How Five Castaways Survived After Being Left for Dead on the Falklands in 1812

Jul 9, 2024 · 44m 48s
How Five Castaways Survived After Being Left for Dead on the Falklands in 1812
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Charles H. Barnard, captain of the American sealing brig Nanina, had only the best of intentions. His aim was to ensure the survival of the people under his care. On...

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Charles H. Barnard, captain of the American sealing brig Nanina, had only the best of intentions. His aim was to ensure the survival of the people under his care. On June 11, 1813, Barnard and four other volunteers disembarked the anchored Nanina, climbed into a small boat, and sailed about 10 miles from New Island to Beaver Island, both part of the Falkland Islands archipelago in the South Atlantic. Armed with knives, clubs, lances, and guns, and with the assistance of Barnard’s trusty dog, Cent, the five men planned to kill birds and hogs and take them back to the Americans and British who remained on the Nanina and were fast running out of fresh provisions. It was a mission of mercy.

The hunt went well, and within a few days the boat was filled to the gunwales with the bloody carcasses of slain animals. But when the men sailed back to New Island late on June 14, they were greeted with an alarming sight. The Nanina was gone. Stunned, confused, and angry, the men hauled the boat up onto the beach and, according to Barnard, “awaited the approach of daylight in the most impatient and tormenting anxiety.” Sleeping fitfully in the cold night air, they hoped that in the morning light they would find a letter telling them why the Nanina had left, and when it was coming back.

A frantic search at dawn turned up nothing: no note either in a bottle or hung conspicuously from a piece of wood or a boulder. They saw only sand, rocks, scrubby vegetation, and birds in the distance, walking on the beach or flying overhead.

The events leading up to this abandonment, and what happened afterward, produce a story with so many unlikely threads, and a cast including such exceptionally colorful characters, that one might think that it sprang from the pen of a fiction writer with an overactive imagination. And yet, the story is true. It is a tale involving a shipwreck, British and Americans meeting under the most stressful circumstances in a time of war, kindness and compassion, drunkenness, the birth of a child, treachery, greed, lying, a hostile takeover, stellar leadership, ingenuity, severe privation, the great value of a good dog, perseverance, endurance, threats, bullying, banishment, a perilous thousand-mile open-ocean journey in a 17.5-foot boat, an improbable rescue mission in a rickety ship, and legal battles over a dubious and disgraceful wartime prize. And it all started with two ships—one American, the other British—sailing to the Falklands from different directions.

To explore this story is today’s guest, Eric Dolan, author of Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World.”
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Author Parthenon Podcast Network
Organization Salem Media (USA)
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