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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

The Alfred Agate Collection: The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842

1841

Near the end of their assignment they stopped at Drummond's Island (Tabiteuea) in the Kingsmill group. Like some of the other islands, these islanders had a unique type of headdress, in this case a high, coned construction, woven of a pandanus leaf. They also displayed a disconcerting desire to be physically close to the explorers, and as it turned out, they required careful watching because they were consummate pickpockets, with tobacco as their favorite quarry. Some also displayed a contempt for the explorers, which finally came to hostility. On 7 April at the end of a busy day at the town of Utiroa, Captain Hudson called for all men to return to the boats, but one sailor, Seaman John Anderson failed to appear. A search was made, but finally Hudson ordered all his men to return to the ships. After he made more inquiries and searches the next day, he came to the conclusion that Anderson had been murdered. In order to exact retribution and discourage future treachery, he sent an armed expedition against the town. The islanders put up a brave fight, but in the end twelve were killed and their town was burned.

Drummond Islander
Alfred T. Agate
Pencil
98-89-FG

 

 

 

 

Drummond's Island Warrior
Alfred T. Agate
Pencil
98-89-FO

 

 

 

 

Chief Toaromaroa of the Town of Eta, Drummond Island
Alfred T. Agate
Pencil
98-89-CR

 

 

 

 

Kingsmill Island Idol
Alfred T. Agate
Pencil
98-89-FK

 

 


On leaving the Kingsmill Group, Hudson had to put his crews on reduced rations because they were running low on supplies. After surveying a few more islands in what is now called the Marshall Islands, he decided that time was too short to continue and turned the ships toward the Columbia River, stopping at Honolulu to replenish supplies. They only stayed a week and continued to the northwest coast, arriving 16 July, a month and half late for their rendezvous.

When he arrived at the mouth of Columbia, Hudson had with him the instructions for navigating the bar that Wilkes had obtained from the master of a merchant ship he had met at Honolulu. As that ship had just come from the Columbia, he had no reason to doubt his instructions and he was not surprised to find treacherous conditions. These waters had a reputation for shipwrecks. While Wilkes had given up trying to cross when he arrived in boisterous weather, Hudson arrived in clear weather and had as good conditions as a captain of that era might expect in the unimproved channel. He also knew that his arrival was very late and he had experienced Wilkes' wrath when he tried to second-guess the commander's specific instructions on other occasions. On the 18th, following the Sunday morning service, he tried to guide Peacock through the bar.

Ft. Wallawalla
Original image attributed to Joseph Drayton
Ink wash and pencil
98-89-CC (front)

 

 

Ft Wallawalla
Original image attributed to Joseph Drayton
Ink wash and pencil
98-89-CC (back)

 

 

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27 March 2004