U. S. Schn Boxer
Rio de Janerio Augst 25th 1832
We left Pernambuco the morning of July 31st and after a pleasant passage of 10 hours came to anchor in the Harbor of Bahia or St. Galoador. The town of Bahia is situated on the side of a hill fronting the Harbour, it is known in two parts, the upper and lower, the lower is the part of the town along the waters edge and is the business part of town. The upper is on the side and summit of the hill & the pleasure part is a very beautiful one. The houses (which are all white with red tile roofs) seem to be built on top of one another the stairs between them is filled up with trees and go up. The streets are kept clean and are of a good width. There is an elegantly furnished French Hotel there, an Opera House, plenty of churches, several beautiful gardens. In one of which is erected a monument in Commemoration of the Landing of King John of Portugal some years since. The monument of Captn Lambert, of the British Frigate Ivan, is also there. The inhabitants are the same as of all the other towns; Portugese, Brazilian, French, Spanish, English, Germans and Americans. They transport all their burdens by Negroes who sling them on Poles and the Negroes get them on their shoulders and walk away with them. They form the greatest number of the inhabitants every one of them is obliged to earn so much a day for his master, if he gets more he keeps it for himself. They have a variety of ways of earning it; some by carrying burdens; passage boats; or by having a [pulangoan], selling fruit &c &c. The streets are full of them. They wear generally a light shirt and short drawers, some of them have iron yokes around their necks or ankles, others, chained two by two marching along under the charge of a soldier. That is those who have been charged of stealing or some other crime. We left Bahai on the 7th of Aug and on the 13th came to in this Harbour. We came off the mouth of the Harbour about 4 oıclock in the afternoon when it became dead calm Sept. 16th. We were about 9 miles from our anchorage just at dark we received a heavy squall coming from off te land it cam on, moderate at first but increasing every moment. We called all hands. The Captn was on deck and very anxious to get in, he set all drawing sail by the wind, and carried it on her until we got from under the lee of the Sugar Loaf (a high hill at the entrance of the Harbour having the form of a sugar loaf) when it came on with increased violence. He still carried on until she hauled over so much that it was with difficulty we could stand. He then took in sail and run up under the Mainsail and Jib, every now and then we would meet a vessel and would have to yaw out of the way. The Fort as we were passing hailed us repeatedly. The way in which it was blowing rendered it impossible for us to pay attention to it. The 1st Lieut sent me to the Captn, who was forward to let him know the Fort was hailing us. He replied he could not help it and directly [ ] went a shot astern of us. Let them fire and be damned says the Captn (the only time he swore since he has been with us) & away went a second one. We still run on, and came to near an English 74, the [Waspite]. As soon as we anchored, the Captn, Lt. Craven and myself went in the gig to see of we could find one of our vessels of war, which we knew to be here, after an hours pull about the harbour we found her, the Sloop of War Lexington, Cap Duncan. We staid aboard her an hour or two. The Captn got his letters, which informs him that he had a son, which pleased him very much. They had no knowledge of our destination. When we returned on board I found all hands talking over the late squall and some of our older hands said they never had seen a vessel carried on so much in all of their Seagoing. It proved the character of our little craft, that it would take a heavy squall and a kept of sail to capsize her.
The next morning I went ashore to get the letters found some for the Lieutıs and Doctor and Midn Parrot but none for myself or the rest of my messmates. Nor have I yet recıd any, for what is the reason I know not. I certainly expected some by the Peacock, and one after you recıd my letter from Para.
There are several stone houses here belonging to the U. S. in which are all the articles necessary for a vessel Viz provisions and stores Rigging &c &c, and as we might not soon be in another port where their were such conveniences out Captn determined to stock ship here and have a complete over haul of everything two or three days after our arrival. We weighed our anchor and stood at the Harbour for an Island on which is one of our store houses, & were we would mend our rigging spars &c. Stripping ship is sending down all the upper [spars] and riggings and overhauling it, leaving nothing standing but the water marks and bows pitch which as the shroud are taken off the mast heads are supported by temporary ones called [Girtlines]. This we did, sent all our spars and rigging ashore to the Island. We had a gang at work at the rigging on the Island and one on board in the hold, cleaning it out and stowing it afresh. We had finished the work on shore and had our water filled and the hold nearly stowed when one of the men woking in the hold discovered that some of the Plank were started, we took them up and found that some of the timbers had started: it was thought [ ] as the Inside had been started so much that the outside of the vessel must be much more Injured. We procured several Divers to go down and examine her bottom. They brought up pieces of copper with them and reported that it was off in several places. It was necessary now to heave her down and put new copper on (by the [ ] how that it was taken off while we were on the rocks [ ]. Heaving down is done by getting a hulk alongside; and having purchased blocks at our Mast heads and in her Decks, weave a fall through them and heave her keel out of the water. To do this everything must be taken out of the vessel for she is carted nearly bottom up. Well all of our water was stored in our tanks; Guns and Rigging put aboard the lights, and everything else sent ashore. On the Island is an old Monastery the lower part of which we put our things into and the upper part we lived in ourselves and very comfortable too. We hove her down, found a good deal of copper off, put new on, Right her moved aboard Rigged her again, and here we [ ] are to use a sea phrase (³all a taunt of²) or ready for sea.
The Sch Enterprise, came in two weeks ago from Monte [Video] and broıt orders for the Lexington to proceed there immediately. The Americans and English had possession of the town for some days. They give it up again and all was quiet for the time. The Comod, apprehensive that it might break out again, sent for the Lexington. He did not know that we were here, and it had been reported and was generally believed that we were lost, not having heard of us for such a long time. It seems to be the belief that we are to go to the East Indies, but is not certain. I believe we are to wait here until we get orders from the Comode. The reason I delayed sending was to get some information on the subject but as it will be some time before I can ascertain it I will conclude it to be best to write now. A good portion of our men were beastly drunk every day for which they were on the Island. Several were whipped, several petty officers broke, several run cruzing around so yet and the vessel was in a continued up roar for 3 or 4 weeks. We are now getting our rights.
A Sailor, a ³real old Man of War man² is a queer genius, he can not be like a lands man in one particular he wears his hair different, his hat different, his pants different, his neccerchief different, he eats his meals different, he talks different, swears different, walks different, and his whole character contrasts with one of a person who has lived all of his life ashore, affords not the least degree of Similarity. He is his own Shoemaker, tailor, Hatter, barber. The clothes they draw from the purser are mate to sell, and it is all you can do to tell what they are intended for of course they must be altered. Everyone alters for himself. They draw thread, needles, scisors &c from the purser [ ]. Their Hats they plait the [ ] sew it, cover it with duck, paint it and it is finished. [ } they make out of canvass. [Their clothes] they keep in a thick canvas, fold them by the ship, they are stowed on the berth deck, and over hauled once a month by the Officers of the Divisions to see that they are in good order, and that none are sold. At sea they are in two watches, one half of them on deck at a time 5 oıclock in the afternoon until 8 oıclock in the morning when it is all hands. At day light in morning, the Officer of the Deck sings out ³Clean up for a wash². The rigging is coiled from off the decks, and deck swept off, some hands draw water through one of the Ports others throw it over the decks, then sand is thrown over, then a large stone, called a holy stone, slung in this manner [insert drawing] is drawn over it by 4 men two on each end of the rope a number of times then it is washed off and the deck dried up. At 7 bells—1/2 pass 7—all hands are called by the Boatswain, and the Hammocks piped up. The Mid. of the watch calls the officers, and never fails to give the one who is to relieve him at 8 bells a good shaking, at 8 oıclock the Hour is reported to the Captn, and then Pipe to Breakfast, at 9 the hands are turned to. From 9 until ½ past 11, the men are at work at their jobs, or if there is nothing to do mending their clothes, or washing them, perhaps there is a division of quarters at 7 bells the officers are called to look out for the sun and the decks cleared up, as soon as it is 12, which is ascertained by the Sun highest altitude, and the Lat, ascertained, the hour and Lat is reported by the Master to the Officers of the Deck by him to the Captn, then Pipe to dinner and Grog. Down we ³Mids² go to work out over Lat &c at 1 oıclock the Hands are turned to again and the ³work goes on as it went before.²
On the 1st of every month the Purser serves out the sugar, tobacco, soap, knives, spoons, pots and pans, frocks and trowsers &c. One of the Midn generally attend to see that the men are righted at 4 oıclock in the afternoon. The grog is served out again and the men go to supper at sunset back to Quarters to see that all the men are present beat the Retreat, get the Fiddler up and have a dance. When there is a heavy and sudden squall coming in it is customary to call all hands, the 1st Lieut comes on deck and takes the trumpet all the other officers are stationed in different parts of the Ship also in coming in an anchor and getting under weigh.
In Port there is no watch kept by the men only by the Quartermasters and officers, when there is no work doing the men are all kept clean, a boat is sent every morning at day light to market for the officers and men; we send our Steward every morning to market to buy our provisions.
Rio de Janerio, is about the size of Baltimore, and has a great many foreigner residents in it and its Inhabitants are the same as the other cities of Brazil; only there are more foreigners more trades, more shops, more shipping &c. It approaches near to one of our cities than any of the others. There are several find Hotels, and opera, Theatre &c. The Country around is beautiful. I took a ride of several miles in to it the other day. A great more gardens and noble noblemanıs seats near the City. The Harbour is large enough to contain all the men of war in the world. The land around is mountainous. There is an English 74 & Frigate & a French frigate here now.
I have heard that the Cholera is in New York, Philad and Pittsburg. I fear it will not [hop] over Lancaster also the Bank bills passing, Don Pedroıs taking [ ] the Potomacs [ ] King Sumatra and that is all the news I have heard since I left the U. States 7 months ago to morrow.
I like the sea very well, and at the same time have a good Captain and plenty to eat. I have an excellent appetite not at all squeamish. I measure 5 ft 8 in high, and have grown again fat so much so that you can hardly feel my ribs.
I have learned to swim since we have been here. I do not know where to tell you to write to me. If I can ascertain before we leave this. I will send you a few lines to let you know. If we go to the Indies, I could not receive a letter if we stay any longer for me directed to the care of the American Consul will be taken care of. There are vessels sailing from Philad nearly every week for this Place, and if you would send them to Mr. Witmer or Mr. Ball and let them put them aboard they would come safe. This is all I can muster at present.
I will write to my friends in Boston and Philad remember me to my friends and my acquaintances.
God bless you all
Prays your most affectionate son
I am making a collection of shells and curiosities and by the time I return home, I shall have a considerable quantity. Lydia could copy off my letters and send them to Samuel. It will be fine employment for her. I have bought 1 pr of Blue cloth pants here, for $10, and 2 pr white [ ] for $10.00. I was going to have a jacket made by our tailor on board here which will cost little or nothing.
I have written to you by the Brig George bound to Charlestown S.C. at sea Brig Bathia to Boston from [ ] Schn Minerva to New York; Para [ ] Perambuco to Newport R.I. I hope you have recıd all of them.
Our Captn is a man who is not liked by the officers or men, he does not behave like a gentleman to either, or anybody though he has taken more pain to learn us navigating than any other Captn you might get with. He thinks if we go to the East Indies he will not go with us. He is afraid of his health. I hope he will not go.
John Reynolds Esq.