French Statistics of Wrecks Compiled by the Bureau Integritas 1863
Mercantile Gazette, Friday, January 15, 1864.
[The above publication reported on a lengthy document produced by the “Bureau Integritas” that had given a detailed account on the causes of shipwrecks over a number of years. The Bureau also owned up to its own inadequacy in the matter of recording details of incidents, injury or loss to maritime commerce, when compared to the excellent record of the UK.] The forgoing is paraphrased.
It could be deduced from the figures published, that the losses and damage were escalating through the range, almost annually, at the critical period when sail was giving way to steam. It was also a period of burgeoning industrial traffic and migration, and the American Civil War probably added to the increased volumes.
The costly maintenance of sailing vessels was a temptation to which some owners succumbed, choosing to ignore or ‘long finger’ the obvious dangers. Not unlike today, extreme weather events took their toll – always.
1863 was considered to be ‘one of the most lamentable for Maritime Assurers’ and from the figures presented in the article, it was also considered that ‘1863 was one of the most disastrous years on record’. The conclusions also stated; All calculations of probabilities were baffled in 1775 by the hurricane of November 11,[Note 1.] in 1821 the hurricane of December 21, in 1836 by that of November 27, and 1863 by that of December 2.’
Note 1 - There had in fact been a series of hurricanes during the latter half of 1775, the worst been described as the ‘Independence’ or ‘Newfoundland Hurricane’.