November 3, 1861

Shag Rocks

Ship Maritana with passengers.

One of the most violent shipwrecks was that of the 991-ton Maritana of Providence, Rhode Island, Captain G.W. Williams, master. Built in Quincy, Massachusetts, the vessel was entering the harbor in thick weather on November 3, 1861, after sailing from Liverpool, England, with wool, coal, potash, steel, and iron. After she rammed Shag Rocks, her crew immediately cut away the masts. The bow was lodged between two huge rocks, and she took blow after blow from thundering waves. When the vessel split in half six and a half hours later, Captain Williams fell into the abyss of his ship.

A journalist wrote: 'A more complete wreck was never seen. Fragments of the ship and her freight strew all over the lower islands, and occaisionally a mangled body is thrown up on the jagged rocks. God save us all from a death like this.'"

Robert F. Sullivan, Shipwrecks and Nautical Lore of Boston Harbor