The Wreck of the Mary Celeste

A Civil War Blockade Runner

The Mary Celeste was a 225ft side-paddlewheel steamer built in the 19th century in Liverpool by William C. Miller & Sons.


The steamer was commissioned by Crenshaw and Company, a blockade running company established during the American Civil War. During the American Civil War, blockade running was essential for the Confederacy to ensure overseas trade threatened by a Union blockade of sea trade routes.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Crenshaw and Company had numerous steamers built on behalf of the confederacy to run supplies between Bermuda, Nassau, England and Wilmington, North Carolina.

Wilmington to Bermuda

The Mary Celeste ran cotton out of Wilmington to Bermuda and Nassau and returned with military supplies and food. The Mary Celeste is believed to have made eight blockade running trips before its fateful sinking in 1864.

On September 14th, 1864 she left port in Bermuda bound for Wilmington, North Carolina, with a cargo of meat, rifles and ammunition. At around 6pm the steamer headed for shore near Gibb's Hill Lighthouse to drop off the owner, Colonel Crenshaw. As they approached the shore the chief mate shouted that there were rocks ahead. The pilot apparently shouted back that he knew the location of every rock and carried on regardless. Seconds later Mary Celeste struck the reef. It took a few minutes for the steamer to sink. Luckily all the crew, except the ship’s cook, escaped with their lives. The chef had run below to save his possessions, a mistake that cost him his life.

The Wreck of the Mary Celeste

The wreck of the Marie Celeste now lies in 50 feet of water just 600 yards off the south coast of Bermuda. It is now a favorite site for divers.

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