, and for that I am exceedingly glad. Francois had grabbed my arm and entreated that I move away. Seeing his determin’d expression, I made way for him. He held a musket in one hand while he reached with the other to uncover the form. As he pull’d the burlap down mine eyes beheld a creature not of God’s creation. It looked as a boy, and was cloth’d in the civilized manner. The skin was of a sickly gray pallor and half-putrified, unlike any natives we before encounter’d. Its hands and feet were bound, as one binds a pig for roasting. A piece of cloth had been used as a gag. Its face had been cruelly wounded as if from an animal bite. It must have struggled mightily to break its bonds for its wrists and ankles had been rubbed through. To my amazement there was no profuse blood as expect’d from such wounds. Upon seeing Francois and myself, it display’d a most sinister expression and attempt’d to bite thru the gag. I am no coward, having fought the greedy Dutch many times, but I was much afear’d and leapt back. Francois brought down his musket on the creature’s head. After many savage blows, the creature lay still and was silent. As we searched the rest of the cellar, we observ’d discarded and torn ropes. ‘Tis likely there had had been more imprison’d in this cache. Perhaps this creature, smaller and weaker than the others, was unable to escape its bonds. We cut our search short and made an exit, for I fear’d the close air, with its unwholesom scents, might be enough to infect us too.

After this encounter, we spoke with Francois and press’d to know about the creature. He describ’d a malignant disease which raged through several towns in Saint-Domingue when he was a boy. It began at a small fishing village. The disease began as a powerful fever before leaving the victims in a crazed and savage state. They could be stopped by neither persuasion nor force of arms. The mortality was so very great, that the fishermen left the village and fled to nearby towns. It swept away dozens of people every day for a considerable time, and was stopped only when a voodoo shaman instructed the militia to crush the heads of the infected. He bade me speak with the Negroes when we return’d to camp, for they might have seen the disease as well. I did so, and all had witness’d the malignancy or knew others who had. All used the word zombi to describe the souls which had been infected.

I took Francois and the Negroes to our captain who, having heard our accounts, at first suspect’d us of pilfering extra grog rations. He determin’d to bring us to discipline but was stop’d by the intercession of returning huntsmen. A hunting party led by our bosun, Mr. Williams, return’d with a melancholy account. They found O’Neill, one of the missing Irish-men. His body had been handled in the severest manner and was in such a state as to be unfit for moving. His crown had been pierced thru with a pistol shot. ‘Twas not a quarrel between gamblers. Though he and Connolly brawl’d when drunk and would sometimes be clap’d in irons, there was no malice in their temperament. Some men thought the Indians guilty of the crime, and such an act would be enough to shew what cruel and cowardly enemies we have to deal with in this country, and the eternal guilt of the treacherous Spaniards and Dutch who encourage them. But we had still not seen one native. If any were nearby we would have spied smoke from their low huts. He also possess’d several shillings and various trinkets in his pockets, and they surely would have been stolen. There was no sign of Connolly, and we received both halves of this news with sorrow. The two Irish-men, though lazy and prone to drink like their countrymen are wont to be, were nevertheless good-hearted.

As we sat at victuals in the evening we learn’d only one group of huntsmen met with any success. A thick multitude of fowls took flight from the undergrowth and flew directly over the men, heedless of their shot. Each man took at least one brace of fowls, which are very fine. The hunstmen were rightly proud of their fortune, but the rest of us were anxious and wonder’d if a zombi had startled the birds out of hiding. No other group had seen even a coney for the entire day. Seeing our great anxiety, our captain order’d our provisions ashore to be arrang’d into fortifications. Barrels and crates were moved so as to form a barricade which shielded our shore camp from any threats overland.

We resolv’d with the utmost care and diligence to guard ourselves that night. We all lay in the camp, round which we kept sentinels within a musket-shot; the sentinels, as is custom, calling to each other every fifteen minutes in order to prevent their sleeping, and our being surprised by the enemy. Every man kept his arms and shot in order beside him, and order’d to rise at an alarm. I pray the wind will subside tonight for we all much desire to put to sea again. The mast has been made sound again and the keel has been clean’d. When the sea swelling permits we will get our provisions aboard, mount the guns, and set sail for Elizabeth City.

*End of Part 2*
« Last Edit: June 16, 2010, 02:07:03 am by IronBrig4 » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2010, 12:42:59 pm »

Nice work, keep it up...
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« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2010, 02:11:23 pm »

Very well made. I await part 3 with excitement.
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2010, 07:15:35 pm »

Aye, most excellent.
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2010, 01:28:19 pm »

March 20 – Strong winds. We endur’d a gale overnight, and only our English cooperage allow’d the greater part of our provisions to remain dry. The casks and barrels are furnish’d by Messrs. Walcott and Dover, of Chalk Street in Bristol. We had also used sailing canvas for shelter and so cover’d our provisions. But some barrels leak’d and so we lost some powder, of which we are wanting, to the damp.

A Welch-man, being put sentinel last night, shot Connolly so that he died. The accident happened by our order to shoot any in the night that did not answer the watch-word. Connolly had return’d after his long absence, though he had suffer’d severe wounds. His right arm had been remov’d at the shoulder, torn asunder as if by a bear. Many deep gouges had been made in his remaining arm and torso and ‘twas a wonder he had not bled to death in seconds. His skin was white and sickly as though he had been dead for days. Firing his musket into the darkness, our sentinel’s shot had pass’d thru Connolly’s eye socket and thence into his brains. The Welch-man was much distraught and so we allow’d liberty of conscience to him by reminding him that he follow’d orders and had thereby fulfill’d his duty. Even so, we all looked very melancholy and dispirited. We slept fitfully and felt a chill not completely owing to the gale.

This morning dawn’d with softer winds, but still rough waves. We nevertheless came to a full resolution to leave this place and set a course to Elizabeth City, and thence back to Jamaica. Being all supply’d with wood, water, and victuals, we had men imploy’d in righting the ship while others prepar’d the guns for mounting. The provisions which we had turned into a barricade would be loaded last, and for that I am exceedingly grateful to Providence.

As we began to transport the ship’s guns, a great number of deer bounded towards us. Hunting being the chief diversion among the men, several sailors cheer’d and fired. But their mirth was cut short by the sight of those horrid creatures emerging from the wood, a mere two hundred yards from our camp. I observ’d at least thirty, with more arriving behind them. Some were dressed in the savage raiment common amongst the Indian nations while others wore civilized clothing. Still others were in naught but rags and nearly naked. They walk’d with a halting gait as though drunk, with their arms upraised. One of the Negroes, nam’d Black Tom, approach’d me and said those creatures were the zombis he had describ’d. Ames, the ship’s terrier, raised his hackles and snarl’d with a ferocity we had never before heard. They answered with a chorus of foul moans. I cannot with words describe the tremendous unease that stir’d within us when that wail reach’d our ears.

Those of us on shore were but a little number. There were twenty of us behind the barricade while the rest were aboard ship or on the boats. Our quartermaster, Mr. Hawkins, bid the zombis retire forthwith, and keep out of musket-shot of us, if they design’d to save their lives. They gave heed to neither his order, nor to a warning shot. We lin’d the barricade and steadied ourselves until they were within half musket-shot of our camp. A Scotch nam’d Andrew MacDougall, our best marksman who had campaign’d against the Cavaliers, fired and struck the nearest zombi on the breast. It fell back and did not lie still, but rose again as if its wound had no effect. A murmur rose from our company and our courage began to fail, but I bid MacDougall aim for its head, recalling the accounts of that horrible disease. He took another loaded musket, fired and smash’d the left side of its skull. This time it stayed truly dead. The rest of us discharg’d a volley and kept loading and firing very fast, but we had to struggle to keep our cords lit, for the wind and spray were still prevalent.

We kill’d a goodly number of them but observ’d more emerging from the woods. One of the boat crews, seeing our plight, mounted a gun onto a field carriage and wheel’d it with much effort into our lines. They discharg’d a double-shot of grape with good effect into the mass where they appear’d very numerous. Several were swept away while others lost limbs. The zombis met our defences and endeavour’d to scale our barricade, heedless of our fire.  I recall one still stepping forward, its entrails and half an arm gone. It still determin’d to seize us even when Mr. Hawkins cut off its other hand with his broadsword. I placed my pistol against its temple and discharg’d the weapon, dashing its brains onto the sand. It did not rise again. The others could not scale our defence and, with more boat crews coming to fight, we kill’d the greater number and held the others beyond pistol-shot. With half our men engaged to keep the creatures away, the others brought the provisions and guns on board. But the Negroes press’d us to leave those provisions what had been cover’d with blood, for the black fluid possess’d some foul humours that spread the disease.

With most of our provisions and arms on board, we took to the boats. As we row’d into the surf, our rearmost boat capsiz’d and sent the crew and a quantity of powder under. We pull’d several out of the water, and two of them bore fresh injuries. One had a gash on his arm while another had lost several toes. They were in a most fright’d state and we observ’d a number of those creatures underneath. We lost three other men drown’d from that boat for they did not surface again. Not desiring to remain so close to the creatures, we resolv’d to leave the upended boat and return to the ship.

We weigh’d anchor and set our course northward. Our two wounded soon complain’d of a severe malady and fever. Our dog did naught but growl at them, though he was an amicable friend to any person he encounter’d. Their condition soon worsen’d as the day wore on and expired shortly before this writing, it being evening at the present. Francois, the Negroes, and some others determin’d to drop them overboard and into the sea but our captain, desiring to give them a Christian burial at sea, bade them wait for services the next morning. Seeing their fright, however, he agreed to sew the dead in canvas and place them on deck. But as our captain slumber’d, the officer of the watch, Mr. Hopkins, order’d the bodies down into the hold for he fear’d of being infected with their consumption.

I must now end this entry, for I am very much fatigued.

*End of Part 3*
« Last Edit: June 20, 2010, 02:13:42 pm by IronBrig4 » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2010, 12:26:23 am »

Man you need to get a artist on this
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2010, 09:24:18 am »

I am very impressed with this. Excellent.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2010, 09:39:20 am »

Just a question, but what zombies are these supposed to be?
"classic"? "TZH style"?
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2010, 12:02:31 pm »

I'm going with the classic zombies for this one. And part 4 should be up sometime during the next couple of days.
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 12:28:50 am »

Loving it so far *awaits the next installment*
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« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2010, 01:08:46 am »

*Sorry that it took so long. I was at a conference all last weekend.*

March 21 – Moderate winds. Fair, clear weather. We are now in the hands of our enemies. Here I will recount the events leading to our capture.

We spied a sail early in the foredawn. We bore down right upon her and discover’d her to be a fluyt. She flew Dutch colours and belong’d to the Dutch East India Company, being our chief rival in these waters. We fir’d twice at her to make her heave to and sent a boat to examine the master and cargo. As our boat approach’d, the fluyt ran out her guns and we were much surpriz’d when scores of musketeers lined the deck. She had not been an Indiaman man but a brave privateer mann’d with over two hundred sailors hidden belowdecks. It pains me to admit ‘twas a clever ruse. We had not above fifty-two officers, men, and boys fit for duty, having lost a great many to battle or diverted to prize crews. Besides, our powder was very short, having only enough to engage s short time. Seeing no other recourse, our captain order’d our colours struck.

The Dutch boarded our ship and explain’d they were from the privateer Daphne out of New Amsterdam. Their captain, nam’d Joris de Zeeuw, promis’d to not hang us as pirates but would send us with a prize crew to New Amsterdam. He left an officer nam’d Marc Schaars to run the ship. It would prove to be much to our ill fortune when de Zeeuw parted company for Schaars became a cruel taskmaster and his men thieves who heap’d manifold abuses upon us. I lost the knife which my father had given me as a parting gift. We were forced to turn out our pockets and give all the coins we possess’d. A boy, nam’d James Girdwood, protested his treatment when a Dutch-man seiz’d his purse. He struck the thief and was shot through the neck, to my unspeakable sorrow, for he was an able steward and very young. We were much anger’d by this murder and would have fought but, having our arms and shot seiz’d, could not have carried the day. Schaars at least allow’d one kindness and let us walk on deck during the day. This was small comfort for we would be locked in the hold at night. This I mention as proof of the cruelties heap’d upon honest English sailors by the Dutch in this war.

As the Dutch searched our hold earlier today, they discover’d the two men who had perished of the malady during the night. We hadn’t time for burial and so had left the bodies below. ‘Twas to our wonderment for they had waken’d and struggled to tear the canvas in which they were sewn. Believing them to be rich prisoners who had design’d to conceal themselves, the Dutch cut through the cloth and were met with a dreadful fright. One Dutch-man, lifting the canvas near the face, had two fingers bitten so they dropt into its mouth. Our two ship-mates had become dreadfully transform’d! Their eyes did not see and our entreaties to them were unheeded. We then knew they had become those foul creatures. Several Dutch were bitten before they regain’d composure and fell upon them with cutlasses. After many cuts and thrusts, they took the heads off and dropt the pieces overboard. There were some Dutch from Curaçao who regarded the zombis with much unease. One spoke English and press’d to know how we had encounter’d the malady. We told our account and discover’d the Curaçao men had before seen the creatures. They resolv’d to inform Schaars of the malignant disease, but he was as harsh to the Curacao men as he was to us Englishmen. The day passed and he order’d us into the hold after victuals.

The bitten men soon took ill with fever and are in sick bay at the time of this writing. Our surgeon and his mates are caring for the sick men and two Dutch who fell from the fore-mast lower onto the deck in the afternoon. The Dutch have also witness’d how the flesh mortifies and fear we are a cursed ship. We are all very anxious for we have no arms and only six frighted Dutch guards in the hold with us to prevent our making mischief. I pray this night passes without incident.

*End of Part 4*
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 07:14:52 pm by IronBrig4 » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2010, 07:40:15 am »

MOAR
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