Ann Alexander (ship)
The Ann Alexander was a whaling ship from New Bedford, Massachusetts that was rammed by a wounded sperm whale on August 20, 1851 near the Galapagos Islands. Her sinking may have contributed to the success of Herman Melville's book Moby-Dick.
Sunk by a sperm whale
After the whale had already destroyed two of the ship's whaleboats in its jaws, the Ann Alexander was holed under the waterline and was abandoned. The crew was rescued on August 22, 1851 by the ship Nantucket.
Just a few months later, October 18, 1851 and November 14, 1851, the first editions were published of Hermann Melville's great whaling novel Moby-Dick. This novel was based on a similar incident involving the ship Essex, which had occurred a generation earlier, in 1820.
Melville commented, "Ye Gods! What a commentator is this Ann Alexander whale. What he has to say is short & pithy & very much to the point. I wonder if my evil art has raised this monster."
Fate of the whale
"Five months after the disaster this pugnacious whale was captured by the Rebecca Sims ... Two of the Ann Alexander's harpoons were found in him and his head had sustained serious injuries, pieces of the ship's timbers being imbedded in it. The whale yielded 70 or 80 barrels of oil."
Arrival at Battle of Trafalgar
Ann Alexander was also known for arriving at the scene of the Battle of Trafalgar carrying supplies.
"Capt. Snow in command of ship Ann Alexander fell in off Cape Trafalgar with the English fleet a few days after the battle of Trafalgar, between the English fleet and the fleets of France and Spain, which occurred Oct. 21, 1805." ... The ship "was on a voyage from New York to Leghorn with a cargo of general merchandise, consisting of flour, tobacco, salt, fish, lumber, etc." "As Nelson's fleet lay victorious but battered after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the Ann Alexander of New Bedford sailed into view, carrying apples, flour, and lumber -- just what hungry sailors and damaged ships needed."
Capture by privateers
- Nantucket (ship)
- USS Rebecca Sims (1801)
- Abraham Fornander, Swedish-born crew member who became an important Hawaiian journalist, judge, and ethnologist
- Melville's Reflections, a page from The Life and Works of Herman Melville
- Jenkins, Thomas H (1902). Bark Kathleen sunk by a whale, to which is added an account of two like occurrences, the loss of ships Ann Alexander and Essex. New Bedford, MA: Hutchinson. pp. 31-34. http://www.archive.org/details/barkkathleensunk00jenk.
- Representative men and old families of southeastern Massachusetts, Containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families ... v. 3. J.H. Beers & Co. 1912. p. 1438. http://books.google.com/books?id=GHIWAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22ann%20alexander%22&lr&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is&num=100&as_brr=4&pg=PA1438#v=onepage&q=%22ann%20alexander%22&f=false.
- "New Bedford Whaling Museum, Research". From Old Dartmouth to Modern New Bedford. New Bedford Whaling Museum. http://www.whalingmuseum.org/library/old_nb/old_nb_seafare.html. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- History of the American Whale Fishery from its Earliest Inception to the Year 1876, by Alexander Starbuck
- Loss of the ship Ann Alexander, account of the incident as told by contemporaries, Internet Archive
- Sawtell, Clement Cleveland (1962). The ship Ann Alexander of New Bedford, 1805-1851. Mystic, CT: The Marine Historical Association. http://www.worldcat.org/title/ship-ann-alexander-of-new-bedford-1805-1851/oclc/2539393.